Writing a landscaping business plan helps you clarify your goals. Learn what you need to include in a successful planning document.
Starting a landscaping business is a great way to use your knowledge and skills without having to answer to someone else. Sure, you'll have to listen to your clients, but you won't have to worry about a boss telling you when to take lunch or how to add mulch to a flower bed. The landscaping industry is booming, but that doesn't mean you can start offering your services with no idea of how to market them or how much to charge. Use this landscaping business plan guide to set clear goals for your new company.
Need more customers for your landscaping business? Sign up with CraftJack to get prescreened landscaping leads delivered right to your smartphone.
Why Do You Need a Landscaping Business Plan?
Before you go on a trip, you probably research your destination, look for interesting attractions, and figure out how much money you plan to spend at each one. Maybe you even print out directions or program the address into your GPS system. Planning ahead makes it easier to avoid obstacles, ensuring you have as much fun as possible on your vacation. Writing a landscaping business plan does the same thing.
Creating a Business Road Map
Without a plan, it's tough to know where you're going. You may not understand the unique challenges of the landscaping industry or have a plan for finding paying customers. If you decide to launch your business anyway, there's a good chance you'll end up struggling. A business plan acts like a road map for your company, ensuring you enter the industry with eyes wide open.
Thinking Objectively About the Business
Writing a landscaping business plan also forces you to think objectively about your ideas. It's easy to get excited about the possibility of starting a business, controlling your own schedule, and completing interesting projects. Some people focus so much on the positive aspects of business ownership that they don't stop to think about what could happen if the business fails. When you write a business plan, you have to plan for the worst-case scenario, making you more prepared to handle the many challenges of owning a landscaping company.
Attracting Outside Financing
Finally, having a landscaping business plan is essential if you hope to attract investors or qualify for a loan from your bank or credit union. Lenders want to know how much experience you have, what type of work you plan to do, and how you expect to finance your business. They also look at certain sections of your business plan to determine if you have what it takes to attract paying customers, manage money effectively, and grow the business over time. If you don't write a business plan, you won't be able to secure financing for your new venture.
Most Important Sections of a Landscaping Business Plan
When you write a business plan, it's best to follow a template from the U.S. Small Business Administration or another reputable organization. Like a business plan, a template serves as a road map. It guides you through every step of the writing process, ensuring you don't leave out important information. Some templates have 20 or 30 sections, but not all of them have the same level of importance. At minimum, your landscaping business plan should include the following components.
The executive summary provides an overview of the full business plan. It should include information about who you are, what you do, and what makes your business different from other companies offering similar services. An executive summary should also tell readers why you're uniquely qualified to run a successful landscaping business.
When you write the executive summary, make sure it's long enough to get potential investors interested in what you have to offer. Some contractors sell themselves short by writing just a few sentences and calling it a day. The truth is that busy investors don't always have time to read a 50-page business plan. They may skim the executive summary to determine if they want to set aside time to learn more about your company. If you don't capture their attention on the first page, you may miss out on valuable funding opportunities.
The key to writing a great executive summary is to write the rest of your business plan first. When you finish writing the body of the business plan, you'll be able to go back and pick out the most important points from each section.
Think of the company description as the About page of your company's website. It should tell readers who you are, where you're going, and how you got there. This section of a business plan has several key components:
- Company name: Write the full legal name of your company in this section. Don't use nicknames or abbreviations.
- Structure: Let readers know if you have a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or some other type of business structure.
- Key players: Introduce each member of the management team. If you're a sole proprietor, all you have to do is tell the reader a little about yourself. For a partnership or corporation with multiple members, include a short bio for each person. Focus on business achievements rather than personal ones.
- Company history: Investors and loan officers want to know about your background, such as where you used to work and what influenced you to start your own landscaping company.
- Mission statement: Explain the purpose of your company. The purpose of most businesses is to turn a profit, but your mission should focus on the needs of your target audience. For example, your mission statement could focus on the desire to help local families get more enjoyment out of their outdoor spaces.
- Target market: Describe your ideal customer. It may be a homeowner in a gated community, a general contractor who needs landscaping services for each new build completed, or a property manager who needs commercial landscaping services. Be as specific as possible about your target audience.
- Competitive advantages: Explain what makes your company different from all the other landscaping companies in your service area. Do you have a horticulture degree? Have you had any of your projects featured in a landscaping or design publication? Let readers know what sets you apart from your competitors.
- Objectives: Describe what you hope to accomplish during your first year of operations.
- Vision statement: A vision statement is different from a list of goals. Instead of focusing on specific tasks you want to complete, explain how you plan to reach your goals.
"Landscaping" is a broad term. Some companies offer lawn mowing and hedge trimming, while others install outdoor sprinkler systems, maintain flower beds, beautify community parks, and design custom water features. Before you launch your business, you need to determine exactly how you want to serve your customers. This section of your business plan should list each service you'll provide, explain how you'll provide it, and estimate how much you'll charge.
The service description should also list any special equipment you'll need. For example, if you plan to do large commercial jobs, you may need to rent or purchase a backhoe to save time. It's also helpful to include photos to support the text in this section of your business plan. This is especially true if you offer a unique service. Readers may need photos to better understand exactly what you plan to do.
No matter how good you are at landscaping, your company won't make much headway unless you find enough customers willing to pay for your services. That's why marketing is so important for home service providers. Marketing helps you identify people who are likely to need your services, make them aware of your brand, and convince them to buy from you instead of hiring one of your competitors. A good marketing plan also helps you set clear objectives and determine which methods are the most cost-effective.
To create an effective marketing plan for your landscaping business, follow these steps.
