Adapt or Perish: Why Your Mowing Business Needs to Stay Competitive.
As much as you love your lawn mowing business, you occasionally need to ask yourself if your business is everything it could be.
One of the biggest issues I see holding back lawn mowing businesses from growing is that they are not moving with the times and are still running their business the way they were ten years ago.
A business is a living, breathing entity and should be treated as such to increase growth and profitability.
If you were swimming and you suddenly stopped, the results would not be good. You would sink.
If you were on a sailing boat, you couldn’t just set the sails once and forget about it. You would get left behind when the wind changed.
A business is exactly the same.
The need to evolve strategies for sustained growth and success
You need to pay attention to the changes that are going on around us and embrace change to allow our businesses to move with the times and prosper.
The Downside of Sticking to the Status Quo
If you set and forget your business and nothing ever changes, then you are in danger of ending up with a business that becomes harder to run and produces less profit for more work.
I have often talked to someone selling or looking at a lawn mowing business that has been running for over a decade, and the owner is looking at retiring.
These are usually managed in an outdated manner, and the lawns are just about always underpriced for the current market.
They still prefer to be paid in cash and don’t want to use text messages to communicate.
I have met contractors who have spent half an hour a night personally ringing all the customers who are due the next day. There are four major things wrong with this system.
- You lose up to two and a half hours a week.
- It could be done in less than 20 minutes a week via text
- You give the customers a chance to cancel
- It could be annoying for the customers.
This is someone who could be losing a lot of time and money because they simply failed to embrace technology when it became available.
Embracing Innovation and technology to stay relevant.
We have always embraced technology to make our business more efficient.
Before cell phones were a thing, I was available via pager for quotes. I used a casino data bank to run my business in the 80s and then moved to a palm pilot in the 90s as soon as they were available.
As mobile phones became more common, we started texting our customers instead of calling them. We would send a mass text to all the lawns that were mowed that day, asking for payment via Internet banking.
I also started using an earpiece so I didn’t miss any quotes while I was out mowing lawns.
We won’t encourage cash as that, too, is inefficient. Cheques were even worse. Standing there waiting for five minutes for someone to answer the door to pay your or another five minutes to write the cheque. I was glad when the banks stopped issuing chequebooks.
Investing in continuous learning and professional development
These days if you want to stay ahead, it requires constant learning.
When Microsoft Excel first emerged, I became an expert and wrote the spreadsheet that eventually grew to manage over 450 regular lawns.
We put our business on Google Maps in 2006, roughly a year after it first came out, and I learnt how to use Google Ads in the mid-2010s.
At sixty, I’m still learning every day.
By the end of this year, I will be a qualified Google Ads and Facebook ads manager.
Overcoming Challenges and Building a Resilient Business
Things are always changing, and so are people’s views and ideals.
You can tell that by the number of battery-powered lawn-mowing businesses that are starting to appear nationwide. Customers now have another way to do their bit for the environment and feel good about using a green lawn mowing company.
However, the setup cost for this kind of business is still quite high.
It’s the same with robot mowers. They will not be going away anytime soon, and pairing them up with the latest developments in AI will only make them better.
I can’t see them taking over just yet, but when the price point drops to below $ 1,000 a unit, you might get some lawn-mowing businesses set up this way. There are already a couple of big ones in the States.
It’s not all about new technology either.
A few things should happen in every lawn-mowing business if they want to build themselves a secure future.
First, you could start off by reading a monthly publication like the “Lawn & Landscape.” magazine. I have been a subscriber to this magazine for years, and some of the things I have seen there have taken up to five years to appear here in New Zealand. This is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.
Secondly, have a system for reviewing and raising your prices on a regular basis. I have a traffic light system that I have written in Excel, and it always shows our lowest hourly rate lawn in red. We run over 160 lawns, so if we price increase our worst-paying lawn every week, it would literally take us over three years before they saw another price increase.
Thirdly, how about using Google Maps to give you a distance for every lawn you do and running a traffic light system for that too? Price increases won’t help, but if you dropped off your furthest lawn every month, then every year, your business area would get smaller, and your income would grow due to less travel.
So remember, if you are not swimming, you are sinking.
Over time, your business will become less and less relevant, and one day, you may find yourself working harder for less money than you earned the year before.
This road is better avoided than travelled, and the way to avoid this road is simple.
- Keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. (Read publications and talk to people in the industry)
- Change with the times. Just because something worked ten years ago dosnt mean it will work today.
- Get a plan in place to review and raise your prices on a regular basis.
And get out there, mow some lawns and make some money.
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