One of my old clients moved to a nice modern house he built in Coquitlam and he needed someone to cut his grass. Since he already knew me and I had some mow clients in the area, he got me to take care of his lawns.
Now, newly installed sod always looks great. It’s fresh and green, just the way we like it. But you have to work at it if you want to keep it looking great. Alas, my client is a busy man. I fertilized and he turned on his irrigation system. Then summer hit and now we have new stricter watering restrictions which prohibit lawn watering until further notice. (Light rain is forecast for Wednesday, two days from now.)
The lawns aren’t the only issue at this residence. Weeds pop up and take off when they go unmolested. All I can do is make note of it and blog about it. And I can easily upsell it! Now you know my secret. I hook you in with cheap lawn care service and then I derail your retirement plans with weed control charges.
Seriously now, as weeds mature they flower and then produce thousands of seeds. Those seeds then stay in your soil waiting for perfect conditions to sprout; or they’re carried by wind to your unsuspecting neighbour’s house. Never let this happen.
When I sent over my hefty lawn care service invoice, I casually mentioned the trophy weeds that could soon block his drains with seeds. And the client didn’t even blink; he hired me for weeding just a few days later. Done. Sale closed.
Next, we will replace dead cedars but not now. It’s too hot. We need cooler temperatures and moisture for that. For now, I will feed my teenagers with the extra weeding work I will do.
If you are a homeowner, don’t let your weeds flower and produce seeds. If you are a landscaper, don’t be shy about upselling other services. You can do more than lawn care: prune, weed, install plants, etc. Win by upselling other services. I can’t wait to make my client’s house weed-free. For a while.
I have written about Quora.com before: “A place to share knowledge and better understand the world”. It’s a great website if you have a burning question to ask; or, if you have expertise you can share with the world. I obviously answer questions about lawn care, gardening, landscaping, trees, blogging and side-hustles.
Once, I blitzed the site with lots of answers just to get to a top 10 ranking in certain categories, like landscaping. Then I realized it was a lot of free labor and time that could have been spent on better things. Like an actual side-gig for real clients.
One day I checked the site and found out, to my great surprise, that Quora was now allowing users to monetize their answers. Now, all of a sudden, it made sense to spend some time on the site, answering questions and sharing my expertise.
And the bonus is that some of the questions people ask can be developed into blog posts. Especially when many people ask the same question. One example was a question about mowing in the rain. Many people worried about mowing their lawns in the rain.
Today I got an email reminder from Quora to check my account, so I did. And I’m glad I did because there was exactly 78 cents in my account! Yay. Now Quora officially became another income stream. I won’t be retiring anytime soon, but I will be scanning people’s questions and answering the best ones. I’m hoping to earn more money and find new blog post topics. Some ideas can be nicely developed into 500 word blog posts.
Sure, I usually log on as an expert landscape horticulturist and fire away with my brilliant answers. But I’m also open minded and willing to learn. It’s nice to read other people’s answers to the same question. That’s one way to learn new things and approaches. Think of it as a gold mine of ideas.
Sometimes I like someone so much, I follow them. You can’t stop learning.
Chances are, you too have some special knowledge you could share with the world. Visit Quora.com and check it out. You might learn something and create a new income stream for yourself. I did and I like it.
Landscape side-hustles come with many benefits. It’s not just cash, even though today, in spring 2022, cash sounds great. Interest rates are going up, inflation is at 6% and gas prices are close to $2/L. Add to that Putin’s war in Ukraine, and making some extra cash on the side sounds great. Don’t even get me started on my daughter’s braces.
Working at my regular landscape manager job and side-hustles provides me with plenty of blog post ideas. That’s gold and it keeps things interesting. Some homeowners are hilarious, like the lady with a potted hydrangea, wondering if she should prune it. I could count just a few short stems so her specimen should be left alone for at least one season. Then she might get some flowers in 2023.
Obviously, professional blogging is a form of side-hustle in itself. Always look for new opportunities. I became a pro blogger when the owner of this website needed some posts for his website.
Extra side-work allows you to practice your craft; and it’s often more enjoyable because it’s not done on an hourly basis. I know I can install three yards of mulch fairly quickly and leave the clients with a good looking front yard that will stay weed-free for months.
Every pruning job, lawn care fix and question answered build up your confidence, knowledge and experience. The most interesting gigs are turned into blog posts. Of course they are.
Another benefit of side-hustling is enlarging your network. Some people may not need your services right away but they can recommend you to others. Or what seems like a lunch money kind of gig can grow like wildfire.
Once we were approached by a homeowner from across the street. Because his lawn patch looked small, my buddy immediately rejected the man and sent me over. Two years later, I’ve done more work for him and his friends; and I have access to even more work this season. All because I said yes to an easy job.
Look past money, enlarge your network and reap the benefits. I now have a client who likes my work and wants to continue to work with me on his various projects. That feels good.
Side-hustle work can also allow you to genuinely help people. Like the nearly deaf 86-year-old woman living alone who can no longer mow her own lawn but enjoys looking at one.
