“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” – Alan Lakein, Personal Time Management Author.
The silly season is nearly upon us and landscapers everywhere are digging in to complete a range of jobs before Christmas.
In all the rush, it can be easy to put aside the routine tasks associated with running an efficient landscaping business and even easier to just hope that work for the new year will come along when it’s needed.
If you have an established landscaping business, a great team and years of experience then you already have a great deal of confirmed work booked in for the first half of 2021 to ensure the business keeps ticking over, but if you are new to running your own business, it can seem like there are never enough hours in the day to keep up, let alone plan for the future. However, this can be a vicious cycle that leaves you constantly chasing your tail. Planning ahead and putting extra effort now can end the woes associated with juggling jobs, issues with cashflow, and lean profit lines and make 2021 a much easier year.
If you haven’t already made a solid business plan that you are executing, you certainly need to get cracking.
I spoke with Ron Berkelmans, Co-Founder of Goodmanors Pool + Garden, about how to get ahead of the curve and be ready for a profitable and more efficient 2021. Ron has been on the Board of The Landscape Association (TLA) for over 10 years and is currently serving as Treasurer. Ron and his business partner Raoul Van de Laak started Goodmanors 33 years ago. Ron has experience working as a landscaper in many places around the world. Goodmanors Pool + Garden have won many awards in the TLA Landscape Excellence Awards and Ron is keen to give back to the industry that has supported him throughout his career.
Here Are Ron’s Top Tips:
- Start with a good 3-5 year business plan – A good business plan will help to remove you from thinking only day-to-day and week-to-week so you can focus on the big picture for long-term success. If you don’t already have a business plan and need help, you can hire a business expert or find a mentor. TLA has an excellent Mentorship Program and can help to set you up with an experienced Landscape Business Owner who can guide you through this and other essential processes.
- Put the hard yards in early – Always be looking to secure work in advance to avoid patchy periods and cashflow issues. Goodmanors Pool + Garden have always invested in excellent quality, professional marketing materials and Ron believes they pay for themselves. Spring and summer are great times to photograph gardens so make the most of the season and capture images of your best, mature and maintained jobs. Jobs that have had three to four years to mature always look best, rather than work that you have only just completed. Also, if you plan to enter the 2021 TLA Landscape Excellence Awards, now is the time to begin your entries to make the most of them before the closing date on March 12, 2021.
- Now is the time to hire apprentices – If you are looking to hire an apprentice, now is the time to do so. Good quality apprentices can be very difficult to find so don’t leave it too late in the day. TLA can assist Members in this process and also point you to other organisations that specialise in placing apprentices.
- Become a Member of The Landscape Association – Ron believes that Industry Associations are the life-blood and future of any industry. Your Industry Association is what you make of it; the more you put in, the more you get out. As a Member of TLA, you will have a say in important issues regarding legislation, working conditions, skills growth, profitability and can stay abreast of all the industry news and changes. For younger Members, particularly those in the first years of a new business, the experience and expertise, advice and resources are crucial factors to achieving success.
- TLA has a suite of resources and services specifically designed to make business operations and administration smooth and profitable. To learn more visit www.landscapeassociation.com.au
- Build a great network – Taking the time to meet colleagues and form friendships has a raft of benefits. Not only can it make working more enjoyable but you can gain great advice, swap industry information and share work opportunities. Ron and his colleagues regularly catch up to keep informed about the industry and to help one another. Not only are these fun times but it can really help your business when you know the industry inside-out and back-to-front. TLA regularly run meetings, workshops, seminars and social gatherings where you can meet, build and maintain relationships with colleagues. TLA Members love the sharing and take a collaborative approach to industry success with the more experienced Members relishing the opportunity to pass their skills and knowledge on to younger Members. Many Members cite this aspect of Membership as one of the biggest keys to having established their businesses in the early years.
- Invest in yourself – If you have a quiet time, or even if you don’t, invest in yourself. Ron and Raoul have undertaken a whole range of business courses designed to assist them to make the most of their business. You may be the best landscaper in the land but those skills won’t necessarily lead to business success. Courses such as marketing, estimating, tendering, time management and financial planning can all have an enormous impact in helping to take your business from a fledgling operation to a solid, established entity. Also take the time to keep your professional skills and those of your employees cutting-edge. There are constantly new tools, techniques, materials, plants and requirements that affect your business.
- Every year, TLA run a number of workshops, seminars, webinars and other skills-based education opportunities on both business issues and skills development. TAFE institutions also run many courses that can help you to get the skills you need to manage administration in your business. You may also like to undertake a specialisation course in irrigation or another field to give your business the extra edge in a particular field.