14 Best Apps For Lawn Care And Landscaping Business Owners. Lawn care pricing spreadsheet
Lawn Maintenance Proposal Template
What is a lawn maintenance proposal? Lawn maintenance proposals are business proposals that list the landscaping and lawn care services your company is offering to potential customers. They also explain how much the client will pay for these lawn care services. You can write your own lawn care proposal that includes all of your services offered, their costs, and any necessary legal parts, or you can simply use one of our templates.
Dear [Customer.FirstName] [Customer.LastName],
Thank you for giving [Sender.company] the opportunity to earn your business. In this lawn maintenance proposal, you’ll find information outlining our proposed lawn maintenance service schedule and pricing, with a section at the end for your approval. If you wish to move forward after reviewing, simply eSign on the final page.
At [Sender.company], we are proud to be a member of the [Sender.City] community and to serve as a landscaper to its residents. We strive to be the best provider of lawn maintenance services in the area by hiring only the most qualified lawn care professionals, investing in quality equipment, and implementing policies and procedures that help us provide an outstanding experience to every customer. We look forward to serving your needs and the needs of other [Sender.City] residents today and for many years to come.
Sincerely, [Sender.FirstName] [Sender.LastName] [Sender.Position] [Sender.company]
[Sender.company] is proud to provide quality lawn maintenance service to property owners in [Sender.City]. The images below are just a few examples of our work:
Use the image slots on this page of the lawn maintenance proposal template to highlight your company’s work. The page is set up to highlight two properties with four images for each property, but can be modified using the menu to the right of the template. These images demonstrate the landscape design and maintenance your lawn care business offers to clients, which can make your proposal more convincing.
Your Lawn Maintenance Package
Use the following page of the lawn maintenance proposal template to list the services you’re offering, your proposed service schedule, and any additional services offered outside of the standard service package. These items may become the procedures you’re legally obligated to perform if your client signs the document and converts it to a lawn care contract. Make sure you only include services, schedules, and in your landscape proposal that you’re confident you can complete.
The following services will be performed at the intervals displayed in the table below:
In addition to the above-listed services, we offer these additional services:
- Tree trimming/removal
- Stump removal
- Bush/hedge trimming
- Plant bed replanting/re-seeding/pruning
- Weed Removal
Please contact us directly for a price quote for any of these additional services.
Use the pricing table below to communicate the fees you’ll charge the customer for your lawn maintenance services. This template assumes you’re operating on a cash-on-delivery (COD) basis, but can be modified for other billing methods by changing the text below.
You will be billed a flat rate at each service interval for the included services listed in this lawn maintenance proposal. Should you require any of the listed additional services, the amounts for those services will be added to the invoice for the date they are performed.
All invoices will be delivered when services are performed and payment via cash, check, or credit card is due immediately.
|Standard Service Fee||0.00||1||0.00|
Should you wish to move forward with the offered lawn maintenance service package, simply sign this proposal below.
Best Apps For Lawn Care And Landscaping Business Owners
There are QuickBooks and Jobber affiliate links in this blog post where I may earn a small commission. You reap the savings with zero obligations to The Landscape Writer. Read more about the affiliate disclaimer on my website.
Owning your own business is a lot of work. Owning a business that factors in clients and their wants and needs is even more complicated. If you’re a lawn care or landscaping business owner, you’ve probably spent a lot of time working with clients to ensure you’re doing exactly what they want. No one wants to be surprised with landscaping or a lawn they hate.
Lawn care and landscaping businesses have some unique needs other businesses may not. For example, pulling up a contract during a large outdoor project could be useful for your business. Luckily with technology and smartphone apps, plenty of new options exist when it comes to managing your business.
Now is the perfect time to take a minute or two to learn about the best apps for lawn care and landscaping business owners. A few extra minutes could save you a lot of time and frustration while you’re on a job site, and you’ll never regret that.
Jobber – Full disclosure: I am an affiliate of Jobber and will receive compensation when you sign up for Jobber through my referral link. When signing up for Jobber through The Landscape Writer, you have no cost or obligation. You can read more about this on the disclaimer link on my website.
Do you want all of your back office tasks on one app? Now, you can with Jobber. This app allows you to schedule and dispatch in real time, get paid faster with automated quote and invoice follow-ups and run daily operations from your truck or office.
You can read more about Jobber in my blog post, If Your Landscaping Business Is Growing, Then You Need Jobber. You can watch this video to see how a business owner uses Jobber.
Join the Jobber community today and take advantage of this amazing offer! If you’re new to Jobber, sign up for one of our monthly or annual plans and get 20% off for 6 months (monthly plans) or 20% off annual plans. This limited-time offer is the perfect opportunity to streamline business operations and increase productivity. Act fast, as this offer cannot be combined with any other offer and is only valid for subscriptions purchased on or before May 14, 2023. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to simplify your work life – sign up for Jobber today!
Being able to bill for your time is an important part of any lawn care or landscaping business. Having the ability to document your time accurately and in a format easily shared with your clients is a huge asset.
iPunchclock lets you manage multiple time sheets from your phone. You can clock in and out on the app in real time, which takes the guesswork out of figuring out when you arrived and left a site when the day is over. You can even enable the location feature in the app to help it pull up the right time sheet for the right job.
