Posts in Survival
Technical dos and don’ts for a lawn mowing business

There is more to a lawn mowing franchise than just customer service and cutting lawns. We have scoured our sources to find the best do’s, don’ts and tips for those of you who are in the industry. You may be nodding along as you read this, which may be a sign you are a perfect candidate for a franchise of your own. 
 

Lawn mower handling
 

Auckland Crewcut operator mowing the lawns

Let your engine warm up before handling

We know you want to fly through your lawns as fast as possible, but it will pay off if you wait before pushing your mower full throttle. Just like a car, you shouldn’t throw it in fourth gear without even letting it get warm. 
 

Let the engine run on idle before shutting down

It’s not good to shut your engine down right away. Many operators will let it run while they blow off drives and walks for about 3-5 minutes. Doing this allows the engine to relax, and shut down smoothly without a backfire.

 

Always fill your gas tanks up on the grass, never on truck beds. 
 

 

Gear

When a piece of equipment is down, it’s money you don’'t make. Maintain your equipment:

  • Grease your equipment
  • Change the oil
  • Change the filters
  • Sharpen your blades every 25 hours of lawn mowing. This may be every few days but it makes a significant difference in the cut.
     

Learn to fix and maintain as much as you can yourself as it will pay off in time and money. Also, try to buy all your oil, belts, filters, and whatever else you'll need for the year. It's better to be prepared and generally works out cheaper to buy in bulk. 

 

 

Garden manners

Do

Check for open windows or doors, when blowing or mulching grass as it can easily get blown into the house leading to unhappy customers.  
 

Don’t

Swear, even to yourself as you might turn around to see your customer. While swearing is fairly common in conversation, it's probably not the best look for a business professional. 


 

Inside the van of a Crewcut lawn mower operator

What to pack in your van

  • Keep an extra set of belts and blades with you at all times. Because going to the shops in the middle of a job doesn’t look good for you or your wallet. 
     
  • Keep a spare tyre on hand and a portable pump.
     
  • Cary a can of bug spray. You might come across a beehive, or another unwanted critter. Your customers will love it that you sprayed it for them so their kids can play outside, and you don’t have to worry for next time.
     
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergencies. 

 

Customer Service

  • Do talk to your customers. Communicating often will develop a relationship, they get to know you more and your business together will last longer. Be courteous, let them know if you'll be a day late, try to keep this communication within business hours.
     
  • If you know you’re doing a good job on your customers lawn, why not introduce yourself to the neighbours? Knock on the door for a friendly hello and give them your business card, even if they mow their own, they can see the good work you've done on their neighbours lawn
     
  • Don’t underprice your lawns. Get quality clients willing to pay for your good service, rather than trying to haggle you down. Customers who want the cheapest deal are more likely to leave you if they find a cheaper option. 
     

Remember, they aren’t just paying for your time and labour. It's insurance, gear cost, travel time and everything inbetween that adds up. Don’t sell yourself short.

 

 

Business Tips

  • Take the time to make lists and goals. Make a business plan to track your progress and where you might be losing money, or where you could gain more. 
     
  • Prepare for winter, set money aside or invest in something weekly. Push your other services in winter, up-sell your clients on hedge trimming, pruning or a general garden tidy. 
     
  • Chase up those who don’t pay, and keep checking your accounts. Everything adds up, and you don’t want to be working for free. 


 

Helpful Tips

  • When you are on the biggest property of the day, check the gas is full.
     
  • Always walk the property first - even twice to make sure there is nothing that could cause damage to yourself or the mower.
     
  • For cold water all day, freeze half a bottle of water, then top it up and stays cold. 
     
  • Make sure your mower will fit past the gate when pricing the job.
     
  • Close the gate behind you, ALWAYS. 
     
  • Write down your equipment serial numbers and keep on file. If your gear is stolen you can give this to the brand to see if it pops up for repairs/is sold. 


 

Our franchisees biggest tip: Buy quality gear.

 
Man mowing perfectly manicured lawn
 

This is the biggest piece of advice from our franchisees. Countless times, new franchisees will pop down to the local store and get a cheap weed eater or mower. These work for a month or two, but you will be surprised how quickly it wears down. Shortly after purchasing it will break, and won’t be worth fixing. Get yourself quality branded gear, the brand will look after you with a warranty and you can get mowing without worries. Check out our some of our Tauranga franchisees brand preferences on their bios.

