Business Plan

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by golfnpreacher, Aug 12, 2009.

  1. golfnpreacher

    golfnpreacher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    Maybe I am missing something as I read through these posting. There are all kinds of people "starting" a lawn care business, but there is very little discussion about a business plan. I am coming to the conclusion that many, if not most, of the posters here have no concept of what a true business plan is, much less have one. (either written - best - or thought out but not on paper)

    I've seen too many postings (and I've not been here that long) that go something like this... I lost my job and I've decided to start a lawn care business. What equipment do / should I get. Should I buy a Stander, a ZT or a WB? etc etc etc. .... this is closely followed by the post.... how do I get more clients ... which then follows with complaints about low ballers, who are said to be taking clients, but really are doing business with people that you think you deserve.

    The "problem" here is not asking advise on equipment. That is a good thing to do. But instead you first need a workable business plan in order to understand what equipment you are going to need. Buying a trailer, trimmer racks, trimmers and the best mowers you can afford is not a business plan! Even buying insurance, getting a license and adversting is not a business plan. It is a failure plan.

    If you're starting out with residential property, since few start with commercial accounts, what is the best equipment for those properties. For the most part you don't need a big ZT for a residential start up account. You can, most likely, get by with a decent 21" self propelled mower and any gas trimmer and a broom. Put it all in the back of the pickup that you already own and you're making money (not payments) After you pick up a few more accounts, a good upgrade might be in order. Big enough to save you time, small enough that it can be used more than it sits on the trailer.

    Now, here is where a business plan begins to kick in. Suppose someone want you to do their grass, but you with your current equipment it will take too long or be more work than worth to you? There is a time to say NO to the business. That is when your business can sustain the cost of the new equipment as compare to the return on the new account. But let's say that the equipment can be used to save time on a number of existing accounts? Then it might be wise to say YES.

    Or suppose you are mowing lawns in one section of the city and someone with a similar size lawn wants you do mow their for the same price, but they live in the other direction. With mileage and time, you might want to say NO to that customer. But let's say you drive through and see the real potential for several new clients. Then it might be worth saying "YES" to get into that neighborhood and put your services before new clients.

    It does not take a lot of capital to get into the Lawn Care business, which is why it seems like everyone does it. But it does take a good business plan (or being lucky) to stay in the lawn care business. Just look at Craigslist, the classified ads, and community boards, there are a lot of people selling used lawn care equipment because while it was easy to get into, they are proving the point it is hard to stay.

    My point of all this rant.... WHO has giving thought to a business plan as opposed to simply planning to do business? And can / will you share some of your plan for all these new (and possibly older) people who don't have one.
  2. openbook

    openbook LawnSite Member
    Messages: 215

    I plan on writing one this winter. I thought I bookmarked a website but I didn't, it's a guide on writing a business plan. Just search in google writing a business plan. My state also has free counseling for starting a small business.
    Anyways I think it might not be worthwhile to start with residential and want to jump into commercial this spring. We shall see.
    Anybody can do residential work, you don't need a plan for that. But with commercial I have heard on here they need to see your business plan.
  3. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    The guys that have down time in the winter should be much more organized with a business plan and more systematized businesses. I work year round and after 8 years I now have a 30+ page business plan along with employee manual and operations manual. This is the first year we have began to market our services.

    The business plan is very personal to each persons business. If my business plan was a typical plan I would freely share it. Call me paranoid if you like my plan is unlike any other I have heard of of or my lawyer or my business coach. So I wont be posting or linking to it any time soon.

    Go to the SBA site and there are guides to walk you through them, there are short versions about 8 pages and longer versions. The thing about them is they are a guide or a optimists goal. Not to say you should quickly abandon them when it hits the fan but they are fluid and need to be updated pretty regularly. Mine had some significant changes in the 3 months it took to write and when things settle down after the first of the year I will need to update it again.

    Of course the search feature is always a good place to pick up some valuable knowledge.
  4. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    I too am amazed when people from here ask how to get commerical accounts. we give advice, and I tell them to include there business profile. then they go bezerk.....
    I have even had a few ask me for my copy. LMAO.

    I truly dont see how some of these guys are running a Business.
    But there on the other hand, any smo Joe can start a LCB with a craftsman push mower.

    I think they get into trouble a lot. I know of one in peteciular from this site. "No names"
    I have even informed him that he's having a lot of trouble....
  5. Shaded Green

    Shaded Green LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    It's funny I found this post.

    A couple days ago, I started a thread asking for help with my business plan. I plan on starting next spring. Anyway, the only responses I got told me that financing a landscape business is not the way to go, or you don't need all that equipment, so on and so on.

    Anyone interested in running a business would be better served looking elsewhere for advise. This site is an excellent resource. You just aren't going to find many business plans here. It's a shame.

    I'm now on page 18 of my business plan for my measly little landscape operation. What an informative and educational experience. I found an incredible example to follow online. All my own work of course. It's amazing to see my ideas on hard copy.
  6. Shaded Green

    Shaded Green LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    While I'm here. What should I expect to pay for insurance annually?

    I'm thinking $500,000 liability.
  7. golfnpreacher

    golfnpreacher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    The amount you pay will, most likely, be reflective of several factors. How long you have been in business, how much experience you have in the business and how much volume/income you are expecting to do.

    Using my own operation as an example - Farmers - $1 Mill liability is less that $600 a year, my projected income before expenses is less than $50K. (I'm part time) The least expensive $500K was $75 cheaper.. the upgrade was a no brainer.
  8. jada86

    jada86 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    In the past I paid about $500 for $500000 coverage and $800 for $1M.
  9. golfnpreacher

    golfnpreacher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

  10. Shaded Green

    Shaded Green LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    /\ /\ /\ Everyone except for this guy /\ /\ /\

    :nono: Spammer. :nono:

    Thanks guys. I was thinking 5-6 hundred. I went with 600.

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