start a gardening business

How To Start A Gardening Business

If you want to work for yourself, and you enjoy the outdoors, then why not start a landscape gardening business. It would make a great choice!

Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to starting a gardening business to get you off the ground.

Working as a self-employed landscape gardener means you’ll have flexible working hours and you can choose which projects to work on. What’s more, it can provide great job satisfaction.

Benefits of a career in garden maintenance

There are many benefits to start a gardening business:

– Regular, reliable work – whatever you earn this month you will likely earn again next month.

– Developing a good relationship with your customers – seeing some of them every week.

– Healthy, enjoyable, challenging, outdoor work.

– Flexible working hours.

– Potential to earn a good wage.

– Practically recession proof; garden maintenance is regular and necessary.

Disadvantages of a career in garden maintenance

You need to be aware of the disadvantages so that you can plan to avoid them:

– Less work during the winter.

– Some days lost due to bad weather – but not as much as you might think.

– Competition from casual labourers.

– Labour intensive work.

– Unpaid travel time between work.

– Supplies, equipment and tool maintenance is expensive.

– The cost of repairing damage to your tools or customer property is usually higher than you would have earned doing the job. – Danger – you may also be hired to do a job that is dangerous or difficult to access.

Here’s a step-by-step checklist to follow when starting your gardening business:

start a gardening business

Steps on what to do to start a gardening business:

1. Understand the job

Starting a landscaping business for the first time? It’s important that you know what the job entails. Landscape gardeners might work with residential clients, commercial clients, or both.

Generally, work is conducted during the summer months. Most landscapers in the UK work on their own, but you may need to interact with tradespeople in order to deliver for clients. You also need to be prepared to promote yourself to win business.

Some of the elements of your role will include:

  • Working with clients to understand their garden and what they want from the design
  • Sketching out plans in line with your client’s vision
  • Making sure your plans come in on budget, calculating the costs of labour and materials
  • Working out estimates for clients
  • Constructing water features, planting trees, cultivating turf and ordering furniture

2. Look at qualifications

You don’t need any formal qualifications for general garden maintenance. But a love of the outdoors, as well as a healthy dose of creativity, is a natural prerequisite for the role. It makes sense to have a good knowledge of the various plants and how they grow in different environments. Generally, for simple garden maintenance, employers place more emphasis on the importance of hands-on experience rather than academic qualifications. 

However, for a career in landscape gardening, completing a BTEC, HNC, HND or foundation degree in a relevant subject, such as horticulture or landscape management is a must for securing employment. 

The CAD systems and software needed for planning and designing are technical and training would be needed to use these systems. Some aspects of gardening are incredibly scientific, so it is a good idea to study for this.

start a gardening business
Picture credit: Northampton College

There are courses available in horticulture and gardening, so taking these may put you at an advantage. For example. you may find it useful to build up your skills by doing a course, like:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture and Amenity Horticulture
  • Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture
  • Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture

Finding people and organisations that need volunteer landscapers could give you the experience you need to forge ahead. As well as courses, there are even apprenticeships where you can learn and pick up skills whilst working.

3. Budget carefully

The fact that landscape gardening is a seasonal job affects how much you’re paid; you’ll likely have more work in the summer, so it’s best to save for the winter.

Landscape gardeners will usually set a fixed price per job. When working out how much to charge, you should factor in what materials you need to get the job done, how difficult it will be (and what skills you need to use), and how long it will take to finish. Self-employed gardeners can charge up to £25 an hour depending on where they work, with London and the South East commanding the highest rates. Research what other landscape gardeners are charging in your area and set your prices accordingly.

Labour is your most basic service. However, as a gardener you can offer additional services such as waste removal (if you have a waste carrier’s license), jet washing of patio, weed killer, lawn treatments etc. These are extra services in addition to your basic hourly rate for labour. Having a clear pricing policy will give people the option to ‘buy’ these extra services from you as and when they need it.

You will also need to budget for eye/face protection, steel toe-capped boots, long sleeves, good trousers, gloves, first aid kit. You will use all of these regularly and it’s well worth buying top quality safety equipment.

Having your own tools shows that you have invested in and dedicated to a career in garden maintenance. You can easily spend £3000 + on basic maintenance tools. Think about what you are likely to really need. For example; a mower, strimmer and hedge trimmer are essential.