 

Running and maintaining a lawn business has more parts to it than just you and the mower. But don’t let that put you off starting a lawn mowing business, because if you follow these tips you'll be a pro. Let us know if you have any more tips or comments on these technical do’s and don’ts, we would love to hear them. 

 

Interested in a lawn mowing business?
Find out more by clicking the button below


Related Articles

SurvivalCC Group
Surviving Winter As A Lawn Mowing Operator
Lawn mower sitting in frosted grass

Those who know the struggles of winter most are definitely lawn mowing business owners. It can be a hard time for anyone who works outdoors, but especially for those who mow lawns for a living. If you're starting out this winter, we applaud you. We also recommend to anyone who is about to start their first winter season as a lawn mowing operator - read these helpful tips.

 

1. Mow lawns with a weed eater

When the grass is wet, it can be extremely hard to trek a mower through it. The lawn mower can rip up the ground and the grass will clump in the blades. Our pro tip is to continue mowing lawns but with a weed eater. While this may not give you the same finish you'd get with a mower - it will definitely avoid any other complications with the lawn.
 

2. Take on extra work to supplement your income

It doesn't really matter what it is, do it. Hedges, water blasting, section tidies or light tree pruning - these services will bring in the dosh when the lawns don't need mowing. Many lawn mowing operators tend not to stretch far from duties behind the mower, but in the winter it definitely pays to go further than normal services. 
 

Crewcut operator talking to his male customer

3. Build up lawn numbers

Perhaps it's time to get your extra friendly face on and introduce yourself to some of the neighbours. You could create a new social media page and push that to locals in your area. Don't be afraid to get testimonials from your current clients which will help sell your services to others.
 

4. Do some extra courses or training in health and safety

Without proper education and training, many things can go awry. The equipment and your environment can have large implications if not treated with care. That’s why it’s important to implement proper health and safety policies which you can get through Trimsafe. Not only does it make you a safer operator, but it gives your customers reassurance and peace of mind. Most of our Crewcut operators are enrolled in Trimsafe, so they can be safe on site.

 

More lawn mowing business articles

- 10 Common mistakes when starting a business
- How does a lawn mowing operator cope with extreme weather
- New areas for franchise growth

 

Lawn mower turned over with grass clippings

5. Tool maintenance

All those hours in the summer sun have taken a beating on your lawn equipment. When was the last time you got your mower serviced or tried to tinker with it yourself? It's a good time of the year to scrub up on your lawn and garden tool maintenance. Make sure you:
- First of all give it a visual inspection to see if there is anything physically wrong. 
- Tighten up any loose nuts and bolts
- Sharpen or change the mower blade.
- Check the motors air filter. If it's dirty or clogged, it could slow down your mowing efficiency. 

 

6. Tidy up your business appearance

When we say this we mean, update your uniform, clean your vehicle and make sure your sign writing is looking great. If you're part of a franchise system like Crewcut, getting these things sorted will be a breeze. All it requires is contacting head office, and they will send these things out to you. 

 

Man sitting on beach during holiday

7. Plan a holiday

If it's winter in this part of the world, then it must be summer somewhere else! While work is slow, you could go away on holiday and make the most of the time off. It goes without saying that in the summer months while everyone else gets a break, you're generally at your busiest. 

 

 

8. Gain new skills

Have you wanted to learn a new technique or two? Or perhaps learn some basic maintenance for your machinery. Winter is the perfect time. These new skills could be in your back-end accounting type jobs, or practical gardening skills you could turn into services offered to clients. 

 

9. Budget/plan for winter

The winter months are the hardest time of year for any lawn mowing operator, which is why it requires careful planning and budgeting beforehand. During this planning period, you may set aside time for any of the things listed above, or it may be a time to get your finances in check. 

