Aim For The Top 20% Of Lawn Service Prices

Learn why your lawn service prices should fall in the top 20% of your market.

I get the question all the time: How much money should I be charging for my services? How should I price my services? I’m not going to directly answer that in this video but I do want to talk about a concept that I think is really important.

I have been studying marketing since around the end of 2005. When you start studying marketing, you get introduced to a lot of really interesting people and they obviously teach on subjects other than marketing.

I noticed that what a lot of the gurus in the marketing industry tend to teach is that you should price your services at the very very top of the market. You should be the highest priced provider in the market for whatever it is that you want to sell.

I don’t really agree with that for the service industry and for my service business. That’s the point I want to address. As you’re learning how to price your services and you are working your strategic plan to get to the price point that you want to be in the market and be able to sell a lot of work at that price point so that you can make a good amount of profit, what I believe you want to try to accomplish is you want to be in the top 20%.

If you were to look at the pricing in your marketplace, whatever the service is that you’re selling, look at 50 competitors and write down the cheapest price somebody in your market charges to provide that service, and then write down the highest price that someone in that market would charge to provide that service.

Let’s just use fertilization and weed control. If someone for a 5,000 square foot property would charge $25 to do fertilization and weed control at that property, and at top end of that market somebody would charge $75 to do that service. If you picture that on a whiteboard or on a chart, you want to be pricing in the top 20% of the market. If you were to plot all the lawn service prices for everybody in the market and you were to divide that into 20% chunks, you want to see what the pricing is at the top of that 20% chunk.

I don’t know what that would be in your market, but you want to slowly figure that out over time. You’re not going to figure it out when you first get in business. You’re not going to figure it out on day one. You figure it out over time and as you figure it out, you start to price at that price point.

Now obviously, your service quality, the quality of your people, your customer service, everything has to improve and grow and get better so that you can get those prices. But, I believe that the sweet spot is in that top 20%. Why is that? Because if you’re the highest priced provider in your business, you can’t really build a big business.

If you know me, then you know that my whole concept is to build a business big enough to have somebody that runs it for you. Then, you also have to have a couple of layers so that even if that main person leaves, it wouldn’t all end and you’d have to be the guy running it again.

You want to build a business big enough that you can afford to have people to run the company for you, and that takes a while to get to that point. To get there, if you are the highest priced provider in the market, it’s hard to get enough business, enough volume of business, to build a business big enough to do that.

If you’re too cheap in terms of pricing, you can never hire the right people, the best people. You always have equipment problems and truck problems and employee problems, and you can’t afford to market. You can’t afford to do anything, so then again, you can’t build that business.

That top 20% sweet spot to me is the point that gives you enough money to grow a great company that can run itself and that will allow you to take a lot of money out of the business, and it will allow you to build, again, a big enough business to accomplish everything that I just said.

It’s Not Just You–To Grow A Landscape Company Is Hard

Don’t be discouraged! This video tells you what a lot of entrepreneurs haven’t about trying to grow a landscape company.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that there’s an absolute dark side to entrepreneurship and being a business owner. It’s really easy to watch some videos from me talking about where I’m at in business and giving some ideas to help you get there. Maybe you’re reading books by very successful people or watching videos by somebody like Elon Musk to give you ideas to improve what you’ve already got. But, while you are doing that, it is so easy to start thinking, “Man, I’m not there. I’m just not achieving. What’s wrong with me? Why are all these other people able to pull this stuff off? It just seems like their life is so much better and easier.”

What’s missed, I believe, is everybody that’s built a company has been through hell and has been through a lot of hard stuff. Yeah, there are the examples of a few of these individuals that made it on their first try and made it to billionaire status, but that is so incredibly rare. It’s like winning the lottery. The reality is that the vast majority of all of us started with very little help, very little assistance, probably very little money, and not really an absolute plan or the complete knowledge on how to get there. We had to figure it out. We had to struggle. We made a lot of mistakes. That’s the reality of what everybody goes through. That’s what I’ve been through.

I’m in my late 30s. I’ve been working on this for quite a while. I feel like everything really started clicking for me in my late 20s. It’s been getting better from there, but it really took me all these years to learn a lot of the things that I know now. To be able to record some of the videos and talk about some of the things that I talk about, I had to go through a bunch of stuff and had to be frustrated. I had to have money concerns. I had to have doubts and questions and not know how I was going to get my business to where I wanted to take it. I had all of that stuff. I believe everybody does. Trying to grow a landscape company is hard!

The point of the video is, as you’re working through your season, no matter what size company you are because you have problems at every single level, and I’ve said it before, every level you get to in your business means a new thing you have to learn and a new person you have to become. When you go to a million dollars, it doesn’t necessarily mean that suddenly everything’s great. Now you have million dollar business problems. Then when you go to 5 million dollars, that means you better know what it means to be a real CEO of your company and be able to manage your company and be able to run a company where you can’t actually do anything. You delegate everything. Then, when you get to 10 million, that’s another level.

All of that’s challenging and it all comes with pain and frustration and concern and worry and all of that. That’s part of becoming a great business owner. The downside of that is it also isolates you from other people, in some cases from your family, because they can’t possibly understand. There’s nobody to talk to. There’s a lot of stress. That can lead to a lot of mental anguish in a sense, especially early on, if you’re in a really tight financial spot, or if you have employee problems and it’s heartbreaking to have to let certain people go.

That kind of stuff just tears you down and wears you out and you’ve got to be around people that can build you up. You’ve got to be reading things, reading books, that can build you up. You’ve got to be seeking those answers by studying and talking to people and reading. The point here is that’s how you get through it. That’s one of the ways you get through it, but more than that, it’s normal and most people go through it of varying degrees. For some people, it might turn into depression, whereas other people, it just turns into a lot of stress. Everybody deals with it differently. But, I believe almost all business owners go through these extreme highs of, “Yay, everything’s going awesome,” and these extreme lows of, “Oh my gosh, it’s all going to end.” That’s normal.

As you’re working through whatever level you’re at in your business, and you’re working through the hardest part of your season, of your year, and you get beat down, you get stressed out because things don’t run the way they should, you can’t find the people you need, you didn’t sell that big deal and you lost another estimate. When you think about throwing in the towel, you think about giving up, you think about maybe you should have done something else, maybe you should have gone into another industry, maybe you’re not smart enough for this, or maybe you should have gotten a college degree and then somehow you would magically be equipped to do this. Everybody else had to go through that thing just like you.

The point here is don’t let it get you beat down. Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t give up. Don’t say, “I can’t do it.” Rather, figure out a way to be around people that build you up, motivate you, that have been through it, or are going through it, so you have somebody to talk to and just keep pressing on. It’s exactly what you need to be doing. It will one, get you to the next level, both financially and wealth-wise, but what I think is even bigger, two, ability and capability and knowledge-wise, because you are going through the low points and going through the trials and the tribulations and all the stress.

The gist of the video is, just keep pushing on and know that you are not alone. Most people don’t talk about it. Most business owners, you only hear the good stuff. They don’t tell you about all the junk they went through. All you see and hear are the stories of everybody else being successful and it’s not uncommon to say, “Why am I not moving faster? Why didn’t I get there faster? Why are they better and more talented than me?”

Generally there’s a little bit more to the story than that. Keep pushing on.

How To Determine Lawn Care Pricing (Video Part 3)

Watch this video to learn how to set lawn care pricing to earn the most profit for your business.

If you’re watching this video, I’d highly encourage you to watch video number one and video number two if you have not already, because this video is based on the last two videos. And in it, I’m talking about how to figure out lawn care pricing for yourself as your business evolves.

In the last video, what we did was figure out the time for eleven properties within the seven thousand and seven thousand nine hundred and ninety nine square feet range. Remember, we’re using mowing as an example and we determined that our price based on hitting our target of forty dollars per man hour, the price needs to be twenty nine dollars and seventeen cents to mow properties within this range.

So basically what we’ve done, is we went through our business and we just simply tracked our time and measured our properties and we figured out, for all the different square footage ranges, what we need to be charging to hit our goals and we could do this for every service…fertilization, weed control, lawn mowing, aeration and all the different service types. Then, what we do is we basically build out our lawn care pricing. We call it a price matrix in Service Autopilot. It could be just a layout like this for you inside a spreadsheet. We figured out in our business, hypothetically I’m saying your business, that for five thousand to six thousand square feet, you might need to charge twenty eight. And for six to seven thousand, you might need to charge twenty eight dollars. Again, keep in mind, we’re using fictitious numbers to lay out a simple example.

