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Starting a Landscaping Business from Scratch With No Money – A Complete Guide

Are you interested in starting a landscaping company from scratch? If YES, here is a complete checklist for starting a landscaping business with NO money and experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample landscaping business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample landscaping service marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for landscaping companies. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a landscaping business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Table of Content

  1. Landscaping Industry Overview
  2. Market Research and Feasibility
  3. Landscaping Business Plan
  4. Landscaping Service Marketing Plan
  5. Landscaping Business Name ideas
  6. Landscaping Business Licenses and Permits
  7. Cost of Starting a Landscaping Business
  8. Landscaping Company Marketing ideas

It is not enough to own a property that is well designed and built; the hallmark of any property is the beauty of the lawn and garden. Landscaping services might not be considered as one of the essential services, but the fact remains that it has a role to play when it comes to beautifying our environment; Landscapers are in the business of giving total esthetic effect in and around our neighborhood.

It is not enough to plant flowers or lawn in your compound and just watch them grow; you need to hire a professional landscaping company to help you bring out the beauty in your environment. Landscape architecture is all about the art, planning, designing, management, preservation and rehabilitation of the land and the design of a large man – made constructs; it beautifies our environment.

Landscaping business just like Lawn care business is not one of those businesses that you could start and make big money from without truly working pretty hard and smart. Any entrepreneur who intends starting his or her own landscaping business and making huge profits from it must be very creative and must be ready to go the extra mile to convince clients that he or she can deliver an excellent job and he or she must prove beyond every reasonable doubt that they are competent.

Why Start a Landscaping Business?

Just like lawn care and maintenance business, landscaping business also falls in the category of seasonal businesses; the industry experience downtime during the winter period and in most states in the US. In general, the demand for landscaping services is usually at its peak in the spring and generally between April and October. Which is why landscaping companies are always everywhere sourcing for business deals within this period of the year.

If you are familiar with the landscaping industry, you will notice that most landscaping companies do not restrict their services to only landscape architecture et al; they ensure that they add additional services; such as lawn care services, snow plowing services, snow melting services (during winter season), fumigation services and any other similar services just to ensure that they maintain steady in – flow of income during peak and off peak periods.

Any entrepreneur who wants to start a landscaping business in the U.S. should be aware that the landscaping and lawn care industry is a closely regulated industry that requires practitioners to earn certifications that permit them to handle hazardous compounds; most especially when they also offer fumigation services.

Starting a Landscaping Business from Scratch – A Complete Guide

  • Landscaping Industry Overview

In a publication released by a Professional Land-care Network (PLANET), an international association serving landscaping professionals, lawn care professionals, exterior maintenance contractors, installation/design/building professionals, and interiors capers, there are an estimated 10,000 individual lawn care service providers and approximately 12,000 landscapers in the United States of America. This statistics covers independent operators, franchises and large corporate chains.

  • Interesting Statistics About the Landscaping Industry

They also stated that the number of professional landscapers could actually be considerably higher because there are so many people doing lawn and landscape maintenance on part – time and on a pay as you go basis. Lastly, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published in 2006-2007 (U.S. Department of Labor), is that almost 1 out of every 4 landscaping, grounds – keeping, nursery, greenhouse and lawn service workers is self-employed and provides maintenance services directly to customers on a contract basis. Of these, about 1 out of every 6 works part time.

Although landscaping business might not be amongst the money spinning businesses in the US, but they have a very large market that is readily available for them. All they need to do is to convince property owners, corporate organizations and the government to patronize their services.

As a matter of fact, statistics has it that the United States green industry (landscape and lawn maintenance, landscape contractors, landscape architects, irrigation contractors, and lawn and landscape product suppliers) generates roughly $67 billion to $69 billion annually.

PLANET estimates that the landscaping services sector alone generates about 704,000 jobs and $35.6 million in value-added services annually in the US; it is indeed a growing industry.

What Opportunities Exist in the Landscaping Industry?

Despite the fact that the landscaping industry is considered to be at the matured stage, in some locations the business is still pretty much green. Entrepreneurs who are interested in venturing into the business still have the opportunity to come into the industry. Even if you decided to start on a small scale, you will still make headway in the industry. It is a fact that 72 percent of the landscaping industry is driven by small business owners.