Your tools will likely, on average, need replacing every 3 years either due to wear and tear, breakages, theft or loss. Remember to factor into these costs into your income target. Your van is probably your most expensive tool but one of the most useful. It is also one of the best ways to advertise your services.

start a gardening business

4. Plan for the seasons

Timing is everything! As a gardener you are at the mercy of the seasons. Use this to your advantage:

Winter: Soft landscaping, hard pruning, fencing, etc

Spring: Planting, weeding, feeding, fence painting

Summer: Lawns, hedge trimming, weeding

Autumn: Pruning, leaf clearance, lawn treatment (aeration, scarifying, etc), planting

Educate your customers and encourage them to delay work until the appropriate time.

Landscape gardening is a highly seasonal profession. Most of your practical work will be carried out in the summer, while planning tends to occur in the winter. In addition, many private, residential clients prefer not to have work done during holiday periods. Because of this, many landscapers supplement their income with other jobs during the colder months.

5. Choose a legal structure

One of your first steps when setting up a gardening business is to choose a legal structure. Many landscape gardeners operate as sole traders, and this may be the simplest route to choose. However, there may be good reasons for setting up a limited company, or if you’re in partnership, a limited liability partnership.

Your choice of legal structure will have impact down the line, particularly on accounting and other paperwork. Read more about the differences between sole traders and limited companies.

Before you begin trading, you’ll need to register with HMRC for tax, National Insurance and possibly VAT. If you’re employing anyone, you’ll also need to register for PAYE.

It’s important that you do this promptly, as there are fines for those who register late. Remember that you’ll also have to file an annual Self-Assessment tax return, and file your tax on time. Read more about Self Assessment for small businesses.

You will need to call the Inland Revenue and notify them that you are self-employed.

6. Take out insurance

Insurance is also essential. Accidental damage to property is all too easy and common. The cost of repairing damage will often exceed the amount you were earning. The customer is entitled to recover those costs from you whether you have insurance or not. Insurance protects you, as the tradesman, from being presented with a repair bill you cannot afford to pay. It gives the customer confidence that any damage will be repaired if and when accidents happen.

Insurance is a key consideration for every new business, including landscapers and gardeners. You’ll want to start with public liability insurance, which can cover you against claims arising from injury or damage suffered by a member of the public. If you employ people in your landscaping business, employers’ liability insurance is likely a legal requirement. You can be fined if you need it and don’t have it.

7. Work out an invoicing and payment system

You will need to manage cash flow; will you be expecting cash-in-hand or advance payment?

As with any new business, cash flow can be difficult to manage; particularly for gardeners, as clients can become unreliable (how regularly they’ll want you, holidays, bad weather…)

With this in mind, you’ll need to work out a payment system with clients that work for you. Usually, people expect to pay their gardener cash-in-hand on the day, but for cash flow purposes (and for the sake of professionalism), you may want to insist on an advance payment system.

It may be worth considering the available options for accepting mobile card payment. It may be more useful to use a system that allows you to send invoices online as well as take payments from clients online too. This allows for a more seamless process and gets rid of unnecessary delay in taking payments.

start a gardening business
Example of online invoice for gardening service

Online Invoicing with Grow in Cloud lets you create and send customised invoices from anywhere. It’s easy to use online invoicing tool saves you time and enhances your client communication experience.

start a gardening business
Option to pay for services online

You can also get paid instantly with Grow in Cloud’s online payments solution. Grow in Cloud works seamlessly with payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe.

8. Use an appointment scheduling system

As technologies for scheduling tasks continue to evolve over the years, they are replaced by cloud based systems and issues of cost and compatibility have been addressed.

By allowing your customers to book gardening services online at a time that is convenient to them, means you don’t have to worry about missed appointment opportunities while you are out gardening.

start a gardening business
Example of online appointment gardening services

Appointment scheduling systems are software designed specifically to grant gardening business owners an easy way to arrange and manage various appointments.

Easy to use appointment scheduling feature with option to confirm from clients

Apart from booking/scheduling appointments, most gardening businesses are now under pressure to join other businesses to confirm and remind their clients of upcoming appointments via SMS or email. By utilizing a proper appointment scheduling software, such as Grow in Cloud, with features of appointment reminders and notifications included, these time-consuming tasks are managed automatically and with little user effort.