When you’re ready, you can export your time sheets into several different programs, including Google Docs.
This app lets you send an invoice to your customer directly from your phone to their email. It eliminates the need for extra steps to create invoices on a computer. You also have the chance to invoice in real time instead of waiting until you get back to your home or office to send something to your client.
For lawn care and landscaping business owners, where a lot of your time is spent directly on the client’s property, being able to invoice right then and it is especially useful.
Do you want to know where the cheapest gas is in town? Then, you need the Gas Buddy app.
You can sign up for Gas Buddy and put in your lawn and landscaping company’s credit card to make filling up at the pump easy and efficient. While you may have gas pumps in your yard, your crews may find that they need to fill up if the job has taken them far away.
Simplify your life and get Gas Buddy at the App Store or Google Play.
If you’ve ever met with a client and had to say, “I’m not quite sure,” when they ask you what kind of tree exactly is on their property, you need this app. Leafsnap lets you take a picture of the leaves on the tree in question. It then uses the same type of technology facial recognition programs use to reference thousands of pictures of trees.
The app will let you know what kind of tree you’re dealing with, saving you a lot of time and research more outdated methods would require. You’ll have a fast way to answer clients’ questions and help them plan out complementing plants or develop a good plan on how to care for their tree properly.
Harvest Landscape Calculator
How many times have you been asked how much soil or mulch an area you’re working on will need? The Harvest Landscape Calculator puts an end to the guesswork involved in these types of estimations for your clients.
You can enter the depth of the area you’re planting with the slider tool and then tell the app the amount of area you need to cover at that depth. The calculator will give you the exact amount of soil or mulch you need to finish the project. No more rough estimates that could leave you running short of supplies in the middle of a workday.
OSHA Heat Safety Tool
Most of your work involves being outside, especially in the summer when the weather is hot. Being Smart about how you will handle the heat is important to your personal health and safety.
OSHA Heat Safety Tool tells you the temperature, humidity, and even the “feels like” temperature of the weather in your area. It also includes recommendations on how often to take breaks, drink water, and even gives you a list of heat-related illness symptoms.
No one wants to need a list like that but if you find yourself in a situation where you need that information quickly you won’t have to worry about not knowing where to look.
Planimeter lets you enter an address and then provides pictures of the property as well as measurement information. You can view all of the information before you even step foot on the property, so you can arrive prepared and ready to plan out the best landscaping or lawn care tips for your clients.
Lawn Buddy is an app that does a little bit of everything, and it’s specifically made for your lawn care business needs. If you need help planning effective routes to get that day’s tasks done, that’s something Lawn Buddy can plan out for you.
You can also handle all kinds of behind-the-scenes things like scheduling your crews, creating estimates, and automated invoicing. The app will send an invoice to your client as soon as you mark a job completed, so that’s an extra step you no longer have to worry about.
Want to have all of your communications with your client stored in one app on your phone? Lawn Buddy can do that too. You won’t have to search through endless lists of texts to find conversations with your clients anymore. Keeping your business and personal communication in separate areas can be especially handy.
The Weather Channel
Much like the OSHA app, this is imperative to have when you’re working outside most of your time. You can get up-to-date weather information, push notifications for weather watches and warnings, and even breakdowns of what the weather will be like by the hour.
When you’re planning out what you need to get done for your clients you really can’t make the most effective plan without the best possible information on what weather to expect. The Weather Channel app takes care of any questions you might have about the upcoming weather and what you need to be ready for.
When you’re dealing with estimates and contracts, you will need a convenient way for your clients to view and sign documents as you go. DocuSign is an app you can keep right on your phone, so your clients can see what they’re signing and ask questions while you’re still with them.
You’ll be able to have things signed and squared away without ever having to leave the property, only to send your client later a document you’ve created at home or in your office. It’s just one more way to be sure everyone is on the same page before you start a project.
If you’re looking for an app that allows you to look at what homeowners in your area are offering as potential jobs, GreenPal is a great option. You’ll be able to see what homeowners have submitted to the app as a job they need a lawn care pro for.
Once you’ve seen jobs that pique your interest, you’ll have the chance to bid on the job giving the homeowner a chance to choose you. This app brings customers right to your doorstep (or a smartphone, in this case) and lets you choose what to bid on based on your own interests.
You’ll even be able to do a set amount of bids for free each day once you’re done with the job, GreenPal bills the customer for you, so there aren’t any delays while creating invoices and waiting for payment. It’s a great app to add to your lineup.
A simple app to help you visualize where to put different landscape enhancements on your customer’s property. You can add arbors, trees, and other plants to various areas to see their appearance once installed in a landscape bed or the center of a backyard.
You can download the iScape app at the App Store.
QuickBooks is a great software tool to keep your financials in one place. If you’re a small to mid-size landscaping business, you need QuickBooks to help you with bookkeeping and providing a visual for your cash flow.
Managing a lawn care or landscaping business is time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be so complicated that you’re overwhelmed with tasks you can handle easily if you use the right apps. Keep these apps in mind and find what works best for you. Once you figure out the best mix of apps for your business, you’ll never want to return to anything you’ve done before.
