Only 25% of businesses survive for 15 years or more, as per the US Bureau of labor statistics (BLS). New technology is continually coming into the market. The governments come up with new regulations time-to-time, and customers’ buying patterns never remain the same.
All this is challenging for landscaping companies, especially those who have just begun their journey.
I will share the top 8 challenges in the landscaping business and how companies can overcome them. If you are a new entrepreneur who is building a landscaping business, this content will help you immensely. Let us begin.
8 Crucial Challenges in the Landscaping Industry With Their Solutions
Create a Plan
Most new entrepreneurs make the mistake of planning every business detail in their minds. They rely on inferior information that comes from assumptions instead of properly researched data. Also, it’s hard to commit to something that resides only in your mind and not on paper.
Your business plans have a 16% chance to succeed if you write them down compared to keeping everything in your mind. That’s what a study from Harvard business review says.
Experts believe that the planning process depends on both short-term and long-term goals. The short-term objectives focus on data-driven insights, while the long-term relies on a vision of how the industry will evolve in the future and the position it will dictate.
Evaluate your landscaping business from different perspectives at each level of this planning cone. Start asking the right questions to begin the evaluation process.
You can ask different questions for each of the business processes at the tactical stage. Let’s start with marketing.
How will you market your landscaping services? Will you focus on being:
- Most reliable
- Most creative
- Have high value
- The best
If you start with the cheapest, in the next 2-5 years, you can start marketing yourself as most reliable and convenient. It is just an example, as in the end, everything will depend on your goals.
When planning financially at the tactical stage, here is the question you can ask:
- How much income am I going to generate from the specific locality?
- Which service will net me the maximum profit, and how can I boost it further?
At the strategic level, you should create a plan on scalability with a revenue model. Check your service to observe:
- Who is buying from you?
- Which consumers do you want to target?
- How can you convince customers to subscribe to your services?
- What would be the cost impact of your services?
For long-term goals, identify the market forces that impact your industry, like customer behavior and technology. Use it to modernize your landscaping services.
Good leadership and the right decisions will make your business a success. Always remember this.
Hire Skilled Employees in Your Team
Finding like-minded people who can work on common goals with enthusiasm will be a challenge for new entrepreneurs. You should know that landscaping contractors are independent individuals who work with 4-5 staff members.
Every day will be different. Someday the team will be managing routine activities, and on another day, they will be working on safety guidelines and equipment preventive maintenance work.
Hence, your company needs employees that are multi-skilled and can handle every aspect of landscaping. They should have the willingness to collaborate with others. Most of the staff in the landscaping business are temporary workers. Hence, it will be the biggest challenge for your landscaping business to hire and retain them.
Here is what you can do to hire skilled employees in your team:
- Participate in industry associations to connect with professionals. Become a part of its policymaking.
- Create an ecosystem of skilled people. Build a rapport with other landscapers so that you can share the workload with them.
- Connect with colleges that offer landscaping courses. It will help you recruit the right talent with an in-depth understanding of landscaping at the ground level. Also, they will gain valuable experience by working with you.
Employee retention depends on the long-term work culture and business requirements. In landscaping businesses, there are two common challenges with employee retention programs.
Whom to Retain?
Landscaping is a seasonal business. There is going to be a requirement for snow scrapers in winter, but not in spring. Hence, retaining them for an entire year will be costly. Although, losing them means you will have to go through the pains of re-hiring snow scrapers when winter arrives again, which will also impact your budget.
Most landscaping companies rely on workforce management tools to check the performance of their employees. Also, to keep a database of landscaping contractors, temporary workers, and vendors. Such a database can help them immensely when they need additional staff.
You can use these tools to identify the skills of your employees and assess their on-site performance using a metric system. The leadership team can use it to evaluate performance based on skills and efficiency. There will also be no prejudice and biases in the evaluation.
How to Retain?
Offer your team rewards in the form of bonuses and incentives. Recognize and appreciate their work.
DeSantis, the owner of DeSant landscapes in Portland, sends flowers to employee’s families in life events such as birth or death. He even sends hand-written cards to his workers on their birthdays with lottery tickets.
Rewards and recognition will help you build an employee-friendly work culture. That way, you can retain people who are a great addition to your landscaping business.
There is a continuous advancement in landscaping technology and techniques.
Landscaping businesses should ensure that both their freshers and seasonal workers fully understand how to use the latest equipment.
Conduct a training exercise on time-to-time. It will prepare your workers for the upcoming season. They will be ready in advance before the season arrives. Evaluate their expertise, and focus on enhancing their skills further through these sessions. Make your workers aware of the latest market trends.
Your training course should focus on the role, accountability, and competency model. It should make the workers more skilled and your landscaping business unique from the competitors.
With good training, your company will be ready for the times ahead. Those working under you will understand your business goals and provide quality landscaping services to the customers.
Attracting New Customers
Dan Lok, a Canadian entrepreneur and social influencer, says that most businesses interact with only the top 3% of the customers in the marketplace. These top 3% are consumers who need landscaping services at a given moment.
But there is a large section of potential customers who don’t need the services presently, although they may require them in the future.
