If you have green fingers and a penchant for gardening, you may have considered starting a gardening business. This is a good plan because the industry is growing at a rate of 2.8% per year, while revenue has reached £4.5 billion. What’s more is that the industry employs more than 65,000 people in approximately 17,000 businesses.
Running your own gardening business comes with many advantages. These include reliable and regular work, the ability to develop good relationships with your customers, outdoor work with flexible hours, a good potential for earning, and of course, the fact that the industry is practically recession proof.
With this in mind, in this article, we show you how to start a gardening business to help you on your journey to business ownership and success. Let’s get started.
In this article:
- Understanding the essentials of starting a gardening business
- What tools and equipment do you need for your landscaping business?
- Do you need any qualifications to be a gardener?
- How do you build a solid client base?
- How much does it cost to start a gardening business?
- Should you consider franchising?
- In conclusion
Understanding the essentials of starting a gardening business
If you want to know how to set up a gardening business, there are some essentials that you’ll need to have in place before you get started. Here are just a few considerations to bear in mind when you start the planning process:
The location where you will be offering your gardening services matters. You can choose to serve residential areas, commercial areas or a combination of the two. Think about serving your local communities and becoming well-known and liked by your customers there before branching out further. This will also ensure you stay close to home and do not have to spend excessively on costs of fueling your vehicles.
Unique selling point
Your gardening business needs to have a unique selling point or something that sets you apart from your competitors. This can mean the prices that you charge for the services or the types of services themselves. For example, lawn mowing is different from tree trimming and each service requires different tools, skill sets and will have different associated costs.
In gardening, seasons are everything. Although it may be considered a seasonal business, you can spread your work throughout the year such as pruning and planting in the winter or lawn mowing in the summer or spring.
Costs and anticipated revenue
Of course, it’s also essential that you work out how much you will charge for your services (fixed price or cost per hour with a minimum call out charge), what your start-up costs will be as well as what revenue you expect to generate over the course of your first year as your business gets off the ground.
What tools and equipment do you need for your landscaping business?
Some of the tools and equipment you will need for your gardening business include the following:
- Hedge trimmer
- Safety equipment (such as gloves, safety goggles, helmets)
- Hard-wearing uniform including steel toe-capped boots
- A first-aid kit (that includes treatment for insect bites)
- A vehicle or van that is branded
- Cement mixer (for landscaping)
- Chainsaw or stump grinder (for tree surgery)
Also worth noting is that you’ll need storage space for your tools and equipment and if you are planning on renting out space for this purpose, such a cost should be calculated as a part of your monthly expenses. The costs of these tools can easily go upwards of £3,000.
Also important to note is that your tools will probably need to be replaced every three years as a result of wear and tear, breakages, getting lost or something else. These replacement costs should also be factored in.
Do you need any qualifications to be a gardener?
What sets professional gardeners apart from the amateurs is the qualifications they possess. Even though there are no minimum criteria required to start a garden maintenance business in the UK, formal training and qualifications will go a long way to setting you apart from the crowd.
Becoming a member of The Gardeners Guild requires at least one horticultural qualification at level 2 Certificate or above. In addition, they also offer affordable qualifications. Meanwhile, The Plant School offers a low-impact course in plant knowledge. Examples of qualifications that you could acquire include:
- Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture and Amenity Horticulture
- Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture
- Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture
How do you build a solid client base?
The types of potential clients that you can serve through your gardening business are immense. They range from large private gardens and grounds to small/medium domestic gardens, landlords/tenants, estate and letting agents, housing and residents associations, property management companies, schools, local councils for public spaces and everything in between.
As such, the potential for business growth is immense. But how do you build a solid client base? There is no single answer to this question. What it takes is a cohesive and comprehensive business development strategy that involves:
- Cold calling, setting up meetings, reaching out via email, etc.
- Word-of-mouth advertising (while offering referral bonuses)
- Building an online presence through a website and social media presence, and
- Using traditional marketing techniques such as pamphlets or flyers
- Signing up to be a member of British Association of Landscape Industries and/or The Association of Professional Landscapers or other relevant associations to publish and showcase your business profile, and
- Offering discounted services to attract new customers who will then continue to employ you and later pay the full price.
How much does it cost to start a gardening business?
And now we reach the ultimate question: what are the gardening business start-up costs? In short, you can look to spend as little as £3,000, although many opportunities out there will set you back between £7,000 and £10,000.
There are several deciding factors to consider when it comes to estimating your gardening business start-up costs. Among these include:
- They type and quality of the service you plan to offer and how much you will charge for these
- The cost of your equipment, tools, vehicles and vehicle branding
- Your and your staff’s uniforms
- Marketing and advertising costs
- Basic domestic bills
- Regular professional overheads
- Licenses such as a waste carriers license, chainsaw license, use of pesticides, etc.
- Annual overheads (such as your MOT, vehicle servicing, tool servicing, tyres, etc)
- Maintenance costs and depreciation costs.
Should you consider franchising?
If all of the above sounds like more effort than you have the energy for, you might consider a business-in-a-box solution when you own a gardening franchise.
Some of the benefits of working within a franchise system include initial and ongoing training as well as continued support, regular work and a solid client base that you can tap into, an industry-recognised brand name, assistance with your marketing and advertising needs, a solid and profitable business model and a whole lot more.
These factors combined make franchising a wonderful opportunity worth considering, especially for those who want to be in business for themselves but not by themselves.
Overall, the benefits of working through a gardening franchise far outweigh starting up a gardening business from scratch. You’re also much more likely to receive funding from a lender as they look more favourably on franchises as opposed to independent start-ups.
This, in addition to a broad range of other perks and benefits make gardening franchises a worthwhile investment, offering a solid stream of income while working with an established brand.
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