If you’re reading this, you’re among the hundreds of thousands of lawn and landscape businesses in the United States and that’s only counting those who are registered as a business! I’m sure you have seen your fair share of them around town from the multi-million dollar franchises to the one truck operations and everything in between.
In one way, you’re competing with ALL of those companies, but in another way, you shouldn’t be, which we’ll get into in another post. All of these companies riding around are doing virtually the same work. Some of the companies make it and some don’t; it’s that simple. But WHY? That is the question you should be asking yourself. Why do MOST companies fail within the lawn and landscape industry?
I think it is very interesting to look at why some do make it and some last only a few years. We know it isn’t about the size of the company because small businesses are common in the service industries and they can last decades. If it isn’t the size then what is it? I believe there are 4 important factors that separate the bad from the good and the good from the great lawn and landscape businesses.
These 4 factors, or what I refer to as the 4 P’s to success within the lawn and landscape industry, are not the only things that matter, but they are extremely critical and worth taking a look at within your own company. Let’s discuss what these 4 P’s are and why they are so important when it comes to whether or not you’ll still be in business in a few years.
Pride: Are You Proud of the Industry You’re a Part of?
Before going full-time in my lawn and landscape business in the early 1980’s, I had a “real” job, a corporate job working at a college in a pretty good position, especially for a young man in his early 20’s. It took a lot to step away from the security of that.
Not only that, but it was so easy to be proud of being a part of that world because that’s what people expected- a suit and tie, 8-4 job. When I finally did go full time in my lawn and landscape business, it took some time to really gain pride in not just what I did but in the industry as a whole. I saw it as “just cutting grass”.
When I would go to a Christmas party with my wife, I felt nervous about telling all these “professionals” like the banker, lawyer, etc that I’m a lawn guy because I didn’t have pride yet.
When I finally gained that pride, it took my business to the next level. I not only didn’t mind telling other people what I did, I also didn’t mind approaching a lead with the confidence it took to sell them on our service. When you start having pride in what you do, you also start taking more pride in it and the value of your service rises more and more.
Passion: The Driving Force
The second “P” I want to talk about is passion. Passion is what made you start your own business and what gets you up every morning. Passion is what drives you to be the best you can and create a business that is the best in the industry even if it isn’t the biggest in the industry.
Having passion is what helps you sell one more job at the end of the day when most people just call it a day. Passion is like the fuel for the engine. It gets and keeps us going, especially when things get tough- which they will within your business.
If ANYONE tells you things are going to be smooth sailing, they’re lying. It may be overall smooth, but you are going to have those rough patches when your only employee quits, your truck breaks down, your mower stops working, your credit card company is calling and you don’t have the money because it rained 15 days in May, your friends and family tell you you’re an idiot for quitting your “real job”, someone breaks into your shop and steals your equipment, etc.
The number of things that can and WILL go wrong within your business are endless and PASSION is the ONLY thing that will keep you going even if that passion turns to the passion you have for your family to put food on the table. Passion is essential to success but it cannot be the only thing or else that passion will turn into burnout and working without making money.
That’s where you have to also keep in mind that taking breaks is vital. Vacations are necessary even if they aren’t on a beach. Take several days to recharge and come back fresh. Daily breaks are important as well. Sometimes you will have to MAKE yourself go to bed at 11pm even when you haven’t finished invoices yet or even when you are trying to figure out your marketing strategy. Don’t let your passion turn into a fuel that sets the rest of your life on fire.
Professionalism: Setting You Apart
The next “P” which is professionalism is one that the lawn and landscape industry struggles with. It’s sad but it’s true. Professionalism is what sets you apart from the stereotypical “mow and blow” with dirty clothes and equipment and trucks. We often complain about people who don’t see the industry as professional, but are we doing a good job on an individual level to give them any other ideas?
Professionalism is about so much more than cleanliness, it is about everything you do. Professionalism is about the way you talk on the phone, how you park and walk up to a customer’s or lead’s home, having professional business cards, having professional and timely invoicing, and so much more.