At least the industry is noted to be growing approximately 10 percent annually. Statistics has it that the industry had already hit the 61 billion dollars annual revenue mark by July 2012 and during the same year, landscaping supervisors earned about $20 per hour, while workers earned about $12.44 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On the average, it is noted that commercial landscaping services account for about 50 percent and residential landscaping services accounts for about 30 percent of industry revenues. The landscaping industry in the United States is highly fragmented and the top 50 landscaping companies generate about 15 percent of the total revenue in the industry.

The fact that the start – up cost for starting a landscaping industry, the amount required to run the business and of course available market for landscaping services are part of the factors that encourages entrepreneurs to come into the landscaping industry.

Starting a Landscaping Business from Scratch – Market Feasibility and Research

  • Demographics and Psychographics

When it comes to those who need the services of landscapers, it is obvious home owners, baby boomers, facility managers, corporate organizations, the government and religious centers et al need the services offered by the landscaping industry.

Young adults who are working class and own their homes, retired people who are financially stable and living in their own homes, and of course middle aged people who own their homes and have taste for excellence.

  • List of Niche Ideas within the Landscaping Industry

There are no clear cut niches, when it comes to niches in the landscaping industry. Some the niche ideas include commercial landscaping and residential landscape maintenance.

Other areas of specialization in the landscape industry are; landscape architecture services, landscape construction, lawn care services, irrigation systems, tree services, chemical lawn care and pest control, and “line-clearing,” or branch removal around utility lines.

One thing about all the areas of specialization mentioned above is that it is easier for smaller entrepreneurs to choose of them and then specialize on it but it is common to find bigger landscape companies offer all the services listed above.

  • The Level of Competition in the Industry

Starting a landscape business is not a difficult and expensive business venture. As a matter of fact, the amount required to purchase the basic equipment is within the reach of any serious minded entrepreneur; the equipment costs is relatively the same everywhere. With that it is easier for small and local landscapers to compete for some jobs with larger landscape companies.

Smaller landscape companies who operate communities and neighborhood have leverage over lager landscape companies; they get jobs based on their relationship with residence in the community and also via referrals. But when it comes to competing for government contracts, or bidding for businesses from corporate organization, larger landscape companies have monopoly.

  • List Of Well – Known Landscaping Brands in the Industry

These are some of the well – known brand in the landscape industry both in the United States and perhaps the world;

  • Asplundh Tree Expert (United States of America)
  • Brickman (United Stated of America)
  • ValleyCrest (United States of America)
  • The Davey Tree Expert Company (United States of America)
  • TruGreen (United States of America)
  • Active Tree Services (Australia)
  • Idverde (France)

Economic Analysis

Before setting up a landscaping business, entrepreneurs should thoroughly investigate the industry and be certain that the location they intend starting their landscape business is ready for their service offerings. In recent times, landscaping business owners have no option, other than to cope with the slumping demand from the available market; no thanks to economic downturn.

Conversely, in the next five years, the demand for landscaping services is projected to experience appreciable and steady growth. This is so because steady per capita disposable income growth is projected to encourage home owners to engage the services of landscapers. Besides, the economic growth will definitely boost commercial expansion, and hopefully drive the need for industry operators that can maintain large corporate and resort campuses.

It is important to note that the demand for landscape and lawn care services is driven somewhat by construction of new commercial properties and residences and also partly by the growth of the economy. Landscaping and lawn care services depends on demand volume and of course operations’ efficiency to be able to generate enough income and profits. The overhead cost can be kept as low as possible and the required equipment cost is fixed which is why it is an industry that is open to all and sundry.

  • Is Landscaping Business Starting from scratch Better Than Buying a Landscaping Franchise?

The fact that the required start – up capital for a landscape business is within the reach of any serious minded entrepreneur makes it easier to start the business from the scratch. The equipment cost and the overhead cost is affordable and of course the nature of the business especially if you want to operate a small – neighborhood landscape business makes it ideal to start the business from the scratch.

Well for now, there is hardly any landscaping company that is into franchising. So your only option for now will be starting the business from the scratch if you are interested investing in the landscaping and lawn care industry.

  • Possible threats and challenges you will face when starting the business

Some of the threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your own landscaping company are global economic downturn that can impact negatively on household spending, bad weather cum natural disasters and the arrival of a competitor (a company that offer same service as you do) within same location.

There is hardly anything you can do as regards this threats and challenges, other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.

