The green industry, and especially the landscape industry, is slap full of misconceptions. I see them and experience them on a d.a.i.l.y basis so I thought I would do my part and blow away the top three…so here goes!
#1 - “Y’all some grass cutters.”
I tell you what…it doesn’t matter if you have a fleet of installation trucks, 100 employees, 10 million in sales or have been on the cover of the Belgard catalog for 8 years straight…most people identify you as a “grass cutter”
The terms landscape, landscaper and landscaping immediately makes people think you just.cut.grass.
I hear it all the time….”how’s the grass business?”
If it rains…”y’all gonna be behind on your lawns?”
So on..and so forth.
I credit this misconception to two things.
One - there are literally an army of people, “weekend warriors,” who have a truck and trailer and mower and cut lawns on the side. They don’t have a business. They are looking for a means to make extra cash apart from their full time job. These people get categorized as landscapers.
Two - there are a lot of actual companies that mainly perform landscape maintenance, i.e. “cutting grass” so everyone somehow gets lumped into that category…whether you cut grass or not.
The fact is there are countless companies that perform very high end landscape design and installation with very little landscape maintenance. It’s a constant struggle not to get labeled a “grass cutter” when you offer so much more than just landscape maintenance.
It’s even harder for a company that specializes in landscape maintenance to present themselves as more than a “grass cutter.” Marketing material, appearance and choice of words around the public and clients can change the perception of your company from “grass cutter” to landscape professional quickly.
#2 - “Landscapers are a dime a dozen, y’all are all the same.”
Let’s face it. We do see a ton of landscape companies and trucks and trailers running up and down the road everyday. The problem is people tend to group everyone together as one in the same. There are all kinds of landscape companies.
Some specialize in landscape maintenance.
Some specialize in hardscape installation.
Some only treat turf.
Some only design.
Many companies have a landscape maintenance division and an installation division. Here at ITM we specialize in design and installation of landscapes and hardscapes. I bet you didn’t know that landscape maintenance only accounts for 20% of our revenue.
Each company is different. Once you figure out what you want for your landscape you should seek out a company that specializes in those areas.
#3 - “Landscaping is supposed to be cheap.”
I’m not exactly sure how we got to this misconception but I have some really good ideas that may have started it all.
Starting a landscape company is a fairly low cost endeavor at first. All you really need is a truck, trailer, mower, blower and trimmer (my first set up!). You can get into it for around $25K - $30K if you are careful. Get you some business cards and a sign on your truck and viola…you are a proud landscape business owner.
But then it gets real. You aren’t sure how to price work and you are desperate for some clients so you price work really cheap. You get a lot of new properties as word gets around about how cheap you are.
Many landscape companies fail within the first year or so for this reason. But guess what…there are three more people that start up and take your place in the market, thus allowing people that search long enough the ability to find a super cheap price. This builds the misconception that landscaping is cheap.
The actual reality is that an established landscape company with 12 employees and 3 crews, performing landscape maintenance and landscape installation will have at least $250K - $300K dollars worth of equipment, sometimes much, much more depending on their specialties.
They will pay high insurance costs for workers compensation, commercial auto, general liability, equipment and property damage coverage. They will pay payroll taxes, income taxes, huge fuel bills, internet, phones, uniforms, marketing, utilities, supplies, materials, repairs, maintenance, employee benefits and somewhere in there the owner would like to get paid too!
The list could literally go on forever. Point being…landscaping is not a cheap service. It’s no different than an electrician, plumber, carpenter, roofer or anyone else that performs a service or delivers a product.
There are misconceptions about e.v.e.r.y industry and I would bet many are probably the same as the landscape industry.
All we can do is get out there, get after it and bust these misconceptions daily, or as we like to call it the “green industry grind!”