Landscapers advised to overhaul businesses

Landscapers were advised to overhaul their business practices to meet the challenges of the recession during a landscape event yesterday (14 January).

The HTA’s Landscape Business Improvement Scheme meeting, run jointly with the Association of Professional Landscapers, was a chance for firms to take stock of the market challenges.

Association of Professional Landscapers chief executive Jason Lock said the general feeling from a straw poll of landscapers was that “work booked ahead is lower” and the “number of enquiries is lower”.

“It is much harder to get the signature on the piece of paper,” warned Jason Lock.

HTA’s business development adviser Neville Stein led the meeting, which was attended by around 15 landscapers from London and East Anglia.

Neville Stein’s top tips for beating the recession:

•    Overhaul your website – it needs to have great images and customer testimonials
•    Stay in touch with customers, colleagues and industry experts
•    Respond fast to every enquiry
•    Word of mouth – astound customers with your service and they’ll talk about you
•    Debtor ledger – keep on top of what people owe you, reduce your “debtor days” or the amount of time it takes for customers to pay you
•    Negotiate discounts with suppliers for paying on time
•    Internal cost cutting – examples are mobile phone contracts or vehicle costs
•    Review your bank account
•    Sell off assets you don’t use – eg a piece of kit you don’t need
•    Set financial targets
•    Think about a five-year plan – it will help you stay focused
•    Come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that sets you apart from other landscaping firms
•    Get off the tools – it might only be for a couple of hours but use the time to think about your business and plan for the future

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