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How to avoid losing money over bad landscape project estimates

Virtually every small landscape business owner has experienced this situation at least once: You’re quoting a big job that you don’t want to lose, so you throw out a fast, barebones estimate that you hope will win you the business. Unfortunately, it does.

Wait….what? Unfortunately?!

Yes, because that job, instead of being the big money-maker you thought it would be, turned into a sinkhole that drained any profit out of it. Why? Because you failed to include ALL of the costs associated with delivering that project in the proposal and it came back to bite you.

Topics: Business Organization

Why is my landscape business growth stalling?

I spend a lot of time talking about marketing because that is a fundamental element of business growth that often gets overlooked in a “down-and-dirty” profession such as landscaping. We like to get our hands dirty, and get a great deal of satisfaction from that and so the “behind-the-scenes” stuff tends to get pushed to the back, often to the detriment of the business.

Topics: Sales & Marketing

Five Tools for Cultivating a Compassionate Culture in Your Business

As a landscape business owner with over 30 years in the business, I know that our employees are more important than any truck, piece of equipment, or account. Without them, we cannot hope to reach our business growth goals.

To that end, I decided to start 2018 off with a management team training focus in the hopes that with their development would come the next wave of success for The Garden Continuum.

Ten of us have been working since the opening of the season to define our internal culture. We started with a managers luncheon to introduce the idea of culture-building to the team. We then spent three weeks talking about the book “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown, which introduces the concept of “True Belonging” as the primary concern of all people.

Topics: Staffing & Development

10 Time Management Tips for Landscape Professionals

Time seems to get away from a lot of us. Most of us never seem to have enough time to get things done, both personally and professionally. That may be okay when it comes to finding the time to clean out the garage, but for landscape professionals we have the added pressure of dealing with seasonal highs and lows, staffing issues, and weather disruptions that can rob us of precious time at the worst possible moments.  But, as renowned sales and performance coach Michael Altshuler says, “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

Topics: Business Organization

4 Massive Mistakes Landscape Companies Make in Their Marketing & Sales Messaging and How to Avoid Them

Landscape business owners – like a lot of business owners – spend a considerable amount of time and money crafting traditional sales and marketing tools such as truck signage, brochures, and now websites.

However, more often than not, it’s not the marketing tools that fall short when it comes time to deliver – it’s the service itself. Time and time again, landscape companies make big promises on what they’ll do for their customers but fail to deliver, resulting in unhappy clients and stalled growth.

Topics: Sales & Marketing

How do landscape employees choose the company to work for?

As a landscape business owner and consultant, the biggest challenge I hear about from other landscape company owners is how hard it is to find good help. Many landscape business owners are simply shooting in the dark to find employees for their businesses. They’re looking for warm bodies -- people to do the work at hand, right NOW. They aren’t focusing on the big picture of business development when they’re hunting for staff. They’re just happy to find anyone who can rescue them in the moment.

And therein lies the root of the problem. They’re allowing short-term needs to drive their long-term goals. And that’s no way to run a successful business. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to start thinking of staffing in the same way you think of building a landscape. It’s a process, not a project, and it has to be connected to a long-term vision of what you want your company to be next year, five years, ten years from now.

Topics: Staffing & Development

Landscape Business Survey Analysis - Part III: Where do you think you can improve your business?

In Part 3 of our Business Survey Analysis series we’re going to take a closer look at what landscape business owners think can improve their businesses. Of course, some of you might say “that’s easy – more time, money, and clients!” but it’s usually something more than that. Improving your business can be a real challenge because it often means you have to take something apart to get it corrected.

It’s easy to complain about what’s not working, and usually that’s exactly what’s being neglected. It’s human nature to avoid things we don’t like and so the areas in our businesses that need the most work are typically the areas that we tend to avoid working on.

Topics: Business Organization

Landscape Business Survey Analysis Part II: What is your single biggest challenge?

In Part II of The Garden Continuum Landscape Business Survey analysis we’re going to dig into the answers survey respondents provided to the question “What is your biggest challenge in running your landscape business?

What we discovered as we reviewed the variety of answers is that identifying a challenge is one thing, but facing it and making the effort to address it is quite another. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do because the challenge often represents a personal block that can be difficult to overcome.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we discuss ways to tackle whatever challenges may stand in the way of growing your business and profits, let’s take a look at what fellow landscape business owners have identified as their key challenges – one of them might be yours as well.

Topics: Business Organization

Landscape Business Survey Analysis Part I: What landscapers love about running a landscape business

As part of the business consulting side of The Garden Continuum, we recently conducted a survey of landscape business owners to better understand the factors that drive them to launch and grow their operations. Our survey revealed a number of interesting facts that we’d like to share with our readers in this first part of a three-part series.

Owning and operating a landscape business -- like many businesses -- can be a unique love/hate relationship. What makes each relationship unique is the highly personal elements each owner brings to the party – their drive, level of ambition, goals, threshold of pain (physical and mental), stress tolerance, and more.

Each of us likes and dislikes certain aspects of the business, and here’s where we have to be careful. What you like and dislike about running a business can create a yo-yo effect that can impact your ability to gain traction for your business. In other words, you can get in your own way if you’re not careful.

Topics: Business Organization

Goal-Setting: A Landscape Business Growth Imperative for Success

Let’s face it: goal-setting is easier said than done. Remember all those New Year’s resolutions in the past that fell by the wayside in a matter of days? Or at least by the time the spring madness hit.

A major stumbling block for even the most well-intentioned goal-setting effort is that we tend to look in the wrong direction for inspiration. We focus outward, looking at other people and companies and things that we think are desirable. But these bright, shiny objects are distractions, not inspirations.

By focusing on something other than ourselves and the unique issues and situations we are facing in business, we put greater value on those external things, diminishing ourselves in the process. As a result, we risk not addressing the flaws or deficiencies that we should be addressing, layering more goals and to-do’s on top of what already exists and compounding the original issues.

Topics: Business Organization