The U.S. landscaping industry nets $61 billion annually according to the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), a national group that represents landscape contractors, tree-care and lawn-care specialists. From landscape design to lawn maintenance, landscaping is a thriving business. With low barriers to entry, landscaping businesses can be relatively easy to start up. However, before starting a landscaping business, there are a few things you should know about how to start a landscaping company to ensure you stay in business in the long-term.
1. What services will you offer?
The first step to starting a landscaping company is to decide on the type of services you want to offer. The customer base of landscaping businesses includes residential and commercial building owners, homebuilders, landscape architects and municipalities. Choose your target audience and decide on the type of lawn care services you will offer them, which include:
- Lawn installation, lawn mowing and renovation
- Sodding and hydroseeding
- Lawn maintenance
- Tree pruning
- Deck installation
- Core aeration
- Landscape design
- Weeding, fertilization and application of pest control
- Subcontracting services of landscape design and maintenance
You should also check the kind of services and prices your competitors are offering. If there is a surplus of landscaping companies that offer a particular type of service, you may need to change strategy to help fill that gap. You can either settle for a niche with less competition or emphasize the other landscaping services you offer in your marketing campaigns.
2. Get Your Licenses and Insurance in order
Landscaping business owners need to get the required licenses before starting business operations. Licensing laws for starting a landscaping business vary by state, so be sure to check with local authorities to make sure you’re meeting the right requirements. Find out if you need to get separate licenses to sell nursery plants, for application of insecticides, irrigation, and other activities related to owning a landscape company.
In addition to licenses, you need to also get Landscaping Services insurance coverage to keep your assets protected. Some essential insurance packages you need include:
- General Liability insurance: This offers coverage for bodily injuries and medical expenses, property damage by third parties, repair costs, legal fees and accidental damages.
- Professional Liability insurance: This offers coverage in case of claims by customers for errors, negligence, libel or slander, etc.
- Workers’ Compensation insurance: This offers coverage for lost wages and medical expenses in the event an employee suffers an injury while on the job, legal defense costs for injury claims made by employees.
3. Create a marketing plan
When starting a business, the need for a marketing plan cannot be overemphasized for landscaping business owners. Here are some of the things small business owners in the landscaping industry can put in place to improve their marketing efforts:
- Create a business website and official email address for your landscaping business
- Set up social media accounts and engage with your audience
- Have a marketing budget. Decide whether to spend it on traditional media, digital advertising or both. Most of your potential customers can be found online, so it is advisable to invest in digital advertising. Make use of Google ads and social media advertising. You can also advertise on blogs that write content on complementary services to businesses like yours
- Increase your search and online visibility with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics
- Make use of word-of-mouth marketing and encourage your customers to write positive reviews about your lawn care business
4. Establish Prices
The landscaping industry is very competitive, so you need to make sure your service charges are as well. Before establishing rates for your services, it is important that you do all or any of the following:
- Decide if you want to charge hourly, per cut, or per square foot. Most landscaping business owners calculate their prices based on the total square footage of the lot.
- Check out the publications of professional organizations that serve the landscaping business industry. These organizations perform annual member studies; you may find useful information on pricing.
- Check service charges of your competitors for similar services. Call a few lawn care businesses within your region or request for a quote through their business website. You can also recruit a few friends and family members and friends to call for quotes for their different lawn sizes, in order to get an estimate.
After setting prices, ensure you deliver quality services and demonstrate professionalism in your dealings; this will set you apart from your competitors.
5. Prepare for seasonality
Slow seasons and weather issues can pose as a challenge for landscaping business owners. However, there are measures that can be taken to ensure cash flow in all seasons.
Use the season to your advantage: Supplement your revenue by offering off-season services like landscape lighting for Christmas, snow removal during wintertime, commercial indoor plant care for the holidays, and in-ground sprinkling service during springtime.
Rental services: Rent out some of your landscaping equipment for specific projects.
Maintain a digital presence: Whether in-season or off-season, maintain visibility with your audience. Engage with them on social media, share content with them on how to care for their lawn and other related services. This will ensure your landscaping company is foremost in their mind when they need your services.
With these tips you’ll be set to get to work and stay ahead of your competitors.