Bookkeeping Accounting for Landscaping Business – Everything You Need to Know
With landscaping on your mind, you are likely not thinking about bookkeeping and accounting daily. Instead, you are thinking of proper lawn care to keep your customers happy.
Landscapers should be thinking of their accounting and bookkeeping more than just on Tax Day on April 15th.
For better organization of your project finances, you should utilize proper bookkeeping and accounting. It will provide financial reports to better understand the money coming in and out of your business. Adequate accounting can also help you identify trends in the industry of landscaping.
Tracking your finances gives you the power of knowledge. Knowledge is power when making educated decisions to guide your landscaping business towards future growth.
Smart bookkeeping. Powered by professionals. Backed by technology.
Let us do it all for you!
- Reconcile your accounts
- Provide you with clean books every month
- Ensure accurate records for seamless tax filing
- Track your business financial health
Bookkeeping and Accounting Tips for Landscaping Businesses
Use Accounting As You Use Water!
Landscapers know how important it is to water a lawn daily. Think of bookkeeping and accounting as tasks that help grow your small business every day and over a long period.
Landscaping companies need to take a little time every day to keep track of their books and organize the paperwork to ensure all expenses and invoices are accurate.
You might think that hiring an accountant for tax season is enough accounting for the year. However, that would be like fertilizing or watering once a year. Doing a litter bit every day will help you better understand how to grow your business and anticipate problems.
Choose an Accounting Method
Your landscaping company has two different accounting methods to choose from for submitting your tax returns, accrual basis and cash basis.
The easy accounting method for many companies is cash basis. The cash basis method will track expenses that are paid out and when your income is received.
Accrual basis accounting takes a slightly different approach by counting money and expenses when they are earned. This accounting method will take more involvement from you, but it will give you a clearer picture of your business’s future.
Before choosing an accounting method for your tax return, we recommend speaking to a CPA. A well-trained CPA will help you make an educated decision on which approach makes the most financial sense for your business. Something to take into consideration is which method provides the best tax breaks available for your industry.
Design Systems that are Simple to Follow
Many landscape companies find that bookkeeping is a challenging task. Designing systems that are simple to follow will help your company keep up with its accounting.
Accounting software can be a tool you utilize to make it easier to keep up with tracking your accounting information. The software will manage your financial information by inputting it into its system automatically. The software can help with managing your cash flow, tracking bookkeeping, and managing your outstanding invoices.
Many small business owners of landscaping companies find it useful to hire a professional to aid them in their bookkeeping management. Hiring someone to track your bookkeeping allows the business owner to FOCUS more on their customers’ work.
Without a strategy on how to take care of your business’s books, your business will not follow proper accounting procedures.
Smart bookkeeping. Powered by professionals. Backed by technology.
Let us do it all for you!
- Reconcile your accounts
- Provide you with clean books every month
- Ensure accurate records for seamless tax filing
- Track your business financial health
When it comes time to file your taxes, you will understand how important it was to track your transactions. Below are some examples of documents to keep track of.
- Purchasing equipment.
- Permit costs for landscaping projects.
- Renting office and storage space.
- Time spend on each project.
- Every job you have completed for clients.
- Business expenses.
- Bank transfers.
- Payments from your clients.
- Travel expenses (gas money).
- Cost of phone and internet.
- Power and utility bills.
- Equipment repairs.
- Website design and hosting costs.
- W2 and 1099 forms
- Previous tax returns
- All documentation to give you evidence to support an item of income, credit, or deduction shown on your tax return.
How to Track your Bookkeeping
There are only so many hours of daylight every day for a landscaping business to make an impact. You likely do not have the time to spend hours staring at a spreadsheet looking at your payroll, inventory, and invoices.
Setting up small daily habits around using accounting software will give you more time to landscape.
Weekly Bookkeeping tasks
Lawn Care Apps ( Should you use them?)
- Track all of your transactions. For bookkeeping, we recommend that you use accounting software. You can also use an Excel spreadsheet for your bookkeeping data entry. Bookkeeping software is the most accurate way to keep your books accurate since it automatically accounts for every transaction. An Excel spreadsheet will require more manual labor. After all of the labor you put into your customer’s lawn service, you might want to look for automation!
- Every transaction should be categorized each week as well. Your landscapers might need to run to the store to get more fertilizer for your client’s lawn or to the store to get supplies for the office. On your tax return, those transactions will need to be put into different categories. Management of those transactions daily or weekly will help you keep accurate books.
- Every week you should also file or digitize your receipts. Tracking each receipt is the best way to help your business not to lose them. You never know when an audit might come your way, so tracking receipts is vital to proving certain expenses.
Monthly Bookkeeping Tasks
- Just as you might miss a blade of grass or two when mowing, you always make sure you cut it on your second time around. Reconciling your bank accounts every month will allow you to catch minor expense errors coming in and out of accounts. Monthly reconciliations ensure you never miss another blade of grass or another dollar.
- Prepare and send your invoices. Invoices need to be sent out at least every month. If you do not keep up with your invoices, you risk forgetting and missing out on money.
- Every month you need to pay your bills. Late payments can give you unneeded expenses on interest and late payment penalties. Paying your vendors and other bills monthly will provide you with the money needed for essential costs like lawnmowers, fertilizer, and payroll.