So, just simply lay out something like this for the different services at different square footage ranges. Then, when you go out, you measure the property with a measuring wheel or you go online and you measure it with satellite imagery or pictorial imagery. You can literally look at the square footage, look at your spreadsheet, or if you use Service Autopilot, it will figure out for you based on the price matrix and it will give you a price. Service Autopilot really simplifies pricing and it also helps ensure that you’re always pricing your properties to achieve your target man hour rate.

So, that’s the basic premise of figuring out your lawn care pricing from the beginning so that you can set it and then price off of it from that point forward.

Now, something you might find as your business evolves, you might have originally set prices like this, at twenty eight dollars and twenty eight for this square footage. But, then what happens as it evolves and as your property makes changes and maybe as a little bit of the market you serve changes or the demographic you serve changes, you’re going to notice that maybe you’re starting to achieve a little bit different man hour rates. So, maybe your goal is to achieve a man hour rate clocked around forty eight dollars. So, let’s just go with that.

If you’re trying to achieve forty eight dollars per man hour when you’re mowing, and you’re nailing that on this property right here, five thousand to six thousand square feet. But, now on six thousand to seven thousand square feet, you’re not. You’re more on this forty six dollar per man hour range. So then, you’d probably need to raise that price to about twenty nine dollars to continue to achieve a forty eight dollar per man hour range.

In video number two, we went through and we tracked all of our time and that helped us figure out how much we’re making per man hour. Then, once we figure out how much we’re making per man hour, and we figure out averages across the square footage ranges, we can then really analyze our business and we can really adjust the business. Something we found years ago at our business is, we were really doing okay in this five thousand to ten thousand square foot range. But, as soon as we got into the bigger stuff, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen thousand square feet for residential, we weren’t making money, or, we were not making good money. It wasn’t holding up.

In my example right here, notice what happens, we’re pricing six thousand to seven thousand square feet at twenty eight dollars. Remember that these are made up numbers, these are not my exact pricing and it would be totally different for you and your market. But in my example, notice that, six thousand to seven thousand square feet is priced at twenty eight dollars. We’re pricing fifteen to sixteen thousand square feet at thirty two dollars. But what’s happening on those properties based on how long they’re taking us, we’re only making thirty seven dollars per man hour. Our target in my example, was forty eight, so notice how far we’re under performing.

So what that would tell me as the owner of the business is that, we either need to stop doing properties like these or we need to figure out how to be more efficient. Maybe we need to construct a route that has bigger equipment on it, so that we can go through this type of property faster and we basically group all of those properties into one crew and get through them faster. You’ve got to watch out on the back side though. You could drive up your non-billable time. You might get your per man hour time, you might optimize it and make the per man hour time you want, but then your non-billable goes way up. You may end up with tons of drive time and so you still don’t end up profitable for the day.

There are lots of considerations here and those are things to think about. And, I know that I’m not going to win as much business, but at least when I do win the business, we’re making money and that’s the goal.

And so, the point of this screen here is to show you two things. Once you figure out your average pricing by square footage, you then take that and you set that for each of the square footage ranges. Then over time, you re-analyze your business and you figure out by square footage range, what man hour rate you are earning right now, on average. If it’s too low, you back into it. If you want to go up to earning forty five here, if you want it to go up to forty eight, how much do you need to raise this twenty eight dollar price? And if you watch my video number one, or excuse me number two, and you paused the video on some of my formulas, then you can kind of figure out how, this one here is about raising the price. So you can look at my formulas and figure out how to do this for yourself.

I hope that makes sense. If you have questions about this, post them in the comment section and I will, based on the comments, potentially record additional videos on this topic.

How To Determine Lawn Care Pricing (Part 2)

Learn how to set lawn care pricing to earn the most profit for your business.

In a prior video, we were talking about how to price. This is part two. Part one sets this video up and I recommend watching it. We’re talking about the subject of how to learn to price your work versus copying the pricing of someone else. Let’s now look at some actual numbers. There’s a couple of things to know as I go through this video.

One, we’re going to talk in terms of per man hour pricing. How much are you making per man hour? When I’m talking in terms of per man hour here, for example, I could tell you that you need to be making forty dollars or more per man hour. When I say forty dollars or more, that includes their salary and their labor burden meaning the taxes you’re paying them. It would include worker’s comp. It would have overhead things in there such as insurance and truck and fuel and administrative costs in the office.

All of that is rolled into this one number that you need to be making per man hour to pay for that employee, all the overhead that goes into selling the work, and having the office administration support that individual. As we’re talking about these per man hour numbers, that’s what all is included within that number.

Let’s talk details here. In this example, I have eleven properties. First, what we did was, we went out and measured all of our client’s properties and  figured out for those eleven properties their gross lot. Let’s just use gross lot square footage. We’re using a mowing example so in video number one we were using a mowing example and I’m going to continue to use a mowing example. For these eleven properties, they all fall within the seven thousand to seven thousand nine hundred and ninety square foot gross lot. I know that’s a small property. I’m just trying to keep this example really simple.

Then, what we did was we went out and we tracked time for all of the mowing jobs that we performed. When the truck arrives, we start the clock. When the crew gets back in the truck, we stop the clock. For these eleven properties, here’s how much time we were on the property. We were physically there for twenty minutes, physically at this property for twenty-three, physically at this one for twenty-one. We ran three man crews, so when you take the time we were physically there, multiply that by the number of individuals in the truck, we had total time at the property of sixty minutes. That means three men were there for twenty so, twenty times three is sixty.

Now, what we did because we weren’t sure how to price, we heard one of our competitors say, “Hey I charge thirty dollars per man hour for a property that’s seven thousand to seven thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine square feet.” Now if you watch video number one on pricing, you’ll know why this is such a disastrous thing to do. Don’t copy someone else’s pricing.

Let’s say you did that. You heard that I said thirty dollars is a good price for seven thousand to seven thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine square feet so you went and you charged all of your clients that have that square footage that price. But, now you’ve started tracking your time and you’ve figured out what you’re actually making per man hour.

Now, something else I’ve said is I believe that at a minimum you need to be charging about forty dollars per man hour, minimum. Now look what happens because possibly you copied my pricing. Once you start tracking time on this job, you made thirty a man hour. On this job, you made twenty-six dollars a man hour and let’s look down here, you made thirteen dollars a man hour on this job. It took you one hundred and thirty-two minutes, over two hours to perform this job. You made thirteen a man hour.

You pay your guys fourteen dollars an hour so you’re not even recovering what you paid them per hour. Not to mention the overhead which includes fuel, the truck, the taxes you’re paying them, and the insurance. So, you’re really losing money. You’re basically paying this client to let you mow their lawn. That’s what happened because you may have copied my pricing and because maybe you weren’t ever tracking your time to know how you were doing.

I say “you” in general, not “you” specifically.

All right, so what’s happened now after tracking these eleven jobs, you’re making an average of twenty-four dollars a man hour. That is not a profitable number that you can build a good business on. I’m positive of that. I don’t care what market you’re in. You’ll see some really low numbers in the commercial business but they just have totally different margins. It’s a different business. But, all of what I’m talking about holds up in residential and in commercial. All of my numbers in red here are the result of copying somebody else’s price and you’ve ended up with basically very low profit margins and probably a business that you don’t love.

Now that you’re tracking your time and you’ve measured all of your properties, you can actually figure out what to charge. For example, if I want to make forty dollars per man hour and I know that that property took me sixty minutes, then I can do a little bit of math and you can see my formula is right up here. If you want to copy this stuff and just pause the video, you can reconstruct this spreadsheet. But, you can see that I need to charge this client forty dollars, not thirty dollars if I want to make forty a man hour. On this client, I need to charge them forty-six dollars, not thirty dollars if I want to make forty a man hour.

If I go through here and work on all of my pricing, it will show dramatic results. Here look at this one. I need to charge sixty-six dollars, not thirty dollars for this property to get myself to an average price of forty dollars per man hour. Once you’re aware of pricing and where you stand as a business, you can start to make some decisions on how to set pricing. If this were my business and I was looking at this, here are some things I would do.

First off, I’m not quite sure what this fifty-three is here so I’m going to delete that. Something is not quite right about that number. The calculation must have been wrong. Oh that’s what it was. I know what I did there. That was actually correct. Here’s what this tells me. If I look at my eleven jobs, then I need to be charging on average fifty-three dollars to mow a seven thousand to seven thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine square foot property. That’s what these numbers are telling me.

If I want to make forty dollars per man hour, that needs to be my price. By the way, for me in my market, that’s way high. I would never get that so my numbers are fictitious. I made up these numbers in terms of how long this took. As a result, these numbers are all false. I could never get fifty-three dollars. In fact, thirty dollars in my market is a high-end price. It’s towards the top of the market for just mowing a small lawn like this. Don’t get caught up in these numbers please, but this is what the data is telling me. I need to be charging fifty-three dollars.

