You will discover how to successfully start a landscaping business in the UK. The skills and insights you need to find success and what practical steps to start.
Because starting your own landscaping business can be daunting. You need the physical skills and creativity to design and execute beautiful gardens together with business acumen to make your venture successful.
The landscaping industry is booming in the UK, making it the perfect time to enter. And franchising offers training and support from an experienced company so you can hit the ground running.
Follow our comprehensive guide on how to start a landscaping business in the UK. After you have read this article, you'll be on your way to success!
- Why owning a landscaping business is the right choice
- What does a landscaping franchise owner do?
- What skills do you need to start a landscaping business?
- How to understand your landscaping area
- How to develop a business plan
- How to finance your landscaping franchise
- What training and support do you get with a landscaping franchise?
- Remember due diligence when talking to franchisors
- Find out more about starting a landscaping business
If you desire a profitable business, today is the time to plant your first seeds that will blossom into a thriving landscaping business. There are several reasons why and below are just a few of them.
The need for gardening is on the rise
Google Trends shows that the number of people in the UK Googling "gardener near me" (or variations thereof) has steadily increased in the past five years. While in a more immediate sense, Brits have realised the importance of home life after Covid, making home improvements like landscaping surge.
Additionally, we live progressively busier lives, having less time to curate and groom our garden. In fact, landscaping is more involved, requiring insight into planting and hard manual labour. This further connects with the increase in the elderly population and presents opportunities to help seniors tend their gardens due to their limited physical abilities.
In general, we have a distinct cultural perspective on our yards: we think if our lawn is in disarray, our house is in bad shape. Similarly, a growing awareness of nature's mental and physical benefits has made people recognise the importance of their gardens. This is even combined with the rising attention towards our endangered environment, planting its seeds in seeking landscaping experts.
The market is on the rise, and the benefits follow for you.
Owning a landscaping business presents many benefits
Landscaping offers numerous profitable specialisations, making the introduction of a new business have a higher chance of thriving. Additionally, the many landscaping niches make it so incredible growth and expansion opportunities exist.
Owning a gardening business is also more stable, as customers, whether private, public, or corporate, have a higher tendency to return. This means it is easier to establish consistent revenue streams for your new business.
Lastly, owning a landscaping enterprise follows seasons. You will have a more peaceful time during autumn and winter: a time ripe for planning and recruitment. You can even invest in another franchise during these seasons.
"There is no surer sign that something is wrong at the Joneses' than a neglected lawn in the front yard." Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.
Getting into the landscaping business is an opportunity with clear benefits. However, owning a business comes with uncertainties. Instead, starting a landscaping franchise means access to a pre-established brand and entrepreneurial network. Such a network can assist with crucial tips and advice on managing a business, while the franchisor offers in-depth training, turning you into an expert gardener.
Managing a gardening franchise means you like getting your hands dirty and have resilience against poor weather. At the same time, you have bursts of creativity to design and plant gardens.
Your day-to-day as a landscaping franchise owner will depend on the specialisation you enter. Nevertheless, there are common threads that all gardening franchisees do:
- You will have to build a repour with your customers. Most new gardening franchises foster new clients through personal recommendations.
- You will undertake planning with clients, figuring out their garden needs and what they desire from the landscaping design.
- Then you will develop a garden design that matches your customer's wishes.
- Next is to plan and budget the design into practicalities, calculating labour and material cost to arrive at a price.
- Lastly, the hands-on work begins, building water instalments, cultivating flowers and trees, laying paths, and so on.
Despite new franchisees receiving extensive training in the business they enter, there are skills essential to thriving as a franchise gardener.
- Interpersonal and communication skills: This gets clients, manages your staff, and builds relationships with your customers that grow your franchise.
- Patience and foresight: Having patience is pivotal during off-seasons when it is time for planning and recruiting.
- General organisational skills: Like managing any franchise, having excellent time management and organisational prowess is essential. Additionally, practical managerial skills also help you realise the garden designs the client wishes.
- Creativity and attention to detail: designing and building new gardens requires a creative bone, and attention to detail enables you to stick to your designs.
- Physicality and dexterity: building and cultivating gardens is hard work, so a proclivity and resilience to manual labour will help you.
Now that we have established the skills that are great to have - or work on - how do you begin to understand the gardening landscape you will be entering?
Profiling the area you are about to enter as a franchise owner is paramount to establishing a successful business. You need to understand who your competitors are and which customers you will strive to get.
Let's start with competition.
How to assess your competition
Make a list of competitors in your landscaping area - your franchisor will be able to assist you here as well. A practical method is to pose as a client and contact your competitors individually to learn more about them. This, together with checking out their websites, will help you understand the gaps in the landscaping market. In essence, you need to identify your competitors' customers, strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, this helps figure out what can make you unique.
How to understand your operational area
Conduct demographic research for your area. Answer questions like "are there many seniors in my community?", "is there a thriving commercial sector?" and "are they enterprises? Are they industrial, retail, or offices?".