- You should also review the financial health of your landscaping business each month. As a small business owner, you can see if you have enough money to cover operation costs like payroll. It will also help you identify if you can hire those new contractors this month or if it is too large of an expense.
Use Financial Statements
When going into a landscaping project, would you start it blind? Of course not; you have a plan in place. You need so much sod, rock, woodchips, and plants to complete your project. Without a plan, you would have no idea how much it would cost or how much time it would take.
Your financial statements will work as a plan or outline for your business now and how you can grow into the future.
Using your balance sheet will show you all the items that your business owns, owes, and the value of owner investments. The balance sheet shows you these values at specific times.
Income statements will show you how profitable your company has been over a reported period. It will show your revenue minus your expenses and losses.
Your cash flow statement is a statement that records the cash your business has coming in and out of your accounts. If you ever want to scale your landscaping business up, investors will want this statement to look at how you manage your money.
Hire a Professional or Do it Yourself?
Many landscapers start out doing their own bookkeeping since it is less expensive than hiring a professional.
As your business grows, you will need to decide if you can afford to spend time indoors entering numbers when you could be outside focusing on lawn care. Hiring a professional bookkeeper to track the money coming in and out of your business will help you FOCUS on customer service solutions and running the parts of your business you are an expert in.
Bringing in a CPA will help you with your tax filings. They will also help you identify trends through your financial statements. A CPA will give you the best information to find solutions to your financial problems before they become problems.
When operating a landscaping company, it can be challenging to keep up on the books. Up until this point, creating beautiful landscaping projects for your customers was probably the first thing on your mind. The last thing on your mind was likely to keep accurate books every day.
A dedicated bookkeeper can aid you in tracking all of the money coming in and out of your business. They will help you keep track of your weekly and monthly bookkeeping needs.
When thinking about your financial numbers in landscaping terms, you quickly see how important they are to your small business’s long-term success. Fertilizing and watering grass is essential to a healthy lawn. Just as keeping accurate books sets you up for an easy tax season and gives you knowledge on how to scale your business up in the future.
Smart bookkeeping. Powered by professionals. Backed by technology.
Let us do it all for you!
- Reconcile your accounts
- Provide you with clean books every month
- Ensure accurate records for seamless tax filing
- Track your business financial health
Planning For Profit Through Budgeting For Your Landscape Business
Use free budgeting software to find ways to reduce costs and increase profitability. Create your free account below.
Having a strong budget for your landscaping or lawn care business is the only way to scale for profitability and growth. In a way, a landscape or lawn care business without a budget is like a ship without a compass. Budgets guide business growth through forecasts and historical data, and maintaining a strong budget can help scale up your landscape or lawn care business with insight for hiring, material purchases, equipment purchases or leases, and can help with establishing sales goals to further drive a profit. Many landscape or lawn care businesses fail because of weak or non-existent budgets that later lead to negative cash flows. Sometimes landscape businesses fail because of estimates that don’t account for particular costs, break even points, or even profitability. We’ll break down all the tips and tricks and do’s and don’ts of how to budget for your lawn care or landscaping business.
Budgeting is a lot more than setting random numbers for your business to try to follow. In reality, most landscape businesses don’t budget because they don’t know how to create one that works for them. Businesses can break down making budgets in steps, helping contextualize the results and metrics the business is affected by. In the case of a landscape or lawn care business, the budgeting process can be broken down into 5 different steps:
Budgeting is time consuming, but it’s definitely time well spent. Even when you’re not in front of a spreadsheet, the time you took to know your numbers helps speed up the future budgeting process faster because you know your goals, how much everything costs your business, how much your landscape or lawn care business is making, and if you’re on track. In a way, it serves as a landscaping business plan. You want to be able to forecast your growth to scale up your landscape business, or pump the brakes if you’re spending more than you can make. There are fewer things worse than hearing the ship is sinking before it’s too late to right the ship.
How to Build a Strong Foundation To Landscaping Budgets
Depending on the scale of the landscaping or lawn care business, budgets are often split into separate sections or pillars.
A forecast Profit and Loss statement covering your whole company. Your operating budget is a summary of forecast revenue, minus forecast expenses (labor, equipment, materials, subs, and overhead) to create a landscape business plan (forecast) for a profitable year.
A forecast Profit and Loss statement covering one specific division of your company. Again, it’s a summary of revenue, minus expenses, but in the division budget your goal is to only include the revenue and the expenses for one specific division. With budgets for each division in your company, you are able to clearly see which services are profitable and which services need improvement.
A forecast Profit and Loss statement built for one crew. It forecasts revenue and expenses for one specific crew. Revenue is projected by the amount of projects (design-build) or contracts (maintenance) completed by the crew in a year. Payroll expenses are forecast by number of staff (and hours/wages) in the crew, and other expenses (materials, subs and overhead) are forecast using the same percentages as your company budget (e.g. – if your company spends 27% of sales on overhead expenses, then 27% of the crew’s revenue is allocated to cover overhead expenses).