Now, here’s what I would first do. I’ve taken a bunch of properties. I’ve figured out how long they take so that I can figure out what the average amount of time it takes me to do a property of this size. That allows me to find my average pricing. Immediately, I would look at some of the anomalies. This one here, this one here, this one here, and the ninety-nine minutes down here. I would look at these and figure out why these properties take so much longer than all the others. Is it us as a company we’re doing something wrong? Is it that there’s something about these properties that isn’t right? Or is it that these properties are in an area, maybe that they have tons of trees on these properties?

Then I could make some decisions. You can look and see that you just aren’t making money on certain types of properties so you decide not to do those any more. If that were the case and you took your worst performers off the table, now look at what it does. It gets your price down to twenty-nine dollars.

Now we’re starting to get into a more realistic price. I’ve just gotten my poor performers off the table. I either fired or I left the market which probably meant firing them, but I made some decisions in my business and now I’ve got more accurate pricing. Maybe it’s a part of town where you just don’t make any money on properties that size so you leave that part of town and you go where there are more properties like this one and this one. These are properties that I can get through a lot faster, maybe I go find a lot more of those types of properties.

Since I got rid of some properties, I’ve got a new price. I’ve figured out that I should be charging about twenty-nine dollars on average for a property between seven thousand and seven thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine square feet. I set that price and now that’s what we start to quote. Then periodically I come back through here, and if you use ServiceAutopilot, this is on the job costing report. Out to the right you can figure this stuff out. We have a training that teaches you how to do this or you can copy all of my formulas and my spreadsheets and you can figure this out for yourself.

As your business evolves and you optimize the business meaning as you raise prices, you become more efficient, you change your setup, and you change different procedures and training within your company, these numbers are going to change from year to year and you can go back and reset pricing. Another option is, if within seven thousand and seven thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine square feet you just find a ton of variance, meaning that at the top end versus the low end of those seven thousand square foot properties there’s three or four dollars in pricing variance, then maybe you break all of this down into ranges.

You look at all of your properties from seven thousand to seven thousand and five hundred square feet. You plot the time. You put in how much you want to make per man hour and notice again in my formula I have forty dollars in there if you want to copy this, it’s forty dollars. You put in how much you want to make and it tells you what you need to be charging and you figure out your pricing based on that.

Everything I just told you, you can do it for yourself very easily and you can do it for every single service you have within your business.
It’s true. It does take work. It’s absolutely true that it would be easier for me to just to tell you how much you should charge, but look at how dangerous that is. I think it’s impossible tell someone how much they can charge, but it’s possible to give hints and say, “I feel you need to be at least forty a man hour or fifty a man hour or sixty-five a man hour depending on what that service is.” For each service, pest control  versus lawn care versus mowing, you do need to be achieving a different man hour rate. You have a different cost for the people. You have a different cost for the trucks that they’re running.

You do need to be achieving a different man hour rate depending on the service and in some cases it doesn’t cost you any more to provide one service over the other, but the market will support a higher price. You should be charging a higher price. That’s the way to think about it.

In video number three, we’re going to move on to looking at setting rates.

How To Determine Lawn Care Pricing (Part 1)

Learn how to set lawn care pricing to earn the most profit for your business.

I receive a ton of questions, and I would say in the top two or three is, how do I price? How do I know exactly what I should charge? I think this is the right question to be asking. The dilemma is that I struggle with giving the exact price and here is why.

I can give you exact pricing, but it’s a cop out for me to do that. That’s the easy solution for me. The problem is, I’m very concerned with giving you accurate advice. I don’t want to be wrong. I don’t want to screw up your business, and I want to give you wise advice. Giving you the exact price to charge is not wise advice.

In this video, I’m going to show you exactly why. I’m going to show you the factors that go into pricing and why I can’t give you the exact price. I’m going to tell you exactly how to figure out the best pricing for you. I’m going to show you numbers and how to do it. You’re going to learn how to price. Once you’ve priced your work, I’m going to show you exactly how to figure out of it’s profitable. I’m also going to show you how to figure out your pricing by square foot. Basically I’m going to show you how to do it, and I’m going to show you how you continue to look at your pricing as your business grows.

Now, to do this I’ve got to go through a few points so this is going to be a three-part video. I’m going to go through and talk about pricing, and then I’m going to show you how to do it. I’m going to show you actual numbers.

There are two things to know. One, there are all kinds of services. Mowing, fertilization, weed control, aeration, pest control, you name it. At the end of the day the pricing is all based on time. For the sake of my example, I’m going to use a residential mowing example. This concept also applies to commercial and it applies to every different service type including digging a whole and sticking a bush in the ground. This is the universal truth behind pricing, and that is pricing is based on time.

You and I are in the business of selling time. Let’s say your competitor has figured out in their business that they should charge three extra dollars for every 1,000 square feet for fertilization and weed control. If they’re smart, they didn’t just copy their competitor. Rather, they figured it out based on time and they know that to do an extra 1,000 square feet it takes this amount of extra time to walk it. They spray it at a certain rate and they figured out what that charge needs to be.

I’m going to go through the example based on mowing, but know that square footage pricing is based on time. It’s not based on square feet. You figured out your square footage pricing based on time. That’s important, so hopefully I’ve made my point.

We’re using a mowing example. If you want to arrive at square footage pricing, which is sort of the premise of this conversation, then you want to figure out if you want to price by gross lot square feet, or do you want to price by net or by turf. You might price from one service to the next differently. For example, you might price mowing based on gross lot square footage. Whereas, you price aeration based on turf, and pest control based on the home square footage.

What net is, and this is how some companies price, you take the gross lot square footage and you pull out of that the footprint of the home and maybe the pool. It depends on how your company works. That’s net. That leaves concrete in. That leaves turf in. That leaves flower beds in. That’s something to know and think about as you’re setting your pricing and as you’re figuring out your pricing by square footage.

The other critical thing is the only way you can price is if you track time. Otherwise, your only other options are to guess and copy your competitors, and neither one of them gets you to the place you want to be…a highly profitable business. I mentioned this already. It’s just about the most important thing I’m going to say. We’re in the business of selling time. Pricing is going to be based on time.

Now, one last thing before I get into the details. Let’s say, now you’re wondering how to price fertilization and weed control because there’s product costs involved. The number one item on your P&L sheet, meaning the biggest expense on your profit and loss statement is labor. Labor is the thing that you want to manage above all other things inside the business because it’s your biggest expense. You’re, again, in the business of selling time. When you’re determining pricing, you first start with how long it’s going to take to perform. Then you figure what you have to charge just purely based on selling time and labor.

Now, you can layer on top of that additional things if you’d like. This could be a whole three-hour conversation in and of itself. But, for the sake of our simple example, we figure out that for fertilization and weed control it takes a technician one hour to do a property of a certain size, and we want to make $40 a man hour. That means, I need to charge $40 any time we do a lot of that size. Let’s just put a number to it of 8,000 to 9,000 square feet. That’s not accurate. That’s just my example.

We figure out that when you were doing 8,000 to 9,000 square feet for fertilization and weed control I need to be charging $40. That covers my time, makes a profit, recovers overhead and does all of that. Now, on top of that, I’ve got chemical costs. For that size property I know on average across the applications for the year that I’m going to have an average of $7.50 in chemical cost. My price for that service might be 47.50. I’m making the $40 on the labor, and then I’m recovering my cost on the chemical. You could mark it up. All of that’s up to you. You are setting the pricing. But, that’s the idea. Figure out labor first and then you can layer on top of that your mathematical cost, your product cost, and your chemical cost.

Again, this is going to be a couple-part video because there’s a lot to cover here if I’m going to give you the full details.

Now, why is it that when you ask me what I should charge to provide this service that I struggle with answering that question, and why I feel as though if I tell you the exact pricing I’m doing you a tremendous disservice? There’s nothing that would make me feel worse then knowing that I gave you a price that led to unprofitable work or led to potentially harming your company. Here’s why.

If I charge, let’s just make up a number, $30 to mow a little bitty lawn. I tell you for this size lawn you should charge $30. What does your business look like as compared to my business? I’ve worked on my business. We just turned 10 years old. We’ve been working on our business. We’ve become more efficient. We’ve optimized things in our business. We’ve changed. We are nothing like what we were 8-9 years ago, not even similar.

Think about how many men are on your truck versus my truck? At $30, if I have two men on the truck and you run three men, and maybe the three-man may not be as efficient as two. That means you’re going to be on the property for longer and that means you’re not going to be making money at $30 per visit like I do.

How’s your truck set up? Do you pull trailers? What’s the basic setup? If my truck setup shaves four minutes off of my visit time and your truck setup doesn’t, then I’ve immediately got efficiencies you don’t have. My pricing doesn’t work for you.

