To excel in business—any business—expansion and profitability are among the top essential ingredients for success. The same is true with the landscape industry. Whether you have been a landscape contractor for a few years, or are thinking about starting your own landscaping business, here are ten easy tips to help you grow.
Try to learn something new each day. Seek a degree in landscaping—many universities offer turfgrass and landscape degrees. Read up on the latest and greatest in the landscaping community, browse websites for new ideas, and find a mentor or talk with other contractors about how they accomplish different tasks, complete projects, run their business, and more. Contact local landscape distributors regarding classes in the landscaping industry.
There are many ways in which to advertise your company. Some of these include newspapers, online ads, commercials, radio (commercials and radio, although somewhat pricey, could be extremely effective) and word of mouth, which is always your company’s best advertisement. Social networks also offer a variety of advertising options; leverage your friends (and friends of friends), or familiarize yourself with some of the paid options. For example, Facebook allows you to target ads to people who have visited your website, people who live in your city, and more.
First impressions mean everything. From the owner to the workers of a company, each and every one is an important representation of your business. Having a clean, well-groomed appearance, being respectful, polite and knowledgeable, and having good customer service skills will help tremendously at every level of the company in keeping a good rapport with current and potential customers.
4. Focus on Financial Knowledge
It can be very expensive operating a business. That is why considering finances is so important. Ensuring that you are covering your overhead is not only making sure your employees are being paid their wages, but also business expenses are covered. For example, supplies, equipment and employee benefits such as workman’s compensation, insurance, bonuses, rental, taxes and overtime are all important factors to consider. By considering these factors, you will be less likely to underbid your jobs or take on situations that will not render a profit.
5. Have Confidence in Your Bids
You are the professional. Property owners are going to hire you to oversee and complete their landscaping needs. They hired you, so be confident in your bids. Your bid is your insurance that your company will not be at a financial loss at the end of the project. Your company will not get every bid you present to a customer, but you have to be realistic when bidding a job. You have to ensure that your projects are profitable, and also that your consumer is happy with the end result.
6. Think About the Future
Although you are just starting your landscaping business, it is so important to consider the future of your company. As an owner, you will have many different things on your plate. It is good to have an employee, or employees, that you are confident in, and that are competent to not only help you through the day-to-day tasks, but also plan for future.Always begin training your predecessor—there will come a time when your time is more valuable out with possible customers, doing paperwork or checking jobsites. It would be extremely helpful to have someone you know and trust available to pick up some of the more minor tasks that a manager encounters on a daily basis.
As mentioned above, time management is crucial for the owner of a landscaping company. Having someone dependable to complete day-to-day tasks is an excellent way to better manage your time. Prioritizing your day can also help keep you and your employees on task and productive. List important tasks first—crucial tasks with a deadline or completion date—followed by less important and non-time sensitive tasks.Interruptions are a huge productivity killer; do not let these keep you from getting these tasks done. Stay focused and get these daily goals accomplished. Also consider being timely in meetings, to classes and to jobsites, because being late is often considered a rude gesture.
8. Know Your Limitations
If a job description is something you feel your company cannot handle alone, do not hesitate to sub out a project. For example, if you bid a job that you feel is too big for your company to take on, consider using subcontractors to assist you in completing the task correctly and on time.Do not try to get too big too fast, meaning do not anticipate a heavy workload until you have the job or jobs. Try not to hire more people than your payroll can support.It’s also a good idea to rent equipment first, grow the business and buy later. Carefully note what equipment you use most for landscaping jobs, so that when you can afford to, you can buy equipment that is beneficial to your company and that will be used frequently—something that will “earn its keep.”
9. Be Versatile
In the lawn and landscape industry, many individuals start out with a mowing company. Mowing is a huge aspect of landscaping, but now companies need to offer more to set them apart from other businesses. In the Midwest, growing season is generally from March to September; during the rest of the months, there is a lot of downtime. Companies need to be able to offer skills and other services, such as irrigation, landscape lighting, fertilization, landscaping, water features, hardscape, leaf removal, and tree care. In the cold seasons, be sure to offer snow removal or seasonal lighting to supplement your company financially until growing season begins again.
Lastly, as any business owner will tell you, it’s important to balance your life. Always keep your priorities with faith, family, friends and taking care of yourself. Staying healthy—physically, mentally and emotionally—will give you a better life in general, and the way you feel will be obvious to employees and customers. Even though many responsibilities lay on your shoulders, it is crucial to make time for yourself. When your personal life is in order, it makes for a much less stressful, more successful leader.
There are many tips and tricks to becoming a successful business owner in the lawn and landscape industry. These are just a few ideas to help get you started. You will learn what works for you as you grow with your new company. Even though there will be setbacks and mistakes, learn from your mistakes and move on.
Each day will bring its own new challenges, so begin each day with an open mind and a positive attitude. Use your resources for knowledge, advertise wisely, keep a good image, be smart financially, have confidence, think about your business’s future, use your time well, know your limits, be versatile and balance your life. Work hard and follow these tips for a successful business career.