Optimistic and Pessimistic Budgets
Landscape business owners can only control so much in their budget as far as business growth. Being able to slightly forecast or anticipate great success or catastrophic failure allows for adjustments to be made in the budget. Businesses should still budget for growth, but sometimes budgets need to be adjusted for damage control. Here are some factors that would contribute to a landscaping or lawn care Optimistic or Pessimistic budget:
Understanding how profit margins impact the growth of your landscape business is key to any budget and the variations made. Righting the course with a Pessimistic budget can stop unnecessary spending in a tough time. On the flip side, an Optimistic budget can help inform your business whether or not you should add a new crew or make that major equipment purchase that can help your landscape business scale up and further drive efficiency.
Set a Sales Goal and Work Backwards From There
Setting strong sales goals can inform your business which steps it needs to take as far as scaling up operations through added services, expanding your local service area, and who are your targeted customers. By determining the sales goals your landscaping business should make in an upcoming season, steps can be taken to reach those milestones as efficiently as possible. These decisions will impact labor, tools and equipment purchases. marketing spend, local service area expansion, new upselling or cross selling opportunities, and adjusting markups on materials.
Budgeting for Overhead Recovery
Most often landscape business owners are contractors that started a business and not business people becoming contractors that start a landscaping business. The distinction is that there are business costs that most contractors wouldn’t even think of incorporating into estimates. For example, uniforms for your crew are a part of overhead costs, and surprisingly, you can charge for that. It’s all part of how to run a professional landscape business. Cell phones and the bills associated with that are another overhead cost that can be lumped into overhead or operational costs that you should include in estimates.
There’s an extensive list of indirect costs, otherwise known as overhead costs, that add up to roughly 30% of your overall budget if you’re around the landscaping industry average. 30% in overhead costs is a massive number in your budget that you need to cover before you can become a profitable landscaping business.
Types of Indirect or Overhead Costs :
- Rent (Yard/Office)
- Utility bills (Yard/Office)
- Cell phone bills
- Administrative software
- Office supplies
- Association memberships
Budgeting For Landscape Equipment Purchases
Landscaping equipment recovery costs are important line items in estimates and budgets, but landscapers don’t typically think or know what it means for their bottom line. In short, your landscaping equipment costs you money to purchase or lease, and normally a landscape business would be on the hook for repairs and maintenance. If you budget and estimate correctly, your customers should be covering the cost. Consider it as a rental or kit fee for the use of your expensive equipment.
The idea for equipment recovery costs is to ensure your landscape business builds a budget to pull from when the inevitable landscape equipment replacement or repair happens. Most landscaping businesses aren’t ready for those unexpected costs, and are left in a tough position that will either eat into earned profit or look to alternative financing options to help keep operations moving.
Budgeting For Owner, Crew, and Subcontractor Wages
Crew wages typically account for 25% of a landscaping business budget based on the industry average. Break even costs are generally easy to figure out, but landscaping businesses often don’t estimate or budget work for 15% profit. Your landscaping business isn’t a charity, so why should it operate for a loss?
Landscape business owners can have it worse than any other employee in the landscaping startup phase as they’re often not taking a wage. No matter what, you need to budget for a regular owner’s wage so you’re not just taking the scraps at the end of a job or month. Some owners don’t have enough money to live after paying everyone out, so the way around that is to make sure owners should set a salary or wage in the budget no matter if it’s in the actual payroll or if you’re paying yourself out in cash.
Subcontractors need to be separated from other labor costs. While subcontractors represent your company and complete work on your behalf, they are not on your payroll and should be sectioned out in the budget. Use these figures to forecast future job costing and how they impact budgets and estimates moving forward. It’s also possible that proper training can reduce the need for subcontractors, minimizing those costs and keeping more profit within your business.
Determine Job Costing
You have your landscaping business budget and you know how much profit you want to make for the year, but how does any landscaper know what to charge for each job? It’s not like numbers spontaneously appear out of thin air. There needs to be some considerations when creating landscaping estimates and budgets, and job costing is generally where contractors build from to understand their numbers.
Keeping accurate documentation of past jobs can help inform what to charge for similar work, and steps needed to be taken to help create efficiencies for profitability. Use this train of thought to build out strong and predictable budgets for running your landscape business. While it may take some trial and error to get estimates and job costing in sync for future landscaping or lawn care jobs, it will pay dividends towards building trust with current and new customers, and maintaining accurate budgets. It’s satisfying knowing that your customer can rely on accurate estimates for a 2,500 square foot lawn needing to be maintained, and knowing what it will cost every single time.
Stick To Your Budget Play Within It
Sticking to a budget is a universal experience whether or not you’re living your personal life or owning a landscaping business. The idea of a budget is to be able to predict spending habits and live within a means that your cash flow allows. In the case of a landscape business, you’re not going to make a massive equipment purchase or buy a new yard without reviewing the budget to see if it’s an affordable purchase. Landscaping is profitable if you know how to budget.
Budgets should be realistic, somewhat flexible, and reviewed frequently. To maintain flexibility, put aside some money in the budget for unexpected costs. Maybe there’s used equipment that you can purchase at a discount or there’s upfront costs you’ll need to source for a job that won’t pay until months later. Material costs like salt for the snow season also have upfront costs to begin operations. Financial flexibility is always needed, and landscaping business owners need to make sure budgets can always be shifted elsewhere if not used or financing options, like a line of credit, are accessible to make these upfront or unexpected purchases.