What’s your equipment setup? Are you out there with 48″ walk-behinds, whereas I’m there with 21″ mowers? Or, am I out there with a 61″ rider and you’re out there with all walk-behinds? Again, who’s more efficient? If I’m more efficient than you, I just killed you by telling you to charge what I charge because I’ve got a totally different setup.

What’s the frequency? Is it biweekly? Is it weekly? Because in mowing that has a huge impact on how long it takes to do the work. Are my properties all flat, whereas you are in a market where there’s a lot of terraced properties? Are your properties wooded where all of mine are builders that came in and cut down all the trees and planted two new trees in the front yard, so I have virtually nothing to mow around? Is mine flat and you have hills? I’m in Texas after all. It’s pretty flat.

Do you mulch or bag? For example, if I mulch most of my properties and you bag, you’ve just added time that I don’t have.

Are your properties constructed in such a way where you have tons of concrete? That means you have a lot more edging. That means you have a lot more blowing, whereas I hardly have any concrete on my properties for the same square footage because now, yes square footage is the same but we’re performing different services. That means different time. In services, I mean we’re spending more time mowing maybe, whereas you’re spending more time blowing. If it’s super-windy in your market and it’s not windy in my market, what’s that do to blowing?

My point is, I’m belaboring it here, but you get the idea of how many variables there are. What about stick edging? In my market I have to stick edge weekly. What if in your market you only have to stick edge every other week or once a month. What about fences? We have fences. What if you don’t have fences? What if you have metal fences versus wood fences? What’s that mean to weed eating time.

Then finally, what’s the spring effect in your market? How much longer does it take you to mow a property in spring than it takes me to mow a property in spring, based on leaves and all kinds of other factors like the type of grass.

This is why the pricing is literally different all over the board, and copying price is a disaster. This is why I could say I charge 30 for this, and if you’re in Toronto and you charge 30, and everything about the way we operate is different. I really, really did you a disservice.

Now, how do you figure this out for yourself? Because it’s really not that hard. If you want to make a lot of money, than you want to learn how to do this. You’ve got to track your time, period. When you’re tracking the time, you need to know how many people are doing the job. That’s easy. Then you want to have measured the property, measured the gross lot square footage. I’d recommend the turf lot square footage. You don’t have to get out there with a measuring wheel. There are measuring tools built into Service Autopilot and there are measuring tools for free all over the web.

What’s the calculation? I’m going to give you numbers on these other spreadsheets here in a minute, but what’s the basic calculation? Basically, you take the start and end time of the job and you figure out the number of men. Then you get the total time. I’m going to show you what I mean by this. Here’s how you do it.

Let’s just use the example of you’re running a crew of three. You pull up in the truck, you turn off your engine, you write down the start time, or if you’re using software, you clock in. You perform the work. Then when everyone gets back in the truck, you stop the timer. You start the engine, you drive away. Now you have your start time and your end time.

Let’s look at how that would play out. Your property is 10,000 square feet, 4,414 square feet of turf. You are on the property from start to end, meaning they got out of the truck, got back in the truck. Start to end is 20 minutes. I’m keeping the math simple. There were three individuals. The total time on the job was one man hour. You had three men there for 20 minutes. That equates to one man hour or 60 minutes. If you charged the client $30 to mow that lawn, than you made $30 per man hour. If you had been there for 40 minutes, so 40 minutes times three, so you were there for two total hours and you charged $30, then you would have made a man hour rate of $15 per man hour. You kind of get the idea of how the math works. This is the core of pricing every single service.

Now, let’s say that you look at this and you say you’re only making $30 a man hour and you heard me say that you should really be $40 and above per man hour, which is my argument. When I started in the business, I was in the $25 range because I copied a bunch of competitors. Then I was in the 30s for mowing and some other things. I quickly realized those were not good numbers, but I was copying what my market was doing. If you look at your business and say, wait a second, we’re only making 30 a man hour on this property. That’s too low, so what’s your option? Your option is one, to raise the price on that client so that you can make enough money based on the amount of time you’re there. Or, you need to become more efficient and do that property faster.

Where do you find efficiencies? A few of the clues are up here. How many men are doing the job? What’s the setup of the truck? What kind of equipment are you using? Are you picking the right properties, meaning are you predominantly serving a market where the properties are too big or there’s too many trees, whereas if you were to go focus on a different market you could make more money? Those are some of your decisions. All of that goes into pricing.

Now in video part two, I’m going to start showing you numbers and I’m going to show you how to figure this out.

I Run a Two Man Crew, Should I Hire Someone to Replace Me?

The question is, “This will be my 3rd season in business. I run a two man crew. I’m wondering if I need to step away to sell and market and hire someone to replace me?”

Absolutely. Yes. With that question, there is no other reason in my mind to be in business but to give yourself a little bit of leverage. Now, if you desire to be the guy doing all the work and run a 2-man crew, if that’s what you like and that makes you happy, fantastic. From your message, I’m pretty certain, it’s not the case. You need to start this path, as soon as you can. I’m going to answer your question but I would recommend that you go over to the website, Put in your name and email address and the website will send you 2 videos.

One is of a talk I gave with Planet. It was a webinar about how to get off the track and basically get out of the field. I think it was about an hour. Then, I also gave a talk at GIE in 2013 and it’s a little bit geared towards bigger companies but there is a bunch of stuff in there that you could take away and that’s an hour and a half long talk that I gave. I would highly recommend that you take those 2 resources and figure out how to get out of the field.

Now, let’s say you go hire somebody to take over your position and now you’re free. What are you going to do and what’s your plan of action?

I think a lot of people stay in the role of running the crew because they can’t get their head around, exactly what, why, and how to grow this business. If you can’t answer that question, then you keep saying, “I’m not quite ready yet, I’ll do it next year.” You procrastinate because you don’t know what to do. How do you solve a potential procrastination problem? You need a plan. What’s the plan? If you free yourself up, how are you going to bring in new business? What are you going to do? Are you going to knock on doors, put out door hangers? What is it? Are you going to  talk on the telephone?

Just because your freed up, it  doesn’t mean that anything magical is going to happen. You’ve got to know what you’re going to do. It might just be that over the winter, you’re going to get a great website put together. You may plan to start working on your SEO or pay per click or content marketing. If you don’t know what any of that means, do some Google searches. You figure out what the door hanger is going to look like. Maybe you put together a gift card or referral program to garner a new business. Watch my videos and learn about marketing and think of let’s say, 3 ways that you’re going to get new clients. Get that stuff all worked out over the winter and then you start doing it.

Be ridiculously specific with your plan. Don’t just say, I’m going to put out door hangers. No, you have to know which neighborhoods you want to hit, on which day, and how many. You might do 500 in one neighborhood on one day and 500 more to a different neighborhood on the next.

You need to have all of this in place so that when you hire somebody, you don’t get overwhelmed or distracted. Spend the time now to think through exactly what it means to put out door hangers, exactly what it means to get a website up and running, exactly what it means to knock on a door and sell certain things or go knock on all of your existing client’s doors and try to sell them something else. Again, be ridiculously specific where you know step by step what to do. Almost to the point that you could hand it to a friend or business partner or employee and they would look at it and have a pretty good idea of exactly what to do if they were going to do.

If you do that, you’ll overcome the biggest hurdle to growing and getting started. You’ll have an action plan. Once you get out of the business and start doing this and practicing this because it’s a new role, you won’t have to do that anymore.

I’m just saying do that first so that you guarantee yourself a level of success when you do hire somebody to replace you. The very simple answer that I could have answered in 10 seconds is a yes. If you don’t take the action I described to go with, the yes of getting out in the field, then you may not be overly successful. You’ve got to make sure that when you get free, almost all of your time is devoted to selling and marketing activities. If you free yourself up and 80% of your time is devoted to inconsequential things like maintenance and other miscellaneous things, and 20% is devoted to sales and marketing, you might as well have stayed in your old role of doing work and then just work extra hours to do sales and marketing.

If you do it right, you absolutely want to get off that truck and you want to do it now, not next year. Good luck.

Getting Started: How To Break Into Your Market

Are you having a hard time getting started in your lawn care business and breaking into your local market?

Watch this video and learn how to get lawn care, landscape, tree care, irrigation (and any type of) business in the area you serve.

This is one of the more important questions that I’ve probably ever answered because, I believe it’s on a lot of people’s minds and, I believe it is a huge misconception.

The question is from Andrew. He wants to know how to break into a market that is controlled by industry veterans. They have been in the lawn care business for 5 or 10 years. He’s just getting started and the veterans have all the jobs and their customers aren’t willing to switch. Andrew goes on to say that from a money standpoint he has a small budget so, it makes it even more difficult to break into this market.

