T Nation

Landscaping Business


#1

Me and a friend of mine are starting a landscaping business, and a legit one at that.

We are registering the business, have the equipment, getting insurance etc., so it's the real deal.

Wanted to see if anyone else has landscaped, or owned their own landscaping company, and maybe get a few pointers on how to attract clientel.

We have already purchased business cards, are sending out fliers, and have made posts on craigslist.

These business's probably thrive by word of mouth, but any suggestions would be great.

Our catch is that we will beat any competitors price which I know for a fact we will be the least expensive service around our area.

Also for those who have weight lifted and landscaped, did your training suffer, or at least how did you manage it, and this can go for anyone that lifts and has a manual labor job.

Did the gains increase/decrease?

I know I'll probably lean up quite a bit which will be nice, I'll definately be forced to increase my caloric intake too.


#2

I would advise not to try to be the cheapest. Then you become the "Wal-Mart" of landscaping. It also tends to be in small business that cheap clients are also a pain in the ass and will cut you for every cent they can. I would focus on being on time and doing a quality job at a competitive price to the rest of the market. You'll get referals and business will roll after a while.


#3

Don't sell yourself short.
Grow your business with quality clients NOT quantity.
Too many low-profit clients will strain your ability to grow.
Install a referral program that rewards existing clients with one free service for each new client signed up as a result of their efforts in extolling your greatness.
Send a pre-stamped and self-addressed envelope along with their monthly bill.

Occassional thank you cards sent showing your appreciation for their business goes a long way as well.
Give 10% discount for one year pre-paid.
Invest in quality equipment to decrease down-time and increase efficiency.
Will definitely need to up your calories and fluid intake. Texas summers kicked my azz.

Have a back-up plan in the event of sickness or injury. I had access to day labor.
Good luck.


#4

You might want to try real estate offices and property management companies. They manage rental properties and are always looking for landscapers, handymen etc. I am also starting my own landscaping company and will hit up theses companies hard. Referral incentives work as well ie: refer me a customer and get a free cut. I do agree about not being the cheapest but being competitive. Hope it all works for ya, good luck.


#5

I used to landscape and have several friends who own landscaping businesses.

If I were to start my own company, I'd:

1.) Get a recognizable truck (or fleet). Pay some cash and get a very distinct paint job with a very distinct logo. In this business your vehicle is essentially your business card.

2.) Focus on quality. Don't aim to be the cheapest. The kind of people who hire landscapers are usually middle to upper-middle class families with some disposable income. They want front yards to look like the Burnham's in "American Beauty" and are willing to pay for it.

3.) Find a niche. There is probably a market for a service that your competitors don't yet offer. The company I worked for did very unique stone work and made a killing through referrals.


#6

Actually it does make sense to have reliable clients that pay alittle bit extra for quality than to be overwhelmed with a bunch of cheapos...

I guess I'll have to redevelop our business plan. We're going into this alittle underfunded, but hopefully we can grow enough to purchase some really good euipment.


#7

FWIW, there's a 54 year old I train with, who's got his own landscaping company, and trains 4 times a week, and he's still strong as fuck. That said, he gets enough rest/food/water to be doing all of this.

I worked a manual labor job for the past 5 or so summers, around 50 hours a week, and it can be done, but training really takes a toll if you want a social life as well. It basically comes down to more calories, more rest.

I guess you could think of it as G-flux.

Oh, lots of fish oil helps for the joint pain. I took upwards of 15g/day when I was working that job.


#8

Are you thinking of lawn-care or landscaping?

If its lawn-care, then low prices CAN work IF you develop a very small route.

For landscaping, you're better off being higher priced and focusing on people who will pay for it.


#9

I agree with what most guys suggested, but what I would also add:

1.)Be Reliable/Dependable - Try your hardest to be there when you said you'd be there. If you can't, then call ASAP and set up another day or time. Keep in mind (i'm sure that you already know this) that landscaping is a VERY competitive business, and probably the number one complaint is unreliabilty.

2.) Look for other opportunities - When you're working, look to see what other things that could be done for the customer. Such as cutting trees or removing unwanted trees and shrubs, then disposing of them, for example.

3.) Be diverse - Learn as much as you can, so that you can do a little bit of everything. That will make you more valuble to customers. People are essentially lazy, so capitalize on it.

4.) Don't take on any more business than you can handle comfortably - Not doing this will cause you to blow off and possibly loose customers.

5.) Put money back into the business - The more and better equipment that you have, the more it will add to the reliabilty factor. If you have equipment that breaks down, then that can create issues that could have been easily avoided, if you buy good tools for the trade.

Good Luck!!


#10

Worked for my dad's landscape company for years. This was a little while back, but here's what I remember.

  1. He never had trouble getting clients. Within 2 years he had maxed out on how many he could handle. This was all word of mouth and a sign on his truck. He ended up taking the sign off the truck so people would stop calling him.

  2. He started out as a low cost landscape guy, then he raised rates over time. It worked great for him. He ended up making the money he wanted and didn't burn out.

  3. Think of what you want to offer. Are you going to offer thatching, aerating, fertilizing, etc? It's not as simple as just mowing and edging. You have more equipment to store and some of it is very seasonal so it just sits part of the year. But if your client base is willing to pay for it, it can be a lucrative addition.

  4. Don't get heat stroke or heat exhaustion, because they both suck.

Good luck.


#11

So you're owner/operators? I don't know what your goals are, but this is only okay up to a point. Different trade, different set of problems, I think so I'll leave it a that. Under-bidding only goes so far IMO. IME we had to cut quality and speed up production in order to make it look good at the end of the month. If the boys cost twice as much than the labor portion of the bid, I ate into the bid and pissed my master off. On top of that sometimes you're are dealing with bargain hunters and homeowner/builders that are shopping around for the lowest bid, and when they find it they squeeze the contractor for a lower price. We had a Jew bastard (oops) do that to us. We blew that fucker out in 3 weeks. It was an abortion. Problem: "It's not plumb GB!" Solution: "NAIL IT!" Problem: "I can't get it flush, GB" Solution: "NAIL IT!!!" Problem: "I forgot the A35s or whatever required hardware, GB" Solution: "Just tack them down so they look like they are installed" lol Inspector barely passed it.

Rocked it, painted the pig, and ran over his front yard when we were pulling out of there. Story time aside, I suggest you do a cruise around and scope other landscapers jobs and nitpick it. Figure out their flaws and offer a better product for a competitive price. You have to build up an image of what your business stands for. After a while people will want an "Austin_bicep landscape" just because of the reputation and wont care about the price. There are many more details and I haven't answered your other question but this will do for now. Cheers.