Lay the groundwork for your landscaping business with a solid business plan that covers the essentials for smooth and seamless operations and expectations.
We’re pretty sure Ben Franklin wasn’t a landscaper, but his advice still rings true across the trades businesses of today: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
All businesses can benefit from having a plan in place outlining how things should run and landscaping is no different.
In fact, local and small businesses can massively benefit from a bit of forward thinking and the landscaping industry isn’t getting any less crowded, with market size growing 2.5% each year in the U.S.
Writing a landscaping company business plan often sounds about as exciting as watching grass grow. But 21.5% of small businesses fail before they make it through a single year, so putting in the effort with a little upfront strategy could save you disappointment and financial losses later.
Keep in mind, business plans have other benefits, aside from possibly helping you avoid catastrophic failure. The right business plan can also:
- streamline how you choose to run things
- set expectations
- create consistency
And all of these advantages can lead to sales, success, and steady growth.
So let’s take a look at what a plan includes, what to consider, and how you can put one together with limited hassle.
What is a landscaping business plan?
A business plan is a document that outlines the core goals, objectives, and operating structure of your company.
It usually details the problem that your business addresses and how you expect to provide a solution to customers. In doing so, a proper business plan also takes into account the resources, funds, and cash flow expectations to make sure your landscaping company can run smoothly…and make money.
A landscaping company business plan is one that focuses on, you guessed it, the specific needs and structure of a landscaping business.
We’ll get into detail later with what to include, but a solid plan usually covers:
- Branding a company name and mission
- Defining ideal customers and tasks
- Outlining a specific local service area
- Naming exact services and inclusions
- Detailed market analysis
- Listing equipment and related expenses
- Summarizing financial needs to be profitable
- Proposing marketing tactics to generate sales
What are the leading causes of landscape business failure?
With small business and entrepreneurship, there is always a bit of risk that something could go wrong.
While you can’t prevent every unexpected issue, having a solid business plan can vastly limit several leading causes of business demise. Here are 3 leading causes of business failure your own landscaping business plan can mitigate against.
#1 – Operational inefficiencies
You might not think money can go missing, but you’d be surprised.
Without a plan for how to monitor, follow up, and manage payments, invoicing, and accounting, good luck not losing track of the figures.
A business plan can detail everything you want or need to know without losing income for finished jobs. And with 48% of customers late paying their bills, you are going to want a system in place to recover as much of that as possible.
#2 – Lagging sales
Many local landscapers think all they have to do is set up shop and the sales will pour in. Even if there is a need in your area for premium lawn care, if you don’t have a marketing plan, you probably won’t have sales.
Your business will fail if new business doesn’t come in at a rate faster than what you’re spending. For new businesses paying up front for equipment and transportation, a strong plan can help you hit the ground running.
#3 – Inaccurate pricing
If you price a lawn mowing service at $50 to undercut your competition, you’ll certainly attract customers. But if it costs you $80 when you add up time, payroll, equipment usage, and gas for your truck and mower, you officially LOST money on the job.
A business plan can help you accurately understand the cost of operating your business. This helps you price competitively without leaving yourself in the red.
How to write a landscaping business plan
The goal of your business plan is to make it applicable to your needs and actionable so you can follow through on it.
No need to overcomplicate things.
As with any larger undertaking, you can tackle it if you break it down to smaller steps. Every business and plan will be different depending on specific goals, services, location, size, and more. But all business plans share several elements that cover the essentials for effective operations.
This is the introduction to your business with a summary of the plan. It might work best to write this part last, so you have an idea of the sections and content to cover.
Executive summaries are useful when you have to present your idea to other business partners, lenders, or investors. If you need a loan to get started, the bank might ask you for a copy of your business plan. If you don’t need funding, you can still write the summary and refer to it yourself when you need to confirm you’re still on track.
Now the fun part!
Name your business, throw down a catchy slogan if the mood strikes, and describe exactly what the goal of your landscape company is.
You should be sharing why you’re starting the business in the first place:
- Are you filling a need for landscaping services in an underserved area?
- Will you only use sustainable and eco friendly products to help battle climate change?
- Are you going for luxury hardscapes and planning to stand out with a flair for design?
Detail it all in this section of your landscaping business plan.
Be sure to name your targets (residential vs. commercial) and how you expect to service them. When do you plan to start? How many clients do you expect to have? What is your timeline for success?
These are the types of questions you’ll need to ask yourself (don’t worry, we’ll show you how to answer these in later sections).
Now that you know what you want to offer and to whom, you have to find out who ELSE is doing this in your area.
You can start by searching for key terms and similar services in your area to get the lay of the land.
A more robust option is to conduct a SWOT analysis, consisting of:
This approach will walk you through a series of questions to ask and reflect on, answering with stats, measures, and actions.
