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The landscaping industry has never been better. Now is the best time to get off your high horse and try to establish your own landscaping business. After consulting credible sources, we found that the landscaping industry has experienced a steady 4.6% growth over the past 6 years with revenues topping $99 billion in 2019.
Moreover, businesses operating within the landscaping industry have recited a positive outlook walking into 2020 - more than any other industry surveyed by the Houzz State of Industry Report.
However, starting a business is one thing, while making it successful is quite another. The Entrepreneur lays out a few tips that new landscaping entrepreneurs have to take into consideration:
- Estimating jobs: Understanding you’re worth, minimizing loss of value
- Setting Prices: Low prices to penetrate, high prices to set standards
- Staffing: When and how to hire
- Scheduling Jobs: Making sure people are doing the right task at the right time
This industry has much to offer for those interested in starting their own venture. Therefore, let’s take a look at the first baby steps that you would have to take to establish a landscaping business.
Start researching your local market
Currently, all eyes are on the booming landscaping business. A simple Google search will show hundreds of existing landscaping businesses in your region. Competition is fierce, marketing is expensive, and establishing a unique value proposition is difficult.
At this point, research plays a major role in how you will navigate the clutter in your region. The rule of thumb follows that prior to ownership comes market research. As such, future and current business owners are expected to analyze every detail of the market they are looking to enter.
Start by asking broad questions:
- What is the size of the market? What is the potential? What are the means of expanding in the market?
- Who are my competitors? Why are the leading companies, actual market leaders?
- What additional value do I offer to clients relative to competitors?
- What are the opportunities in the market and how can you exploit them?
- What would need to happen for my business to collapse? Is it political? Economical?
A few of these questions we have already answered; however, answering one question may prompt another sub-question that may be of significance for your special case. Upon answering the broad questions, you may dive into specifics and analyze available data to estimate revenues, costs, margins, and other relevant financial data.
Establishing a brand
Parallel to estimating financial data, you should start thinking of brand elements. Starting from the name of your business, logo, brand mission, messaging and more.
The first brand element that people acknowledge is the brand name and logo. Finding the ideal name and designing a good logo can be a tiring and costly process. Yet, the value-added from this initial process can be game-changing.
Brand name and logo
When finding a business name on budget, we suggest running keywords on name generators. These tools will output suggestions that can be used during brainstorming sessions. But, if there is a larger budget at hand than hiring industry professionals to design the complete brand would be optimal.
Here are a few tips to take into consideration when building your landscaping brand:
- Find a name that is digitally friendly and natural to search. If someone is looking for your website then make the search process easy and memorable. For example, create a domain businessname.com and make sure that it’s not long and complicated.
- Hint what your business does through the name or logo. Having some component of lawn or landscaping in your brand will help your marketing efforts in the future.
- Don’t do what competitors are doing. Following the norm, won’t establish your brand as unique rather it may be perceived as “just another landscaping business - which is not the initial impact you want to have.
- Don’t overspecify, leave space for future expansion. Starting as a landscaping business today does not mean that you will be doing offering landscaping exclusively. Easy transitions include gardening, home repair, painting, and other home-related services.
Brand messaging (optional)
Brand messaging translates the unique aspects of a business into content that can be marketed through content. Many business owners look at messaging as secondary to the branding process. However, we still believe that messaging is one of the elements of a successful brand - which makes it worth sharing.
When starting a landscaping business, the first thing that you need to start thinking about is value, precisely the value proposition of your business. We just referred to value proposition as the “unique aspect of a business” but you may find alternative descriptions on the web. This value is only useful is you know how to voice it out. Messaging provides tangible words that help your target audience understand the usefulness of your business relative to established competitors. Accordingly, in a growing industry like landscaping, it is important to utilize all possible means when penetrating the market.
Typical forms of messaging include:
- Advertising messaging
- Website headlines
- Sales pitches
- Emails and instant messaging
Although optional, we highly suggest diving into the basics of brand messaging and then depending on budget deciding whether industry professionals can be hired to take care of this part.
