As part of the business consulting side of The Garden Continuum, we recently conducted a survey of landscape business owners to better understand the factors that drive them to launch and grow their operations. Our survey revealed a number of interesting facts that we’d like to share with our readers in this first part of a three-part series.
Owning and operating a landscape business -- like many businesses -- can be a unique love/hate relationship. What makes each relationship unique is the highly personal elements each owner brings to the party – their drive, level of ambition, goals, threshold of pain (physical and mental), stress tolerance, and more.
Each of us likes and dislikes certain aspects of the business, and here’s where we have to be careful. What you like and dislike about running a business can create a yo-yo effect that can impact your ability to gain traction for your business. In other words, you can get in your own way if you’re not careful.
We were really curious to find out what the draw was to own and manage a landscape company so we asked this fundamental question: “What do you love about running a landscape business?”
What we found was that the majority of landscapers love, first and foremost, the idea of growing their own business. While exciting, it can be a difficult road, especially if your passion is the craft of landscaping and not necessarily sales and marketing. The reality, however, is that in order to grow, you need to increase sales and find the right clients – people who are compatible with you and your business approach.
Of course, successfully growing your business goes hand-in-hand with the ability and desire to sell and close deals. Fortunately, love of selling tied for the third most popular reason why owners started their own businesses, which is great because that’s a key ingredient for business growth.
Here’s the kicker about sales and marketing though – it’s great that you may like the art of selling, but do you approach it in an organized, systematic way? For example, do you have a growth goal in mind, or better yet, do you have one written down for this year? Do you know how many new sales you need to make each quarter to hit that goal? It’s essential to have a landscape business size goal because it helps you set your revenue goals for the year and that will help you lay out the steps to get there incrementally over the year.
Going hand-in-hand with growing a business is developing and training the team to help you do it. The joy of creating a team tied for third place with selling as one of the aspects of business management loved by owners. But being an employer was the least liked aspect of owning a landscape business -- recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, and managing people is not easy. People operate on their own free will. They prefer to do what they want to do, so your challenge is to find people who want to do what you need them to do. To make this easier, it’s important to get clarity on what you want to do -- and I mean crystal clear. Understand why you own and operate your landscape business. What’s its purpose and mission? Once you can articulate that, use it in your recruiting efforts to help you find people who think like you and naturally align with how you want to do business.
What you like and dislike about running a business can create a yo-yo effect that can impact your ability to gain traction for your business. Do you know how to stop the yo-yo?
The second biggest reason owners started their own landscape businesses was to be their own boss. The lure of independence is a strong one. The reality, though, is that business ownership can be grueling. I’ve gotten to know many business owners and one of the most interesting things to note is how little free time or financial freedom they seem to actually have. This is partly due to their incredible dedication and passion for the craft, which is commendable. However, it also comes from a lack of organization and planning around the business functions.
Only by organizing yourself, your team, and your contractors can you become a master of your own time. Otherwise, disorganization and chaos will consume every minute of that free time you seek. Freedom is tricky when there is no plan. When there is a plan -- nothing fancy, mind you, just something written down about your business goals -- you’ll have a fighting chance to balance work and leisure activities while ensuring you’re putting in the appropriate effort to grow your business and satisfy your financial and client obligations.
One of the most interesting results of our survey was the input we received in a free-form text box that allowed respondents to use their own words in describing what they love about owning and operating their own landscape businesses. You can feel the passion and sense of commitment in their responses. Here are just a few:
(I love) “creating great spaces” and “creating beautiful spaces”
“I have control of the quality of work that is done so the client is happy every time”
“Creative problem-solving…making a difference to my clients”
“Being a part of something ‘bigger’ and positively impacting people’s lives”
“Developing and keeping relationships with clients”
I think we can all rally around the idea of “making a difference in people’s lives” that was shared in two of the personal responses. The satisfaction of making clients happy and doing good work for others is a value commonly shared by all great landscape business owners. There’s just nothing that compares to standing back and looking at a job well done with a totally satisfied client by your side.
There’s a lot to love about running your own company; however, to be honest, everything is not all sunshine and roses in the landscape business world. These same landscape business owners shared some of their biggest challenges in an open response question. We will review them and offer ideas about how to address them in the next post.
If you love running your landscape business but want to learn how to make it even better, then it is worth your while to invest in learning how by attending the Landscaper's Freedom Formula training. Click here to learn more.