Do your research and be thorough. You can learn a lot from checking out how the competition is spreading the word about their services through specific marketing tactics. List your competitors and key details including:
- Services they provide
- Years in business
- Unique offerings or features
- Service area size and location
- Marketing strategy
- Pricing for core offerings
You will use this information to decide if you should compete for customers in a certain location or service. It’s also extremely helpful when you start pricing your own offerings, keeping you from pricing yourself out of work.
Landscaping services provided
Landscaping may seem straightforward, but the number of specialties and offerings can be overwhelming.
Aside from the pillars of general maintenance, lawn care, and gardening services, what else will you offer your customers? Keep in mind what your competition is (or isn’t doing) when you make your list.
This information can be used later on your website (see next section) to make it clear to customers exactly what they can call you for help with. You will also use this to outline financials. For every single service you want to offer, write out the following (you’ll need it later):
- Description of the service
- Steps to complete the project
- Resources required
- Equipment to be used
- Typical costs for materials
- Estimated time spent
You know who you want as customers and what you want to offer them. Now you need a plan for how to share the news at a local level. Start by describing each goal such as you get new customers, keep current customers, or find ways to get repeat business.
Every landscape marketing tactic you go on to describe should be a way to achieve one of these goals. Marketing plans need to include the method of advertising, information needed, costs required, and benefits at a minimum.
We put together an Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing which can be a great resource for creating the marketing portion of your landscaping business plan. In summary, you can consider including these essential local marketing approaches.
Even if you only have a few pages for Home, About, Services, and Contact, having a website can work wonders.
Customers expect businesses to have a website, and Google makes it easier for people to find you if you have a site to link back to.
Don’t have a landscaping website? You can use self-service website building platforms like Pedestal to create a site in less than an hour.
Google My Business Listing (GMB)
When people want to know about a company, they take to the internet.
Google My Business is a FREE way to get your company listed on the world’s most popular and well-known search engine.
You can create or claim a listing and update it with your business details. When people search for your company or those providing similar services in their area, they will be more likely to find your information.
Of course, there are ways to optimize these listings and get the most out of the citation. (Did we mention it’s FREE?) Bookmark our Google My Business Listings Guide and follow along when you’re ready to get started.
Landscape advertising can come in many forms, from paid local web ads to event sponsorships.
Promoting your business at a local level can help create brand awareness and direct people back to your contact info for easy access. Some of the most popular include:
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads: Show info and links to your website in Google search results
- Promoted social media posts: Pay to target users in your area with special content
- Local publications: Check newspapers for ad placements in print and online
- Direct mailings: Send your own print piece or advertise in a MoneyMailer
Connecting with your local community can be a great way to build trust and a larger customer base.
Consider creating profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to start and make sure you add current, accurate information so people can find and interact with you. You can share project stories, highlight team members, and even include special offers. Just be sure to monitor the accounts and respond to any questions or reviews.
This is where all of your hard work in the previous sections adds up.
You’ll be able to use your company’s financial info to confirm how much you should charge for services, how to scale, and if or when you can afford to expand or take on employees.
Common inclusions for a financial plan are:
- Income statements
- Balance sheets
- Cash flow statements
- Costs and profit projections
- Equipment costs
- Start-up and one-time fees
- Recurring expenses
- Payroll estimates
- Insurance overhead
With the right planning (and maybe a few adjustments to your plans), you can ensure a strong start with an eye toward positive earnings.
TRADIE DIGITAL TIP: Consider hiring an accountant to chime in and collect the most important figures if you’re looking to save time and effort.
5 FREE resources for ready-to use business plan templates
We’ve got great news!
Since business plans share so many common elements, there are plenty of templates available online for you to use as a starting point.
Here are 5 FREE resources that can act as a jumping point and offer landscaping business plan templates you can start using today.
||Why We LOVE It…
||Includes an outline with sample explanations for each section
||Details descriptions of services and include in-depth analysis examples
|Anatomy of a Business Plan
||Demonstrates marketing and financial plans in great detail
||Includes sample content right down to equipment purchases
||Offers a variety of downloadable, formatted templates you can fill in yourself
Are you ready to groom your landscaping business for success with the right business plan?
A great business plan comes down to being as prepared as possible.
Taking the time to plan out your goals, and the processes and pricing to meet those goals, gives you a better chance at success and profit.
Business plans can grow and evolve over time, so be sure to check back and make sure you are following the plans you outlined for yourself.
Is your company growing or exceeding expectations? Maybe it’s time to craft another 5-year plan.
Are you missing the mark? Use the business plan to try to identify where you need to get back to basics.
A landscaping company business plan can be used to entice investments, bring on partners, or show suppliers they should work with you longer term. But the ultimate use is for you to measure your goals and plan for your future with confidence.
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