Each year, the TLC editors are tasked with naming the Top 12 landscapers in the nation. While it’s never easy, this year was especially challenging because there were so many good candidates. So how do we decide who’s great? While there are background checks and a few other factors, here are Top 4 things that we look at.
1. Business practices
It all starts with a solid foundation. Do you have a good business model in place that will set you up for growth? If you can’t explain what that model is, the answer is, “No.” You need to know what values your company is based on and take steps to achieve those.
Another aspect of having good business practices is marketing your business. What are you consciously doing to let your community know about your services? Are you offering referral incentives, posting on social media or leaving signs in your clients yards? No matter what type of marketing you do, avoid the Top 6 marketing mistakes.
2. Be different
If you’re just like all of the other landscapers in your area, how will you stand out to customers? There’s something special about you, so figure out what that is and use it to set yourself apart. Maybe you have a good personal story that would help people relate to you on that level. Or, maybe your specialty is water features — so you should promote that you are the expert with that service. Know what makes you special — because if you don’t, who does?
3. Safety record
One of the easiest things for us to check — and the same goes for customers who do their homework — is a landscaper’s safety record. When looking at a group of landscapers, it’s easy to cut ones who have several OSHA violations — especially if they are severe. That’s why it’s important for you to make safety a priority with your crews. Have weekly safety meetings, give specific instructions for each jobsite, have crew leaders stop by sites unexpectedly to make sure crews are wearing the proper PPE and let them know why safety is so important. You can download free safety guides here.
4. Community involvement
Not only does giving back to your community show you care, but it can also be the tipping point to help you stand out over another landscaper. Every great landscaper I’ve ever talked with had a passion for their community. I think that’s imperative for success.
No matter your company’s size, there’s something you can do to give back, whether it be planting trees for a school, providing plants or materials for a veteran’s yard or giving a discount to a non-profit organization. It’s not really about what you do — just that you do it.
NOTE: Speaking of great landscapers, check the website on Monday to see who we chose as our 2015 Landscaper of the Year finalists.