Dan has categorized the types of customers in hierarchical levels within a pyramid. He explains what it takes to tap into the lower levels of this pyramid. The landscape business is location-specific. Here, I will share the three-phased model to attract customers from different levels of the pyramid. It will boost the conversion rate of your business.
Companies should use the discovery stage to determine the most effective customer acquisition channel. They can also use organic search or referral programs to acquire new customers. Both offer excellent results.
Although, companies shouldn’t depend on just one source for attracting new consumers. Open up new channels while simultaneously strengthening the existing ones.
Keith Kalfas, a landscape business owner, and social influencer shared seven steps to advertising and starting a lawn care business successfully. Here, I will share it with you. Use it to take your marketing game to the next level.
Social Media: Begin by creating pages on different social media platforms. Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, and Pinterest will be immensely beneficial as your business expands.
Search Engine Optimization(SEO): Develop your business website and promote it on Google and other popular search engines.
Google My Business: You can list your business here and check customer inquiries right away. Collect the customer feedback and use it to build your brand.
Email advertising: Utilize marketing tools like Mailchimp and send promotional emails to consumers. Observe the results.
Referral Programs: Contact your consumers and local business community like window cleaners, plumbers, and electricians to build a strong referral program.
Don’t stop after you created pages or websites and set up the accounts. The goal is to create an omnichannel brand experience on every platform because some consumers may prefer using Facebook, while others use emails frequently.
Be available on those platforms where over 80% of your consumers hang out. Deliver the same kind of experience on each of those platforms.
Develop a platform-specific brand identity. Talk about your unique selling proposition, share case studies and consumer testimonials to validate your brand. Try to convince them about the value proposition that your business can add to their property.
You can also design banners, pamphlets, and cards. They will be unique brand materials, which will attract the buyer’s attention on the spot.
A great experience is where your services solved consumers’ problems and added value to their life.
To give this kind of experience, you can provide a trial of your services. That way, consumers can see what kind of value they will get if they chose your business. It won’t burn your pocket, don’t worry.
CB insights report says that negative cash flow is the reason behind the failure in 29% of startups. Most organizations celebrate when they declare high profits during financial statements. But, just focusing on profits isn’t enough.
Focus on maintaining a solid cash flow at all three levels:
- Operating activities
- Investing activities
- Financing activities
These are essential to your organization’s financial health.
You can speed up your invoice to payment workflow. It will strengthen your cash flow. Let me share few tips to help you achieve that:
- Use a delivery acceptance letter. It will ensure that you have proof regarding consumers getting specific assistance from you.
- Follow-up regularly on email (for validation and checking purposes)
- Check the payment history of your consumers.
- Issue clear invoices with specific terms and conditions to your consumers.
- Encourage direct cash payments and charge for late fees.
You can use invoice and payment management software like FieldCamp to speed up the payment process. Keep a time-stamped record of every payment activity that occurred in your organization. With this software, you can observe day-to-day expenses, which will enable you to manage your cash flow efficiently.
Regulations and Government Guidelines
Landscaping managers have to follow many government guidelines and regulations. There is green industry regulation at the state and municipality levels regarding pesticides and fertilizer use or equipment and pollution levels. All this is a big challenge.
These regulations are costly for businesses. Many landscaping contractors often had to acquire new vehicles or use equipment only for a specific timeframe to adhere to pollution levels.
Planting, yard waste disposal too have similar guidelines. Then there are pesticide ordinances and taxes, which are highly expensive.
So, what can contractors do in such situations?
- First, get in touch with your state-level associations. You can create your lobby and influence the decisions on essential issues.
- Create a knowledge base to help your workers stay updated to the latest regulatory standards.
- Managers can conduct post-work reviews. Here workers will perform checklist-based inspections. It will ensure that they have followed the rules and have proof like images and videos that shows compliance.
Most landscapers face two biggest challenges when maintaining equipment for landscaping.
- As business is seasonal, keeping the equipment safe and in working condition is a challenge.
- This field of work requires a variety of equipment. Hence, it becomes difficult for a manager to ensure its proper usage and maintenance regularly.
If you want to improve equipment uptime, come up with a proactive maintenance strategy. Use landscaping management software to monitor, record, and track the equipment.
Set a configurable preventive maintenance schedule to notify your workers about upcoming maintenance.
Simplify The Way You Manage Your Landscaping Business
FieldCamp makes it easy to create job schedules, keep track of customer details, staff management, payment process, and invoice management.
- Vehicle ($27,000 – $36,000)
- Utility Trailer ($800 – $5,000)
- Storage Space ($50 – $200/month)
- Commercial Lawn Mower ($1,000 – $2,600)
- Trimmers, Edgers, Blowers ($200 – $500 each)
- Spreaders and Sprayers ($35 – $70)
- Landscaping Tools ($5,000 – $6,000)
Here is how you can get started:
- Build a landscaping referral program
- Invest in time-saving, damage-reducing equipment
- Leverage social media advertising
- Brand your specific services
- Get involved in your community
- Use your website for lead generation
Businesses are easy to start, challenging to maintain, and very hard to sustain and grow in the long term. You can come with better planning for the operational and financial management of your company with FieldCamp – an Easy-to-use field service management software. Adopt a forward-thinking approach and sign up for a free trial today!