- Choose a marketing objective. "Sign up 5,000 customers in the first year of operations" isn't a realistic objective, as it's highly unlikely you'll be able to find 5,000 customers in your service area. "Secure five paying customers" and "Generate $25,000 in gross revenue" are a little more realistic.
- Research your target audience. The more you know about your ideal customer, the easier it is to market your services. If you plan to do residential landscaping jobs, collect demographic information about the people in your service area. Look for information about household income, family size, occupation, age, gender, and other characteristics. Once you have this information, you can create a customer avatar, or a representation of your ideal customer. If you plan to do commercial jobs, gather information about the businesses in your service area.
- Identify your closest competitors. You can't compete effectively if you don't know what other landscaping companies are doing. Once you know who your competitors are, research each one carefully. Pay attention to where they're advertising, what services they're offering, and the quality of the work they do. This information can help you distinguish your business from the competition, making it a little easier to land new customers.
- Develop a promotional strategy. In marketing, promotion is any communication designed to make people aware of a service and persuade them to become paying customers. This includes social media, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, video marketing, and other methods. You don't need to write a 50-page promotional strategy, but you do need to make it clear that you've given some thought to the best way to reach the people in your target audience.
- Choose a pricing strategy. Some landscapers break into the market by offering low-cost services and then increasing their prices later. Others offer premium services at a premium price. Do some research to determine which pricing strategy works best for your target audience.
- Set a budget. A few marketing methods cost absolutely nothing to implement — provided you do the work yourself. That said, you'll need to spend some money if you want to get your name out and start lining up paying customers. This section of the marketing plan should break down how much you plan to spend on each promotional tactic.
The operations plan describes the people, equipment, and processes you'll use to run your company's day-to-day operations. Although you mentioned equipment in a previous section, you should mention it again here to ensure the reader understands you know exactly how to make your landscaping business a success. It's also important to estimate the cost of providing each service. For example, if you need to rent a piece of equipment to complete a project, you'll need to subtract the rental fee from your gross revenue for the job.
A good operations plan also provides an overview of your proposed quality-control procedures. Explain how you'll deliver the same level of quality on every job, regardless of how much the customer pays or how many crew members you have doing the work.
The next section of the operations plan is a description of the legal environment in your service area. It should include the following:
- Bonding requirements, if any
- Local regulations regarding the disposal of pesticides and other landscaping products
- Employment laws that are likely to affect your businesses
- Licenses or permits needed to operate a business
- Insurance requirements
If you have any pending trademarks or copyright registrations, include them in your assessment of the legal environment.
Unless you plan to complete every project on your own, you'll need to hire people to do some of the work. This section of the operations plan answers these questions:
- Will you hire employees or independent contractors?
- How much do you plan to pay each person?
- Will you provide training?
- How will you find the right employees?
You should also include a description of each job to show readers you've thought through the best way to meet your customers' needs. A job description typically includes the job title, a list of essential duties, and a list of required knowledge, skills, and abilities. For example, you may want to hire employees with at least 2 years of landscaping experience or find someone who has a degree in horticulture to help you select plants and other landscaping features.
Landscaping is a service, but you need a variety of supplies to meet customers' needs. For example, you may need to buy large quantities of mulch and fertilizer. This section of your operations plan should include a proposed list of suppliers and describe what you want to buy from each one. It's helpful to include an overview of each vendor's credit policies and track record of delivering orders on time. Investors also like to see that you have backup vendors who can step in if your usual supplier is unable to fulfill an order.
If you want to secure financing, you need to show investors and loan officers that you know how to handle money wisely. It's also critical to demonstrate that you understand the ups and downs of the landscaping industry and have a plan for overcoming obstacles. The main purpose of the financial plan is to translate your goals into measurable financial targets.
Your financial plan should include the following components:
- Key financial indicators: These indicators help a company determine if it's on track to reach its goals. Some of the most common financial indicators include gross profit margin, net profit margin, and debt-to-equity ratio.
- Projected profit and loss: A P&L statement shows how much your business spends and earns over a specific time period, such as 1 month or 1 quarter.
- Break-even analysis: This helps determine the point at which your company is likely to be profitable.
- Projected cash flow: Cash flow sounds technical, but it's just a term used to describe the movement of money into and out of your company.
- Projected balance sheet: A balance sheet lists your company's assets, liabilities, and owner's equity.
How to Write an Effective Landscaping Business Plan
Now that you know what to include in a business plan, here are a few tips to help you avoid common pitfalls and maximize your chances of success.
Seek Professional Advice
Even if you're the best landscaper in the world, you may not have much experience with creating budgets or financial forecasts. Don't be afraid to ask a certified public accountant for help with the financial plan, as professional advice can help you avoid critical errors that repel investors instead of attracting them. If you're not sure whether you should operate as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation, ask an attorney for their professional opinion. It's also helpful to consult a marketing expert when you're writing the marketing section of your business plan.
Include Plenty of Objective Data
When you start a business, it's easy to fall in love with it, making it more difficult to spot potential flaws. To overcome these obstacles, make sure your business plan includes plenty of objective data, such as key financial indicators and demographic data for your target audience. This shows investors you have a realistic view of what you can accomplish.
Once you finish writing, go back and look for typos, spelling errors, and other mistakes that could hurt your reputation. If you don't trust your proofreading skills, have a trusted friend or family member read your business plan and make suggestions for improvement.
Kick Your Business into High Gear
Now that you have a comprehensive business plan, it's time to start looking for customers. Jump-start your business with high-quality leads from CraftJack.
How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business | CraftJack
Oct 25, 2023
In "Business Tips"
How To Use CraftJack To Find More Painting Leads
Sep 21, 2023
In "Lead Generation"
Video: Landscaping Leads
Sep 21, 2023