9. Create a website

There are many small businesses that still don’t have a website. Reasons they give: – don’t have the skills, the time, or the money to build a business website.

But a surprising number say that their business doesn’t need a website, either because it’s not required or because they use social media instead.

There is an importance of a website for sales. This is important to every business and not just for a gardening business.

Developing a website doesn’t automatically bring paying customers to your business but through SEO (search engine optimization) of your website, you can improve your chances of being visible online and bringing in potential clients/leads who are more likely to make a purchase of the variety of gardening services that you offer.

10. Budget for marketing

As well as spending money on equipment, it may be necessary to allocate some budget for marketing too. One of the struggles when starting a gardening business (and in fact any service based business) is building up a client list. When it comes to marketing a gardening business some traditional advertising, such as classified listings and flyers could be the best place to start.

start a gardening business
Example Flyer Temp;ate

Don’t be afraid to go out and knock on some doors too! Gardening can be a personal business and prospective clients may be more likely to sign up if they see you and know who exactly they are doing business with.

11. Use Social Media

Almost everybody you know will be on a social media site of some sort. It is a great platform for sharing your content as well as connecting with potential clients or maintaining relationships with existing clients.

Depending on what industry you are in, some social media sites work better than others, so here are a few that would be more useful for your gardening business:

Facebook:

Facebook has the most users (over 2 billions) out of all the social media sites so having a Facebook Business page is worthwhile for a gardening business to reach a wide audience of all ages.

You can also create Facebook as a way to set up a community for your clients who can post gardening tips and hacks or share questions with each other about gardening products.

Instagram:

Instagram is the most popular social media site at the moment. It is a visual marketing tool so it is useful for showing before and after gardening process pictures. 

You can share short gardening tip videos on Instagram stories, share pictures of your team with brief information sharing fun background information about them.

Twitter:

Twitter is another great way to interact with your clients and potentially new ones as your clients can promote you and your gardening business through tweets. You can engage with your audience by hosting Twitter chats as well as create a community for your clients and interact with them in real time.

Whichever social media platform you use it is always a good idea to use one or two and use them well and post regularly so you are not overwhelmed trying to keep up to date with your posts and trying to run a gardening business! Also, try and get your clients to tag you and your business when they add posts to their own profiles-this is another way of promoting your gardening business on their contacts list.

12. Looking for business

Now it’s time to start looking for business. There’s a range of channels you can use in order to find clients. Many landscape gardeners advertise in local newspapers or directories, but there’s an increasing move towards online marketing.

First, you can use these free tools to build a business website. You should also get set up on Google My Business. You might also wish to experiment with Google AdWords.

Finally, remember that repeat and referred business is the most valuable business! Make sure that you’re offering customers the best possible service and encourage them to tell their friends!

Here are some of our top tips to win customers:

  • Build a portfolio. Working quickly on multiple projects is one way to get your portfolio (and marketing) off the ground. It then becomes an easy way to demonstrate your skills and the best way to win clients. When you have your own website, you can update it with images of your work.
  • Build relationships. As we mentioned, repeat and referred business is the most valuable business, so rapport with your clients is key. Be the only person they think of when they want their gardening work done.
  • Build promotional activities. Use both online and offline marketing and cultivate your brand. Think about flyers, posters, signs. Advertise your services on online directories.

13. Have a contact management system

Once you build up your client list, you may want to consider some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system to help you keep track of your client data and offer promotions to loyal clients.

A contact management system allows you to store key information about your clients. This is usually their contact details (name, address, telephone number and email address), communication, payments and interactions with customers. All this is kept in one place. It can also keep a record of each activity; such as booked/ reschedules appointments, invoices and any notes made by staff member.

There is a misconception amongst many small business owners that a contact management system is only suitable for large businesses. They think that small businesses do not require a contact management system, because they have a small database, which can easily be stored and managed on spreadsheets.

However, in order to build and scale your gardening business, you do need some sort of a contact management system.

Summary:

Focus your early marketing efforts on friends and family members. Ask them to help share, advertise and promote your gardening business.

They can be your best service ambassadors (especially if you can afford to maintain some of their gardens for free, to show off to prospective clients!)

Good luck with starting gardening business. Happy Gardening!

To try out and sign up for Grow in Cloud’s 30 day free trial, simply click here.

