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garden maintenance start up advice..

Discussion in 'First steps to starting a business' started by moredoor, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. moredoor

    moredoor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 22 Likes: 1
    hi folks,

    as some of you may of seen a couple of my other threads on here I am still in the process of setting up in garden maintenance,

    taken a little longer to make a start then I had hoped but i would like to make a start as i think its a good time of the year to do so.

    I am looking to speak to my web designer to design a website and facebook page with in the next couple of weeks.

    To cut to the chase, I have been a little apprehensive just lately because I am worried I don't have enough experience, its actually a change in career direction for me as im actually a paint sprayer within the motor trade, and to be honest no very little about which plants are which and how to professionally care for a lawn etc.

    to start off I would just like to do general garden maintenance work, grass and hedge cutting, clearances etc. but just a little worried that I don't have enough knowledge within this sector!

    is it just a case of making a start and learning as to go along, or maybe going down the line of some work experience before starting to trade,

    as we all have to start somewhere, but its determining whether your "biting more than you can chew", as the say!

    advice much appreciated, and would love to here from somebody who has been in a similar story,

    thanks for reading, philip
     
    Posted: Feb 24, 2015 By: moredoor Member since: Sep 12, 2013
    #1
  2. Dan Izzard

    Dan Izzard Digital Marketer Full Member

    Posts: 1,053 Likes: 306
    Hi Philip, thanks for posting. Sounds like you've jumped in at the deep end!

    It may be an idea to start off with jobs you know you can do and expand from there. I used to speak to a load of garden maintenance companies in a previous role writing copy).

    A few observations - a website and social pages are great, but once they are set up do not overestimate their worth, a personable friendly attitude and a good service will lead to the personal recommendations that you'll need to be a success.

    With the Facebook page and site, make sure you take pictures of almost every job you do (especially on sunny days!) - then you can have before and after shots for marketing materials.

    Finally, and I'm sure you've probably read this on other threads - make sure you research your local area and competition. Your business is limited by the distance you are willing to travel and the competition already out there.

    Best of luck, and let us know how you get on! :)
     
    Posted: Feb 25, 2015 By: Dan Izzard Member since: Nov 21, 2013
    #2
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  3. ParcelBright

    ParcelBright UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 97 Likes: 9
    Not much to add that Dan hasn't said already...

    Perhaps you could work with someone more experienced on jobs that you can't do yourself? Get them in just for the jobs you aren't confident about.
     
    Posted: Feb 26, 2015 By: ParcelBright Member since: Aug 11, 2014
    #3
  4. ethical PR

    ethical PR UKBF Legend Free Member

    Posts: 5,976 Likes: 1,338
    Hi Phillip

    Two areas to focus on - as you don't have experience why not offer yourself as a freelance or contractor to established gardening businesses so you can do the basics and also learn from them. Don't try and do work you don't have the experience for.

    Think about how you are going to market your business - think about why someone would use you rather than an experienced gardening service. Think about the best ways to reach the type of customer you want to target.

    I agree you need an online presence but think about how you are going to get people to visit your site. Advertising in gardening centres, local shops, via direct mail, local online forums and websites, on your van and through third party organisations will be a much better investment of your time and money.
     
    Posted: Feb 26, 2015 By: ethical PR Member since: Apr 19, 2009
    #4
  5. Simply Business

    Simply Business UKBF Enthusiast Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 648 Likes: 72
    Great advice from @Dan Izzard, @ParcelBright and @ethical PR - they've covered most of the bases really :)

    You are taking on a big challenge, but if you're enthusiastic, hard-working and a fast learner there's absolutely no reason that you can't be a success! Keep us updated with how you're getting on :)
     
    Posted: Feb 26, 2015 By: Simply Business Member since: Dec 1, 2009
    #5
  6. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 1,850 Likes: 622
    With small businesses like gardening, there is a much larger market for people willing to work hard and do the donkey work, than there is for those who really know their stuff. Generally speaking enthusiastic amateur gardeners like to do the pottering themselves, then get someone in to do the grunt work. You don't need to know the Latin Genus and Species of every plant in the garden to make good money.

    My advice would be to start by offering a service like fencing. You can invest in a few pieces of equipment to ensure you can get more work done in a day than the less specialised competition can, you can tailor your entire business to be most effective and efficient offering this service, and it's also a really easy niche to differentiate your offering in.

    Add to that the fact that there is always a huge amount of fencing work available, and you are on to a winner.
     
    Posted: Feb 26, 2015 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
    #6
  7. moredoor

    moredoor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 22 Likes: 1
    very helpful information thank you,

    was my idea to generally start off doing basic work, i.e grass and hedge cutting, patio cleaning etc

    It perhaps is a big step to take with no such experience within the trade, (currently paint sprayer in the motor trade) but if I could start off doing the basics and hopefully work my way up the ladder.

    would be quite interesting to see how many people do take such a big change in career paths to set up in business.



    as suggested I would like to do fencing work but haven't not any experience within this area it may be best to look into this at a later date, although I do believe there does seem to be a lot of work within that area



    Thanks again for your help guys...will keep this thread updated on the latest!
     