Writing a Business Plan for Your Landscape and Lawn Care Business

There is hardly business that does not require a business plan. If you are serious about starting a business with the aim of competing and make profits, then you should ensure that you prepare a business document before investing your hard earned money and time into the business.

You might not need a comprehensive business plan for a landscape and lawn care company, but it is important to at least have a business document; a business plan that will guide you. Here is a sample landscaping business plan template to help you get started.

A Business plan is like a blue print that is needed to successfully run a business; it is the document that will influence all your business decisions and actions. The whole idea of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but to draft strategies that will help you effectively administer and manage your landscape and lawn care business.

Your business plan should cover strategies on how you intend to generate your start – up capital, attract clients and also to expand the scope of your business. These are some of the key components that must not be missing in your business plan. Other key components that should be included in your business plan are as follow;

Executive summary and your company’s descriptions: This is the section where you are expected to clearly state what your landscaping and lawn care business is all about, your company’s corporate culture, your sales and marketing strategies and perhaps what stands you out from your competitors, You are also expected to state your company’s vision statement, mission statement and the areas where you want to cover.

Lastly, other key components that should not be missing in your business plan are your products or service offering, SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, pricing, costing and financial projection, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation et al.

You may not have to engage the services of a business consultant to help you write a business plan for your landscaping and lawn care business, you can go online to source for business plan template. With the aid of a business plan template, you can come up with a good business plan document for your landscape and lawn care business.

Suitable Location for Landscape and Lawn care Business

When it comes to choosing a location for a lawn care and landscaping business, it is important to first and foremost look for a location where the average houses in the community has a garden or lawn. It will be out of place to locate your lawn care and landscape business in an area that where you can hardly find houses with lawn.

Another key factor that you should look for before choosing a location for your lawn care and landscaping business is the financial status of the residence in the location you want to start your lawn care and landscape business.

The truth is that, you will struggle to grow your landscape and lawn care business if you locate the business in an area filled with low income earners or in a ghetto. If you locate your landscape and lawn care business close to a highbrow area or an area with loads of retirees, you are likely going to make good returns from the business.

When it comes to the facility to use for this type of business, you don’t need to break the bank to source for money to rent or lease an office facility. As a matter of fact, you can start your lawn care and landscape business from your home. All you need is a small space for administrative work and a space to store your tools and equipment; you can as well use your garage for that purpose.

The only reason why you would need an office facility is if you want to start the business on a large scale or medium scale and with handful of employees working for you.

Starting a Landscaping Business from Scratch – Technical & Manpower Details

Most of the equipment and tools needed to launch a landscape and lawn care business can be bought as fairly used and they will serve you for a long time if well managed and utilized. It is safer and economical to purchase fairly used tools and equipment for a landscaping business especially if you just want to start the business on a small scale. These are some of the equipment that you would need to fully launch your lawn care and landscaping business;

  • Lawnmower
  • String Trimmer
  • Edging Shears
  • Turfing Iron
  • Half Moon Cutter
  • Brooms
  • Besom
  • Leveling Rake
  • Spring – tined Rake
  • Switch
  • Wheel Barrow
  • Truck

Basically, the nature of lawn care and landscape business permits people to run the business from their home. So, if you must get an office facility, then ensure that it is a short term rent facility. The only reason why you must lease a property for your lawn care and landscaping business is if you want to start a large scale and to bid for big contracts from government and corporate organizations.

As regards the numbers of employees needed to run a landscape and lawn care business, it varies. One person can effectively run the business. But if you want to build a structure for your landscape and lawn care business, you would need to employ Manager, Sales and Marketing Executive, Landscape Architect / Landscapist, Field Staff, Front Desk Officer. That is about 5 to 10 employees.

  • The Production Process in Landscape and Lawn Care Business

The process involve in the delivery of landscaping and lawn care services depends on what your customers want. The processes could range from providing arborist services to fertilizing lawns, from landscape care and maintenance to landscape installation, from lawn mowing, planting trees, shrubs and other plants to spraying lawns.

Other processes involves Basic landscape design, pruning, turf installation (except artificial turf), maintenance and general services-commercial, maintenance and general services-residential, and design-build-installation services

Starting a Landscaping Business from Scratch – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and Strategies for a Landscaping Business

If you want to generate income for your business, then you must market your products and services. In order to market your lawn care and landscape business, you must draft a landscaping marketing plan and ensure that you leverage on all available network to source for business deals. You should source for local real estate clubs and home owners / landlords associations within the area you want to locate your business and connect and network with them.