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service based businesses

5 Ways No-Shows Affect Service-Based Businesses

Guest Blog Post By: Harper Reid

service based business
Image Source: Unsplash

If you are running a service-based business, you will undoubtedly be all too familiar with the frustration of no-show clients. Clients who book appointments with you and then fail to show up are costing you money in more ways than one. And no-shows don’t just affect your bottom line. They affect your business in a variety of other ways too. It is wise to take proactive steps to minimise the number of missed appointments. But in the inevitable event that no-shows do happen, you need strategies to minimise their impact on your business.

Here are five ways in which no-shows can affect your business, along with some nifty ideas for mitigating their negative impact.

Loss Of Revenue

The most obvious way in which no-shows affect your business is in lost revenue. If a customer is nowhere to be found at their appointment time, you can pretty much wave goodbye to the fee that they would have paid. One way to mitigate this is by implementing a cancellation policy that means no-show customers are charged the full fee or a percentage of it. This, of course, necessitates requesting a customer’s card details ahead of time, which some customers may be reluctant to provide. Another possibility is to offer a small discount or other incentive in return for paying the full fee upfront. You can automate the entire process by using a scheduling software which allows you to take full or part payment from the client when he/she schedules an appointment.

Wasted Expenses

All businesses have expenses that have to be paid whether the customer shows up or not. When you are already paying for premises, utilities and staff wages, the last thing you want is for those expenses to be wasted due to no-shows. Charging a deposit upfront upon booking is one way to ensure that no-shows don’t lead to negative cash flow. Another option is to operate a waiting list so that customers who are available at short notice can fill up the vacant spot.

service based business
Image Source: Unsplash

Wasted Time

As the old adage goes, time is money. When clients fail to show up for appointments with you, it’s easy to feel like your valuable time is going down the drain, along with your profits. Setting up an effective appointment system with automated reminders can reduce the drain on your time. Send an automated confirmation upon booking, and follow up with a reminder the day before the appointment. These strategies have been shown to significantly reduce no-show rates, particularly in this internet-enabled age. And in the event that a client does have to cancel, reminders prompt them to contact you to let you know, instead of just not turning up.

Reduced Morale

Aside from the more direct impacts on productivity and revenue, no-shows affect workplace morale. It is demoralising to feel that your time has been wasted and that the client does not respect you enough to call and cancel. It goes without saying that it is difficult to maintain job satisfaction when you aren’t able to do your job as planned. Try not to take no-shows personally, and instead be proactive about mitigating their impact. By implementing an automated reminder system, you can prevent no-shows before they happen and keep spirits riding high.

Impact On Your Other Customers

No-shows don’t just impact you and your business. They can also affect the lifeblood of your business: your other customers. Waiting for customers who aren’t going to show up can throw off your schedule, meaning longer waits for clients who do arrive on time. If a client repeatedly no-shows without contacting you, it might be prudent to ban them from your business going forward. Consider ways to reward customers who show that they respect your time. Offering a discount on a future appointment or setting up a loyalty card system are just a couple of ways to do this.

More About The Author

Creative writer Harper Reid hails from the beautiful city of Auckland, New Zealand. She has written content for blogs and local Kiwi sites, including Sea Containers. You can check out more of her published work on Tumblr.

Virtual Data rooms

Learning About Virtual Data Rooms (VDR)

What are Virtual Data Rooms (VDR)?

If you are interested in using Virtual Data Rooms (VDR), here is what you should know. A VDR is an online repository of information that can be safely stored and distributed. In many cases, VDRs can be used for loan syndication, venture capital transactions and to facilitate the due diligence during a merger and acquisition and virtually to conduct entire deals.

Because of security, costs and efficiencies, physical rooms have been replaced with VDRs. It would be very difficult to retrieve, gather and sort thousands of pages of highly confidential information of events like tenders, mergers and acquisitions and fundraising with physical rooms. VDRs are used as a secure location to store and share information with third parties. VDRs can control who gets to see what and when and this can minimize risks, and it can expose unauthorized usage.

How Can VDRS Improve Business?

Today, businesses have turned to VDRs because they have revolutionized transaction processes. VDRs provides 24/7/365 access from any device and any location with internet, data management and storage thereby saving the company time and money. Major deals can be made expeditiously without risks or pitfalls. VDRs provide a secure area, whether it is in an office or conference room. They can provide online due diligence process, which is simply cooperation between parties, with VDRs you can conduct the entire deal in one setting. 

