You’ve probably heard the statistics. Only 20% of small businesses survive the first 18 months, according to Bloomberg and Forbes. And while there’s some debate about those exact figures (The Small Business Administration predicts a more optimistic rate of 33%), we all know numbers don’t lie. The odds of success are definitely stacked against you.
We’ve worked with small landscapers since 1986, and it’s pretty clear to us why so many fail. Small businesses are typically inefficient, with a lack of tried-and-true operational methods and way too much overhead. Fortunately, we provide independent contractors with systems and processes to help them get ahead. And we also know how to beat the overhead game. Here are a few tips for keeping your operating costs in check:
- Recruit the right people. It’s a big relief when you can finally hire and delegate your work. But growing your team is expensive, and there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. Employees who underperform create more work for you, not less. And if a new hire doesn’t work out, you have to go through the process all over again—spending more on recruiting and training. So, how do you ensure that you’ve got the right team? By putting the right recruiting program in place. At U.S. Lawns, we can help you implement a nationally proven strategy that helps you attract—and retain—a steady stream of qualified candidates. You’ll save on hiring and reap the benefits of having the best people on the job.
- Look for discounts on equipment. Landscaping is, by definition, an expensive business. Trucks, trailers and mowers require a significant investment. Plus, you have to replace equipment every year. All this can be hard on a small operation, especially if you don’t have access to corporate discounts on industry tools. Joining up with a larger network or association, such as U.S. Lawns, can give you access to better purchasing power and lower prices. In fact, we help all of our business owners score discounts on top-of-the-line, brand-name equipment.
- Estimate correctly. The Small Business Administration calls contracting the second-riskiest business in America. Why? One reason is our industry’s reliance on estimating. The process of bidding a new site is difficult, and not always in a contractor’s skill set. Estimate too high, and you might lose the job. But bid too low and your overhead will outweigh your profits. Our advice: learn how to bid with precision on every job you take. At U.S. Lawns, we actually offer a six-day training session where you can learn the financial ins and outs of the business that hold most contractors back.
- Break into the commercial market. Residential landscaping has a much higher ratio of overhead-to-profit than commercial grounds care. Not only do commercial clients pay better for the same work, they’re also inclined to keep landscaping as an item in their annual budget—which means recurring revenue for you. It’s true that winning commercial bids can pose a challenge to small landscapers, since businesses often prefer to hire a “big name” vendor. But at U.S. Lawns, we leverage our own “big name” to help contractors like you compete.
Want more tips for growing and improving your landscape business? Contact us to learn more.