Getting Licensed and Insured
Compared to many other industries, landscapers have to undergo two vital processes before they can start work. First, state laws in the United States - although different - may require landscaping businesses to acquire both licensing and insurance.
In the U.S., licensing can be previewed as a work permit that can be acquired from state departments, unions, or other relevant institutions. Every state shares a unique perspective on this process. For example, in Georgia, the Department of Agriculture is the body that issues the “commercial applicator license” after you pass the exam. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, you do not need a state license to work as a landscaper - unless you would be working with pesticides as part of your landscaping services.
If you are interested in learning more about the process of obtaining a landscaping license in your state than click here.
Another vital process to think about prior to starting a landscaping business is insurance. First, you need to find a trusted insurance agent and provider who can assist you during the process. However, for starters, most landscaping businesses purchase general liability insurance to protect themselves from damages that their service may cause to clients. General liability insurance will cover attorney fees if you get sued, property replacements, or repairs to damaged property.
When estimating the finances associated with starting a landscaping business, it is highly recommended that the costs of obtaining a license and insurance are accounted for.
Purchasing and Securing Equipment
A landscaping business can only grow if it is equipped with the latest and greatest technology. You may get passed the first few months with a modest investment, however, it is advised that you document bigger investments on a success plan.
A study called “The Multiple Effects of Business Planning on New Venture Performance” has found that companies that plan grow 30 percent faster than those that don’t plan.
The study does not suggest that businesses without a success plan don’t grow, simply those that do plan for success tend to experience faster growth. In landscaping, equipment includes machinery and software. With regards to machinery, a landscaping business should look into purchasing:
- Lawn Mower/s
- Gas-powered Edger
- Power Tools: Shovel, rakes, weed pullers & more
- Leaf Blowers
- Lawn Fertilizers
- Safety Gear: Googles, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, noise cancellation headgear
These are the basics that every person thinking of starting a landscaping business has to think about purchasing. In the case that you lack the financing necessary to purchase all of the abovementioned tools and equipment than we suggest looking to the possibility of acquiring a loan.
According to the founder of YardApes, Inc. reporting to Small Business Trend, “When starting off, I worked with a banker to secure capital for investments in equipment and vehicles. It takes cash flow to grow a business, so a solid relationship with your loan officer is very important.”
In addition to machinery, technological advancements have introduced a number of software designed to help small business owners (especially landscaping businesses) grow in an efficient way. Let’s look at a few types of software that may be useful for your business.
Digital Time & Location Tracking Software
When managing remote staff, a time and location tracking software can spare time and nerves. Understanding the effectiveness of staff when working is key to the success of any landscaping business. Thus, prior to starting a landscaping business, we recommend browsing the web for a good time and location tracking solution that is well-rated and easy-to-use.
Simple Time Tracking for Landscapers
An easy to use time clock app designed for a landscaping business.
Project Management Software
Tasks can get out of hand if not managed properly. With project management software like Trello and Asana, you can start assigning and managing tasks directly from the comfort of your home. Plus, basic features are free of charge - meaning you won’t have to spend a dime when starting your business.
Other tools, like accounting software are also great to have but for people thinking of starting a landscaping business from scratch, it would be better to hire a part-time expert (or agency). As the business grows, the need to become more efficient grows too. That is when you will start to notice the need for advanced tools like accounting.
Determine Rates and Get to Work
Last but not least, your service needs a price. Landscaping businesses are considered highly profitable if their services are priced right. Determining the right pricing strategy is a process dependent on trial and error. According to marketing theory, businesses can undercut market prices if it is looking to penetrate the market aggressively or set pricing above what the market offers if it has the luxury of time.
The market dictates the pace of the market - which till also dictate your pricing strategy. If the current mindset of your target audience does not support a pricing strategy above the market than pursuing an alternative would be a great idea. Therefore, think of conducting a few interviews with potential consumers before determining the rates of your landscaping business.
Now you are officially ready to start work. As a last financial investment, start developing a digital presence across social media, spend a few hundred dollars experimenting with Google Ads, and print a few brochures for direct marketing purposes.