The decision to hire a lawn care company to help maintain your lawn and garden comes down to a number of factors.
First of all, you must decide that you don’t want to do the job yourself. Either you are not physically able to do the labor, you don’t have the time to devote to proper lawn care or you simply prefer to spend your time on more interesting activities.
While hiring the teenager next door is always an option , a professional lawn care company is better suited to meet all your lawn and garden needs.
How Do You Find a Good Lawn Care Company?
Drive around the neighborhood and see if there are any lawn care companies working on other yards. If they look like they’re working hard and doing a good job, you might want to inquire about their services. You may see a truck parked out front with their name and number emblazoned on the side. If not, you can always go up to one of the workers and ask what you need to do to hire them.
Recommendations are always helpful. If a friend or acquaintance in the area is already using a certain company, and they are happy with the job they do, ask for a referral. Finally, you can simply pick up the Yellow Pages or go online and search for the companies yourself. Remember, the company with the biggest ad is not always the best.
The Problem With Search Ads
One thing to note about search is most of the ads are priced above market for small lawn care companies.
The big platforms that aggregate consumer demand and sell the leads to many people will be able to buy those ads, but the economics are often horrible for a local business. For instance, the town I live in only has a few thousand people in it, so if I wanted to buy ads on Google to just my town they won’t let me because the target market is too small. To have a large enough audience size for them to run the ads, it will require me to not only be willing to spend say $4 or $5 per click, but to also open up my service area to as far as 50 miles away.
The economics of mowing a yard mean many projects go out the window if I have to add a 2-hour round trip drive AND an ad budget in the project.
- Hypothetically speaking, let’s say the cost of my time & the use of my equipment comes to $25 per hour.
- If I work locally I can do 6 to 10 hours of client work per day.
- That would mean $150 to $250. ($25 * 6 = $150, $25 * 10 = $250)
Now let’s look at how the economics change when running search ads.
Adding in the Google AdWords click cost & the drive to client sites this would force me to have to charge closer to $50 an hour. And the higher a rate I would be forced to charge the lower my conversion rates will be.
- $50 * 8 = $400 (hard to work much more than 8 hours if I have to drive an hour each way to the project)
- cost of 2 hours of driving @ $25/hr = $50
- cost of gas + wear & tear on car from 2-hour drive = $15 + $20
- cost per click of $4 or $5 * 5% conversion rate = $80 to $100 per conversion, presuming I convert at an exceptionally high rate. This cost could be amortized across multiple client engagements, but
Some of the advertising conversion costs could be amortized across multiple client engagements if they like my work, but even at its best I am forced to spend $50 of my time, $35 in vehicle expenses & the cost of clicks to work on projects further away from home. That $85 (and the cost of running the ads) must get added to the price of any project to make it competitive with working locally.
To get around the ad bias of search engines that destroys the economics of small businesses advertising with them, consider one of the following options
- asking friends with nice lawns for referrals
- look at ads & classifieds in local newspapers
- if you use search engines, try to dig through the organic / natural search results pushed further down the page, rather than clicking on ads at the top of the page
Hiring a Lawn Care Company
Before hiring someone to work on your lawn it is a good idea to check them out. Try to get references from two or three satisfied customers and follow through by calling them and asking if they are satisfied with the service.
Make sure the company is properly licensed and insured. Before committing to a long term contract, ask to try out the service for a limited time to ensure they actually do a good job.
What Lawn Care Services Do You Need?
The right company to hire can very much depend on your individual needs. While many services advertise that no job is too big or too small that may not truly be the case. If you have a ten acre grassy field that you want mowed, you don’t want a company to come out with a couple of strong men with push mowers. Obviously, a riding mower or a tractor is needed for a big job like that. If you want other things done to your yard like fertilizing, pruning, edging and maybe even cutting down some large trees, make sure you hire a company that has experience in all those areas.
How Much Will it Cost?
The cost is a variable of two main factors. The size of your yard and what services you require. At the time of this writing, a house with between 1/4 and 1/2 acre of lawn that needs cutting might cost you between twenty-five and fifty dollars. If you want your bushes trimmed, add perhaps another twenty five dollars. Edging will boost the price up a little more.
What Are the Advantages of Signing a Long Term Contract?
Professional lawn care companies encourage you to sign long term contracts. Not only does it give them a steady source of income, but it also makes it easy to fit you into a regular schedule.
- For the customer, signing a long term contract has some advantages as opposed to a pay as you go type of service. You can schedule service every two weeks, monthly or whatever level suits your needs.
- The more dates you schedule, the lower the overall charge is likely to be. As a good, regular customer, the service will be more apt to do an excellent job with your lawn or else they will face the prospect of losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in future business.
Generally, you make an upfront payment for a period of time and a specified number of visits. Usually, you will be put on a fixed schedule and you don’t have to be home when the gardners come to take care of your yard. If you need extra services on occasion, the charge is billed on a separate invoice.
How Long of a Contract Should I Commit To?
Here again, this is a matter of personal preference. How important is it to have your lawn and yard always in tip-top shape.
Summertime is usually the most needed time for taking care of your lawn, although there are always things to be done year round. With a new lawn care company, it would be prudent to initially start out by paying as you go. That is, the company comes out on a Saturday morning, completes the job and you hand over the money.
The first contract should be a modest three or four months with perhaps two scheduled appearances per month. After that, you should be able to tell if you like the service or not.
Assuming it is within your budget and you like the job the service is doing, there is nothing wrong with signing a contract for the year.
What if I Decide I Don’t Want the Service?
Here, you have to be careful. Before getting talked into signing any long term contract you should first read it over carefully. Sometimes, it may have a clause that allows you to cancel your remaining appointments and get a refund of any unused portion of your payment. At the other extreme, you may forfeit any remaining balance.
So, before you sign on the bottom line, make sure that you are amenable to all the terms. If you don’t like something, you can ask to have it taken out or amended.
Most reputable lawn care companies have a fairly lenient policy of refunding money if you have some sort of legitimate reason for wanting out. If you really are concerned that you might need to cancel, you are better off paying a little extra and hiring the service on an as-needed basis.