When I was fifteen years old, my parents told me I would have to pay for college myself. Neither one of my parents had gone to college, but they both wanted a brighter future for me. Nonetheless, college was a financial burden they were unable to afford.
Even at the age of fifteen, I quickly figured out I would not be able to make and save enough money to pay for my college education through traditional means in the time I had.
With that being said, I decided to think bigger. I took the lawn mower in my garage, teamed up with my older brother, and together we founded Polec Landscaping.
As a teenager going into my second year of high school, I was a few years away from the first business class I would take. However, Polec Landscaping was the “on the job” education few classes could ever surpass. The experience of starting and growing Polec Landscaping was my first taste of entrepreneurship. It was a taste that sparked a passion. Needless to say, I learned a lot through my experience. My hands-on, adhoc education left me with some valuable lessons that I’d like to share in this post:
What to do when you don’t know how to price your services
When I first decided to start a landscaping business, I had no idea what to charge. I planned to start by servicing my own neighborhood, which already had a few lawn care providers present. My first step? Picking up the phone. I called every single other lawn care provider (or my soon-to-be competition) and asked how much a typical grass cut with cleanup would cost for a yard the size of my family’s. I thanked each of them for their time after they gave me a detailed quote and hung up the phone. The average price per cut the other lawn care providers charged was $45. I opened with $30 for the same job and found my clientele overnight.
Set revenue goals and make a strategy to reach them
Every summer, I made a goal to reach a certain amount of money. I would proactively break down this goal into different types of services I could offer to reach my revenue goal. For simplicity, let’s say the average amount of money I got paid for a weekly grass cut was $30. There were ten weeks in the summer and I supplemented weekly cuts with larger jobs mulching, spring cleanup, etc.) that paid on average $200.
If I had a goal of making $5,000 one summer, that meant I would aim to have at least 10 clients that used my weekly grass cut service ($30 per cut for 10 weeks for 10 clients = $3,000) and I would secure at least 10 larger jobs ($200 per larger jobs with 10 larger jobs completed during the summer = $2,000). With that simple math, I now had an actionable strategy to reach my revenue goals.
Provide an impeccable customer experience
I never had to ask any of my clients to refer me and my work to another neighbor. This was because I strived to provide the best customer experience possible to each and every one of my clients.
I not only made sure I kept my clients informed about the status of their projects, but I always tried to go a little above and beyond with every job I did. This could be something as simple as removing a few weeds in a client’s garden when I was on-site to cut their grass. Believe it or not, people do notice the small things you do.
This is just a quick showcase of the many lessons I learned while starting, operating, and scaling a landscaping business over six years. With this venture, I was able to pay for the majority of my college costs to attend the University of Pittsburgh.
I hope you gain value from this post similar to the value I gained from my pivotal entrepreneurial venture. And as always, let me know if you found any of these insights helpful in mowing down your competition.