About the project
The first few months of business will be dedicated to gardening, introducing landscape design services over time, I will initially offer all typical and specialist
services (see Appendix > Garden Services) whereby if there is a task outside of my skill-range, I will get somebody who can do it and then I will endeavour to
expand my learning to incorporate this. This will prevent “cowboy” jobs and will enable me to see where demand really lies as time and my business develops.
What this will also do is allow local small business owners to see that I am not competition in the typical sense.
I will outsource work beyond my ability to local businesses at a 25% fee (payable by the business for the service of providing them with work), for example if
the outsourced job cost £100, they would pay me £25 in return for the contract. This will boost my ethical reputation as it will show local business owners I do
not intend to “rub up” against them, instead I am choosing to give them a better chance of survival in the ever changing industry.
I will work alongside private and commercial customers, in homes and private property as well as public green-spaces and other community-projects, the
community projects will allow me to boost my ethical reputation.
I will generate income through labour and commissions from outsourcing. In the future, I plan to have an online shop and I also have an ideo for a “Grow-To-Order”
service where we grow flowers which meet a specific criteria fr the customers. These plans haven’t yet come into fruition as I am mainly focusing on the actual service before
I expand into retail, hosting an online shop as well as holding stalls during the off season.
In my area, there is a real need for quality gardeners, just asking the residents nearby has taught me everything I need to know about how to market my services and I can answer any questions:
I have applied for a Virgin Start Up Loan for the amount I am hoping to raise, if the loan is unsuccessful, I will be using the funds for the start up, if the loan is successful, I will use the funds to help relocate and expand to give myself and my business the best opportunity to thrive.
I will also use some of the funds to expand my knowledge and skills so I can provide a more specialised service.
Garden Services I Will Provide:
- Garden Clear-outs
- Hedge trimming
- Shrub trimming
- Lawn mowing
- Flowerbed making and arranging
- Patio cleaning
- Patio laying*
- Garden Designing
- Pond building*
- General garden maintenance
- Winter garden maintenance
- Window cleaning
- Shed/structure removal
- Flat pack shed building
- Lawn care
I’ll always be expanding my skills and services on offer as my business grows.
I hope to expand the services I provide and get further training as time goes on, the above services are services I am comfortable with undertaking. As my business develops and expands, I hope to develop tree surgery skills and more advanced hard-landscaping/building skills. The services with a * next to them indicate services I am hoping to get more training in before I take those sort of jobs.
Customers & marketing
- Local residents: I will obtain these customers via spreading the word within my community and placing an advert in the local shop windows, I will also acquire these customers through word of mouth, taking referrals from customers and from pedestrians who walk past and enquire about my work.
- Elderly and Disabled: I will source these customers by approaching local community centres and other community services where possible, I will also utilise Facebook groups and community pages to help find younger disabled customers. I feel it is important that I market specifically to this audience so I can offer concessionary discounts where possible to ensure even those who may not be able to afford full-cost premium garden services can enjoy the same things in life as those who are of a wealthier position than themselves.
- First-time homeowners: Often, first-time buyers (and even those who have had several gardens) lack the basic knowledge to look after their gardens and I hope to work with these to teach them the skills they need to maintain a nice environment, not just for them but for their neighbours too. I will obtain these customers by dropping leaflets through the letterboxes of new-builds after the “SOLD” signs start going up, I will be more appealing if I offer to teach them whilst I work. This will also, quite possibly, attract estate agents and other companies (like property developers) who happen to notice the leaflets in the unsold houses when checking the house before showing potential customers around.
- Those who are otherwise too busy with work: I will source these customers purely through social networking and word of mouth because at the end of the day, people working 9 to 5 aren’t interested in going to the shops and standing there reading the notices, typically speaking. In the 21st century, they would rather rewind behind a smart phone or computer even before picking up a newspaper.
- Parents: I have found that many of my customers tend to be parents who are more than happy to let their children run around the garden causing me to have to politely order them inside when I carry out hazardous work, however – the children who are typically older than 9 or 10, tend to enjoy learning about gardening and as gardening is becoming less and less popular (even as demand increases), I feel it is important to teach them anything I can about the garden; so naturally, I would want to acquire parents as customers and I will do so by making a small donation to the local schools in return for a mention in their school newsletter. I may also approach childminders and offer them my services in the hope they could refer me to their client’s.
- Commercial customers: I have already mentioned estate agents above, but as my business expands, I will actively approach estate and lettings agents, landlords, building contractors and other companies with greenspaces. I will also find these customers at business networking events which I will attend simply out of interest and with the hopes of developing my own entrepreneurial skills. I will also approach local authorities and housing associations.
One thing about gardening is there is no set target audience. It is always changing, more elderly people require garden services in the winter than they do in the summer as they often can’t bear the cold so much. Likewise with parents because their children aren’t in the back garden so much, also during school holidays, surprisingly I have more work from parents than I would during term time because during holidays, parents take more time off. Disabled people often enjoy, from my experience, watching their gardens transform whilst work is being carried out, especially older clients so it is natural that I would get a lot of work during the summer from this category.
Another way I will source customers, especially during the first winter which I expect work will die off slightly unless I am actively visible, by always wear something with my logo on and always having at least one business card to hand out.
I do plan to have my website up and running by winter of the first year, this will also increase my publicity and increase my likelihood of reaching high on search engines, another way I will achieve this ranking is by maintaining a blog, hosted by WordPress which I will then redirect readers to from other sources such as social media to increase traffic and publicity.
There are ideas of opening an online shop selling garden supplies, furniture and seeds. I have two potential suppliers, personal friends of mine, who will supply me with seeds and furniture. I will also use eBay and Amazon to source low-cost garden supplies from outside of the UK too. If necessary, I will work alongside UK based trade centres and wholesalers and without a doubt, garden centres too.
There is also another idea in the pipeline, which is a unique “Grow-To-Order” service. This will be taken care of by the lady who supplies some of the seeds to the online retail store (if that plan comes to fruition) whilst we ‘see how it goes’. The idea is to literally grow plants for customers to their specification, like a nursery. However, this is complicated and at the moment, doesn’t seem viable.
However, for the first year, I intend to mainly focus on the service side of business rather than the retail; I may launch the online shop just before the start of season in the second year – beforehand, I will purchase a bit of stock to sell to customers and then divert them to buy online via my website where they will also (hopefully) be able to sign up for a newsletter and special offers, contact me (other than by calling) and request a call-back.
No job too big, if we can’t do it we will get someone who can.
You take pleasure, We take pride.
Working After The Rainbow and Before The Storm. *Shows I work around the clock, day and night*
I Grow Where I Am Planted. *Play on words: “I go where I am wanted.”**Win*
Van Quote: (See Financial Forecast – Year One > Start Up Costs)*
Volswaggon Caddy C 2.0TDI Van 10 Plate: £4300
Nissan NV200 £4891 http://www.vanmonster.com/vehicle/id/42378/nissan/nv200
Floodlights: £35.49 – Will allow me to work at night time. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackspur-BB-HL105-Telescopic-Halogen-Worklight/dp/B000FTAFCE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1432203398&sr=8-3&keywords=flood+lights
I volunteered my skills to produce the garden shown in the accompanying photo to this crowfunder campaign.
*Available upon request.