How Much Does It Cost to Start a Landscape Business?

Starting any new business can be a sleep-depriving, nail-biting experience for anyone, and starting a new landscape business is certainly no different. It takes time, money, perseverance and sometimes a lot of luck.

One of the frustrations I hear from landscape start-ups is that money always seems to be going out faster than it’s coming in. Freshly-minted landscape professionals complain that every time they turn around they have to buy something just to get the job done.

My response to all of the challenges and issues that can arise with starting a new landscape business is the same to every new owner: take the time to write a good business plan.

Topics: Landscape Business

3 Critical Tools You Should Be Using When Hiring Subcontractors

The use of subcontractors is a time-honored means for landscape designers and contractors to control overhead and keep operations lean and mean. But subcontractors can be a double-edged sword that can work for you or against you if you are not aware of potential pitfalls.

It all starts with setting the stage properly for your working relationship. It’s important to clearly articulate the parameters and expectations for working with your company – and then holding subs accountable for working within those parameters and delivering on those expectations.

If you’re clear about your service offering and the resources you have in-house, then you’ll know exactly what help you’ll need to get from subs. That should enable you to easily craft a document that outlines your specific needs for a particular subcontractor and your expectations for receiving that assistance.

Topics: Landscape Business

5 Reasons why you need to invest in ALL your employees

Every business seems to have one or two employees who stand out. They’re the ones who show up early and stay late. They’re focused on doing the best job possible and are always looking for ways to improve. These are the employees that landscape business owners and managers gravitate toward, encouraging them, and focusing their attention on these superstars because they’re the ones helping the company succeed.

And why not? Everyone loves a superstar. They’re often the hero in situations where others would just shrug and look for the easiest way out. The superstars revel in being the go-to person when a job or task needs to get done. This, of course, makes you, the owner, grateful to have that kind of support and reliability when the going gets tough. It’s very easy to lean on this one person and focus your time and energy on nurturing them.

Topics: Landscape Business

How To Find The Perfect People For Your Landscape Organization

There is no question that the landscape industry is a people business. As an owner, you have to build relationships with clients and hire the right employees who can interface with them to maintain and grow those relationships.

As I shared in the last Academy Blog, the company culture is a critical element in your business success. So the big question, now that you know that culture is so important, and now that you’ve gotten clear on your company’s mission, purpose and values is this…

What Type of Landscape Team Should You Build?

How to hire good employees is one of the top three major issues I hear about over and over again from other landscape business owners. Hiring in the landscape industry tends to be a knee-jerk reaction to an immediate need for working hands.

Desperate to hire somebody – anybody – landscape business owners often end up operating in what I call “a land of misfit toys,” hobbled by a mix-and-match group of individuals with misaligned values and goals. It is just impossible to build a culture of success around those ingredients. In fact, I’ve identified three basic types of poorly-conceived landscape teams that cause business owners unnecessary and avoidable suffering.

Landscape Business Burn Out: How to Recognize It and Avoid It

In recent years the medical community has discovered that stress is more harmful to our physical and mental well-being than previously thought. Chronic stress is a killer and its insidious effects can creep up on unsuspecting individuals and begin causing problems before they realize it.

What does this have to do with landscaping, you ask? A lot. While many might think high-stakes, high-profile jobs such as Fortune 500 CEO, surgeon, or police officer, for example, might have cornered the stress market, the fact is all of us can be affected by stress and that includes landscape business owners.

In fact, feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, isolation, exhaustion, annoyance -- the list goes on -- are all complaints I hear often from colleagues, students, and my coaching clients. These feelings feed stress and ultimately create a state of burnout in which you no longer feel as if you can cope or go on. Burnout causes business failure in all industries – and that includes landscaping.

Topics: Landscape Business

Expert Advice to Establish a Landscape Business Pricing Strategy

Here is a question I hear over and over again: “Our pricing is all over the place, how do I set landscape service prices and stick to them?” Confusion about pricing strategy is commonplace in many service industries and that’s certainly true in the field of landscape. Too many business owners simply do not know how to set the price for their services and spend a lot of time struggling with it.

The root of the problem for many startup landscape companies is that the owners think in terms of working for an hourly wage. This is no surprise because non-employer businesses (that is, companies that don’t have employees) make up about 80 percent of US companies. Most of these mom and pop organizations are owned and operated by individuals who were employed in their field before they became business owners themselves. Used to the concept of an hourly wage, many simply increased that hourly wage for themselves once they went into business (“I used to make $20 an hour working for somebody else – I’m gonna charge $40 an hour for myself!”) and got stuck in that business model. Sadly, this is not a positive landscape business pricing strategy that can set you on a path to real success and financial stability.

Topics: Landscape Business

Competitive Advantage: What Makes You Unique?

Every business, like every person, is unique. Even businesses that provide products or services that are virtually the same have something unique about them that can be promoted to set them apart from their competitors. In classic marketing parlance this is known as a company’s “unique selling proposition” or USP. The problem is, many businesses don’t bother to think too long and hard about what it is that makes them different from everyone else. That’s a shame, because it just makes them have to work harder to compete and win new clients. And, really, who wants to work harder?

Topics: Landscape Business

Your landscape business size designation is crucial for growth

When you become self-employed in an industry such as landscaping, you’re probably doing it without having the ultimate size of your business in mind. Most of the owners I meet get into this line of work because they love it. There are some, of course, who see it as a road to riches, but they aren’t the norm.

Do you know how to classify the size of your business? Do you know why this even matters to your growth?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) encourages new business owners to choose a business structure when they are opening up their business. Your accountant would encourage the same. But how do you know? You can pop onto the SBA and learn about all the business structure types to choose from – Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, S Corporation, Limited Liability Company, and the list goes on. But even this doesn’t help you understand your ultimate size.

Topics: Landscape Business

Marketing A Landscaping Business: Getting People to Buy What You’re Selling

Owning a landscaping business – heck, owning any business – is not for the faint of heart. If you’re struggle with getting the kind of work you really like to do, then this post provides some tips to fine-tune your services to help you close more sales.

It all starts with you. Most small businesses are really extensions of the individuals who own them. Your beliefs and passions are all wrapped up in why you’ve chosen this line of work, and to open a business of your own. Once you understand that, it becomes easier to sit down to define and document your company’s purpose and mission. That, of course, should involve something that excites you and gives you a reason to get up every morning. Only then are you in a position to clearly state what it is you’re offering.

Topics: Landscape Business