From grass to gardens and everything in-between, you understand what’s needed to keep a yard healthy and beautiful. Unfortunately, landscaping expertise doesn’t always translate to business know-how. Even if you provide a premium level of service, you might lose out to competitors who have a better business plan.
Don’t worry if you’re not quite sure what a business plan is or how to create one. Here’s a complete rundown of what you need to know:
- Understand What A Business Plan Is
A business plan is a roadmap for your business. It describes where you are now, where you want to be in the future, and how you plan to achieve those goals.
You can create a business plan at any point in the lifespan of your company. If you’re starting a lawn care business, developing a business plan is the best way to maximize your limited financial resources as you buy equipment and enter the market.
Likewise, a business plan is also useful even if your company is several years old. A plan helps you assess the current health of your business and prepare for the future. It’s also a great tool if you’re changing, expanding, or shrinking the focus of your business.
Most business plans adhere (more or less) to the following format:
• Title Page with Table of Contents
• Executive Summary
• Business Description
• Description of Product or Service Provided
• Market Analysis
• Analysis of Your Competition
• Organizational Logistics, Operation, and Management
• Financial Components
• Any Relevant Documents
Although it involves a fair amount of work, creating a lawn service business plan provides two benefits. First, it’s a helpful way to stay organized and avoid problems. Also, a business plan is used to attract investors and other financial opportunities.
- Estimate Your Startup Costs
Launching a landscaping business typically requires relatively high upfront costs because you need to buy a wide range of equipment. However, the money you spend today helps you deliver quality services that will help your business grow quickly and steadily.
As detailed in How to Start a Successful Lawn Care Business, here’s a general breakdown of what you’ll need to buy:
• Motorized equipment like lawnmowers, trimmers, and leaf blowers
• Manual tools and supplies like rakes, shovels, lawn bags, and protective gear
• Permits, sales tax licenses and other regulatory requirements for your city
• Field management software for tracking invoices, developing marketing strategies, and more
Your exact needs will vary. Initially, you can save by only purchasing gear for the core services you plan to offer – which brings us to the next item in your business plan.
- Establish Your Initial Service Offerings
You can’t offer a full range of services right off the bat. Instead, your service offerings – at least initially – will depend on a few factors:
• The equipment you own
• The services offered by your competitors
• The services requested by customers in your area
- Run a Market Analysis
The next part of your business plan is developing a market analysis. It’s an evaluation of how well-suited the market is for your lawn care business. Creating a market analysis might seem complicated, but it’s essentially nothing more than answering a few fairly simple questions.
Identify Your Potential Customers
First, who is your target market? You might feel tempted to answer with something like, “Everyone with a lawn.” However, that’s far too general.
Instead, try to narrow down your target market as specifically as possible. Do you mainly provide service for residential or commercial customers? Are your customers looking for the lowest prices, fastest turnaround times, or something else?
Your target market will depend on a few factors, such as:
• The demographics of your service area
• The geography and environment
• The equipment you own
Determining the first two requires research and an understanding of your community. Additionally, the services you provide are limited by the type of equipment you own and the size of your team. You can provide more services as your business grows.
Assess Your Competition
Another major aspect of a market analysis involves taking a closer look at your competition. If you’re lucky, you’ll launch your business in an area without much in the way of established lawn care providers. However, most likely, you’ll have competition.
Pretend you’re a customer looking for lawn care services. Hop online and check out what options are available in your area.
When researching your top competitors, focus on two factors:
• Their prices
• The services they provide
Why would someone choose your competitor over you? Identifying what your competition does well allows you to tailor the services you provide. You can either offer a superior alternative at a better price or focus on services the competition doesn’t offer.
- Determine Your Pricing Strategy
How much should you charge for your services? Your business plan should contain detailed pricing information.
When creating a pricing structure, you have two options:
• Cost-Plus Pricing
• Value-Based Pricing
Cost-plus pricing is the most straightforward type. It’s the cost of the product plus a margin for profit. With lawn care, cost-plus pricing involves the following factors:
• Labor costs
• Material costs
• Overhead costs
Add them together to get the price of each service. Cost-plus is commonly used for physical goods. Many services, including lawn care services, determine costs with value-based pricing.
Determining cost-plus pricing is both easy and difficult. Usually, you’ll have minimal issues figuring out the cost of labor and materials for a given job. However, determining indirect costs is often more confusing. Your prices for all services have to cover overhead costs such as marketing, equipment maintenance, office rental, and more.
Most lawn care business owners don’t determine these costs on their own. Instead, they hire an accountant or bookkeeper. You don’t necessarily need a full-time accountant on staff, but you want to consult with one while setting up your pricing plan (and about once a year afterward to help you stay on track).
Value-based pricing is more subjective. It’s based on the perceived value the service has to a customer. In lawn care, customers are often willing to pay more for what they consider premium work.
You can influence the perceived value of your services in a variety of ways. First, commit to performing quality work. If you mow in neat rows, trim the edges of the yard with precision, and otherwise pay lots of attention to the little details, customers will often consider you a premium-level service provider.
Additionally, your teams should arrive on time, in matching uniforms, and with a consistent commitment to friendly and prompt customer service. A clean appearance and a positive attitude go a long way towards creating the appearance of premium service. In many ways, value-based pricing is as much based on psychology as on the actual quality of the work.
Pricing is one of the most complicated aspects of developing a lawn mowing business plan. For help, check out How to Set Lawn Care Pricing and Quotes.
- Implement Effective Marketing Strategies
You don’t want to create your business and then turn your attention to marketing later. Instead, marketing strategies should be woven into your business plan from the initial stages. Fortunately, many effective marketing strategies don’t require much money as long as you’re willing to do some work.
Hanging fliers on doors around the neighborhood is often a surprisingly effective way to drum up business. After all, you can see the best leads right from the curb. Leave a flier on the door of any house with an unkempt, overgrown lawn.
Additionally, advertise while you work. Place a small sign with your company name on the yard while your crew provides services. Offer the homeowner a discount on their bill if you can leave your sign in their yard after the work is completed.
Uniforms and truck logos also offer inexpensive marketing opportunities. Make sure your company name is visible on the sides of your vehicles. When your vehicles are parked on the street, passersby can then easily identify your company name.
Marketing might feel a bit outside of your area of expertise. If you want help, consider lawn care business software. It helps you develop and implement a wide variety of marketing and advertising strategies, including customer tracking and seasonal specials.
- Create a Financial Plan
Finally, you want to end your lawn care business plan with a financial summary. It includes the following:
• Sales forecast
• Personnel costs
• Expenses including overhead
You want to project incoming and outgoing costs for at least one year. Ideally, you want your financial plan to include projects for year two and even three. Your financial plan is an important document when applying for a loan or other types of financing.
Operating a successful lawn care company requires more than just the ability to deliver excellent service. Developing a business plan for a lawn care startup helps you stay on a steady course during the sometimes-rocky early stages of running your business.
Additionally, you’ll want field service software to help develop not only your business plan but also run the day-to-day aspects of your business. Contact WorkWave today to schedule a free software demonstration, even if you’re still in the early stages of creating your business.