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Expert Advice from Successful Green Industry Business Owners

By Adreana Young on November 27, 2018 in BlogNo Comments

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When it comes to owning a green industry business, there are many unique challenges. Despite those difficulties, the green industry reports annual earnings of $82 billion, employs 1 million people and has a projected annual growth of 4.8 percent, according to an October 2017 report by IBIS World Market Report. Why? Because of the hardworking men and women who make up this industry.

Over the years, the industry’s landscape has seen a lot of change, but these fundamental pieces of advice from business owners in the industry can help you find and maintain success.

Invest in your employees

In Lawn & Landscape’s 2017 State of the Industry Report, 77 percent of respondents said they “believe a lack of quality employees hinder their location’s growth.” This is a challenge that’s always been associated with the green industry and is consistently named as one of business owners’ top challenges.

While everyone’s labor needs are different and there’s no perfect recipe when it comes to employees, David Land, owner of Tulsa Landscape in Tulsa, Oklahoma, says investing in employees with training and education will help propel your business into long-term success.

Ewing provides education courses on many green industry topics, such as lighting, turf and irrigation. Ewing also offers custom training courses, private classes, tailored to a company’s specific wants and needs.

Aside from more formal training courses, Land says he utilizes a less conventional way to train his employees that can be used on and off the jobsite. He creates short, 30 to 90 second, videos for his crew and hosts them on a private YouTube channel. When Land can’t be on a jobsite with his guys, his team can watch one of the videos to help them troubleshoot.

Les Martinez, owner of All American Landscape in Los Angeles, California also said labor has been one of his biggest challenges when it comes to growing his business. He says in order to grow, business owners need to have employees they can trust and rely on.

“That’s how I got to where I am today,” Martinez said, “by being trustworthy and honest with my former boss.”

Finding trustworthy employees for you and your business, in addition to support and training, will give you more confidence in your team and will help you grow and maintain a successful business.

Take on technology

In today’s world, technology can make or break your company. From landscape design software to Quickbooks, social media to Wi-Fi enabled controllers, there’s no shortage of technological updates that require a business owner’s attention.

While technology can be daunting, Land says he leans into it. He said he might not always be the first to try something, but he isn’t afraid to incorporate proven trends and technologies into his business.

Think of LED lighting. While it’s a no brainer now, it wasn’t too long ago that many people were hesitant to take on that technology. In irrigation, water-efficient and sustainable landscapes has become one of the top requests from homeowners. But some contractors are just starting to learn about Wi-Fi enabled controllers.

Martinez, from All American Landscape, said anytime he hears about a new technology in the industry, he checks it out. “Dealing with change is about knowing your customers and educating,” he said. If listen to your customers’ needs and provide them with solutions to those needs you present yourself as the expert, which increases your customers’ trust in you and your company.

Instead of working against the inevitable, figure our which technology or trend is most important to your customers and make it work for you by educating yourself on it.

Know your worth

In order to accurately quote and charge your customers, you need to know what your time, efforts and the products you’re using are worth.

Then educate your customers on why their project is priced the way it is. When he first started running his business, Land said his biggest competitor was himself because he would cut cost—and ultimately his earnings—to win a project.

“Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t cut price, cut the scope of the project. [You] have to find a way to present it so the client sees the value,” he said. “If a client is educated they’ll see the value. Know your costs on a job.”

Plan for the future and for today

When Land started his business in the 80s he said he could find 11 companies in the Tulsa area that offered irrigation services. Now, he can’t even count how many there are. In order to maintain his company’s success long term, Land says they’re paying attention to trends, high margin projects and putting more time and energy into jobs like drainage and hydro-mulch to ensure his company is preparing for the future.

By thinking ahead and planning for future growth and making a switch to offering other services, Land has positioned his company for future success.

With a busy daily schedule, Martinez said planning his days helps him get everything done.

“I break up each day into a particular task,” he said. “Mondays and Fridays are my call back days, Tuesday through Thursday are my scheduled estimates days and repair days.” Keeping an organized schedule helps Martinez track the many tasks he needs to complete and prevents him from wasting his limited time trying to decide what to tackle next.

Taking the time to plan your next day or even the entire week can will help you manage your time and tasks better to make you more productive and ultimately more successful.

Both Martinez and Land said owning a green industry business is hard work. But as an increasing number of customers, from homeowners and HOAs to universities and sports fields, request more services, each of these business owners also said, they’re confident in the potential growth of their companies and the green industry.

How are you building your business and what challenges are you facing? Let us know.

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Adreana Young
Adreana Young is a customer insights specialist at Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply. She can be reached at ayoung@ewingirrigation.com.
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