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How to Run a Successful Lawn Care Business

What's the difference between Operators who succeed and Operators who fail? They've put systems in place that empower them to work ON their business instead of working IN their business. Let's break that down.

Last updated on
August 24, 2021
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Templates for Clear Client Communication

Back when we had just launched Check, I would call every person who registered and try to understand why they were interested in the app. Out of the hundreds of calls, one conversation really stuck with me. 

He was a successful business person and one of the things he did was flip small lawn care businesses. Now, I had heard of people selling their clients to another operator, but flipping a lawn care business? Never. Well, he had done it 10 times.

Needless to say, I was intrigued. So, I asked him a simple question:

What are the biggest issues that are hurting small lawn care operators? 

He answered immediately.

“Disorganization and poor communication with clients which leads to the bigger issue:  operators are forced to work IN their business, not ON their business…” 

I left off the last part of the sentence for later, so keep reading :)

I haven’t flipped a lawn care business, but I do own one and I’ve spoken with hundreds of operators all over the world. So, I want to take a few minutes to break down this power-packed truth bomb in hopes that we can all run better and more profitable operations.

Disorganization -> Organization

The Issue

Over half of all operators are using pen and paper to run their business and I get it… it’s how it’s been done for a long time. But there are a couple big issues with the notebook: it relies on manual data entry and it’s not backed up.  

If you forget to write something down, you are probably causing a client a headache OR you’re losing money. Here’s what I mean…  

  • Forget to write down that a client paid you -> you’ll ask that client for the payment again -> you’ll play the back-and-forth game which wastes time -> you’ll get mad at the client for “not paying” and the client will be frustrated. 
  • Forget to write down a job that you’re supposed to do by a certain date -> the client calls you and asks why you haven’t done the job -> the client potentially fires you OR you have to spend extra time completing a job that is now worth more than you originally bid it -> the client is less likely to recommend you.
  • Forget to write down a new lead’s information -> you have to track that information down another way (going to their house if you know where it is, going back to social media, or going through phone records) which wastes time -> the potential client’s bid is delayed which increases your chances of losing the client -> you lose potential revenue and get a worse reputation for someone who doesn’t respond.

These are examples that real operators have given me! I could go on and on, but I think the picture is clear. Relying on yourself to develop a system, write everything down in a notebook, and keep it organized is setting yourself up for errors which cause client frustration and cost you money. 

The second biggie here is that there’s only one notebook. That is, unless you manually write everything down twice, but who would do that? If you lose that thing, your schedule, client account balances, and other important details are gone! I personally know operators who are carrying thousands of dollars in accounts receivables for MULTIPLE CLIENTS and they use a notebook to keep track of it. That’s slightly terrifying to me. That’s another issue, but if you lose that notebook, you have no way to prove to your clients how much they owe you! You might as well kiss that hard earned revenue goodbye! OUCH. 

The Fix

Nowadays, your phone gives you the ability to not only keep everything in one place but to also keep it secure. Even if you were going to use a mixture of apps that are already on your phone, it would be way better than pen and paper. Still, the best option is to use an app that is tailored to your business. If you run a small lawn care business with one truck, give our app a shot. It’s called Check and it will automate your business, helping you make sure you never have to second-guess yourself again. 

 

Confusing and Inconsistent Communication -> Clear and Consistent Communication

The Issue

I have won numerous clients in my own business because the last operator just stopped showing up or the client was tired of feeling left in the dark. It’s rarely a quality of service issue. What does that tell you? Clients really value good communication!

Here are a few examples of poor communication:

  • Not letting the client know an updated date of service after getting rained out. 
  • Invoicing the client at infrequent intervals.
  • Not including expected details (date, individual amounts, service types, etc.) on invoices.
  • Not owning up to damage caused while servicing their property. 

Unfortunately, our industry isn’t known for having incredible communicators, but that gives us an opportunity to impress our clients.

The Fix

I’m not going to make you read more than you need to… just take the examples above and flip them! The goal here is that your client never wonders what is going on in your business relationship. If you stay in front of any and all potential questions or issues, you will continually impress your clients and gain their trust. This will lead to increased word of mouth referrals for you, so take advantage of this opportunity to communicate well!

I will say that our app, Check, gives you the option to automatically notify your clients the day before their service, automatically invoice the client on consistent intervals (per job, per day, or per month basis), and will include all the details necessary on the invoices. It takes a major load off of the shoulders and helps you look way more professional just from using the app.

We also have some templates for some of the most common scenarios that will help you communicate better with your clients. You can grab those templates at the bottom of the article!

Working IN vs. Work ON the Business

When you are stuck working IN your business, you’re in a cycle of feeling like you’re trying to play “catch up” or simply maintain what you already have. These are some of the symptoms:

  • You haven’t sent invoices in a while. 
  • You’re getting the yards done, but the routes may not be optimized. 
  • You know your clients owe you a good bit of money but you don’t know how much. 
  • Your invoices don’t have detail because you just need to “get them out”.
  • Your business isn’t growing much due to losing unsatisfied clients at the same rate you pick new ones up. 
  • You are having to field client calls consistently about when you’re coming out.
  • You feel stressed or overwhelmed at all the things you haven’t done.

By contrast, once you are organized and have processes in place to keep things running smoothly, you begin to work ON your business. You aren’t trying to catch up anymore. Now you’re building the company. You get to work on questions like these: 

  • How do I grow my business? 
  • Where can I increase efficiency? 
  • What clients are most profitable? 
  • Which clients do I need to consider letting go? 
  • How can I incentivize my clients to bring me more clients? 
  • What potential upsell opportunities should I pursue with my existing clients? 
  • What services should I expand into? 
  • What are the next equipment upgrades I want to make and how will I get there?

Can you see the difference? It’s huge! One is stressful and the other is exciting. In one, you’re maintaining, in the other you are building. 

Remember how I said I left off a sentence from that guy’s quote? Well here’s his full answer to my question about the biggest issues operators face:

“Disorganization and poor communication with clients which leads to the bigger issue:  operators are forced to work IN their business, not ON their business. Your app takes care of the first two things so they can work ON their business.” 

This was really encouraging to hear because that’s exactly what we’re aiming for. Our goal is to help you by automating the tasks that cause so many operators to burn out, giving you the extra capacity to work ON your business, not be stuck working IN it. With Check, you don’t have to worry about getting organized or not communicating well since it takes care of those things for you. 

If you’re interested, you can download Check today for free and see why operators are calling it a “game-changer” for their business.

Even if you don’t use Check to run your business, take our friend’s wisdom to heart.

Organization and good communication will set you up for success by allowing you to focus on the questions that will help you grow your business rather than maintain it. 

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Templates for Clear Client Communication

Clear, thorough and consistent client communication covers a multitude of sins. Grab our best communication templates to save you time and sound professional!

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