Small Business Management

What to Know When Starting a Lawn Care Business in Florida

Those hot Florida summers can take their toll on residential and commercial green spaces. Grass, shrubs, gardens, and trees struggle in the heat and require the proper maintenance and care.

Starting a lawn care company in the Sunshine State can be a promising and lucrative business venture. From the low start-up costs to the opportunity to operate year-round, the lawn care industry is a great option for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit who has always dreamt of owning their own business.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about starting a lawn care company in Florida, including what sort of licensing and insurance you need, key considerations, and step-by-step instructions to get your business off the ground.

Let’s get started.

  1. How hard is it to start a lawn care business?
  2. Is a lawn care business profitable?
  3. Pros and cons of starting a lawn business
  4. Do I need any previous experience to start a lawn care business?
  5. Common mistakes when starting a lawn care business
  6. How to start a lawn care business in Florida

How hard is it to start a lawn care business?

Starting any business takes work, but luckily, the lawn care business has fewer barriers than other businesses. The start-up costs in particular are relatively low, so getting the businesses up and running is very doable.

At a minimum, you’ll need the right landscaping tools and equipment required to do the job (these can be owned or rented), a company vehicle to transport the tools, equipment, workers, and the proper licensing and certifications.

Is a lawn care business profitable?

Lawn care businesses can be profitable due to their low start-up and maintenance costs. Lawn care and landscaping business owners can earn between $5,000 to $50,000 in their first year and as much as $160,000 to $250,000 after a few years once they are established.

Pros and cons of starting a lawn business

Like any business, there are pros and cons to starting a lawn care business. The pros outweigh the cons but it’s important to be aware of each before getting started.

Pros

  • Consistent work: Grass, shrubs, bushes, and trees never stop growing, so there’s always a need for someone to be tending to them. Most homes and businesses come with a green space or outdoor area that requires maintenance, so lawn care businesses will always be in demand.
  • Minimal seasonality: The best part about starting a lawn care business in Florida is that there’s no barrier to work due to seasonality, so you can run a successful and lucrative business all year round. Between June and October (the wet season) there could be a slight dip in demand and revenue but overall, Florida is a great place for a lawn care company to succeed.
  • Opportunity to expand services: In addition to lawn care services, lawn care companies can expand their offerings to sell related products such as fertilizer, soil, plants, and more.
  • Work can be learned on the job: No formal training is required for yourself as the business owner or your team. Usually, minimal instruction is needed to onboard someone new and the learning curve isn’t very steep, making it easy to bring on new employees when you need the extra help.
  • Scalable: With a lawn care business, you’re able to expand and build out other service offers such as landscaping services, sod installation, gardening, tree trimming, weeding, and more.

Cons

  • Competitive market: Depending on your location, the lawn care industry may already be saturated with other lawn care companies, making it difficult to break into and gain traction.
  • Location-specific work: Lawn care work requires you to be in those areas that need the work. This means you and your team might be doing a lot of traveling or driving to get to certain job sites.
  • High turnover and hard to find “good help”: Since the job requires no formal training, this can lead to a high turnover rate. Finding good help that will show up on time, consistently, and have a good work ethic can also be challenging.
  • Weather-dependent: Since lawn care is outdoor work, it can only be done safely and efficiently when the weather cooperates. Things like rain or heavy winds can put a strain on your scheduled jobs. You’ll also want to wait until the lawns are dry before tending to them as wet grass can clog your equipment.
  • Economically dependent: Lawn care is a luxury and is one of the first services to go during a recession or economic downturn.

Do you need any previous experience to start a lawn care business? 

You don’t need any experience or education to start a lawn care business. Education like a degree, diploma, or certificate in business or business management would be helpful, but isn’t required.

Common mistakes when starting a lawn care business

If you’re thinking about starting a lawn care business or you’re in the process of doing so, be sure to avoid these common mistakes that can cause your small business to struggle or fail.

  • Borrowing too much money to start
  • Setting unrealistic expectations 
  • Using cheap or second-hand equipment
  • Underquoting
  • Over promising 
  • Not prioritizing administrative work
  • Mismanaging finances
  • Scaling too soon
  • Poor communication
  • Lacking motivation
  • Lacking experience 

Pro tip: Find yourself a business mentor who has entrepreneurial experience for you to ask questions and learn from to help you avoid some of these pitfalls.

How to start a lawn care business in Florida

Here are the steps to starting a lawn care business and things to implement for success. 

  1. Create a business plan
  2. Get the required licensing and certifications
  3. Purchase the necessary equipment
  4. Secure a work vehicle
  5. Get the required insurance
  6. Build a website
  7. Market your services
  8. Set up vehicle tracking

1. Create a business plan

Creating a business plan is the best practice when it comes to starting any new business. This is a place to create a detailed document of all things related to your business and help you stay organized—especially when you’re getting started.

