Each summer countless teenagers earn a few extra bucks by mowing their neighbors' lawns — shouldn't a landscaping business be as simple as that? Well, no, that's a far cry from the professional lawn care business that you run. Your business is exposed to risks each day that could lead to bankruptcy or force you to shut your business down for good.
To help your landscaping business, let's look at common mistakes other business owners make and what you can do to avoid them.
9 Mistakes that Can Cut Down Your Landscaping Business
Between pricing your services, insuring your risks, and investing in the right equipment, there's a lot landscapers need to know to keep their business running smoothly. Avoiding these mistakes will help keep your landscaping business profitable:
- Undercutting too much. Undercutting sounds like a problem your customers might have with their hedges, but we're talking about prices. Some landscapers undercut the competition or underbid to have the lowest prices and get a new customer. But there's a problem: working at a discount means you're not bringing in much revenue.
- Failing to get insurance. The right insurance portfolio can offer your business some financial protection for losses due to theft and client lawsuits. See Landscaper's Small Business Insurance for more information on coverages.
- Underestimating your image and marketing. Simple things like having uniform shirts and painting a logo on your truck can make your business look more professional. Your fleet will look like a small business that takes itself seriously. These efforts also help you advertise throughout the neighborhood.
- Failing to keep insurance updated. Keep your insurance providers updated if you make large investments in new equipment or begin offering new services that might not be covered by your current coverage. If you fail to update your policy, they may refuse to cover your claim later on. See our article "8 Tips for Landscapers Who Plow Snow in the Winter" for an example of changing your risk management strategy for seasonal work.
- Failing to adapt. Lawn care companies need to be flexible. To stay in business, you may need to alter your plan. Say you wanted to do lawn care, but found that tree trimming is in demand in your area after a stormy spring. Be ready for these opportunities.
- Not recognizing the talent of your workforce. Have a great employee? Don't forget to reward them. Your top landscaper could leave the company tomorrow to start their own business or join a competitor. Keep your top talent in-house with promotions, profit sharing, and other benefits.
- Not working with the right subcontractors. Remember that price isn't everything. Don't merely go with the subcontractor who offers the lowest price. Make sure you're working with someone who has an established, reliable reputation. See "A Lawn Care Business Owner's Guide to Subcontractors" for more tips on working with contractors.
- Focusing too much on the work and not enough on the business. It's easy to spend too much time and money getting your lawn care work just right. Meanwhile, don't forget that as a business owner, you'll also need to spend time poring over spreadsheets, expense reports, and payroll information. The bookkeeping and clerical work is less fun — and can give you a headache — but it's an important to stay in tune with your company's financial health.
- Trying to get by with lesser equipment. One common beginner's mistake is not investing in industry-grade landscaping equipment. Lesser tools and equipment will break down quickly and cause delays. Better equipment can also help you work faster and ensures your landscaping business stays profitable while servicing as many clients as possible each week.
For more risk management strategies, make sure to follow Greener, our landscaping insurance blog.