Professionalism is how you create the perceived value in the customer’s eyes that allows you to charge a premium price. Professionalism is a choice you should make for you and your business. That means when you have several employees, you instill that into them as well through training. A professional culture will attract more professional employees which will in turn continue to reinforce that culture.
Purpose: Making a Profit in the Lawn and Landscape Industry
The final “P” I want to highlight is purpose. What is the purpose of your or any business? The simple and correct answer to this question is to make a profit. You should like what you do especially when you own your own business, but you have to be in the game to make a profit. And before you say or think anything, PROFIT IS NOT A DIRTY WORD! Profit is what you keep as the business for all the late nights, stress, missed events, and risk you take as the business owner.
You owe it to yourself, your employees, your family, your customers, and the industry to make a profit. Why do you owe it to all these others as well? If you make a profit, you can stay in business and thrive which will allow you to offer more to your employees and offer them long-term job security.
You owe it to your family because of all of the time you spend within your business and away from them (there should be balance but you will also need to work long hours, especially getting a business going). When you consistently make a profit, it makes life at home much less stressful, you can take your family on trips, put your kids in private school, buy them nice things, and generally just have more financial sustainability.
You owe it to your customers to make a profit because they want you to continue doing a good job year after year and the best way to make sure you can do that is by knowing your numbers and making a profit.
And finally, you owe it to the lawn and landscape industry to make a profit because when you are actually making a profit that means you know what it costs to run your business and that means you aren’t just going out there and underbidding everyone and bringing down the market as a whole. If everyone was making a profit, you wouldn’t see anyone charging $25 to mow a lawn anymore thereby making it easier on all of us to make real money on mowing and similar services.
While we are talking profit, please remember, you don’t pay yourself out of profit! Profit is what is left over even after you pay yourself because you are an expense to your business.
If you find yourself working all day and into the night and you are spending more than you are making, it is time to take a look at your business. You need to sit down and figure out your cost. You need to know why you charge what you charge. When you do this and implement it, you will start making money. You will be able to work less and make more money. This is when your business will thrive and the purpose of your business will be realized. If you need help figuring out your cost, please reach out to us, we’ve been helping people do this for over 30 years.
Final THoughts on the 4 P’s to Success Within the Lawn and Landscape Industry
Building a successful lawn and landscape business requires a blend of pride, passion, professionalism, and a clear purpose. Pride in your industry and the work you do fuels your drive to deliver quality services. Passion keeps you motivated, even in the face of challenges, and helps you push beyond the adversity. Professionalism sets you apart, creating a positive image that attracts customers and employees alike. Lastly, the purpose of your business should be to make a profit, ensuring sustainability and growth. Remember, profit isn’t a dirty word; it’s the reward for your hard work, risk, and dedication. By embracing these four P’s, you can build a thriving lawn and landscape business that stands the test of time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the key factors that determine the success of a lawn and landscape business?
The success of a lawn and landscape business hinges on four key factors: Pride, Passion, Professionalism, and Purpose. These elements contribute to the quality of service, motivation, business image, and financial sustainability of the business. These 4 factors play a role in every aspect of a business.
How does professionalism contribute to the success of a lawn and landscape business?
Professionalism sets your business apart from others. It involves everything from the way you talk on the phone to timely invoicing. A professional image attracts customers and allows you to charge a premium price for your services.
Why is profit important in a lawn and landscape business?
The purpose of any business, including a lawn and landscape business, is to make a profit. Profit ensures business sustainability and growth. It’s the reward for your hard work, risk, and dedication. It doesn’t mean you are greedy to make a profit.
How can I ensure my lawn and landscape business is profitable?
To ensure profitability, you need to understand your cost per hour of operation based on YOUR business’ numbers and charge accordingly. If you’re working long hours but spending more than you’re making, it’s time to review your business model and pricing strategy. Working harder doesn’t equate to more profit.
How can I maintain a balance between my passion for my lawn and landscape business and my personal life?
While passion is essential for success, it’s also important to take breaks and recharge. This includes short breaks like weekends and vacations. Maintaining a balance prevents burnout and ensures you can continue to run your business effectively.