    Posted: Mar 3, 2015 By: moredoor Member since: Sep 12, 2013
    #7
  8. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 1,850 Likes: 622
    Where in the country are you?
     
    Posted: Mar 3, 2015 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
    #8
  9. moredoor

    moredoor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 22 Likes: 1
    In the north west- lancashire
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: moredoor Member since: Sep 12, 2013
    #9
  10. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 1,850 Likes: 622
    Do you mind if I send you a PM? I notice on your profile it says to ask first.
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
    #10
  11. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    Posts: 7,674 Likes: 1,593
    A couple of suggestions

    Always ask the customer exactly what they want done, if working near a flower bed "What exactly do you want removed or trimmed etc", dont just work as instructed "Tidy my garden and cut the grass" ask if any area you should leave alone

    Buy a couple of basic Gardening books so you know the time of the year to trim roses, trees etc and when and how to plant. It wont make you a expert overnight but you will soon learn the basics
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #11
  12. cjd

    cjd UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 15,114 Likes: 2,973
    People tend to sk their friends who they use - it's a word of mouth, local business. If it was me, I'd start by leafleting areas with large gardens and expensive housing.

    Also letting agents always need people to send into 'repair' tenanted property's gardens.

    You need a decent van with good signage and a pack of business cards to give out. When you get a customer leaflet all surrounding property.

    Eldery people need help with their gardens, mostly the heavy stuff, mowing and trimming - retirement areas could be good targets.

    Your very best form of advertising is yourself and the work you do. If you're reliable, good value, personable, trustworthy, hard working, clean and tidy and do a good job, you'll get work through recommendation and you'll soon have more than you'll be able to cope with.

    One tip - your best tool is a lawn trimmer, if the edges of a lawn are tidy, it looks like you've done a great job :)

    You need to find an economic way of disposing of garden waste - it can remove your profit if you're not careful.
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: cjd Member since: Nov 23, 2005
    #12
  13. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 1,850 Likes: 622
    Don't bother with letting agents. Doing work for them is a race to the bottom for trades who don't know how to market their business.

    Never use business cards, but definitely get yourself some leaflets.

    On the subject of strimming, make sure you always do it before you mow, not after (unless you want to look like a complete idiot).

    Don't worry too much about the price of waste. Green waste is very cheap to dispose of.
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
    #13
  14. moredoor

    moredoor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 22 Likes: 1
    Interesting information , working for letting agents has been a thought but would like to target work from Joe bloggs to start with, would letting agents not rather see a good established firm contacting them for work rather than a new one?

    More then welcome to send a message over!
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: moredoor Member since: Sep 12, 2013
    #14
  15. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    Posts: 7,674 Likes: 1,593
    Begs the question why, i have always trimmed after cutting
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #15
  16. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 1,850 Likes: 622
    If you strim before you mow, the mower picks up all the bits. If you mow them strim you make a mess on your freshly cut grass. In a domestic setting it doesn't make much difference, but commercially it can save you time, and make a better job. :)
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
    #16
  17. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 489 Likes: 151
    A website probably isn't a necessity just yet, and will actually be quite a big money/time sink if you're just starting out. Start with a Facebook group for now (also look at Streetlife). It's free and your target market is already there.

    Most of your business will come from referrals and just basically being in the right place at the right time. Knock on doors and canvas an area. A lot of people are lazy, and will happily pay someone to trim their lawn or hedges, especially if it's a good price. There was a guy I used to use all the time a few years back. He'd just walk around in the summer with just a petrol mower and a rake, knocking on doors or chatting to people in their gardens, offering to cut their grass for something like a pound a square foot. I used him all the time because it was convenient, reasonably priced, and it saved me a job.

    Save the money you'd spend on a site and invest it in essential tools and work wear. You may be doing a manual job, but there's no reason why you can't dress neatly. Get some polo t-shirts (the collar on these makes you look smarter than with a crew neck) printed up with your business name/contact details on the back.

    Knock up an A-board you can pop outside a garden or lean against a wall where you're working to advertise your services. You can make one for under a tenner with some scrap wood from a timber yard and some elbow grease and paint. Add a little section where you can secure some of your flyers to the board so passersby can take one.

    Give people an incentive to refer you, perhaps a small discount next time if they refer you to a friend/neighbour (and they actually use your service). Keep a note of the date you performed the maintenance in a little pocket book and then you know roughly when to pop back and see that customer again. You could also offer to pop back a week after maintenance just to check your work. They might have another job they need doing by then.

    It may sound a little callus, but you may also have a good chance of securing work from elderly residents as they're often incapable of doing it themselves (plus they're in on weekdays!). If my nan is anything to go by, they'll also have loads of friends/neighbours who'll also want to make use of your service.
     
    Posted: Mar 4, 2015 By: Paul Murray Member since: Nov 24, 2011
    #17