No longer loving your job, but you've always loved keeping the lawns looking like an Olympic bowling green? It sounds like you're one of the hordes of people considering leaving the rat race behind and jumping aboard the ever more popular world of lawn mowing franchise ownership.
You may be put off because you've heard that a successful lawn mowing business is like nurturing a perfect patch of green Kikuyu grass. In other words, seriously HARD. But as long as you treat that lawn mowing business like the real business it is rather than a throwaway weekend hobby, you can definitely make it survive and thrive.
You'll need planning, support, business know-how, industry know-how, equipment, the financial backing, and good old elbow grease. But you knew that already. What you'll then need to think about is how to grow that business - because if the phone isn't ringing off the hook and your client list isn't ever expanding, you're not going to build the momentum to one day sell up and retire.
Want that lawn mowing business client base to grow? Here's what to know:
1. Don't mess it up
To get your lawn mowing business into the growth phase, first you need to make it stable. You've done the groundwork: acquired the know-how, established a routine and got a good bunch of clients who always use you.
Now don't mess it up! Avoid racking up too much credit card debt, don't start sleeping in and missing appointments, go above and beyond client expectations, and - most importantly - treat every client's garden as though it's your beloved Mum's! Get the basics right and the rest will follow.
2. Start small
If you're struggling to get a decent list of clients up and running, you're not going to grow - it's just that simple. So before stressing that you don't have enough clients, think smaller. Get SOME clients, and then go from there.
Got a good group of supportive family and friends? What a perfect place to start - now offer to do their lawns. At the very least, you'll get something ticking over and valuable experience and confidence at the same time. These people will serve as the foundations for very loyal clients, who will hopefully sing praises to their friends as well.
3. Boost your customer service
Never forget who pays the bills - it's your clients. You know you have to be friendly, but there's a difference between 'I'm friendly because I need to be friendly' and 'I'm friendly and I'm passionate and I'm trying to do the absolute best job for you'. Trust me - be the latter.
It's not just a smile, it's how you listen. It's how you react to and process criticism. It's how you follow up on even the smallest of little problems. It's the stuff that really makes the difference.
If customer interaction is something you struggle with, thankfully with the Crewcut franchise system, you'll learn all the tricks of the trade during your training process. Good customer service doesn't need to be difficult.
4. Keep your clients
If you've got any chance of adding to that list of clients, you need to treat the ones you do have on the books like Kings and Queens!
That's because the vast majority of your work is going to be coming from a much smaller percentage of your existing clients. So that means nurturing great relationships.
So just like revving up your customer service, nurturing your client base means touching base. It means asking for advice about how to improve. Because if you become known as the friendly, attentive, can-do lawn mowing guy, you will have the foundation upon which to grow. All Crewcut franchise owners are given seasonal door hangers which thank their customers for their patronage - but also reminds them of all the garden services on offer. It's a win-win for both parties, and is one of the things customers remember and will keep coming back for.
5. Work hard
Now, anyone who has mowed lawns day in and day out knows that it's no walk in the park. But it's not a weekend paper round either. You need to go the extra mile, and it takes a lot of planning.
Growing lawn mowing businesses are the ones that work the hardest - it's just that simple. They research the best times of year to market the hardest. They leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting the word out there. They think outside the box. They look professional at all times. They're self-critical and open to change and improving. They're highly organised. And they think every extra daylight minute is another opportunity to make a lawn look lovely.
6. Target your clients
Now that you want to start seriously adding to that client base, know who you're targeting.
Yes, all sorts of people turn to lawn mowing businesses to get their gardens looking spick and span, but as you grow, start to hone in on a niche market. Affluent people who are willing to spend a little to make their homes look a lot better are always up for it, as are those with moderate incomes but limited time. Then there are developers, builders and investors who truly know the value of curb appeal.
Targeting your clients may even mean targeting an area where the majority of your customers live. While in the beginning it may be an option to do your round all around town - but this is not a sustainable business run. Instead choose a few key suburbs and maintain the clients in that area. You'll soon become the 'local go-to lawn mowing person'.
7. Reach your clients
Now that you know who you're targeting, it's time to go out there and get them!
You know your potential clients' ages, incomes and locations, so now match that up with their habits and relationships - and promote your business. There are all sorts of advertising options and promotional opportunities, and plenty of hours in the day to pick up the phone, attend meetings, and line up partnerships with like-minded people and businesses.
This is a whole lot easier with Crewcut, as most of the leg work and effective marketing is already done for you. But this shouldn't stop you from approaching locals in the community when they're at home or in the garden themselves. Just remember step 3 "boost your customer service", everything else should just fall into place.
8. Think outside the box
As your client base starts to grow and that growth becomes growth momentum, that's when it all starts to happen. But don't rest on your laurels! Keep doing what you're doing, and THEN start thinking outside of the box as well.
Need an 'outside the box' idea? How about getting yourself into the news? Journalists are always looking for something fresh to report on, so think about whether there's an angle that might excite them. Something you've seen on your grass-filled travels? A special person or organisation you've helped? A cool local sports team you've sponsored?
Once you start thinking outside the box, it will be hard to get back in there at all!
The final word: Keep chipping away. Yes, just the idea of sustaining (let alone growing) your business can be daunting, and the lists of things to do and ideas for improvement seem to keep growing just as fast as that Buffalo grass.
So here's the final tip: don't be overwhelmed. Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep your mind open. Keep mowing grass. And keep the dream alive.
If there's anything else you want to learn about owning a lawn mowing business, be sure to contact the friendly team at Crewcut. We're always on the look out for fresh, new franchisees who want to begin their own success.