Dan never knew that he would be orchestrating a ten-man-band five years ago when he packed in his internet sales job in favour of a mower and a van. But since, he has progressively grown his business thanks to acute attention to detail and very happy customers. From mowing lawns to now landscaping and designing, he is now taking on £20,000-scale jobs in Somerset and only laying quality products from manufacturers such as Stone Market and Millboard.
We asked Amanda, Westhill Garden & Landscaping Ltd’s Admin Director whether she thought that the horticultural industry had reached a plateau due to the decline in the housing market. She told me that in actual fact, the plummet in house prices is working in their favour. They have found that people are generally choosing to stay put and instead are investing in their houses which they often buy with a simple blanket garden and strip of decking.
We then proceeded to ask the current “big” economic question: How do you think Brexit will affect you, and how are you preparing for it?
Much to my surprise, Amanda informed me that they are expanding their business in anticipation for the country’s unknown future. They have recently employed an additional team member, Lucy, to take over much of Amanda’s admin duties to enable her to drive the business forward through extra marketing to widen their radius, to then expand their range of customers and the density of the projects on offer.
Briefly describe your business:
West Hill is a Landscaping and Garden maintenance company providing high quality and professional work in Somerset.
Now, introduce yourself:
Daniel and Amanda are both directors of West Hill Garden & Landscaping Services Ltd. Daniel's role in the company is building landscaping projects, quoting jobs and overseeing jobs on site as well as many day to day tasks that come with running a business. Amanda's role is invoicing, day to day administration tasks, scheduling and business development.
Typically what type of client do you deliver your services to?
Do you carry out all aspects of landscaping / gardening or do you engage with other companies / what is the range of services you supply?
We carry out all aspects of garden & commercial maintenance and landscaping, however we sub contract in a tree surgeons and metal workers when required.
How long have you been doing this?
How many staff do you employ?
We employ 8 staff members.
Define the best attributes of what you do?
We employ fully qualified horticulturists and skilled landscapers ensuring we provide the best service with skilled, tested employees. We aim for 100% customer satisfaction.
What made you want to become a landscaping business type?
The love of creating outdoor spaces from start to finish and seeing the joy that customers get from their gardens.
What route have you taken to get to your current position (i.e. college; self-taught; mentoring)?
Daniel spent 10 years training with a stonemason and learning the art of perfection before going to collage to gain a qualification in building techniques. Most of Daniel's landscaping experience is made up from years of practical hands on construction and applied to hard landscaping.
What is the most effective form of publicising your business to date?
Word of Mouth
What gives you most pride in your job?
When a project is completed, and the customers’ exceptions are blown away or receiving emails/phone calls praising the guys work!
What irks you most about the landscaping and horticulture industry?
We feel the Landscaping industry needs to be regulated, equivalent to other industries like the plumbing industry. We believe the APL are trying to lobby this in parliament and yes we would like to be part of that change
Do TV gardening shows inspire you or are they unrealistic?
TV shows can be inspiring but are normally unrealistic to the customers’ expectations of pricing. It would be nice to see budgets for projects mentioned on tv.
How is your working week split? / How many jobs to you deal with per day?
The landscapers deal with one job from start to finish. This could be 3 days to 2-4 weeks. The horticulturists have either 1 full day in 1 large garden, or 2/ 3 small gardens in 1 day. The lawn mowing staff can do up to 11-12 customers a day depending how large the areas are to cut.
What is your most productive time of the day?
Contemporary or traditional gardens...what's your preference?
Do you listen to music when working?
Do you have a family or pets?
No pets! We don't have time....... but we have 4 children ....26, 23, 21 and a 10 year old
After a busy week, how do you unwind and relax?
We relax with friends with the odd glass of wine and we like to take short breaks.
What is your motto?
Do it once......Do it right!
What would you like to do more of in the future?
Modern large landscaping projects - design and build.
Can you offer any advice to others setting up in a similar business?
Be reliable, on time, good customer service and deliver a professional, tidy job. - the customer is always right .... (well, most of the time!) Most importantly, if you don't know how to do a project, walk away or seek advice or help from and experienced person.
Finally, what are your ambitions for your business?
To grow and double in size, we are also looking into our own garden furniture range.
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