The housing boom has seen unprecedented urban sprawl in many parts of Auckland and where there was once countryside, there are now lawns and new landscaping to be maintained. These new housing developments come accompanied by homeowners who generally fall into one or more of these categories:
- They’ve made the move from the city and have no idea about lawn care
- They’ve moved onto a bare lot that needs hedging planted and lawn sown before regular maintenance begins
- The homeowner is too busy working to pay off the new mortgage to be bothered with the lawn mowing
- The property is a rental and the owner will need someone to take charge of the lawn care, including lawn mowing and hedge trimming.
These areas, like Millwater in the north, or Paerata in the south, are ripe for Auckland lawn mowing franchise opportunities. Usually when buying into a franchise you inherit a list of clients, so targeting new suburbs will take longer to build up a client list - however, it will pay off if you get a lot of clients in a concentrated area. As we’ll see in a couple of paragraphs, your lawn mowing business can run into problems even when you start off with plenty of customers, if you’re unprepared and have no support.
Promotion need not be a headache – you’ll get a lot of support from head office, which will help you with marketing material. I suggest that you add localised touches to your flyers, like ‘new *franchise* round starting up in *suburb*’. There’s nothing I distrust more than a flyer that says ‘Auckland-wide’ and a cell phone number. People like local, it’s safe (you don’t have to live there yourself). Include a small smiling photo. If you look like Ed Sheeran, use a photo of your dog.
Ex-independent lawn mowing operator, Jamie, had the great luck to be given a lawn mowing round of 30 North Shore properties, as well as advice on where to get the best machinery. Jamie was experienced at both lawn mowing and hedge trimming but he had little knowledge of business or the practicalities of quoting a new job.
“Even though I was gifted a customer base, I didn’t know any tricks of the trade, so had no idea of the techniques of how to do a job efficiently,” he says.
“ My accounting was a mess because I didn’t pay any ACC premiums, so I got hit with a retrospective ACC bill. But the biggest problem I had day to day was that I didn’t know anything about quoting for a lawn or hedge trimming job, so I’d turn up and say something would take a couple of hours and I’d be there all morning and end up out of pocket. Also, it was quite lonely.”
Jamie advises anyone wanting to start an independent lawn mowing operation to register as a business and organise GST and ACC before cutting the first blade of grass. He says if did it again, he’d opt for the advice and support of belonging to a franchise. “Plus, you get the tried and true equipment. And the camaraderie. Outside work can be pretty solitary so it’s nice to have that feeling of belonging.”
When Jamie eventually left the Auckland lawn mowing industry, he handed on the lawn mowing round he’d been given gratis so was left with nothing but several black bin bags of receipts. However, he still has the commercial mower and line trimmer he was advised to invest in by his predecessor and they’re in excellent condition thanks to regular maintenance from a trusted local operator.