Working with residential clients presents unique challenges for lawn care companies. Because you're working at a client's home, you may have to deal with children running around, yapping dogs, and other quirks that come with being in someone's personal environment.
More than that, residential clients can present business challenges. When you provide residential lawn care and landscaping, you may encounter problems in scheduling, financial management, project delays, and other small business matters.
9 Strategies You Need When Working For Residential Clients
Whether you've been working in residential landscaping for decades or you just started your first business, it can be helpful to review what makes residential lawn care different than commercial work. As you seek to grow your home lawn care business, consider these strategies:
- Build relationships. When you're working at someone's home, it's important to build a relationship with your clients. Being professional and friendly can go a long way. Keep courtesy in mind, such as whether you're blocking the customer's driveway, tracking mud on their walkways, or doing other things that could irritate homeowners.
- Communicate. It's easy to forget that lawn care is really a service-oriented profession. It's your job to make a client's lawn and property look the way they want. Communicating clearly about what your work will and won't include can help you avoid disgruntled customers.
- Train workers. Residential landscaping and lawn care comes with its own risks and headaches. You could be mowing the lawn when the homeowner's children decide now is a great time to for a soccer match. Train your workers to handle these hiccups and how to avoid accidental injuries caused by trips and falls over extension cords and other hazards that come with working at someone's home. (For information about covering third-party property damage and injury lawsuits, see General Liability Insurance for lawn care.)
- Diversify your business's services. Many successful small businesses are flexible. Be ready to expand and offer new services in order to diversify your sources of income. Many landscapers will offer off-season services like snow removal and plowing in order to avoid winter lulls.
- Be aware of upsell, cross-sell, and off-season promotion opportunities. Say you're mowing your client's lawn and you notice that their hedges also need some work. This would be a great time to upsell your clients on more lawn care. Similarly, if you sell services in other seasons — like leaf removal, tree trimming, and snow removal — connect with your current clients to see if they'll need this work done later in the year. (For more about your off-season strategy, see "8 Tips for Landscapers Who Plow Snow in the Winter.")
- Schedule jobs wisely. Scheduling your work can be surprisingly difficult. An ideal schedule minimizes driving time in order to save on gas and prevent lost time due to travel.
- Keep an eye on your finances. Small-business owners can get so caught up in the day-to-day work of landscaping and maintaining their clients' lawns that they forget to keep an eye on their bank account. Cash flow problems and other financial mismanagement are commonly cited as one of the top reasons small businesses fail. Even if business is thriving, you could run into problems if you don't coordinate your payments, payroll, and expenses wisely.
- Prepare your clients for problems. As a contractor or landscaper, you never want to spring problems on your clients. A client is much more likely to understand a delay if you've mentioned the possibility to them earlier. Be upfront about any problems that pop up.
- Price your work to cover all your costs. You want to make sure your prices are sufficient to cover delays, taxes, insurance costs, equipment maintenance, gas, certifications, and labor. Many first-time business owners undercharge. Don't make that mistake!
If you also provide lawn care services to businesses, check out our companion article "8 Things to Do for Commercial Landscaping Clients."