Or the man with retina problems who isn’t allowed to lift anything. He can’t do his own landscaping work and I’m happy to do it for him. When his daughter got married last summer, I pimped out their house so it looked great.
Now they’re moving and I will be their gardener at the new place! That’s a good client. If you do good work, don’t be afraid to say it.
Then you have the obvious case of the well-to-do people who are too busy to do their own weeding. They leave it up to you and e-transfer you money when you ask. Diving into their pool is a better use of their time.
The funniest was a lady who called me about a final lawn cut in fall. She needed help because her mower wasn’t working. So, I came over, and discovered that her mower was totally fine. The gas valve was shut off: mowers run on gas so the line must be open.
I cut her lawn and gave it much-needed edging. Who knows, she might need help again in 2022. I haven’t asked yet.
The best “client” I have is a buddy who doesn’t care about his landscaping and refuses to put money into it. When his neighbours start whispering, he calls me to knock down the wilderness.
Side-hustles are now an accepted part of life in Canada and the US. Many people make extra money on the side. Landscaping is made for side-hustlers. You don’t even have to advertise because people will approach you when they see you work.
And while some people will try to save money and do their own work, many happily accept your offers of help. Good clients also let you teach them, that’s why they’re gold.
If you get a chance to try a side-hustle, do it. It can be a source of extra fun, income, practice and it can enlarge your network. Give it a try.
Frugal husbands can cut into your landscape company’s revenue. Take this example from last week.
I knew something was up when I tried to schedule pruning work with a residential client recently and there was no reply. Last year we settled on a quote and agreed to do the work when it got warmer in 2022. Now I was ready to go.
So, this week I stopped by to aerate the lawns and the pruning work had obviously been done by someone else. No wonder my kids often go hungry…..
If you don’t do anything to your lawns all year, at least aerate them in spring. This allows more water and oxygen into the root zone and should lead to a healthier lawn. Since this residential client is a referral from a friend, I did the aeration for $50, which includes a courtesy clean up blow. I also blade edged the front lawn edge to give the lawn a sharp look.
Then, when the lady came out to talk to me, she quietly mentioned that her husband brought a friend over and they did the pruning themselves. To save some money.
Beware of the frugal husband!
As an aside, she mentioned that the men were a bit shy about pruning the evergreen cones because of their phallic shape. I smiled politely. I’ve seen worse.
A lesson for homeowners
Homeowners can do great work. Yes, Red Seal Vas is a proud professional but I’ve seen homeowners plant and install mulch quite well. It’s nice to see them outside, doing physical work and saving a bit of cash.
That’s why I love to work with clients because you can teach them something and develop a long-term relationship. Customers only care about pricing and will drop you for anybody who is slightly cheaper. I try to stay away from them.
Allegedly, our frugal husband did some of the pruning from his roof, which I don’t recommend. But let’s be honest, he did a decent job and he saved himself a bit of cash. I told his wife, “we’ll keep him”.
A lesson for landscapers
There is a good reason landscape contractors love multi-family (strata) complexes and commercial properties that go all year and come with set contracts: they get paid monthly. Residential clients on the other hand, can decide they don’t need you one week or they save money by doing some of the work themselves.
I did lose a bit of cash on this pruning job but, at the moment, there is no shortage of work. I did squeeze the lady for aeration and it gave me a great blog post idea.
Homeowners can do decent work on their properties. It’s all good.
It’s so nice to see one of my landscape co-workers start a side-hustle. Since her nickname is Nelba, I don’t have to change her name to the usual default Miguelina. Nelba it is.
Now, when we work in the field as landscapers, many topics are discussed, including my favorite: side-hustles. It’s insane to rely on only one source of income. But, it’s not just about money. Just take Nelba as an example.
What do you do when your boyfriend isn’t making your life better and the pandemic shuts down many of the places young girls like to frequent in normal times? Well, you stay home and knit! You create beautiful toques and sell them.
I confess to being blown away by Nelba actually taking action and knitting away her pandemic time. And, then creating her own store on Etsy, the best platform for selling hand-made goods online.
Take a look at Nelba’s store. You can buy a toque for yourself or as a Christmas gift. There is still time, especially if you live in the Lower Mainland. They sell for $50 and I know from talking to Nelba that the price doesn’t really reflect the time required to create one. It’s a deal, so go get one.
I would totally get a toque but I look awful in them. I prefer caps or manly toques like the ones Stihl sells.
Nelba Knits is just the beginning. Creating extra income from the comforts of her own home is one attraction for Nelba. I know she hates getting all filthy when we work in the field. I, on the other hand, live for it.
Let’s also consider the lessons Nelba learns along the way. Like setting up an e-commerce site, dealing with shipping and setting the prices she likes. As of today, each toque sells for $50.
What’s stopping her from creating new products or starting with affiliate marketing? Nothing. There are many possibilities to explore and lessons to learn along the way. Especially for a cute young girl who doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life.