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How To Start a Landscaping Business | Construction Insider

How To Start a Landscaping Business | Construction Insider

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How To Start a Landscaping Business

A landscaping business is a low start up cost business that can provide a quick turnaround. Landscaping can be great for repeated sales especially for the older market or families with large gardens who need help with their maintenance.


It can be very easy to develop maintenance packages at different levels where for example you come round once every month and handle any of their landscaping needs. This is a fantastic way to keep your cashflow strong.


Landscaping covers a lot of services:

  • Lawn, hedge and plant maintenance: Including weeding, mowing and trimming.
  • Trees and flowers: Planting or cutting down trees and planting flowers.
  • Pond or water feature: Adding, maintaining and mending broken ponds and water features.
  • Patios and decking: Constructing new patios, installing new decking plus maintaining and fixing current flooring.
  • Larger projects e.g. building structures: Installing new sheds or summer houses, building arches, custom built structures, and fencing.


Qualification and Associations

If you are thinking about becoming a landscaper there are many routes into the industry and ways to continue your development. There are opportunities to complete a university degree or a college course which both can be purchased through the company receiving tax relief on the expense.


Certain courses may require minimum qualification to be able to start the course:


A degree in landscape architecture or landscape management, accredited by the Landscape Institute or if you already have a first degree, you could complete a postgraduate course in a relevant subject.


For this you will need:

2 or more A levels, or equivalent (undergraduate degree)

Undergraduate degree in a relevant subject (postgraduate degree).


For a college course you could do a Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture, or a Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture or Amenity Horticulture.


For this you will need:

2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent (level 2 course)

4 - 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent (level 3 course).



Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering starting a landscape business include:


Passion for plants and animals

Problem-solving skills

Excellent communication and negotiation skills

An interest in technology.


If you are looking for extra support or credibility The Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) comprises accredited landscape companies who design, build and maintain gardens throughout the UK. The rigorous inspection process to join is the toughest within the industry. Along with the initial inspection, each member is inspected annually to ensure each member has up to date insurances, complies with health and safety law and their quality of work is to the highest possible. The APL is the only landscaping scheme operator of Trustmark, a Government endorsed initiative that promotes professional trades to consumers.


What Tools Do I Need To Start A Landscaping Company?

The tools you need will be pretty general tools however for the larger projects you might need some bigger equipment and you will have to start think if it is worth purchasing the equipment outright or hiring it for a specific amount of time. Here are some common landscaping tools:

  • Spade
  • Shovel
  • Lawnmower
  • Strimmer
  • Trowel
  • Goggles
  • Secateurs
  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Watering can
  • Strong boots
  • Fork
  • Rake
  • Kneeler
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Chainsaw


How Much Can Expect To Be Charging?

The average landscaping fee for general gardening work is roughly £30 per hour or £200 per day however it will depend on the type of work you are doing (such as pruning which is around £70-£100 per hour) and the location of your business.


If you have built a good landscaping business with a great reputation then you will have the ability to charge extra for your work as you will have more demand for your services. 


Preparing Ahead

Starting a business may seem like a never ending list of tasks that could go on forever however it is all worth it in the long run! Marketing is often a crucial element business owners tend to glide over but this could be the difference between staying up or going under.


We believe that you should be marketing your business roughly 6 months before you start your work. You need to be making people aware of who you are, what you can and who you can work with. Building a reputation for your business before its opening can cause a massive intake in sales and a higher conversion rate as you have been known about for quite a while at this point.


It might also be worth speaking to fellow professionals in the construction industry about what projects you could be getting involved in such as new builds, care homes, schools, domestic jobs or council work for example.


As you are starting out, the amount of work you can take on is going to be limited and restricted to local areas. It's very important that you know who your competitors are and how they compare to you.


Do they offer more or fewer hours than you?

How fast are their delivery times?

Are they approachable?

Do they offer the same services? 

Company Size? Can they afford the larger projects?

Promotions?

What extra value do you bring compared to your competitors?


Now we understand a bit more about what to expect and who the competition is, we need to start thinking about any predictable downtimes. Most businesses have seasonal trends and it is no different in landscaping. The warmer months are going to be very busy compared to the winter months and this is something that you will need to plan and prepare for.


This is where we can plan to manage the downtime periods and look to find alternative work where you can manage both projects efficiently, therefore, increasing your sales.


A massive tip which we can give for free is to answer your phone! Although it may sound obvious you may be surprised to find out that 70% of construction business owners do not answer the phone… If you think this might be a problem for you, take a look at Saint Virtual Assistant Call Handling service to ensure 100% of your calls are answered and in your business name.