 

So even if the dark grey clouds are out, and it's looking a bit doom-and-gloom, there is plenty of work to be done.
Keep yourself busy year-round, and you'll definitely make your lawn mowing business a success. ;


Related Articles

SurvivalCC Group
10 common mistakes when starting a lawn business
 
Purple post-it note with 'oops' written on

Mistakes. An inevitable part of building a business - but can you avoid some of them? When you start your own lawn mowing business, you're likely to encounter plenty. But many of these issues can be avoided if you know where to get sound advice. We've heard or seen almost every mistake under the sun. Here are our top ten mistakes we see from new business owners or independent lawn mowing operators - and how you can avoid them. 

 

1. Having unrealistic expectations

One of the biggest mistakes you can have in any business, but especially when starting a lawn mowing business. When you think you can do 100 lawns in a week, you'll probably end up under the mower. But this mistake can extend to other areas, like customers and type of work you get. While you may only expect to do lawn mowing, there are other services that will need to supplement your income. 

Pro tip - write down what you expect from your first year of business, and perhaps cross check this with another lawn mowing operator. They'll have a wealth of knowledge to share. 

 

2. Borrowing too much money

Quite a few can get trapped by borrowing too much. While starting in a new business or franchise can be expensive, it takes a lot of careful financial planning to make sure you do it properly. Those who join a franchise like Crewcut will be shown how to budget correctly to avoid getting into large amounts of debt. 
 

3. Lack of communication

Whether it's poor communication with your customers, head office, or your regional manager - it's not going to get you very far. Be sure to let people know when you're going to be there, and if you can't. Trust us, an informed customer is a lot less problematic than a confused and irritated one. 
 

4. Not making time for admin

While you're out mowing lawns during the day, you may forget one of the most important aspects of the business, admin. No invoices or checking cashflow can spell disaster if left too long without attention. While you may be a great multi-tasker, this work is often shared with a partner. Have a read of 'Couples That Work Together And Love It'
 

5. Under quoting

Out of fear of not getting the job, a lot of lawn mowing operators underprice the job. The only issue is the customer will get a certain expectation that this will be the ongoing rate. You don't want to sell yourself short to get the job. Ultimately there are always plenty of other lone wolfs out there who will try to give the customer a deal, but cheap rates only go so far. The best way to get the job is to show you're professional and can do a quality job. 
 

Read more on franchise lawn mowing:

 

Diary with the planned week

6. Not planning the day or week

If you don't plan where you'll be or what jobs you'll do on a certain day - you're going to run into a myriad of issues. It's also not good for your customers as their mow may be delayed or they don't know when you're coming at all. 
 

 

7. Cheap or second-hand equipment

Going for the cheap isn't going to get you far in this industry. If you think you can get a cheap lawn mower from the Warehouse and expect it to last you forever, you'll be bitterly disappointed. Trust quality, well known brands. And again if you're going for second-hand equipment, you'll have to prepare to replace fairly soon. If you talk to head-office, you may be able to get a discount on some well-known brands. 
 

8. Lack of experience in being self employed or self motivated

A lot of people have been employed, but don't understand the pitfalls of having to take responsibility for their own business. Self employment is no mean-feat. It takes plenty of the 3 P's: persistence, planning and positivity. With a franchise network you'll have advice and support from other franchisees and a regional manager. This can take away some of the stress you may encounter if you were to start an independent business.
 

9. No financial planning or budgeting

It's important to budget for certain things in a lawn mowing business. Some of these things might include GST, ACC, or franchise fees. Another important aspect of the lawn mowing industry, is to plan around the seasonality of the work. For example, in the Winter months, lawn mowing services slow right down. If you supplement your income with extra garden services or you have another job - then this won't be an issue. However, if you're relying on lawn mowing for your entire income - you absolutely have to plan for these quieter months.  
 

10. Being a lawn mower instead of a proud business owner

Auckland Crewcut operator smiling at camera in front of garden

Thinking that you're just the person behind the lawn mower really limits how far your business will grow. You're more than that. You're the face of your successful business. The person the customer will see on a regular basis. So be proud of your business and put yourself out there - it will get you a lot further than the guy who is just a lawn mower.


 

Ultimately, all these mistakes are part of starting your own lawn mowing business. However, if you buy a Crewcut franchise, you're also securing yourself with fantastic training and ongoing help & support. This is one of the main benefits of joining a franchise rather than going it alone. For more information on how to build a lawn mowing business, be sure to have a read of 'Grow Your Lawn Mowing Business Like A Pro'


Related Articles

How does a lawn mowing operator cope with extreme weather?

