The Lawn Squad’s Journey to $100,000
Find out why this profitable lawn care business considers Jobber their biggest business advantage.
3 Years Old
This article was originally published on Sweaty Startup. Listen to the full podcast here.
Andrew Hubner, owner of The Lawn Squad, generated over $100,000 in revenue and $70,000 in profit, working 54 hours per week for 32 weeks over the summer of 2019. And he did it while graduating from a top 15 business school in the middle of his busiest month!
Below, Andrew shares how he started his lawn care and weed control company, full profit and loss statements from 2017 until now, and how he uses Jobber to close quotes faster than the competition.
2017-2018 performance overview
The Lawn Squad is a lawn care, landscaping and weed control company based in Bloomington, Indiana. 2017 was the first year in operation, but Andrew was a full time student at Indiana University so he didn’t really get serious until the 2018 season. In May of 2019 Andrew graduated from college and stepped into the business full time.
In 2017, Andrew ended the year with 16 recurring monthly lawn clients. He generated $11,638 and $4,629 in expenses for a profit of $7,009 as a full time student. He estimates his 2017 total commitment at 165 hours. That’s $42 in profit for each hour committed to the business.
In 2018, the company generated $39,253 in revenue and $6,310 in expenses for $32,942 in profit. Andrew ended the season with 30 recurring customers. He estimates his total 2018 commitment at 800 hours. That’s $41 in profit for each hour committed to the business.
Andrew took a lot of credit hours while working on his MBA at Indiana in 2017 and 2018, so he did not follow leads or answer customer inquiries diligently. Each year in mid-May when he would get overloaded with work he would basically stop answering the phones.
The initial investment
Early in the business’s life, Andrew used his personal vehicle to haul equipment and leased the family lawn mower to handle his jobs.
He put the majority of the profits back into the business in both 2017 and 2018 and grew slowly while purchasing used equipment. He used this guide to purchase his truck.
- 2009 Ford F-150 – 7/1/18 – 95,000 miles – $8,000 +
- $3,000 transmission in July 2019 – $11,000 total
- 36″ 2016 Gravely Pro-Stance Mower – $5,000
- 60″ 2016 Gravely Pro-Turn 260 – $8,000
- 12′ open trailer – $2,000
- Toro Self Propelled Residential mower – $250
- Used 100 Gallon Dual Tank Sprayer – $400 + $100 in repairs
- Stihl Weed Eaters, Blowers, Misc – $1,000
Total Investment – $27,750
2019 overview: adding Jobber and weed fertilization
2019 got off to a blazing start as Andrew got more serious about following leads and building up a larger customer base. He also hired an employee to run the truck one day a week and take some work hours off of Andrew’s plate.
Jobber, the customer management and invoicing software, was a game changer for The Lawn Squad. His quote request page is professional and easy for customers to fill out. When they do, he gets an instant notification and is able to turn around estimates in minutes from his smartphone.
"Andrew's biggest advantage is that he turns quotes around quickly using Jobber. He's found that every hour he lets pass before sending a quote, the odds decrease drastically of securing the job."
Scheduling is another game changer on Jobber that has saved Andrew a ton of time. It allows him to optimize the route based on the job locations and his employee is able to run down the list and mark as complete and send invoices.
In April 2019, Andrew got his weed control and fertilization applicator’s permit. He took an online course (10 hours), studied for another 5 hours and then traveled for a day of in person courses and exams. This was a big step for him because weed control is extremely profitable for him.
Also in spring of 2019, he upgraded his WordPress website and implemented a lot of other tools on this list.
In 2017 and 2018 when he was a student, he wasn’t able to answer all of the calls and didn’t have an easy way to send quotes. This year he answered his phone more often and chased leads a little harder (still not as hard as he could have) and booked way more jobs.
He estimates that he sent out 40% of his quotes within one hour and 36% of the 320 quotes were accepted by the customers.
The part time employee worked 530 hours (22 hours per week from May-Oct) at $13.50/hr. Andrew’s liability after workers compensation and Payroll taxes was $17/hr. Remember there are a lot of additional costs of running payroll that should be considered.
"Andrew estimates that he sent out 40% of his quotes within one hour using Jobber. 36% of the 320 quotes were accepted."
2019 customer numbers and financials
Andrew ended 2019 with 55 lawn care clients and 20 weed control and fertilization clients in Bloomington for a total of 75 customers.
He had 320 job quotes sent out and 36% accepted his proposals. Hours worked 1,940 hours over 32 weeks for 54 hours per week (5 admin, 2 quoting, 47 on the truck).
Now let’s look at the numbers:
- Labor: $9,000 / 28% of total expenses
- Landscaping supplies: $5,980 / 18%
- Repairs / Maintenance: $4,250 / 13%
- Weed Control Supplies: $3,860 / 12%
- Fuel: $2,990 / 9%
- Wear and Tear / Depreciation: $2,100 / 6%
- Jobber Software: $1,548 / 5%
- Insurance (WC, GL, Auto): $1,200 / 4%
- Equipment Rentals: $600 / 2%
- Dumping (leaves, brush): $377 / 1%
- Clothing: $450 / 1%
Total expenses: $32,355
Total Revenue: $106,200
Total Profit: $73,645
Hours worked by owner: 1,940 (54/wk for 32 weeks)
Profit per hour worked: $37.96
Marketing and sales strategy
From day one, Andrew has gotten the majority of his customers from his Google My Business location in Bloomington. See all of the tools he used in the early days on Sweaty Startup’s list of essential tools.
Andrew got a few early clients to leave him 5 star reviews and that has helped him rank. Bloomington has a population of less than 100,000 so it wasn’t extremely competitive.
He has never done paid advertising of any kind. His Google My Business location has brought him 90% of his customers and referrals and word of mouth have brought 10%.
Sales and marketing have been his weakest link since day one, but he has never needed to do those things to grow his business.
Andrew’s biggest advantage is that he turns quotes around quickly using Jobber and can look at Google Maps and measure the property so he doesn’t have to drive around looking at places to quote them. He has found that every hour he lets pass before sending a quote, the odds decrease drastically of securing the job.
2020 and beyond
Fire the bad customers: 20% of Andrew’s customers cause him almost all of his headaches. They complain, email him, and request weeks off when the lawn needs mowed but isn’t overgrown. He is starting to learn that not every customer is for him.
Hire new employees: He mentioned that he needs to hire an employee or several employees. This is the largest stress for him at this time and he’s not sure how he is going to approach the hiring and training. Nick recommends checking out Sweaty Startup’s Hiring Series.
Purchase a new truck: He needs to purchase another truck and trailer so he plans to shop in the 5-10 year old range and try to get a reliable truck under $10,000.
Invest in marketing: Lawn care marketing, sales and SEO will take a priority spot because right now he is reliant on his Google My Business location too much. He plans to do some customer appreciation by sending thank you notes out to his clients before Christmas.
The highest margin and most profitable work has been the weed control and fertilization clients. Andrew wants to nurture and develop that side of the business because it’s easier to train and quicker work.
Overall Andrew knows he has done the easy part in building a great living salary for himself through the business. The hard part is hiring employees and building a business that isn’t relying on him for 50+ hours a week of his labor.
Huge thank you to Andrew for coming on the show and congratulations on the great work so far. We’ll catch back up with him in 2020 after a blowout year.