Two Hands and a Few Tools Create the Ideal Gardening Service
Whoever said that necessity is the mother of invention was surely talking about today's uncertain times. Armed with that little pearl of wisdom, I gathered up my gardening know-how, some marketing how-to and, with my hoe, rake and well-worn wellies, I struck out on a solo gardening adventure. In doing so I learned a lot along the flower path of life about gardening, people and what make a one person gardening service run smoothly. Ready to join in the fun?
Who Will Use Your Service?
Gardening is the fastest growing pastime in America so millions of people can't be wrong. However, the truth is that this ongoing love affair with the garden, and some of the grubs that go with it, works well for some and not so well for others.
I view three main groups to target when selling your services:
1) Retirees and older folks who need somebody to give them a hand with a spring and fall clean up, edging, planting and weeding.
2) Business owners who don't have the time. One of my clients owns a house, a beautiful Victorian rental property and an office with front and back garden. She doesn't have the time or know-how but I do! One client - three jobs!
3) Real Estate salespeople. How often have we heard the expression "Curb Appeal" when a house is up for sale? And, how often have we seen a For Sale sign stuck on a shaggy front lawn where weeds abound, garden edges are ragged and the front windows are shrouded with light blocking bushes. A trim and a tidy up will transform this sad domain into a home with curb appeal and sales appeal! Real estate agents don't have the time but you might!
Selling Your Service: One person cannot do everything and as a one person gardening service you must be very clear about what you can and cannot do for your clients. Let them know that you will not arrive with a truck full of testosterone fueled high school and college students to trim branches, move mounds of soil, and drive gang mowers; you do not heave rocks to build dry stone walls and you will not till acres of the back forty. But, you will do spring and fall clean ups, edge flower beds, weed, water, deadhead, and plant perennials and annuals.
Credit: Cindy CrankMarketing Your Service: Armed with a simple business card created at home on your laptop (or done for you by your tech savvy son, daughter or neighbour) you are ready to launch. On your card I suggest putting your name, telephone number and a few words outlining your services. Do you have an area of expertise? Add that in too. Keep it simple, use two easy to read fonts at the most, add a gardening graphic and you are in business.
Two Hands Gardening Services
Seasonal clean ups, planting, weeding and edging.
Roses are my specialty!
Visit your neighbours, friends and people in real estate, have a chat with them and leave your card. Some will take you up on your offer right away, others will say, "Thanks but no thanks." and others will say,"I'll get back to you." Some jobs will be one time only, others may be for summer long maintenance and others may be contracts from real estate agents when they need you.
Have a simple contract with you for clients who sign up and make sure that it includes the following:
- Their name and address and telephone number.
- Your hourly fee and estimated weekly visits. ie: Twice a week @ 8 hours total per week @ $15.00/hour = $120.00
- A very clear description of what they want and what they can expect from you. For example: spring, summer and fall maintenance of front and back gardens which will include edging, weeding, watering and planting of annuals.
- Starting date and finishing date (if applicable)
- Have them sign both copies: they keep one copy and you keep and file away the other.
Here are a few final tips on being successful with your gardening service:
- Act professionally and you will be seen as such.
- Get the right insurance.
- Invoice clients with professional looking invoices and receipts created on your laptop or with an invoice and receipt book from an office supply store.
- Be on time and if you have to cancel or re-schedule, then let the client know.
- Don't promise what you can't deliver and deliver more than you promise. If your work load allows for three clients then don't squeeze in three more.
- If you don't have an answer for a client about a procedure or a plant, tell them that you will get the information; then go home, do some Googling or reading and get back to them with the answer. You will continue learning and they will have their answer. Win Win!
- Show your clients some before and after photos of the gardens you have worked with or use some photos from your own garden. This will showcase your talents.
Enjoying yourself is the best way to run a successful one person gardening service. You have the best job in the world: you are outside, you are your own boss, you are spending your days with glorious plants and flowers and best of all....you are making a little money.
Consistent effort will maintain a lovely summer paradise.
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