The way it is right now, and I think this is an important mindset, no matter what business you start, it is going to be in an industry that is insanely competitive. It is a rare business idea that there are not a lot of people already serving that market. In fact, if there’s not many people in that business or serving that market, it’s probably a red flag.

First and foremost, forget the idea that you’re going to find this thing that is not going to have a lot of competition. The alternative is that you invent something new, which tends to be in technology right now. In technology, yes, you could invent a new concept. The problem there is that you need an insane amount of money to educate the market, to get traction, and to get people to buy into what this thing. That’s usually not a good game to play either, unless you can go raise a ridiculous amount of money.

Let’s just take it off the table and just say, no matter what you’re going to do, it’s going to be ridiculously competitive. Once you get that in your mind, you no longer have to have that conversation. Now, you can focus on how to solve the problem. You’re the new guy coming into a market that’s crowded. A crowded market is a good sign.

Now, think about it from this standpoint. Think about all of those retail stores, restaurants, and service providers that you use personally in life. Think about how difficult it is to get a return phone call or to have someone follow up with you. Think about how difficult it is to get somebody to actually send you the estimate when they say they will. Think about how difficult it is to get good service, a quality product or solution. Think about the employees that come to your home to provide a service. How many of them seem knowledgeable and actually like their job as opposed to going through the motions to earn his 12 dollars an hour? That’s the typical experience. There are some great companies out there that don’t deliver that experience at all, but if you think about it, this is the experience you receive from a lot of companies.

The idea that in your market place, you’re coming into a market with tons of veterans, and all these veterans happen to be on top of their game…there’s no chance. The reality is that the majority of your market is under-serving the market. The majority of your market is filled with competitors that are less than awesome, and so, it gives you a tremendous opportunity. Marketing is the right way to think about this. I would add to this though, that when you think about marketing, my marketing education gave me more than a sales and marketing education, it gave me a mindset education.

The mindset education is this, think about everything from your client’s perspective. As an example, if you’ve identified that you want to be in this certain neighborhood, imagine their world and life as it is for them. Think about their wants and needs. What would be their ideal outcome of working with somebody like you? That really shifts everything. When you start to think about things from that standpoint, then you start to be able to figure out how to break into the market.

Now, I will say that in the very beginning of getting started, what I’ve observed in most businesses, they usually are a little bit of a slow start. You have to figure out what language to use, what the opportunity is, what the core market is, and what your niche is. Then, you can capitalize on that. But, it takes a little while to figure that out. You’re looking for that crack. Yes, you are coming into a big market. And yes, you are coming into a market with tons of competitors and seasoned competitors, but there’s a crack.

There are a lot of things that are happening. You’ve got guys that have made it and now they’re comfortable. You’ve got guys that have been in business for 20 years, but they got there slowly over time by of word of mouth, not because they were great. Then, you truly have some great competitors. So, where are your cracks? Assuming that maybe 20% of your competitors are great, that leaves you 80% of the market. Excellent service is key.

Now, if from day one, you provide ridiculously good service, making your clients feel cared for, wanted and valued, it doesn’t immediately mean that you will have great success. It’s an investment that will yield results over time. If you only have four clients, you’ve only got four clients to preach your message. When you have 500 clients, now you’ve got 500 clients talking about you.

That’s an example of how it takes a little time to reap the reward of providing great service. You can’t necessarily feel the benefits of it day one. It’s something you stick with and it yields results over time. That’s a core element, I believe, of eventually breaking into your market. So many of your competitors, as I said, have become complacent at customer service and that leaves you this huge opportunity. Focus on that area.

Number two, from a marketing standpoint, you’ve got to be seen. That means, if you’re serving a big market, you don’t spend all your money from a marketing standpoint, to try to be seen throughout the entire market. Rather, you focus on one neighborhood or small section of town. Yes, you hope to get work all over town, but you concentrate your small pile of marketing dollars on one small area. You want to be seen all the time. You knock on doors, put out fliers, send out postcards, and do whatever you can to be seen in that area. That means your trucks need to be painted and must stand out. You need to look the part. You need your potential clients to feel they see you all the time.

You also need to be different. If you want to break into a crowded market, you can’t look like everybody else. It’s very rare that you see a company that stands out. Customer service will make you stand out, but it’s a slow road to travel. Look at Zappos. In the beginning, when they ran out of money, all they had left was this idea the idea that they wanted to become the best customer service company out there for selling shoes. That became their angle and that became the thing that spread word of mouth. They had a client base to do that with. You don’t have that yet if you’re just starting out and you don’t have many clients.

Service alone won’t propel you to be a great company. That’s why you have to  use marketing. You need to be different. You have to look different, appear different, act different, talk different, and everything needs to be different. Just think about what you see out there in the market place and who stands out, and what they’re doing that makes them stand. If everybody’s truck is white, then yours should be pink. If everybody puts their employees in a brown uniform, then you should be in a blue uniform, a pink uniform, a light green, a neon yellow, I don’t care, but different. If everybody sends a marketing piece that looks one way, yours should look different. If everybody puts a door hanger of a certain type that says a certain thing, your should be the opposite. Think about different because different matters.

You also need to take away clients’ risk. It’s all about risk reversal. If you want me to do business with you, and you’re an unknown commodity, what is it that you can say and do that will get me to give you a try. I don’t have a freaking idea who you are, I’ve never heard of you, I’ve never seen you, but you want me to give you a try. You’re a little more risky than True Green or some of the other bigger names, because they’re a known company. With you, you could be just like all the other guys that have been a bad experience. They eventually quit showing up, they never close my gates, they always blew grass under my garage door, they whatever. They gave me the low price and they were only worth keeping for one season and then I had to go re-shop it.

You want to make sure that you take the risk away from your prospect. You’ve got to consider their fears, frustrations, and all the things they hate about companies like you. Then you reverse that and do what’s called risk reversal in marketing. You use testimonials, marketing copy, and guarantees to overcome their fears.

For example, I think it’s Benjamin Franklin Plumbing that uses the guarantee that if they’re late, they pay you. I might be getting the company wrong, but I think it’s them. Well, it’s genius. What did they do? They took the most common complaint about plumbers, they are late or give you a huge window of wait time, and made it part of their guarantee. That is now what they are known for, and that one thing just so happens to be the biggest frustration of most consumers that use plumbing.

Think about it from that standpoint. I’ll give you another one. Wow, One Day Painting I believe is the name. It’s the guy that founded 1800 Got Junk. Great company. I don’t know if you’ve ever been through a situation where you have had your home painted. My home, to paint it, was a multi-week project. In fact, I just had the downstairs portion of my house painted and it took two weeks just to paint that. It’s a fairly big house with a lot of rooms and we used different colors in each room. On top of that, when you consider the rounded edges where two colors meet, it adds more time and difficulty because of the attention to detail that it requires. There’s a lot of little challenging things. It was a hard job.

We had to live through the smell, having rooms taped off, and the guys coming in and out of our house. The guys were awesome. But, I really used them because I like them. It was not a great experience but, we knew the contractor. If it weren’t for that, we would have used somebody that could do this faster.

Think about it. If the common experience for the consumer is a feeling of dread, frustration, and inconvenience because of how long it takes to complete the job and the lingering paint smell, think about how powerful their name and marketing is.

Everything about that company communicates that they are going to solve my biggest concern and frustration.

One company guarantees that they’ll be on time for plumbing or they’ll pay for every minute they’re late. The other one says that they will paint your entire house, not matter how big, in one day. They both answered the biggest problems in their market. That’s great customer service. Then they also address my point of being seen. Both of these companies have painted their trucks and included their guarantees on their trucks. They’re also different. They’ve completely differentiated themselves from everybody else in the market.

Using guarantees, they are capturing testimonials. Think about it. If you go in, you answer the biggest objection, the biggest frustration, and then you capture testimonials from clients talking about how great it was to get their house painted in a day. How incredible it was that, my gosh, the plumber was on time. He’s always been on time for the last five years I’ve used him. Then he was actually late for four minutes one time and he paid me for the four minutes. I didn’t even care about the four minutes, but he paid me anyway. Think about the power of that testimonial.

You have tons of these and you take all of that to this really competitive market where half of the guys you’re competing with are lackadaisical and apathetic because they’ve been doing this for so long. Really, they’re bored with their businesses and you’ve got all this energy. You enter the market and you do all these things. I think you could be extremely successful.

I guess my last point is a point I made earlier. Think from the perspective of the buyer. Think about what they want, what they’re going through, and what challenges they are having. Think about what they don’t know that they need. For example, you might be in a market where a lot of guys are using the same people over and over again. The reason they’re using the same people over and over again is because nobody has told them there’s something better.