If you are running a medium or large scale landscape and lawn care business, then you should make it a point of duty to always bid for contracts at the appropriate time whenever there is the opportunity to handle government contracts both at the community and state level.

It is also to your advantage to enter business partnership with local contractors and property managers since they also interface with property owners regularly; through them you can secure business deals. Here are some tips that you can adopt to market your landscape and lawn care business;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to stake holders in the real estate industry, government institution and also property owners.
  • Promptness in bidding for contracts
  • Advertise your business in real estate / properties magazines and websites
  • List your business on yellow pages ads
  • Attend related real estate expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
  • Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets and still deliver quality job for them.
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your business
  • Direct marketing
  • Word of mouth marketing (referrals)

Factors That Will Help You Get the Right Service Pricing for a Landscaping business

The factors that will enable you get the right price quotation for your services; prices that will be pocket friendly to household is to ensure that you cut your operational cost to the barest minimum. You can achieve it by operating the business from your home, especially if you choose to start the business on a small scale and also purchasing fairly used tools and equipment will help you cut cost and get the right pricing that will be a win – win for both you and your customers.

  • Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning Your Competitors in This Particular Industry

In some areas, you are likely going to find several landscape and lawn care businesses and of course if you need their services, you would go for the one that is cheaper or the one that can deliver excellent job. If you run a landscape and lawn care business where there are other lawn care and landscape businesses, then you must package your business in such a way that will give you advantage over your competitors.

Part of the competitive strategy you need to adopt in order to favorably compete in the industry, is to designed your business in such a way that you can comfortably work with both the highly placed clients and the lowly placed clients; your prices should be designed to fit into the budget of the lower class, the middle class and the upper class. Another competitive strategy that you need to employ is to ensure that you offer several related landscaping and lawn care services.

  • Possible Ways to Increase Customer Retention for Landscape and Lawn Care Business

One of the surest ways of increasing customer retention in your business is to ensure that you deliver excellent services at all time. If you continue to meet or surpass your customers’ expectations whenever they engage your services; you will not have to struggle to generate repeated business from them. The number one reason why people look for alternatives is when their needs are not met or when they aren’t getting value for their money.

  • Strategies to Boost your Brand Awareness and Corporate Identity for your Landscape Business

It is important to create strategies that will help you boost your brand awareness and to create a corporate identity for your business. If you are running a large scale landscape and lawn Care Company, then you should look for ways to promote your brand. Below are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your company’s brand and to promote and advertise your business;

  • Encourage your loyal customers to help with Word of Mouth mode of advertisement (referrals)
  • Advertise your landscaping and lawn care business in relevant magazines (real estate magazines), local newspaper, local TV stations and local radio station
  • Promote your landscaping business online via your official website
  • List your landscaping business on local directories (yellow pages ads)
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Badoo, Facebook , twitter, et al to promote your landscaping and lawn care business
  • Employ direct coupon mailing approach to introduce your landscaping business to residence and property managers
  • Engage in road show from time to time to create awareness of your landscaping business.
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • Attend landlord and residence association meetings in the neighborhood you are located, with the aim of networking and introducing your landscaping and lawn care business.

Creating a Suppliers/Distribution Network for your Landscaping Company

If you run a standard landscape and lawn care business, then you should source for supply networks where you can get the needed chemicals for fumigation, fertilizers, grass, flowers and flower pots et al.

If you are in a good business relationship with the suppliers of all the needed raw materials and chemicals that you need for your business, it will help you to execute your jobs without delays. You have the options of either getting your raw materials and chemicals from vendors or you go to the market to buy them yourself. The bottom line is to ensure that you have good business relationships with suppliers and distributors of all you would need to carry out your job.

  • Tips for Running a Landscaping Business Successfully

Landscaping companies are known to provide landscape care and maintenance services. Their services also includes planting trees, shrubs, flowers, lawns or gardens. Some of them may also offer services such as construction of walkways, retaining walls, decks, fences, ponds and similar structures. These services can be carried out daily, weekly or at a defined regular interval. In order to successfully run this type of business, you must create workable schedules; it is important to work with your clients to design a schedule.

Finally, no new business is without the teething stage. It is for this reason that you have to be aware of the fact that your new business will go through some teething problems. So, with this in mind, you need to be strong willed and hardworking, so that you will attain success soon enough.

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