Building a business roadmap can be great to get some ideas down on paper on how you want your business to turn out and how you believe you will get there. A business plan can also be a great way to provide a level of accountability to yourself and your team.


Some tips on building a business plan are:


  1. Funding

How much do you need to start up and fund your new business? Deciding how you’ll fund the initial costs i.e through a loan, credit card (very risky), savings or is there any Government schemes available?


We always recommend having at least 1 year saved up before you start a business full time as the survival of a business needs all the time it can get.


A landscaping business can initially have a low start up cost compared to other trades depending on the equipment you will be needing. You will also need a waste license and suitable vehicles to transport the waste. A rough guide on the start up cost is between £5,000 - £20,000 depending on the tools, materials, type of van, insurances and business support services (accountant, media, admin etc).



  1. Customers

Every business needs to build who its ideal client is. This will help you ensure you are working with the right companies that will grow your business in the right direction. Using your ideal client outline, you can target them using advertising or social media or networking with other trade professionals.


Saint Global is the perfect way to market your landscaping company, you’ll receive expert marketing guidance and proven strategies to put your new company on the map for your ideal clients to find you.


  1. Finances 

One of the many areas many businesses, especially in the construction industry undervalue… Having the right finance team around you can change your business overnight and provide insights into your business you never knew you could have had for your business, no matter how long you have been in the industry.


An accountant is so much more than just helping you pay the right tax, they should be involved with any strategic decision making in your business. There’s a reason why many of the top CEOs in business today are from an accounting background.


  1. Prices

Another area an accountant/business coach can help you with is your pricing. Deciding how much you are going to charge is a critical part of the business. You need to make sure that you are covering your costs and getting a good profit from the work you are putting into your business.


It may help to look at competitor prices as a rough guide. If you need help with pricing methods take a look at our free Construction Survival Guide.


  1. Legalities 

Every business needs to keep in line with the legal requirements. Some of the things you will need are insurances, licenses, H&S guidelines and any compliance requirements such as registering your company with company house.

You’ll need the right licenses and insurance before you start working to cover your business financially and legally and against any accidents or mistakes. 


Some examples of insurances are:

  • Public liability insurance - in case of injuries caused by your work
  • Van/tool insurance - to protect your van/tools
  • Professional indemnity insurance - to protect you if clients claim the service is inadequate
  • Employer’s liability insurance - required if you employ at least one person
  • Plant and machinery insurance - to protect your P&M

Take a look at our free Starting a Business e-book and other free resources here to find out more.


Licenses are a legal requirement to carry out certain work and for you to continue operating your business such as local authority licenses, goods vehicle operator licenses or public highway licenses for example.


How Much Can You Expect To Pay A Landscaper Employee?

As always the more experience, the more the expected salary will be. A rough guide on salary pricing is:


Newly trained landscape managers can earn £20,000 - £25,000

Trained landscape managers with experience can earn £25,000 - £40,000

Senior or chartered landscape managers can earn in excess of £40,000.*


Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.


How do you market a Landscaping business?

Many businesses take a dip into marketing which is often a price sensitive area and don’t often get the return on investment they are looking for however the most common mistake we see is that marketing is building your company for long term success whilst usually having a good impact on the short term. Here are some tips we recommend to get you going:


  1. Advertising: You can pay to advertise your business although this can be costly. Experience in this area is advised as it can be quite the money pit if you invest incorrectly.
  1. Website: With many website builders out there, you can build a website yourself however be cautious as it can be quite the time investment once you start!
  1. Social media: Using sites like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn etc can help you to join local groups where you can advertise your services for free and start building your network of potential clients.
  1. Direct mail: Email marketing is one of the cheapest forms of marketing and often the one with the highest Return on Investment!
  1. Reviews: Sites like Trustpilot, Facebook or Google all have a way of leaving reviews about your company based on the customers’ opinion. The power of reviews is massive, it can dictate whether someone uses your company or not so doing your utmost to get 5* reviews and managing them is essential.
  1. Saint Global: Joining Saint Global will let you work with an experienced media team specialised within the construction industry who can take care of your media troubles and much more.

This article was written for Saint Financial Group, a multidisciplinary group based in the UK that helps construction businesses develop and grow. SaintFG offers a range of quality solutions in supporting businesses.

Saint provides the luxury of free business consultancy for of our clients, call now for your free consultation with a friendly business advisor to discuss your burning questions and put that energy back into your business!

SaintFG

Written by:

Dylan O'Rourke MAAT

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