If you drive around an F-150 pickup truck all the time because you can buy it for 30,000 bucks, and you’re thinking, for that price it’s the best truck you can get. Then, one day somebody comes to you and says, “Hey, you can buy a Ford Raptor, that’s normally 60,000 bucks for 30.” You never knew that before. Wouldn’t you suddenly say, “Screw the F-150! I’m not buying that. I’m buying the upgraded Raptor from now on.” Until you found out you could buy a 60,000 Raptor for 30 grand, the F-150 was satisfactory. It was good enough and you were happy with it. One day when somebody tells you, “Hey there’s a new world you don’t know about. There’s this new thing you can get. There’s a new way of doing things.” Suddenly then you’re looking and you have a need. Before that, you just assumed that’s how it was.

That’s how it is for a lot of your clients. They’ve tried other companies, done business a certain way and that’s just what the lawn care market does and how lawn care guys do it. If you’re different, they don’t know you’re different. You’ve got to tell them your different and you’ve got to show them you’re different. When they find out there’s something better, there’s another way, they will give you a try. But, you’ve got to do all those other things I talked about.

When I started my lawn care company, I guess about eight years ago, I was a nobody. People have been mowing their yards forever. The market fully existed and was insanely competitive even before we started up in 2005. Nothing has changed, it was that way in 2005, and I started as a nobody. Now I have, I guess, the biggest residential lawn care company around my market. I just did what I talked about.

Now, I didn’t do it in the first couple years because I didn’t know better. My business wasn’t growing fast enough and it wasn’t very profitable. I had to start searching for ways to do it differently. Everything I just told you is what I did.

If you follow that model, do some research and reading, and thinking like the buyer, you will totally break into your market. One day, you’ll wake up, after a whole lot of struggle and frustration and pain because, keep in mind, that’s where learning and breakthroughs come from, and realize you have created an extremely successful business. It happens over time. The key is you have to make the right moves every day. You must be doing the right things to end up with that type of business. It is 100% totally possible, no question. No market in the United States, Canada, Australia, or anywhere that you cannot break into. Be confident of that, and do the things that make you different than everybody else. In five years, your business will be really interesting. Good luck.

“Who Else Is Afraid to Start a Lawn Care Business?” – Advice to Make It Happen!

Advice and Encouragement to finally Start a Lawn Care Business.

Video Transcript

The question is from John and he is asking for encouragement on getting started with his lawn care business so let’s talk about that. I’m going to read his question. Hey, Jonathan we plan to use your software in the future. My wife and I are in the very early stages of starting our lawn care business. We haven’t even purchased a used truck or any of that equipment that we need yet. We have saved up one year of living expenses but I need to muster up the courage to leave my job. Do you have any words of encouragement?

First and foremost, saving up a year of money is a big so that’s awesome. That is a huge deal that isn’t entirely necessary to launch your business but man what a pad that that gives you. Now, with that being said I do think that there’s a risk of saying to yourself, based on what I just said, well you know what, I’m going to save for the next couple years and then I’ll start that business. Here’s your problem, you probably never get to it. Something else always happens. There’s always another reason to plan a little more. Get just a little bit more prepared. Have a little bit more money in the bank. Wait just a little bit longer. The longer you put this off, the longer it will be till you get any benefit, any of the benefits that come from owning the company. You’re going do your time so in terms of giving encouragement let’s be factual first.

Starting and building a company is hard. It’s a lot of work. It will not be easy. It will absolutely be at times like, why in the world am I doing this. It would just be easier to do what I used to do or go back and get a job or whatever the case maybe. That’s part of it. That’s going to happen for two reasons.

One, it’s just fricking hard. There’s a lot of stuff you have to do and you got to wear a lot of hats. You got to do a lot of the activities because you don’t have enough money to hire people yet. Two, there’s something going on that’s bigger than just building a business and it’s that you as a person, you’re growing, because it doesn’t matter if you’re running a $50,000 a year business or a $10 million a year company. At every stage and there’s all these stages as you’re growing this company, you have to develop into a new person to get that company over the next hump to the next financial level. There’s a reason why most guys hit a wall at $300,000 or half a million and just never get past it.

It’s a little bit to do with the challenges of the business. It’s mainly to do with the stuff in their head. It’s we are and I am my limiting factor. I know that and so we are the ones that hold our companies back. We either delay hiring more people because we don’t have confidence. We don’t spend the money on marketing. We don’t know what to do so we never take action because we’re not willing to learn whatever is we have to learn. We’re not willing to spend the money to consult with the guys that have already been down the road ahead of us. We’re not willing to read the books.

Oh, I’ve got a family and I’ve got kids and I just don’t really have any time. Oh, I’ve got all these other commitments or I have all these little things that I have to do in my business and we put all that other crap in front of what we’ve really got to get accomplished. Don’t take that wrong. I’m not saying you don’t spend time with your family or kids. I’m just saying if you want to be successful you figure it out. You create a plan and you make it happen so that they get time and your business gets time. When you’re working on your business you’re focusing on the right stuff and you’re not wasting time on anything you don’t have to waste time on so that you can be learning and educating and growing your skill set so that you can have breakthroughs in your business and get you past those humps. This is tough. It’s a tough business but that’s also the exciting thing about this business or any business to that degree.

When you as a person, you go through this pain and you develop your skill set, your ability. You have this confidence and you know that if it all falls apart you can take that skill and you can go on to the next thing, the next business. Where after you build this business, if you build it to a certain size, you can do it again maybe in a completely different industry. There’s real power that comes with that and that’s exciting but you got to go through a bunch of pain to do it. That’s part of the process but it’s totally worth it. You’ve got to just, I guess you’d say, dig deep and stay the course. It will payoff if you’re getting an education and doing the right things and learning. I say doing the right things very intentionally because you could do 10 years or 20 years and get nothing because you’re doing the wrong things or you’re thinking inaccurately.

You can tell yourself all kinds of stories and say, well if I just do this or that or if I just market this way or marketing doesn’t work. There’s a million things you can tell yourself but if you’re wrong you tell yourself this story well marketing doesn’t work. I’ve just did my market got to go slower and got to get my business through referrals because marketing just doesn’t work here. The clients in my market they don’t ever use the internet. They don’t find companies like us on the internet or in my market direct mail doesn’t work or whatever the case maybe. You could be telling yourself that story and hinder your growth but you could be dead wrong. You’ve got to make sure that you’re thinking accurately and that comes from educating yourself. Surrounding yourself with people that have done it so that’s first.

One, it’s going to be hard. Two, you’ve got to develop yourself. Not developing yourself is going to only let you get so far. You may become a million dollar company but you won’t become five. You may become a $500,000 company but you may not become a million because you didn’t develop your ability enough and so you were the limiting factor. The next point I’ll point out so I’m giving you all these negatives first but let me. I hope there’s some encouragement here. As you develop yourself that is huge. That is just huge. Would you want to go back and be a 15 year old kid again and not know all the stuff you know now and all the dumb things and all the stuff you could’ve avoided or done better? Probably not.

It’s the same kind of thing after you really develop your ability and your skill set and your know how. You don’t really want to give that up because it’s so incredibly valuable and you realize how few of your competitors and how few people actually will do what it takes. You put tremendous value into that ability that you’ve invested greatly and gone through a little pain to gain. There’s tremendous value in satisfaction. It comes from that so let that be a little bit of encouragement. You are going to go through some stuff but on the other side you will be a totally different person and it’s nice to be a totally different person than everybody else. It’s nice to have confidence that you can take care of your family or you could go build the next thing if the whole world or your whole business falls apart. It’s nice to know that you can make it happen. That’s big. That I hope is a huge encouragement for you.

Next to be living in the world of reality, if you’re married, if you have a spouse. Your spouse has to be bought it. This is not a scenario where you start a company and next year you guys are living in a big old huge house, driving awesome cars, and taking vacations anytime you want. This is an investment. You both have to believe together that look we’re going to have to spend some time investing in this thing, building it but on the other side it will be big.

In the short term yeah, we’re going to go through some pain here but on the long term, for the rest of our life, we’re going to have this thing that takes care of us and provides for us financially and gives us and maybe our kids totally different lifestyle than they could’ve ever got. Where if you have kids, shows them a completely different example of what is possible in life. What they can become. What they could achieve. How maybe they can live life on their terms versus what everybody else says they have to do in life. The way everybody else says they have to act and conform. Going off slightly here but maybe that’s a bit of encouragement. Think about that.

One, it’s hard and your spouse has to be bought it because if he or she is not then that’s going to be a massive drain on your mental capacity because you come home at night and there’s all this stress and you’re not both moving together down the same road. That’s tough. You’ve got to have that support and you both need to be realistic. This is going to take a number of years. It’s going to take a number of years to get comfortable where okay, we can kind of breath a sigh of relief here. We’re okay. We’re not getting rich but we’re okay. Then after that it’s going to take a number of years of additional investment to really get the business to a point where it’s doing really really well.