There are key metrics that can help dictate cost or potential profit growth in a landscaping business budget. By setting business goals, you are determining a future you would like to see for your landscape business, and you are going to make actionable decisions to get you to that goal. Learn to love your numbers and start educating yourself on how to read and measure those key metrics that positively impact your budget.
As a quick sample, there are ways to make your crews work with higher efficiency. Monitor your field labor ratio and revenue per labor hour to help guide actionable ways that you as a business owner can impact. Look to adding equipment or getting your crews the training it needs to work smarter, safer, and with better quality. There are always ways to scale and grow your landscape or lawn care business so that you’re putting money in you and your crews’ s.
Create Your Landscape Budgets The Easy Way
Easy is a relative term and budgeting is a tall task for any landscape business owner. Learning how to scale a landscaping or lawn care business for growth is tough if you don’t know where to start. If you’re new to creating a strong budget, it’s easy to get lost or overlook items that help give a full picture between labor, overhead, materials, and the other costs to run your business. To solve that, LMN has budgeting tools that landscape and lawn care contractors can use to help. LMN Pro users have the digital budgeting tools to make it significantly easier to form actionable business plans and guide landscape business owners towards decisions to boost profitability and growth. LMN Pro users also have the benefit of utilizing our industry experts to give you an analysis of your budget through feedback from one-on-one sessions.
Sign up here for the free version of LMN Pro to gain access to our robust digital landscape budgeting tools.
Nailing your pricing strategy for high margins with less mistakes
You’re just about ready to go out there and start growing a thriving new business!
However, this chapter is a critical key to making sure that you succeed. In fact, I can safely say that this is the most important chapter of this blueprint. What’s that? I’ve already said that a few times? You’re right… and that’s because all of these chapters are the most important. I called this a blueprint for a reason. When a construction crew puts up a building, they base everything they do off of an engineer’s blueprint. Every single piece of that plan is required to make sure the building is solid.
The way that you price your services is absolutely critical to your success.
The bad news is that there really is no exact formula to figure this out. Even more bad news is that you will make some mistakes. The good news, though, is that this isn’t a big deal. You’re going to get good at pricing your services by doing it.
The good news is on GreenPal we tell you what the average winning bid is alongside the pricing opportunities we send you, so that will help you develop a feel for what the pricing is like in your market.
Maybe you’ll go over or under but with a little experience, you’ll very quickly develop a feel for it.
The reality of your market and what it means to you.
There’s a funny thing about lawn care. While you don’t want to compete on price – that’s to say you don’t want to be the lowest priced guy out there – you will certainly have to be competitively priced.
want to stay within 5 of that. Sure, there will always be idiots out there who say they’ll do it for 20… but what those customers quickly find is that these low-ballers do a low-ball job of it.
It’s funny how so many people will gladly pay more for quality for clothes or when they go out to eat, yet in this business, not so much. It’s just a mindset, really. Yet as long as you’re diligent and give them a fair bid, you’re bound to do very well. Pricing is one of those critical elements that tends to run a lot of newbies out of the business. It’s not a matter of guesswork – you need to have a formula for pricing. That’s true for cutting grass, snow or leaf removal, fertilization, weeding and so on. Lucky for you, there is a way to do this that allows you to be accurate and plan for future revenue and growth as well.
The standard bidding unit – the man hour
In order to take the big mystery out of bidding for jobs, we’re going to help you to create a standard unit of measure.
Something that you use as a guide whenever you price a new client’s weekly lawn mowing visits or a shrub pruning job for example. The biggest key behind this unit is having a fairly good understanding of how much time something is going to take.
That’s the tricky part – at least in the beginning. But that’s what your first 10 customers are really for – they allow you to get a good feel for the work and how to gauge the amount of time a lawn or other project will take. A little later on, I’ll go into some ideas that’ll help you better guestimate your time and how to really hone your instincts so you can be right on the money.
Now I know that I’ve mentioned before that thinking of yourself as an hourly employee is no longer acceptable. You’re in business now, and it’s not how much money you make per hour, it’s how much your business makes per hour. It’s a subtle difference but it’s an important one. The difference between an hourly wage and a man hour can mean tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to you.
The reason that you use the man hour as your basis or as your standard unit of measure is that this will always be your basis.
You’ll use your man hour formula when it’s just you bidding on a single family home or when you and your 5 crews of 3 guys each are going to do a 400 unit apartment complex. At the end of the day, the number of man hours determines your price.
So how do you figure this out?
30 X 2,000 = 60,000.
That’s pretty generic, because you probably won’t work exactly 40 hours per week every week of the year. Remember in the last chapter, we used an example where you had 68 customers with 4 cuts per month for 7 months and then 2 cuts per month for 2 months. We figured 40 hours during the busy months per week and 23 for the slower ones. Which means, really, that you’re working about 1,500 hours per year, give or take.
60,000 / 1,500 = 40 per hour.
