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Anyone with a yard knows that maintaining it is a lot of work. So it’s no surprise that there are so many landscaping businesses out there to help eliminate the need for mowing, weeding, treating and doing more lawn maintenance yourself.
How To Start A Garden Business
If you, however, are someone who likes to do yard work and the smell of freshly cut grass or a freshly mulched garden is your favorite, you may have thought about how to start your own landscaping business.
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The landscaping business is booming; and if you live in an area with a warm climate, you can work most of the year. The landscape services industry generates $93 billion in revenue each year and employs more than 1 million people, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
If this sounds like the right move for you, continue reading to learn how to start your own landscaping business.
Considering the scope and depth of landscaping – from residential to commercial, maintenance to removal and design to tree care – the economics of starting your own landscaping business are remarkably simple. It can be as easy as renting a lawnmower and knocking on doors.
“My previous company was a lawn care business that I grew from myself and a push mower to over 125 employees,” says Bryan Clayton, the founder of GreenPal, an online lawn care ordering service. lawns are a bit like the Uber of landscaping.
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“Most customers have to deal with rude and unprofessional competitors,” says Clayton. “Creating a successful landscaping business is almost easy if you just answer the phone when your customer calls, return their voicemails promptly, and do the work you agree with your clients.”
Sounds simple, right? But what else can a landscaping business owner do to go beyond the basics? Here are some tricks of the trade as you start your landscaping business.
The first step in starting a landscaping business is getting your arsenal of landscaping equipment. Once you’ve decided which actual services you want your landscaping business to offer, you’ll know what equipment you need. Then it’s time to decide if you want to buy it outright or opt for the cheaper rental option.
In the beginning, you have the option of renting your equipment or buying a lower grade of equipment. But as your landscaping business grows, so do equipment needs and costs — and you can easily spend the same amount maintaining cheap equipment as the purchase price of high-grade machines.
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“Most landscape contractors have to spend five to 10 hours a week maintaining their equipment initially by sharpening blades or changing oil, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters, and so on, Clayton said.
So what are the basics of good landscaping equipment that you need to know when starting a landscaping business?
There are several hand tools that any good landscaper should have: shovels (such as the square-mouth, spade, and trench), wheelbarrows, tillers (such as the rear-tine tiller or cultivator), and more powerful things like chainsaws and drills. But this is not where the real costs lie. The cost of larger appliances may surprise you.
“Most people don’t know this, but the riding lawnmowers you see at commercial landscape operators cost more than $12,000 by themselves,” Clayton said.
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“Landscape contractors also need to purchase or finance a decent truck, which costs at least $10,000 used, and a trailer, which costs $5,000+,” says Clayton. “Also, for landscape construction, you’ll need in most cases a front-end loader, which costs $10,000 to $50,000 on its own.”
All told, Clayton estimates that landscape construction and maintenance businesses need to bring between $40,000 to $50,000 worth of equipment on a customer’s property. That’s why you might want to start with rentals — which put set-up costs in a more reasonable ballpark of $3,000, according to Clayton — but don’t count on them forever.
There are several required forms of business insurance that you need to obtain in order to run a business. The most important is general liability insurance, which covers everything from the cost of repairs to legal fees to damages if you or an employee accidentally causes an injury. Accidents — like running over a sprinkler head with a mower, for example — happen, and you want to be covered when they happen.
You may also need workers’ compensation insurance, depending on which state you operate in, though as Clayton says, “Many states require the same insurances to run a legitimate business whether you have employees or not. .” Workers’ comp covers you in the event an employee is injured on the job, from medical expenses to court costs.
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Other forms of insurance that are not required, but may come in handy, include inland marine insurance (for coverage of goods damaged in transit), commercial vehicle insurance (you cannot use your personal vehicle for for most of what you’re towing and your personal policy won’t cover your commercial vehicles) and commercial umbrella insurance (which expands your coverage in case you get hit with a big settlement).
Additionally, if you want to apply pesticides as part of your services, most states have a pesticide charter that must be obtained. Clayton calls it “a very involved process” and doesn’t recommend it until you’re well established in your field.
Before you start operating your business, make sure you also have any business licenses you need for the state in which you are operating and that you are registered to pay taxes and have received your employer identification number, also called business tax ID number.
The rules around which business licenses you need and where to get them vary from state to state, so check the details for the state where your business will be operating before you start your landscaping business.
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Another type of insurance you’ll need when starting a landscaping business is employment law liability insurance, which covers your business in case you miscalculate overtime and wage and hour violations.
Considering the uncertainty of the future of overtime wages, and the fact that many small business owners often go it alone in the beginning without the help of an attorney or an accountant, this insurance can be be a life-saver — or more accurately, a business-saver.
“In 2009 my company was audited by the Department of Labor and they determined that our crew chief managers could not be paid a salary – they had to be paid as hourly wage employees,” he said. “This, in turn, triggered additional overtime charges that 80 employees had to pay, and this resulted in a $450,000 fine that my company had to pay.”
That lack of insurance almost killed Clayton’s company. Take his experience as a lesson that having that insurance in place – especially before you measure – is essential to your landscaping business.
Az Big Media What Tools Do You Need To Start A Landscaping Business?
When it comes to marketing your landscaping business, you already know where to start: Facebook and other social media, as well as SEO tactics, will increase your search visibility on Google and other search engines.
Of course, word-of-mouth marketing is always the best, especially in hyper-local markets, but that includes doing great work overtime. So while you’re waiting for glowing reviews to be passed around town, consider setting up your social accounts first while you’re starting your landscaping business.
Clayton says that mastering all the typical marketing channels, and setting aside a starting budget of $500 to $2,000 to get your first 10 to 100 customers, is the best way to start. A digital marketing expert may be needed to take your game to the next level when you expand your landscaping business.
When you first start your landscaping business, you should also decide on the prices of your services so that you can incorporate them into your marketing efforts. Any potential customer wants to know what they will be charged for the various landscaping services your business will offer.
How To Start A Landscaping Business
Once you’ve decided on your rates, it’s a good idea to look at the competition and see what prices similar businesses are offering, then go from there. But remember, you can always adjust the rates as you go.
When you are starting a landscaping business, it is very important that you keep your finances on track. And we’re probably long past the days of using pen and paper to keep track of all your business expenses, schedules, and accounts. Even spreadsheet applications, although capable of handling large amounts of information, are somewhat outdated.
Luckily, there are many outdoor business apps out there that can help your landscaping business run more smoothly. There are apps and software that can help with everything from inventory and payroll management to employee timesheets so you can focus on the important things — like the actual landscaping
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