Let’s say five years. Let’s say it’s five years before you’re really rocking and rolling. It takes time and five years may sound like too long of an investment. Well, if you’d rather be an employee or you’d rather do whatever your doing now, that you dislike, because you’re not willing to do five years  of time. Well, then that means that whatever this thing you’re doing now, that you don’t like, you can do it for the rest of your life because you weren’t willing to do five years of pain. I’m not even saying it’s going to be five years of pain. I’m just saying it’s going to take a number of years to really get this thing rocking and rolling. You’re going to go through some period of pain. Heck you could be making $400,000 a year take home and you’re going to go through pain because you’re going to be getting your company to the next level and dealing with some of that problem.

This stuff never goes away you just encounter new challenges. Go into this with your spouse knowing that this is going to take years of investment but on the back end we’re building something big here. Let that be encouragement to you but also be realistic about it. Have that conversation with your spouse. Together you guys will have a far better life in the long term by doing this together and pushing through and knowing that it’s going to be challenging, maybe a bit scary.

Next, I would say in terms of giving yourself encouragement or giving you encouragement the way you’re going to get confidence to do this is you’ve got to learn sales and marketing. I have this thing that this conclusion I’ve come to and that is that marketing know how, real marketing know how, is confidence. Confidence let’s you make big decisions. It gives you again, the confidence to go hire somebody so office help or office secretary, an operations manager, an assistant. Go ahead and hire another person for the crew that you think you might start in a couple months.

You don’t have that confidence if you’re not certain you can drive new business, get new business. You’ve got to become a marketing expert. You don’t have to be the best you just need to learn this stuff because then you know you can bring in business. Then you know you can spend money. Then you know you can hire people. Then you know you can invest in your business. Then you know you can do all these things that make you better than all of your competitors but if you don’t know where the foods going to come from tomorrow because you don’t know where the new clients are going to come from or if your clients are going to come back, you have no control. Therefore, you have no confidence.

It all goes back to marketing so to encourage you here if you and don’t wait to become a marketing expert. Don’t do that first before you start your business. Do it at the same time. So start your business but start educating yourself at the same time on marketing that way you have the confidence to build this thing. That should be big encouragement. That’s the secret. If you will learn marketing then it will change everything and you will be ahead of everybody else so do that. Educate yourself. Spend the time and you will be successful.

The reason most people fail is because they can’t get enough business. If they can get enough business, the next reason most people fail is because they can’t cash flow that business. They run out of money. They overspend. They live too big of a lifestyle. They don’t manage their money properly and they didn’t price right so they don’t have enough profit. There’s a bunch of scenarios but the first one is you got to drive business. You’ve got to bring in business. That’s your marketing. That breeds confidence so solve that problem. Then the next hump is cash flow and profit and correct pricing. If you’re on top of that one, you’ll get past that hump too. You’ll be successful. So know that you will be successful by learning marketing so just do it. There is no alternative.

I’ll end with this. No amount of planning, that means no amount of writing a business plan that I think is pretty close to a complete waste of time but most people disagree with me. This over planning stuff. This I’m going to save a little bit more money stuff and there’s some value in saving money. Don’t get me wrong there because having a pad and not running yourself into big debt, that’s a big deal. It’s so easy to tell ourself a story and say, oh, if I just get this one thing right or if I learn this one more thing or if I just prepare this thing or if I just write my business plan a little bit better. By the way, the reason I dislike business plans. I don’t mind having a plan. You should have a plan but you don’t need a 20 page business plan because you’re not going to follow it.

Day one, it’s all out the window. You do whatever you got to do to eat so you can have a plan and you should make notes about your plan but you don’t need an official business plan. Total waste of time. Don’t get caught up in the over planning. Do it. You can plan, read. You can do all of that all day long. The day you start the business again all out the window. Everything will change.

You’ll quickly realize that wow, all the advice I’ve been getting from guys that have little bitty businesses or have never done it. All the books I’ve been reading. Ah, you know what, that was helpful but it’s not really. It’s not a big help. That stuff will resonate with you. That learning will most resonate with you when you’re in the middle of having the pain growing the business. I can have you read a marketing book right now but until you experience it. Until you do it. Until you grow your business to a certain size where you’ve got to actually solve that problem. You could reread that same book and suddenly something resonates. You read that before but it never meant anything to you. Now you’re in the middle of it. Now you’re dealing with it. Then you read it, wow, it’s the answer.

Some of this stuff that you’re going to read and plan for are going to be meaningless till you’re actually at a point where you have pain and you need that help. Then when you read that stuff it makes sense so you can’t just read and consume information in advance. You’ve got to get started. You got to do it. If you don’t do it you have no hope of ever learning the lessons you’ve got to learn to get past the first several years that are a challenge so just do it. Go for it. It will change everything.

The encouragement here is you get to run the show. That means you have a lot more responsibility than going to a 9 to 5 but that’s also kind of cool. You will grow your ability, your skill set, yourself as a person, in a massive way. That’s awesome in my opinion. You will have the potential to maybe make more money. You will have and hopefully so if you build it right you will. You’ll have the potential to eventually take better care of your family and take more vacations. All of these things are possible. Money is just a part of it. It’s all the other stuff that I think is super exciting. It’s the who you become in the process. Knowing that you are in control. Knowing that you are guiding your future. You’ve just got to do it and I hope you will because it will absolutely totally change your life. Good luck.

Build Wealth: What Does It Take to Make Serious Money with a Lawn Care Business?

Video Transcript – Video discusses building wealth within your lawn care & landscape business.  How to use your lawn care company as a vehicle to make a lot of money.

Speaker 1:       The question is, “I want to build first generation wealth. I’m really interested in the lawn care business, but having seen some of your videos it seems a bit overwhelming. For someone starting ground up, what should my first steps be? Keep in mind my plans are to create a profitable and perhaps large lawn care company.”

By saying you want to create first generation wealth, wealth to me communicates a significant amount of money. That does mean that you’re going to have to build a large company. There’s just no way around that. You could built what I would refer to as a lifestyle business that might do a half a million dollars a year and let you have a nice sizable income out of the business, but you’re going to be the guy in that business. You’re going to be the manager. For the most part, you’re going to be the main guy. You’re going to have people taking a number of things off of your plate, helping you with things, but that’s not a business that’s going to create wealth. It’s just going to create a decent paycheck.

To create wealth, and this is an important thing to know upfront when you’re starting your business or building your company, what is it that you want out of the company? Because what you have to put in to obtaining your goal is completely different. Again, if you want more of a lifestyle, smaller business; only serving the most profitable of clients at higher prices so that you can have a really nice paycheck and afford to hire a helper in a sense that helps you manage the business but you still have to participate, well, that’s one. That’s one thing worth … it’s something worth knowing because that tells you what you need to do to build your business.

Whereas if you want to build a company that you could sell for $20 million, that’s a totally different business because it’s totally different level in investment. It requires an entirely different vision. It requires you to learn completely different things. It’s going to require vastly more work but it’s worth doing. But it’s a matter of is it worth it for you just because somebody else has that dream or vision for themselves does not mean that should be your dream or vision.

If you’re doing something that doesn’t line up with the thing that you really want, like for example, you might say, “I really want to be want to wealthy, and I really want to have a lot of money. I really want to create a business that basically runs itself that has a president and a management team.” Well, you’re going to have to do a tremendous amount of work and you’re going to have to sacrifice quite a bit in time. Maybe even in the money that you have and spend in the early years, you won’t be able to keep up with your friends that have already made it in business or have high-paying jobs because you’re going to be sacrificing to get your business to a certain level.

Now, in the long run you’ll come out great but you have to do your time and you’ve got to do the work and you’ve got to become the person, the business owner, that you have to be to be able to do and create the goal that you’ve mentioned which is create first generation wealth. If you have it in you to do that, then I personally think you should. I like that strategy. It’s more what I tend to like vers- … I like solving big problems versus creating lifestyle business. There’s a lot of people that they would prefer to have a lifestyle smaller business and have a little more freedom and not make as big of a sacrifice and commitment.

The other thing is if you’re married, that your spouse has to be on board on this deal because if they’re not, it’s going to be a measurable road trying to build out a big business that you can sell for millions and millions and millions of dollars or that you keep and pays you seven figure a year income. So not exactly what you asked, but it’s your first consideration. That is where you start.