Your business plan should include the following:

  • The business name.
  • Whether the business will be caring for residential or commercial lawns (or both).
  • Whether you plan to be a sole proprietorship or manage a team.
  • A detailed breakdown of your start-up and ongoing costs.
  • Your offer strategy (including a detailed list of what services you’ll provide and how many lawns you can care for per week).
  • Your pricing structure and strategy (including services pricing, profit margins, employee payments, etc.) – don’t forget to consider lawn size, shape, and slope when determining price.
  • The business’ marketing strategy and how you plan to generate customers and leads.

Start-up costs 

When starting a lawn care business there are several start-up costs to consider and account for when putting together your business plan. 

Some of these start-up costs include:

  • Equipment and tools (rent vs. buy) 
  • Company vehicle or vehicles
  • Licensing and certifications
  • Insurance
  • Storage
  • Signage
  • Web development & SEO
  • Marketing & advertising
  • Staffing

Services offered

Most lawn care companies offer services like: 

  • Mowing
  • Edging
  • Trimming
  • Weeding
  • Irrigation
  • Leaf Blowing
  • Fertilizing
  • Pesticiding
  • Gardening

2. Get the required licensing and certifications 

To run any business you need the proper licensing and certifications. To operate a lawn care business in Florida, you’ll need to get a business license from the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. If you plan to hire staff, you will need to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

If you plan to offer any fertilizer services, you’ll want to look into getting your Fertilizer Application Certification. It should be noted that there are special certifications for herbicide applications as well.

To be absolutely certain of what licensing and certifications you need, we recommend contacting the government offices for the Florida city or county where you live. 

Additional certifications that are relevant to a lawn care business include:

  • Exterior Technician
  • Horticulture Technician
  • Lawn Care Technician
  • Lawn Care Manager
  • Business Manager
  • Certified Irrigation Technician
  • Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor
  • Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor
  • Certified Irrigation Contractor
  • Certified Irrigation Designer
  • Certified Landscape Water Manager

The certifications above are offered by the National Association for Landscape Professionals (NALP) and the Irrigation Association.

3. Purchase the necessary equipment

To run a successful lawn care company, you’re going to need the right equipment. Don’t cheap out on this part of your start-up process. Your equipment is a large part of what makes your business possible and profitable.

Some of the equipment you’ll need for your business may include:

  • Riding mower
  • Push lawn mower
  • Trimmer
  • Edger
  • Leaf blower
  • Lawn bags
  • Lawn spreader
  • Lawn sprayer
  • Assorted additional tools (like garden hoses, spades, etc.)

You’ll also need to purchase things like personal protective equipment (PPE) and uniforms (simple t-shirts with your company logo will work to start) for yourself and your employees and also find a place to store all of your equipment—whether that be a garage, shop, or storage unit.

4. Secure a work vehicle

You’ll need to secure a work vehicle or several work vehicles that are large enough to transport the lawn care equipment and technicians. Depending on the vehicles, you may also need to use a trailer to haul equipment. Whichever wheel combination you go with, these vehicles should be safe, reliable, tracked, and ideally labeled with your company logo and contact information.

5. Get the required insurance 

As a business owner, you’ll need to take out a few insurance policies to protect yourself and your company from financial loss. At a minimum, you should take out general liability insurance, equipment insurance, workers’ compensation, and auto insurance. 

Learn how to lower your insurance premiums as a small business owner >>

6. Build a website

To run a business these days, you need to have a website. For a lawn care business, the website doesn’t have to be anything too extravagant. We recommend working with a web developer to create a site that’s easy to navigate, lists your lawn care services, includes multiple ways for customers to contact you and request a free estimate, and some images of the lawn work you’ve done. Your site should also link to any social media platforms you might be on.

7. Market your services

Starting a business is one thing, but telling people about it is a whole other ballgame. If no one knows your business exists, how will you start getting customers? As a lawn care business owner, you can market your services through paid online advertisements on Google and social media platforms. You can also market your business by sponsoring a local community event, advertising in the local papers, on message boards, incentivizing referrals and so on. Once you’ve done a few jobs, you can ask recent customers if you can put a small branded sign on their lawn to show that you were responsible for the well-tended-to yard. 

8. Set up vehicle tracking 

If you have a team, no matter how small, it’s smart to install GPS tracking for your company vehicles. This allows you to see where your fleet vehicles are in real-time while collecting valuable data on driver behavior and vehicle health. Understanding how your company vehicles are being used can help you better manage your drivers and save money on fuel costs and maintenance. GPS vehicle tracking can also help small business owners save money on their auto insurance.

Learn more about the advantages of vehicle tracking for small businesses or request a demo with Force by Mojio GPS Fleet Tracking to see first-hand how beneficial and easy fleet management can be. 

Lawn care can be a lucrative business…if set up correctly

If you’ve been contemplating starting a lawn care business in Florida, this is a great time to start. Follow the steps above to keep your lawns and your business thriving.

Published March 1, 2022
Joni Taisey
Joni Taisey
Director of Growth Marketing
Force by Mojio