View Full Version : Started Business in Fall of 2009 When I was Laid Off!

03-26-2010, 08:27 AM
Hi Everyone,

I started my business in the fall of 2009. Its still brand new. I have been in the green industry for more than 10 years. I was laid off last year from my position as Operations manager for a Concrete, Grading and Landscape company here in North Georgia. I have been managing to get through the winter with small enhancement jobs here and there with some winter cleanups. I am an Ornamental Horticulturist and graduated from North Metro Tech College in 2002. I am GSWCC Certified and ICPI Certified. People kinda chuckle when they see me pull up in a MiniVan with a trailer behind it. I really have to sell myself and my experience. Its like a job interview everytime. Usually they overlook the Van. This started out as side jobs and eventually someone wrote a check addressed to the business name that I wanted to use so I had to open a commercial account. To do that....Occupational Tax Certificate, Registration with Secretary of State, EIN...all had to be done.

You know... Its one thing to manage a business for someone but its definetly another to own a business. I thought that because I was a great landscaper people would just call. I thought wrong. I now have an interactive website and advertise locally in the community papers. I am trying to make the community aware of the services that I offer.

Having a big family with my wife, 3 kids and dog its really a challenge to balance it all. When it picks up enough to go full time totally the kids will be in child care.

The phone calls are picking up now that spring is here for us in GA. I am going to take advantage of all the opportunities here and I am confident that this is going to be a breakout year for the business.

03-26-2010, 08:55 AM
hey man, sounds like you got it together. except fot the minivan! :D
what part of Ga are you from???
Good luck this year!


03-26-2010, 08:03 PM
Welcome to our forum!

I'd love to see a picture of your minivan set up. The fact is, if anyone wants to get started, they gotta start with what they got. I think it would be inspiring to see.

Can you tell us a little about the difference you have found in managing one business and then running your own?

What has really stood out to you and what should others just getting started be aware of?

03-26-2010, 08:08 PM
ya know, now that i think about it, a van would be good for security reasons. put your stuff in it, and lock it up. Nice!

03-27-2010, 09:00 AM
I am using the minivan becuase I have never had to own truck :D .....Always had company vehicles that I could use for personal use. Boy was that nice! That little van will tow around 3200 lbs. It does get a lot of attention - unconventional use. People do double takes. I try to take advantage of that. I have my company info plastered on the trailer. When you take out the 2 rows of seats its pretty much like a cargo van. However, I don't intend on using it too long. Will be looking for a capable truck for installs, enhancements, and maintenance. I'm sure that one day Ill look back on this and have a good laugh!

03-27-2010, 09:40 AM

I have learned that profit is arbitrary. When I managed a concrete, grading, and landscape business for someone else, he had set prices that we went by. The Owner would approve our proposals and negotiate with us on the indicated bid price before we even took it to the customer. In this case it was some very large home builders.....now small and others merged. He had numbers he did not want to go below....enough said. Now he has no numbers:eek:

I learned that in order to grow I need to have systems in place that allow any person with reasonable landscape experience to deliver the same results every time the customer was visited. The company I worked for used sub contractors mainly. It was hard to train them on the companies policies because the came and went faster than any company employees would.

I learned that owning my own business means that I am wearing all the hats. I am the Sales Rep, I am the Estimator, I am the Production Manager, I am the Account Controller, I am the Labor and I am the Marketing Director(the most important when just starting out). I am going to have to learn to do all of these things and develop a system. When that position has been mastered and I have it detailed out I will be able to hire someone to fill that position. They will be able to perform it how I want them to. To succeed as a landscape business owner you have to be a good business person first and then a landscaper.

I am suprised at how difficult it was to get any publicity for my business. My marketing plan started out as flyers at banks with cardholders and calling the local newspapers to tell them about my business. I wanted an article on the business.....I guess I wasn't too compelling. Its a numbers game totally. I now advertise in a local paper with a large distribution. I always ask - How did you hear about us? I want to track my advertising to see where I am wasting my money.

If you are just starting out, like me, with your own landscape business, I would recommend you do not ever skimp on quality or communication. Your first big customers will either make you or break you and have a great referral program. I have overcome sales objections by simply mentioning my referral program to clients. Sell yourself. Prepare for it like an interview. Have a script ready for phone calls. Be the solution to their landscape concern. The hardest part is done - They Called YOU. You are the professional, most people are overwhelmed by their landscape issue. Let them know you know exactly what to do, how to do it, and why to do it.

03-27-2010, 05:53 PM
I learned that in order to grow I need to have systems in place that allow any person with reasonable landscape experience to deliver the same results every time

This is a great point and I think it is something ideal to shoot for. Much like McDonalds strive to achieve this to make the dining experience the same in all their restaurants. But what is the best way to go about this? How do you get your employees to produce the same results? What systems need to be in place?

04-25-2010, 01:45 PM
Mainly - A handbook that employees can refer to as well as training.