Then assess economic factors such as how much disposable income these potential customers have. This will help you price your gardening and how elaborate your landscaping could become.
Who will be your customers?
After these demographic and economic questions, ask who your customers could be.
Here are a few to consider.
- Busy families
- Young professionals
- Individuals with physical limitations
- Client-oriented businesses, like lawyers and ad agencies
- Retail, leisure, and hospitality
- Office buildings
- Holiday properties
- Flats with communal gardens
- Residential and care homes
- Schools and universities
- Public gardens and parks
- Governmental buildings
Based on your reflections, choose three customer segments and rank them into tiers of importance: an A-B-C list. In this order, research these three groups. Answer questions like "what drives them to need landscaping?" and "are they likely to decrease, stagnate, or grow in size?"
When presenting to a franchisor, they will ask for a business model and plan. In which case, this article on how to build a business plan for your gardening franchise will help you out. Alternatively, a tried-and-true template to use is the Business Model Canvas. This model goes through nine areas, a few being key partners, cost structure, and value proposition. These intersect and interact with how you can deliver a superior solution to your A-B-C customers, providing you profit and growth.
What landscaping specialisations to consider
After understanding your customers, find an intersection between what you want to offer in landscaping to what your customers need. Again, remember your A-B-C ranking of importance and how likely the customer will come again. For example, landscape designs are larger projects but are one-off. Oppositely, garden maintenance is repeat business but smaller projects.
Here are a few gardening specialisations for your landscaping franchise to consider:
- Landscape design (you can even niche down further to Japanese gardens, rock gardens, growing gardens, etc.)
- Garden maintenance
- Owning a garden centre
- Plant pathology and health of gardens
- Owning a plant nursery
- General plant care
- Horticultural management for public spaces and parks
Tips to advertise your landscaping franchise
Marketing and advertising can be a high-risk - high-reward endeavour. To get you on the right track, here are areas you should consider:
- What are your main selling points to your A-B-C customers?
- Which places are best to connect with your customers. For example, is Google Search the way forward? How about Facebook or LinkedIn? Maybe a poster near the central pub is better? It all depends on how well you understand your customers.
- Consider participating in industry events such as conferences and meetups; this will grow your networking and bring immense value over time.
Plan around seasons
Gardening is a seasonal business. This means that customers' needs will present themselves during Spring and Summer. So, plan your promotional pushes for these seasons while using Autumn and Winter for preparation and development.
Certifications to consider
To increase the quality and legitimacy of what you offer is to have respected certifications. These can help you get more customers and enable you to increase your price.
Here are some British landscaping certifications to consider:
- LISS/CSCS Skills Card by the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI).
- The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER).
- Become an Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) member.
- Safety certifications such as PA1 and PA6 to handle and store pesticides.
Starting a landscaping franchise has lower startup costs than other sectors. Additionally, the franchisor will provide you with a minimum and total investment amount and ongoing fees. This is both a blessing and a curse. A lower entry cost for a sector is easier for you to begin your franchising journey but also increases the competition in general as others do the same.
When that is said, you need to allocate funds to transportation and equipment costs. Naturally, the equipment costs will depend on what specialisation(s) you choose.
Consider these for financing:
- Private banking options; talk to your bank.
- Public programs and governmental grants like the Prince’s Trust, SEIS (The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme), and Countryside Stewardship.
- Check your franchisor if they offer financial support.
A tip is to diversify your loans to all three parties, this spreads out your general risk.
What insurance will you need?
Despite no one desiring them, insurance can help you in a pinch if a client claims to have suffered damages and demands compensation.
Here are two insurance types to consider:
- Professional indemnity insurance; assisting you in covering client compensation such as property damage.
- Public liability insurance; helps you cover public claims.
All franchises offer training and onboarding, turning you into an expert gardener. Some franchises even offer certifications helping to establish a thriving business.
But generally, you should expect to be trained in:
- Business management
- Garden needs identification
- Landscape design and budgeting
- Equipment handling
- Customer service
In deciding on what franchise to invest in, it is essential that you carry out due diligence. This means inspecting a franchise's FDD, or Franchise Disclosure Document.
The FDD is a legal document outlining trademarks and patents, fees, responsibilities of the franchisee and the franchisor, operational area, and more. While there are requirements to what an FDD must contain, they differ from franchise to franchise, so carefully inspect these.
Starting a landscaping franchise has never been more desirable than today. Not only are more people aware of nature and its benefits, but we also spend more time at home, prompting us to rethink our gardens. A gardening business has a lower start-up cost and is the ideal area to enter if you have a creative bone with a pull for the outdoors.
Turn your hobby into a business and use this article as a list of topics when you contact franchisors: See our landscaping franchise opportunities here, getting you started on your successful gardening journey.
Jakob Pii, Point Franchise ©