View Full Version : Starting a Landscaping Business
09-05-2002, 06:17 PM
I'm thinking about starting a landscaping business with my father-in-law. We get along well and between the both of us we have enough equipment to get started. My father-in-law already has a nursery (not a very big one) but it will help with obtaining plants. We don't have all the equipment needed though. I was wondering what else do we need to get started? How should we advertise? How far out should we advertise? How can we draw customers in? Do we need any special licenses? Should we take any special classes? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
09-05-2002, 06:34 PM
Please refer to the business forum and read about setting up written agreements for starting a business with a partner. The next thing is know-how. Experience can be a tough teacher but it works. As far as licenses go, check with your local gov't. There are professional industry associations that you can join to help with learning your way. In the meantime, Welcome to Lawnsite and rummage around for the answers to lots of questions. The search feature at the top of the page will help.
The first thing I would worry about is demand. What services do people want in your area that is in short supply that you can provide? Remember that landscaping is largely a idustry driven by people's need to keep up with the Jonses. If most of the Jonses have little in the way of certain types of landscaping, chances are not very strong that you can make a living doing it. I would be careful not to try to take on creating an industry, but rather fill a growing need.
Many begin with mowing and maintenance because it is relatively simple and it gets you seen and introduced to people that may also have other needs. As it grows, however, it has a pretty high overhead to return. That is in the form of a lot of money invested in equipment per man hour.
While a wheel barrow, shovels, and rakes may be all you need to do plantings that you will make money by marking up the material and charging for labor. ...if you can get enough work.
The Good Earth
09-05-2002, 11:21 PM
You do not want to go into business with a partner. Dude, trust me on this. You will be much happier flying solo rather than pulling dead weight along. At some point in time there will be a disagreement. Then the whole relationship matrix changes.
I have my landscaping business by myself and own a carry-out with my father. It takes all that I have some days to not kill him and take my time in the pen!!! :D
Your relationship will be much better with your father-in-law if you just remain intersted in each others business. Help him grow his nursery by making your landscape venture work. You scratch his back and he scratches yours.
Just my opinion, however, and I could be wrong.
09-08-2002, 11:39 PM
Yes, partners are tricky. I'd go with Good Earth on that one. Also, you will need to spend a lot of time in this business dealing with all kinds of people. Good guys, nasty ones, and of course the Jekyl and Hyde type. For me, people are the toughest part of the business. The work is great, the money is good, but the people oh man watch out!!
As for actual practical advice, use lawn signs if you can. They will be your best (and cheap - see www.flashsigns.com) advertising, after word of mouth. I've also learned that if a customer wants to save money by cutting corners, you should walk away from the job. Because when the sh*t flies, they will conveniently forget that it was their idea to cut corners. Quality is your best advertisment and it brings you higher profits in the long run.
09-10-2002, 02:53 PM
Thanks everyone for all the replies. They have all been helpful. However, my father-in-law doesn't really want to run the nursery. He's more interested in the landscaping. He wants his wife and my wife to run the nursery while me and him run the landscaping. I do agree that we should start out small. Maybe yard maintenance first to get our name out there. But if we establish a yard maintenance business, how would we get into the landscaping part of it. I guess we could do both. What I meant by equipment was small tractors and most of the attachments and then all the small stuff like shovels, wheelbarrows, etc. My dad even has a dumptruck that we could use. This is the best site that I have found on the internet that has to do with landscaping. Any more advice would be great.
09-10-2002, 03:49 PM
I currently own a wholesale/retail greenhouse. The county that we are in is growing rapidly with residential development. We want to start to shift to retail greenhouse/landscape design and installation. My request centers around how to get customers. Most of the people that come to our retail just want a few shrubs planted. I have a North Carolina master gardener who runs the retail, the customers really like her. We advertise in several small local newspapers and soon will start on the weather channel in our county. But we don't seem to generate any good leads.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Mark in Charlotte North Carolina
It is very difficult to get a design business going without offeing the installation as well. People have confidence in dealing with a company whose built work they have seen. They also perceive difficulties in a build company interpreting someone else's plan. They tend to go to one stop shopping. They are just more comfortable with it unless it is a very recognizable name in a high end design situation.
The road to design only is through desing/build. But, you won't want to down size once you invest and establish it. ...my opinion.
Design only firms usually start not from the ground up, but by a designer that is known leaving a company to start his own.
09-14-2002, 12:52 AM
Make sure you have a good pair (or 2) of gloves. Garden tools of course, too. Until you get bigger, you can rent most anything you will need. Don't start buying up a bunch of stuff until buisness is on its way.
The lawn care side is a good way to get started. It's easier to get these customers and then you can let them know you also do landscaping.
Always remember: Bad news travels faster than good news, so whatever you start out doing, do it well. :cool: Good luck.
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