Start a Gardening Services Business with a Franchise

16/01/2019 08:00 | Start a business

Gardening Services Business Franchise

The UK is known for its passionate love of gardening. We’re a green country, and even in the heart of our towns and cities, gardens provide tranquil oases of greenery for humans and a sanctuary for wildlife. It’s no surprise, then, that the gardening sector is worth millions. An analysis in 2016 estimated that in July alone, weekly sales in the DIY and gardening sector amounted to £171million. It seems that we love doing a bit of DIY at the weekend, and we especially love our gardens.

However, looking after a garden (even a small one) takes a lot of time and dedication. For the average homeowner working a 5-day week, it can be challenging to juggle everyday life and essential garden maintenance such as pruning, mowing and even weeding. The cash-rich/time-poor combination means that there’s plenty of room for gardening services that offer homeowners and commercial property owners the chance to relax a little bit by taking over those must-do horticultural jobs on a weekly basis. Mowing and gardening services across the UK mean that we can have our wonderful gardens, but someone else does the hard work for us!

The difference between ‘pottering’ and ‘gardening’

Pottering around in the garden in the evening is probably the best therapy for a stressful life there is. Just being out in a tranquil, green space can help to calm you down, clear your mind, and ‘reset’ your soul. However, if you’re facing a jungle out there that’s got completely out of control, it can quickly turn into a highly stressful exercise. What do you cut down? What needs pruning and when? And how on earth are you going to get that lawn looking green again?

Gardening is a profession, and professional gardeners can study for a lifetime just to become experts in a single subject such as trees or shrubs. What most people need from a gardening service, though, is a simple once-a-week trim with the lawnmower, weeding the borders, and deadheading those roses.

Turning gardening into a business with a franchise

Setting up your own gardening business can be tough, especially as you try to drum up customers in your local area who may be reluctant to see gardening as an ‘essential’. A much more straightforward route to market is to take on a gardening franchise. This not only gives you the advantage of a franchise business model that has been tried and tested, but it also gives you the reassurance of a solid brand identity that is trusted and highly regarded by customers.

Gardening franchises can also be relatively cheap when compared to other models with much higher initial investment levels. You will need to invest a certain amount, not just to buy into the franchise itself, but also to ensure you’ve got the right equipment to do the job. If you’re specialising in lawn care, then you’re going to need top-of-the-range mowers, which can cost thousands of pounds (even second-hand). You’re also going to need a works vehicle to get to appointments and to transport all your equipment, as well as a variety of specialist insurance such as public and personal liability, specialist vehicle insurance, and loss of earnings cover.

Do I need to have green fingers?

It helps, but it’s not essential. Obviously, the more you know about gardening the better the service you can provide your clients, but in general, your franchisor will provide you with all the training you need. What you do need, though, is plenty of physical fitness, because gardening is not ‘easy’, especially if you have several gardens to get around in a single day.

Bear in mind that your business is going to be directly affected by the weather, so you’re less likely to have continual revenue coming in during the winter months, for example. This means that gardening franchises are often ideal if you want to run a business alongside another occupation so that you can be confident you’ll have a wage coming in during those quiet winter months.

Commercial customers

Offering landscape gardening services to local businesses is a useful way of maximising your franchise revenue stream, rather than just dealing with the general public. This can include everything from simple landscape maintenance at industrial parks or outside office buildings through to looking after a company’s plants in their offices. Commercial customers are also less influenced by the seasons, so if you really want to expand your business, it’s well worth looking at them as a source of year-round revenue.

What gardening franchises are available?

One of our favourite garden franchises is Ed’s Garden Maintenance. In just 10 years this popular provider has grown to over 35 franchises around the country, with many franchises turning over £60,000/year. An initial investment of just £7,000 and low operating costs mean it’s a very affordable model with a strong brand identity and high levels of customer loyalty.

Lawnkeeper is another specialist gardening franchise that does exactly what its name suggests – looks after commercial and domestic lawns. No initial minimum investment and a flat franchise fee of £17,000 (£25k overall estimated investment) gives you the chance to run a business with a strong brand identity and with over 20 years’ experience in the industry.

If you love gardening but are not keen on the Great Outdoors (especially during the winter!), then Inleaf is a good choice. This franchise specialises in caring and providing office plants, from a simple cheese plant in the corner to full-scale indoor arboretums.

Conclusion

If you love the outdoors, are passionate about plants, or just want a business that takes you away from the typical 9-5 routine then it’s worth looking at gardening services. London and the south-east offers a wealth of potential customers (both commercial and private homeowners) who are cash-rich but time-poor and need a little extra help looking after their gardens and lawns. Gardening services represent a growth sector and are part of the multi-billion-pound gardening and DIY sector that has seen year-on-year growth of around 6%.

Gardening franchises are usually relatively affordable to buy into, with low initial investment costs. However, you do need to bear in mind that you’ll need to invest a certain amount in equipment, including transport costs and high-ticket items such as mowers and strimmers.
You don’t need to have ‘green fingers’ to run a gardening franchise, but a passion for horticulture and gardening certainly helps, as does a reasonable level of physical fitness. Look for franchises that offer niche services such as lawn care and indoor plants for commercial customers, as well as more generalised gardening services. As gardening can be very seasonal, you may need an alternative revenue stream for those quiet winter months.

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