You’ll also remember, though, that we had to tack on taxes and expenses in order to get to the 68 customers. Those expenses were about 28% of your salary that we had to tack onto what you’re earning. Which means that in order to make 60,000 per year working 1,500 hours, you need to charge 52 per man hour. Does that sound like a lot? That’s hard to say exactly, but think about it – that means that a lawn that takes you exactly 1 hour to mow, trim and edge will be billed at 52 in order for you to make your goal. A lawn that takes an hour will be a fairly substantial sized property. If the average price per cut in your area is 35 for an average sized lawn, say a 50 X 75 foot lot, then what that means is that you have to figure out how much of your time you can spend for 35. You do that like this: You divide that average price by your man hour figure and then multiply by 100. That’ll give you the percentage of a single hour that this lawn should take you. Then you can multiply that percentage by 60 and see how much time you can dedicate to this particular yard…
60 X 67% = 40.
So basically, at your man hour price of 52, you can afford to spend 40 minutes on this lawn. So long as you get the work done within that time frame, you’re in good shape. In fact, if it takes you 30 minutes, then you’re actually ahead of the game.
You could even shave a little bit off your price and quote this lawn for 30 and still be right at your optimum margin for profit. If it takes you a half hour to do this lawn, then you need to get 26 for the job. If you’re getting 30, you’re still ahead and well beyond your minimum income requirements.
Of course, you’ve got to drive from house to house… that can really eat into your profit margin if you aren’t careful. On the other hand, this is why route density is so important. It’s not just about saving time, which of course is money, it’s about maximizing what you earn in a given hour.
Think about this – let’s say you get a customer with a lawn that you quote for 35 per cut. You do the job in half an hour and as soon as you’re done, you go next door or across the street and do another similar sized lawn at the same rate. In a single hour, then, you made 70.
On the other hand, if you have two 35 lawns that involve 20 minutes of driving time between, then both lawns plus the drive will take you an hour and 20 minutes. Or to put it another way, using up 1.33 man hours or 70.
Since you’re getting 70 for the two lawns, you’re still okay – but you see the difference?
you can double your productivity.
which means that there’s 90 left to pay expenses, taxes and you – not bad, right?
Now you see why learning this stuff and nailing your man-hour labor rate and taking the time to grow your company can really lead to a tremendous income.
Remember that your man hour is your standard unit of measure.
What’s Your Minimum Mowing Price Per Cut?
It’s based both on how much time it’s going to take you to complete an hour’s worth of work – whatever that might be – as well as being consistent with the market. In the beginning, this is really going to be more of an art than a science. Once you figure this out, though, your bids will be far more scientific.
Getting a feel for the work
Cut a few lawns for friends and family:
When you first get started you’ll probably end up doing this anyway. Go to your parents’ home, a relative or two and maybe a couple of friends and offer to cut for them. You can give them a family discount and maybe even do a few cuts for nothing.
The idea is to establish your eye for estimating work time. Make sure that for each of these lawns, you measure out the square footage of the yard and note how much of the yard is actually grass to be cut. Also note how much trimming is required and how many edges need done.
Let’s say that your mom’s house sits on a 75 X 75 lot. Finding the square footage is easy – you just multiply the width times the length like this:
75’ / 75’ = 56,25.
- Mowing time: 20 minutes
- Trimming: 10 minutes
- Edging: 8 minutes
- Blowing: 7 minutes
So this lawn took you 45 minutes to complete. So if you were going to charge using our 52 man hour figure, you’d have to bid on ¾ of an hour, like so:
52 X.75 = 39
So your bid would be 39 for this lawn. It’s a fairly large lawn as well, so that seems fair.
First one is free:
If you really want to be spot on with a new customer, this could be a great way to make a really accurate bid. Not only that, it could be a great marketing strategy for you as well. On your door hangers or online, you could advertise something like, “Free estimate including complete mow, trim and edging at no charge!”
Now instead of trying to guess how much time a lawn will take, you’ll know for certain. Not everybody will go for this, believe it or not, but many will. If they don’t want a cut, then simply take a few minutes to measure and use the knowledge you gained from your mom’s house to give them a price.
Get competitive bids:
Here’s one that some folks feel a little weird about. It feels a bit dishonest to ask 3 lawn care companies in your area to come to your house or a relative’s house and give you a quote. You may feel like you’re wasting their time… which you are.
But that’s business. Nobody lands 100% of their estimates. And who knows, one day you may be doing this for a newbie lawn care guy or gal yourself!
Yet this will give you a pretty good understanding of both how these companies bid, what they think the property is worth and what the going rates are in your market. If you feel really bad about it, throw each one a ten dollar bill afterward and say thank you for their time.
Get creative here. And remember, you’re going to make a mistake on price here and there, especially in the beginning. Don’t be afraid of this – mistakes really do have value if you’re willing to learn from them.
Making adjustments to limit mistakes
As I’ve mentioned before and will again – you’re going to make some mistakes, especially in the beginning. But there are ways to limit the number of mistakes you make and ways to learn from them so that you tighten down your bidding system.
What’s more. It turns out that you screwed the pooch here and way under bid this job. Sure, one job once per week isn’t going to kill you, but think of it this way…
If you waste 40 once per week every week that comes out to over 2,000 that you’re simply pissing away!
And what if you have 3 or 4 Mr. Squinchmeyers?