Now, you may get started and totally change your mind once you get into it. That’s okay too; but it’s worth trying to figure this out now. The place to start is that, the second place is you’ve got to start building your education. There’s four things that you’re going to be charged with as the business owner that even assisting gross that you will still be heavily responsible for and you have to keep your finger on these things and those things in order are your people … let me take a stage … your marketing, your people, your technology, and cash flow.

The financial side of the business, cash flow being the money coming in versus the money going out and the balance of that. You’re right, it is a bit overwhelming and that’s why there are very, very, very few people in the United States or around the world that have a lot of money or that have real financial freedom or that eventually build businesses that they don’t have to participate in everyday. There’s very few people that live life completely different than everyone else and get to work on the things that they want to do and work on because they haven’t put in the time to get there.

It’s really that simple. That’s your first question, “Are you willing to do what it takes?” If you’re willing to do what it takes, then you know the roads you need to travel. That is you start with a plan in mind that you’re going to build a big company, and if you’re going to build a big company, then the four things I just mentioned, you have to be a master of those things. You have to learn how to get and hire and mentor and train very good people. You’ve got to build those people into leaders because you can’t be the leader, the sole leader. They have to take over from you, so as the company grows there’s no way you can be the guy running a $5 million, $10 million, $20 million company and doing everything and wearing all the hats. You have to raise up leaders that can run parts of that company and then someone that can eventually run that company for you. That’s the people side and there’s a lot that goes into that.

On the marketing side, you have to learn how to sell and market this thing that you’re building. To be a great marketer, that takes a lot of work and you’re going to spend some money learning it. When you learn it though, you’ll be able to dominate your market and then you have to learn about technology. You have to be technology savvy. Someone that says, “I don’ like technology. In don’t enjoy technology. I really don’t know anything about technology,” who cares? You don’t get to say that as the owner wanting to build a huge company.

You have to know something about technology because technology is the future. Technology is going to run your company. Technology is going to be the difference maker in your company. If you hide behind the idea that, “I just don’t really like technology or I never learned it. I’m not any good at it, then you’re screwed because you’re never going to be as competitive as the guy that’s on top of it. You need to understand enough about technology and be involved enough that the systems, solutions that are going to run your company, that you understand the basics; that you can make wise decisions about what you buy and you don’t buy and what technology to implement in your company.

When your team says, “We want to do this,” is that a good or bad decision? You need to be able to say. Technology is the future of everything. It’s the core of everything. If you’re not on technology, and technology even gets into marketing, it gets into your people. It crosses over into finance. If you’re not on top of that … well, we don’t have to be a programmer or anything. You don’t have to know how to build computers. I don’t mean anything like that but you’ve got to understand basics of technology and not be scared of it.

Fourth, finance. You’ve got to understand cash flow. No matter how fast you grow or how slow you grow, cash flow is an issue. You can go out of business. You’ve probably heard this saying. You can go out of business just as easy by being very successful as you can by not being successful. Once you start growing really, really fast, cash flow becomes a really big problem. If you screw up the management of cash flow, you can put yourself out of business or bankrupts yourself. Lots and lots and lots and lots of companies have gone under because of growth, not because they didn’t sell enough, but because of growth. You have to learn about finance and cash flow and I’d recommend accounting.

These are four areas that you want to … you asked where to start, this is where you start. You start educating yourself on these areas. Now, you’ll read things and you’ll learn things now that don’t resonate. They don’t click because you haven’t yet bumped into those problems in your business. You haven’t yet had the experiences. The things you’re learning now, some of what you read, it may not resonate with you, but in time it will. You’ll experience something two years from now and it’ll kind of click. “Oh, you know what, I kind of remember something about that,” and then you go back and re-read that same book or re-watch that whatever it is learning program. Now, something else in that program makes sense to you. It sticks out. It’s like, “Oh, I get it now.” You’re going to experience a lot of that as you grow through the different phases and levels of your company.

When I also hear that you want to build first generational wealth, I think of, “Okay, do you want to be a business owner where you want to put everything into one company and build it into one great company and that’s your dream? Or do you want to own multiple companies? Or would you like to build one company and sell it? This isn’t so much of a concern now because actually if you take the attitude of I want to build one thing and move on to the next thing or you do it too soon, you’ll never have anything great. I actually think you need to build something and stick with it and work it for a long time. That’s my attitude.

The things I’m working on, I have no desire to sell. Someday, if something is sold a long time from now, fine, maybe; but actually I don’t even have that goal. I don’t care but I’m building my company so they could be sold but not because I ever want to sell them. I’m building companies that I’m passionate about and I want to be doing for the next 15 years. There are things that I want to solve big, hard problems and I want to be doing this. Now, you don’t have to have that same attitude but knowing that helps you a little bit. If your attitude is I just want to build this thing up and sell it in five years and go start the next thing, you need to know that. That changes your direction. It also changes a little bit about how you work on that business and some of the things you do within the business.

If you’re just building it to sell, you do it a little bit different. Again, I wouldn’t recommend doing that. I would recommend, especially with your first business, thinking about this is, “I’m going to build something of value and I’m going to really learn,” because if you invest, let’s say, the next 10 years building something really good, what you will learn in the next 10 years, you’ll be able to take all of those skills and do your next business. If you say, “You know what, I’m going to spend two years building something. I’m going to start the next thing.” In two years, you will not develop the skills to build a $20 million company, and it doesn’t even have to be that big of a goal for you, but if you need to have a big enough window of time that you can truly develop out those skills that I was talking about.

The way you develop skills is not by just reading and learning, it’s by reading and learning and going to workshops and being mentored by someone and then actually having to do it and then figure out where you don’t understand, where you’re feeling lots of pain and frustration and stress because you’re having problems and then learning the next thing and then bumping into more problems and leaning the next thing. Reading and studying is not going to get you there. Reading, studying, doing, that will get you there. You got to go through the pain and the challenge. You got to do the time, but that will be what makes you great.

So yes, overwhelming; absolutely, but I’ll tell you what, you can either … I love the saying, “You can either have an easy life or hard life.” I think the hard life is the one where you don’t do this stuff. It’s the one where you really don’t do very well financially; you really don’t have a lot of satisfaction; really don’t feel like you’re controlling things. You really don’t get it; do something on a day to day basis that you find energizing and exciting. That’s a hard life. To get the easy life, I do believe you’ve got to do a lot of work and you got to do a lot of hard work. That hard work will give you a lot of satisfaction and it will make you feel good about yourself and other people will be … your spouse, your kids, they’ll be proud of you. That has value too. Maybe your family will be proud of you. There’s value there.

I’m not saying you do it just for other people, but by going out and doing this stuff and learning it and pushing yourself, I believe it’s hard. It is overwhelming, but the sense of gratification, maybe that’s the way to say it, that will come from it in addition to maybe the financial reward, that’s huge. The ability to have a direct effect on the people that you work with, that you bring on to your team and hopefully make their lives better, there’s tremendous value on my mind around that. I like that part of business. It is stressful and tiring to have a lot of employees, but at the same time when you have great employees whose lives are getting better and you know that you could have a hand in that and provide an opportunity where they could really flourish and make a lot of money and really do something that they like and what to do and they can help other people, there’s value in that. I guess, a little of what I’m saying is to encourage you to push through the overwhelming.

Final thing, lawn care is overwhelming. To build a big cleaning company, overwhelming. To build a big plumbing company, overwhelming. To build a big pest control company, overwhelming. To start a car dealership, that’s overwhelming. To build a software company, ridiculously overwhelming. To do all kinds of different things; start a restaurant, probably the worst of all of them; everything. Good luck naming the thing that’s not overwhelming. There’s a lot of people running around teaching that it will be easy, it won’t be that hard because they want to sell you something. Because if they told you it’s going to be really hard and you’re going to have a lot to learn and you’re going to go through some pain and it’s going to take some time, then are you really going to want to buy their book or their thing?

The truth is it is going to take some time. You’ve got learn some stuff and you got to do some stuff. The idea that maybe you could do something on the Internet that’s easy. Well, if it’s easy, that window of time when that easy thing lasts isn’t very long because every then hops into the easy thing and then they all up the game and that game thing then becomes complicated because there’s so much competition and everybody is trying to one up each other and offer more value to the client. It’s quickly, the easy businesses where it feels like there’s a lot of easy money, they become difficult and they become complicated.

Go through the overwhelm. Push through. Learn the things you need to learn. You’ll totally get past it and then in time, with this set of skill, then your set of skills that will make you successful are way more important and more valuable than the money you’ll make because with those skills you can do anything. Bad things can happen to you in life and you can start over and you could do it again. If you don’t have the skills and life is hard on you, good luck starting over. Go for it and I think you will find that it’s one of the best investments you’ve ever made in your life and it will give you great satisfaction by pushing through and doing this thing.

I hope that gives you some motivation and some ideas. Good luck.