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Newbie Advice :)

Hello everyone, 

Sorry to be another "Newbie" i have been looking on here for a while, getting some valuable ideas.

Here is where i am at, I currently work in lovely IT yes its a guaranteed salary but its not for me 14 years too long. :)

While working in IT i have also been the building manager/caretaker i have a experience with Strimmers, Chain Saws (Small- Medium) tree work, lawnmowers, etc.

I have a list of tools which i am going to purchase: Blower, Strimmer, Lawn Mower (Honda HRX476 QXE), Chainsaw, all Stihl equipment. 

I have also setup flyers, business cards, A Board, and i am going to sort a van out this next week.

I am going out tonight to price up my first job passed on from another gardener who is in another town, 

My question is am i on the right track? What kind of work do you get during the long winter months?

Thanks so much everyone!

Rob

 

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Replies

  • PRO

    Hi Robert

    Welcome to LJN and good luck with your new venture.

    I am sure you'll get some very good responses and offers of help from fellow Juicers.

    Please do also use the search facility at the top of the site as there are literally thousands (13,340 to be precise) of forum topics covering a multitude or different subjects.

    Here's one, for example: http://landscapejuicenetwork.com/forum/topics/as-a-garden-maintenan...

    As a garden maintenance contractor can you manage to keep working throughout winter or do you take…
    One aspect of garden maintenance that puts me off is that it is not seen as a profession that can be carried out all year round. Poor weather is some…
  • PRO

    Greetings Robert and welcome to the forum. First thing I would say is slow down n the equipment purchasing. See how thing pan out in the first few weeks and try to but tools when they are really needed.

    Yes I would say you are on the right track. I, like you, am a one man business. I've been going  for 2.5 years, although I've had years of previous experience of self employment. So I understand the pro's and con's you face. I would heartily recommend Paul Powers book "How to start up and run a gardening business" which is packed with sound advice.

    You don't say if you have taken any gardening courses. For instance are you confident in correct pruning of flowering shrubs etc? would you be able to advise customers? Main thing is, if you don't know or aren't sure of something don't B.S. them.

    When pricing up work sit down and go through all the stages of the work that's needed, be realistic, make sure your time and materials are taken into account.

    I really hope things go well for you Robert. Keep coming back to this great site and keep asking advice. It's so good getting other peoples views and advice on things.

    Best of luck, I'm sure you will really enjoy the work.

    • PRO

      Thank you Philip and Edward for taking the time to help.

      I will take a look at the book you have suggested and get it, i am sure it will help.

      No i will be honest i haven't taken any courses on this at the moment, as September comes i will be looking for some night school courses (if they do them).

      What skill i have i have gained working on my farm when i was much younger, we use to have 60 acre and a huge garden, many hours on the old Snapper ... :)

      I have just been to look at my first job, i explained my situation to the customer who was understanding that i am new to this.

      I am going to go away tomorrow and as you said sit down and price up what she wants me to do. 

      Can you think of any other books that will help me learn how to correctly prune flowers, shrubs etc.

      Thanks once again its very helpful.