Being a lawn mowing business owner means your schedule relies heavily on the weather. Rainy days, cyclones and other weather anomalies can really take the ‘wind out of the sails’. But making the most of the bad weather is what will get you ahead of your competition. When Cyclone Gita battered parts of New Zealand in February, the effects were definitely felt. Though it was downgraded to an ex-tropical cyclone, it still left a lot of people around the country with a big clean up. Crewcut operators had to work around Gita to make sure their business didn’t suffer from the forces of nature. 

Then you get other big storms like the one felt across the country April 11. Powercuts, tree debris on the road, and plenty of wind & rain have accounted for some home owner stress. Just imagine how it feels for the lawn mowing operator. 

So how does a lawn mowing business work around a cyclone or crazy weather?

 

When the grass gets wet it can cause a problem with most lawn mowers, as it clumps together and gets stuck in the blades. During rainy periods, you may find some lawns fully submerged in water. Not only can it do damage to your mower, but there is a big health and safety risk as well. The grass becomes slippery and operators can find themselves in a potentially hazardous position on a slope where they may slide out of control. It can also cause damage to the lawn as the wheels will tear up the soft ground. We advise Crewcut operators not to work on the tools when the weather takes a turn for the worst. 

 

We contacted some of our Crewcut operators from New Plymouth to Nelson to find out what they do when the weather makes it impossible to provide lawn mowing, or garden services.

 

In New Plymouth a state of emergency was declared during Cyclone Gita. It wasn’t until Sunday when it had been lifted, but the cyclone had left the city with no fresh drinking water for five days. Neil, a New Plymouth Crewcut operator, mowed for as long as he could on Tuesday when Gita came through. However, by 1pm he had to call off his jobs due to the rain and wind being too heavy. Neil’s solution around this extreme weather was getting out on the tools earlier on the day of the storm and the day after to pick up on missed work. This initiative made sure that his business wouldn’t miss out on any income. The day after the storm did require a bit more than mowing though. He found himself doing some section tidies to get rid of broken branches and other debris. Unfortunately, the storm also knocked out their power, so all of the online paperwork had to wait until the computer could be turned back on.


Read more on running a lawn care business:

 

At the top of the South Island, Phillip Rogers provides his service to Nelson. Though a lot of the area he operates in wasn’t affected by flooding, the surrounding areas did encounter the overflow. The cyclone however did prevent Phil from getting to work for his clients. The rain and wind proved to be too much and he had to take one day off while Gita passed through. Though he didn’t miss on this opportunity to make sure his lawn mowing business still operated well. He managed to get maintenance done on his gear, clean out his van, and finish off plenty of admin work. The morning after, he just waited out for the sun to dry off the grass so he could get back into what he does best, lawn mowing. Getting all of these tasks done during the weather chaos allowed him to relax at night knowing that he’d done something productive. 

 

Two of our operators in the Wellington region had similar scenarios with the weather. Adam from Lower Hutt had to take the day off as well, though it wasn't such a bad thing. It was his first day off in four weeks, so he got to spend the time with his wife and kids. Relaxation is another important part of running your business. It’s not worth going non-stop if your mental health and family are taking the backseat. 

 

Kapiti based, Tony, said that thankfully there was no flooding. However, there were plenty of branches and cabbage tree leaves on his client’s properties the next day. There were also a few slips on the way into Wellington, so anyone heading there had to be careful. He also had to take the day off from providing his lawn mowing service due to the weather. Instead, he worked on his fuel tax rebate so he still managed to bring in a few hundred dollars without being on the tools. This is another great initiative to take to make sure you have a steady flow of cash coming through. 

 

When it comes to this extreme weather, our Crewcut operators need to be motivated and smart with their time. Owning a lawn and garden business is more than just mowing a lawn or trimming a hedge. A smart operator will carry out maintenance on their gear, get up to date on their paperwork, or take the well deserved break to spend time with their family. There is so much more to business ownership than the service itself. Taking the initiative and making smart choices with your time will lead your business in the direction of success.


Related Articles

SurvivalCC Group