If you’ve got a green thumb and a passion for plants, you might have considered starting your own garden nursery business. Read on to find out how…
Garden nursery businesses are used to fluctuating sales, with a surge in the spring and summer followed by a quieter autumn and winter. However, so visitors have a reason to shop all year around, they also entice customers with other products. As well as the usual plants and flowers, garden franchises are increasingly stocking homeware and garden furniture. Therefore, running a garden nursery can be lucrative all year round. If you’ve always dreamed of being your own boss, this could be the perfect solution. We explore why in more depth below.
Why creating a garden nursery business is a great idea
1. The industry is thriving
According to the Horticultural Trades Association, two thirds of Brits visit one of the UK’s 2,300 garden centres and nurseries at least once a year. In fact, the garden nursery market is worth around £5.7 billion a year to the UK economy.
2. You can sell online and work from home
A relatively new phenomenon in the gardening world is the introduction of online garden nurseries. You can have anything from bedding plants to mature trees delivered to your door. Thanks to the increased product ranges that are available online, sales have almost doubled since 2011, according to the 2017 Garden Market Analysis Report. If the flexibility and lower overheads that working from home can offer is your biggest draw to the franchise model, then a garden nursery business could be your next exciting business venture.
3. Contributing to your customers’ happiness
It’s widely believed that gardening has health benefits. The physical activity of digging, lifting and hoeing is a great form of exercise for people slumped at their desks all day. It’s also a fantastic way of practising mindfulness as it releases endorphins and keeps stress levels down. By supplying customers with the plants, you are playing a crucial role in this health-boosting activity.
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Top tips for starting a garden nursery business
1. Make sure you’ve got what it takes
From a horticultural perspective, previous industry experience or a strong knowledge base is crucial. You’ll need to have a good knowledge of plants, how to care for them, and which flowers and plants work well together in a garden. If your garden nursery will also sell complementary garden products, you’ll also need to have a certain level of DIY knowledge so that you can help customers with any queries they may have.
As well as having an interest in all things horticultural, you’ll also need adequate business skills. These include people management, accounting, marketing and PR. Having worked in a managerial role within a garden centre will be beneficial but not essential. Also, you don’t necessarily need any professional qualifications but there are courses available, which will help with your knowledge and credibility.
2. Consider the franchise route
If you’d like to open your own garden nursery business but don’t know where to start, then you could consider investing in a franchise. As a franchisee, you get the freedom of being your own boss with the support of an established business model that has a proven track record of success.
The training and support that is provided means that previous industry experience is often not required. The franchise system will have been developed and improved by the franchisor over time. That means you get to run your new business more effectively because you won’t make the mistakes that they did before you.
3. Analyse the market
You need to find out if there is a demand for garden nursery businesses in your target area and how well it’s already being supplied. Then you can determine whether there is a gap in the market or a niche that hasn’t been tapped into yet. You might want to focus on a specific plant variety and serve customers across the UK that want something more unusual.
4. Research your competition
As part of your market research you should identify any weaknesses in your competitor’s prices, service or plant ranges so you can become a preferred choice for customers.
5. Who is your customer base?
Are you planning on supplying small retail outlets that offer a particular type of plant, commercial clients, garden centres or maybe even other nurseries? Or your dream might actually be to start your own retail outlet as part of a garden centre? Whoever you decide your customer base is, you need to make sure you understand them. Customer trends are constantly evolving so make sure you stay on top of them to truly thrive.
6. Plan how your business will be seasonal
It’s no surprise that the horticultural sector is seasonal, so in order to stand the test of time and keep hold of good members of staff, you need to plan your year carefully. We’ve already suggested that you could diversify your product offering with homeware and garden furniture. But, if you want to steer clear from operating as a garden centre, you could also consider offering horticultural consultancy services, landscaping and van sales, for example.
7. Decide what range you are going to sell
In recent years, there has been a high demand for bedding plants and ornamental stock but remember these are two competitive sectors so you will need to make sure you offer something unique and are good value. Whatever you choose, you need to be confident that your plants are healthy and can flourish in retail centres and once planted in parks, gardens or any other desired location.
8. Promote your business
To spread the word of your new garden nursery business, there are lots of strategies you can use, including mailing out a catalogue and plant list to garden centres, exhibiting at growers shows, donating plants to community projects and using social media platforms to inform the public of promotions etc.
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Gardening franchise opportunity
Ed’s Garden Maintenance
While not strictly a gardening nursery business, if you have a love of the great outdoors you might also be interested in a gardening franchise. Ed’s Garden Maintenance is a great prospect if you’ve got your heart set on running a traditional horticultural business. It has developed a network of more than 35 franchisees growing successful businesses across the country.
- Becoming an Ed’s Garden Maintenance franchisee: When you join this franchise, you’ll be in control of your own timetable. You can even run your business part-time alongside another source of income or spend more time with your family. This low-investment franchise opportunity really does allow you to achieve a healthy work-life balance. What’s more, jobs are priced individually rather than per hour, so you’re not restricted by a low hourly rate.
- How much you need to invest: You’ll need £15,000 to set up your own Ed’s Garden Maintenance business.
- What you get for your investment: You’ll benefit from being part of a recognisable brand and get all the support and training you’ll need to promote your franchise and build a local customer base. You will also have access to a central administration centre providing a constant flow of customer enquiries.
Start a garden nursery business today
Hopefully you now have a better idea of how to approach setting up a garden nursery business. With lockdown restrictions lifted and the UK population being eager to have their gardens looking beautiful for summer, now could be the perfect time. Found this article helpful? You might also be interested in five things you must know before starting your own gardening franchise.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©