You will be cutting yourself out of a lot of bread, and even worse be on your way to going out of business.
It’s very easy to get yourself into a situation where you’ve got 70 or 80 clients and half of them are sucking you dry. This is a dangerous pitfall, and it’s so easy to avoid.
So what do you do when this happens?
There are a couple of ways to handle it. First, you figure out why the hell it’s taking you twice as long on Mrs. Squinchmeyer’s yard. Second, you contact him and tell him what’s going on.
Tell him that. You’re happy to finish out the month at the rate you quoted, but that if you’re to continue servicing his property, you’ll have to charge him 78.
Unless you can figure a way to shave your time down. But you’ll still have to adjust your fee.
My experience is that it’s about 50/50. That’s okay, though, because there’s a virtually unlimited supply of clients out there. You can easily replace Mr. Squinchmeyer with 2 new clients that you bid accurately on.
You see, it’s been my experience that not tracking and adjusting your work and your man hours this way doesn’t just cause many lawn care businesses to go under. The guys that let this happen are the ones who piss and moan about how the business doesn’t work, how it’s a rat race and how nobody should ever try it.
You’ll run into this negative attitude, but the truth is that these guys were the cause of their own demise. If you follow the procedures I suggest and carefully track your efforts, you’ll not only be able to avoid making crummy money or even going out of business… you’ll be able to truly thrive.
On top of all that, after your experience with Mr. Squinchmeyer, you’ve been able to learn from that situation so you don’t repeat it.
Additional services. Working during the off season
continue to put cash in your
That doesn’t mean you can’t take time off, but if you’re hungry and want to really succeed – then these ideas will either help you make it to your 5,000 monthly income if things haven’t quite gone as well as you thought… or they’ll help you to push further and get close to that magical 100,000 threshold that so many of us dream about.
It’s really possible, and in the next chapter, I’m going to talk more about how to make it a reality.
Thankfully, there’s a lot of types of work that relate to lawn care.
The biggest headache to owning a home is that the freakin’ yard always needs attention, winter, spring, summer or fall!
For example, here are just a few arrows that you can think about adding to your quiver of services:
- Leaf removal – in the fall this can be a weekly chore.
- Snow removal – if you can blow, shovel or plow you can be a real life-saver.
- Seeding – Most of the time in the early fall.
- Bed weeding – Some flower beds and planters need to be weeded by hand, which is an extra you can add anytime, most folks opt to get this one once a month.
- Mulching/PineStraw – a great high margin service to make some cash in the fall in early spring.
- Pressure washing – Over time, driveways and sidewalks get stained and need cleaning to look great again. You can add this and even do roofs and the house itself if you want. You can rent a pressure washer for 100 a day in most markets.
- Landscaping – Now I’m being literal here. Landscape design can be an interesting way to make some extra money. If you’re into things like flowers, plants and borders, you can offer to create some visually appealing additions to your customers’ yards.
The cool thing is … with the GreenPal app you’ll have the opportunity to quote all this additional yard work after the second mowing you have with your clients, right through the app. So these will be on the client’s profile and
there for them to add on with you as the season progresses.
All of these services still hinge on your man hour. You still need to estimate your bid on how long they’ll take. Now obviously, some of these have additional costs like seed, mulch, equipment rental, additional fuel, etc.
At the end of the day, though, it still comes down to the old man hour. Let’s take leaf removal, for example. Suppose your customer has a bunch of maple or oak trees and between October and January they drop a few billion leaves. They want you to come out every two weeks and clean them up.
There isn’t much overhead here, except maybe fuel for the leaf blower.
Most places require that you bag up the leaves in bio-degradable bags.
Some cities provide these and some don’t, so if you have to buy them, take this into account.
Now let’s say that you figure it’s going to take you 2 hours to clean up the entire yard. Using your man hour unit, you estimate 104 per treatment. Simple, right?
On something like a seeding job, it might go like this:
In this case, assuming you’ve already bought the seed spreader, you have to factor in supply cost, which is not negotiable. Well, not much anyway. Seed does come in a range of from lowest to highest. This estimate actually was a bit on the low side.
But your labor cost remains constant based on your standard man hour unit. You could drop your price a little if you need to, but remember that materials cost cannot be negotiated.
Great work. Most people do not make it this far. Let’s review what we’ve learned.
As you can now see, your man hour unit is the vital key to your business. Everything you do involves using this as your yardstick. From grass cutting to snow blowing to driving around town – keeping account of your man hours is what fuels your income and your success.
- Practice estimating your time on your own lawn or that of your friends and family.
- Give free cuts to new customers to gauge the work involved.
- Get competitive bids from other lawn companies on a specific yard to gauge pricing.
- Include additional costs in your estimates for materials.
- Always remember that you’re in a competitive market. so you need to be within 5 of the average price.
When you strip away the actual mowing, trimming, edging and blowing – you see that owning a lawn care business is truly a numbers game.
Keeping track of everything from your expenses to your time is what’s going to make the difference between your success and floundering or even sinking.
You now have a complete blueprint to get started. I want to congratulate you on making it this far and I hope that this guide will be an invaluable tool for years to come. You can always come back and brush up on a topic when you need to.