      Rob

      • PRO
        Join the rhs.
        The monthly magazine is really useful with tips on stuff that needs doing in that time period
  • PRO
    <p>Hi Robert, wishing you all the best for the new venture. Some things off the top of my head.....</p>
    <p>1. Don't but anything until you really need it. When you do need something consider good condition 2nd hand rather than new as you can pick up for a lot less when cash flow needs are presumably high.</p>
    <p>2. List out the full range of gardening services you will offer, focus on the highest return with the tools you have and can afford to buy. Don't deviate or diversify too much when starting as you spread yourself too thin on tools and experience. Do what you are confident in doing first.&nbsp;Look at you local competitor gardeners and see what services they offer. Can you offer something better, different or specialist to stand out (your USP)?</p>
    <p>3. Make sure you know your business costs - don't assume, get them onto a spreadsheet so you know monthly outgoings for the business and your personal income needs. Check out the <a href="http://api.ning.com/files/lET3ABatHUmpjkpZL04fZ5YBAHBOlp0z4y498ADOI...*7m5VqpjXQcaJML4zQcHnZL16od/CopyofHourlyRateChargeoutsheet.xls" target="_self">really useful spreadsheet here</a>. An excellent starting point that you can easily adapt to firm up with internal hourly or daily rate. Read up on the many threads here on pros of moving from an hourly rate to fixed price jobs.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>4. Pick a target market/type of customers/location for your services. How far will you travel? Key to have that locked down otherwise you can go chasing work too far away that eats into profit.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>5. Marketing - in part defined by the above points 2, 3 &amp; 4. How many customers do you need in year one to turn a profit? Base your initial and ongoing marking around that for instance. Until you get several customers who can recommend you, word of mouth will take many months to pickup. Consider too that Spring time is the prime marketing period for gardening services. Plan for 2018. For Winter work start thinking hard on that now and market/advertise accordingly. If you leave it past late August you may have missed the boat. You can aim to secure Winter work with customers such as fence/shed painting and suggest best to do then as vegetation is less and making it easier to paint, etc. If you can afford it consider Google Adwords to generate the all important initial leads. Flyers are good for starting out. Cheap to get made and when you have more time on your hands deliver to your key target customer areas. Try to do it on sunnier days and I have found Sundays can be good when most are at home possibly out in the garden when your flyer can focus their mind on some help you can provide to them.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>6. When seeing new customers for quotes, you have to be realistic on your capabilities and experiences to deliver a service but be mindful of going too far in stating you have just started as it may put some off. Be honest if asked how long in business but assure customers you have skills, tools, insurances, etc to deliver.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>7. Make sure you get public liability insurance before trading and register with Inland Revenue as self employed.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>8. Phil has a great easy to digest e-book on starting up a gardening/landscape business. Well worth the few £ as part of the learning.&nbsp;<a rel=nofollow href="http://landscapejuicenetwork.com/profiles/blogs/starting-a-gardenin...; target="_self">Find out here.</a></p>
    <p>9. Get Pro Membership for Landscape Juice. The small annual fee is seriously worth it many times over for the helpful advice you can receive or read on old posts. Pro members are more open to discussing more sensitive business matters on a non-public forum (the BOG). &nbsp;</p>
    <p>10. Despite the above, don't get too bogged down in detail. Have a clear plan of what you need to achieve and get out there! If you are good at what you do, work will come your way.&nbsp;</p>
    <p>Good luck!&nbsp;</p>
    http://api.ning.com/files/lET3ABatHUmpjkpZL04fZ5YBAHBOlp0z4y498ADOIZPZC6VbSkAEx-9BuggXVjztDOkcr%2A7…
    • PRO

      Thank you very much Russell,

      I have a good few point which i will definitely take away from this.

      I have been working on the marketing with a local company who is sorting out my cards, leaflets, and an A board. I have laid out on a map where i wan't to focus my work initially.

      As for quotes, i have just submitted my first quote for customer, she wants garden tided up and some hanging baskets, and a couple of plants in a few pots. 

      Now i did fully explain that i am new to quoting she was ok, she just asked for some photos of jobs I've done before. i have done a number of big jobs which i will post here, 

      Thanks once again.

      Rob

      As you can see this last garden/drive was a large job, i did everything you see from removing the old garden, building a new wall. Design and build the corner planter, added drainage to stop the house from flooding (Which has now been proven to work :) )

      http://api.ning.com/files/lET3ABatHUmpjkpZL04fZ5YBAHBOlp0z4y498ADOIZPZC6VbSkAEx-9BuggXVjztDOkcr%2A7…
      • PRO
        Looks nice. I'm a bit confused though as i thought you said this was your first quote?
        http://api.ning.com/files/lET3ABatHUmpjkpZL04fZ5YBAHBOlp0z4y498ADOIZPZC6VbSkAEx-9BuggXVjztDOkcr%2A7…
        • PRO
          Sorry, I should of said these were the dreaded "family and friends" work no money just helping out.

          :-)
          http://api.ning.com/files/lET3ABatHUmpjkpZL04fZ5YBAHBOlp0z4y498ADOIZPZC6VbSkAEx-9BuggXVjztDOkcr%2A7…
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