How Can VDRs Help Small Business?

VDRs are not just for large companies. Providers can offer a vast number of instruments to fulfil the requirements of small businesses. Running a successful small business means that you’re likely to get proprietary information and trade secrets which you will want to protect to stay competitive.

Firmex is a great option for small businesses because they simplify the process. VDRs can be intimidating and complex. To put it simply, a VDR is an intranet. Many companies utilize the intranet to give employees access to the company shared information. The extranet is a website whereby the user can use a secure log-in to access data, and they can be accessed through the internet. The data usually is confidential, and the company can put restriction on the data. Virtual Data Rooms enables the interested parties to confidentiality view information in a controlled environment. The advantages of Virtual Data Rooms are security, the distribution and storing of secure data and controlling access to copying, viewing and printing. 

VDRs Ultimate Security

Security is the ultimate feature of Virtual Online Rooms. The provider you choose should have accredited certifications or credentials that are trustworthy. They should have rights management, which means you decide who has the right to view documents, make changes and print documents. With the enhancement, you will know who accessed information, when, at what location and for how long. This information is vital if there is a data leak. You also should be cognizant of employees who exited the company, whether it is a willing on not. Secure log-in must be kept secure.

Tips in Choosing a VDR Provider

There are lots of VDR providers available, and it can be rather tricky for you to decide which one is right for your company. Below are tips that should help you choose the one that fits your business needs.

  • First, decide which features are required for your project.
  • Decide what information is required from VDR.
  • Read reviews from each provider. You need to know if they are reliable and are they a fit for your business. 
  • Take advantage of the trial offer. Most VDR providers offer a 30-day free membership, and they offer a 60-day trial or a 90-day trial.
  • Choose only the VDR provider that offers 24/7/365 support.
  • Select a provider who has experience in facilitating complex financial transactions, such as IPOs.
  • Research to find a provider who does the work in-house. For security purposes, outsourcing management processes and data hosting to a third party is not recommended.

Take advantage of the below features offered by most providers. 

1. Document Security: This feature includes automatic backup, Data encryption, dynamic watermarks, Print Screen, button disable function and restriction on time and IP. 
2. Access Security: This feature offers log-in authentication for multiple users, management for your mobile devices and account theft preventions. 
3. Functionality: This feature provides questions and answers (Q&A), activity tracking and MS Office Integration. The activity tracking provides audit log and bulk uploads.
4. Usability: This platform is suitable for beginners and professional. It has features that are important to the end user, and they are an intuitive interface, advanced search option and easy to understand functions. 
5. Real-time reporting capabilities: This feature offer audit logs and tracking.

In addition, you should find a provider that can customize the VDR to your company needs. Finally, do not forget to ask the provider what bandwidth the platforms are offering.

5 Great Summer Promotional Offers for Your Salon

People would have already booked and planned their summer breaks away by now. So, now is the perfect time for your salon (whether it’s hair, health or beauty) to advertise some great summer promotional offers!

Competition is already tough with so many salons close to each other on any given high street. As a small business owner, what you need to do is have great offers that will make you stand out from the rest.

Many salon businesses offer discounted services and the reason that discounts are appealing to a salon owner (as well as the customer) is that they are simple to manage and apply. But think about it-you have worked hard to offer the high quality services at a reasonable price, so why would you want to lose out? Remember, you would be getting less for delivering the same thing. This is also just a short term fix. This often doesn’t help create business in the long term.

What you want to do is give your clients a great offer that doesn’t directly involve giving a discount. Your salon business can create great, promotional offers, which actually make your clients spend MORE money, rather than less!

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Here are 5 great summer promotional offer for you salon, which should make your business more money, but still give your clients a better deal! Plus, these ideas are not just specific for summer but can be adapted for other seasons.

1. Provide Buy 3 for 2 Deals

Boots has been doing this offer for a while now-and it is easy to see why. It works! People love the idea of being able to pick up products knowing that they will be getting something free.

summer promotional offers salon

Image Credit: Boots

As a salon business, a great way to put this great, summer promotional offer into practice is to make sure that only the cheapest of the 3 items is given for free.

Examples:

1.

In a beauty salon, a male client comes in and is only interested in a upper body wax. He then sees the 3 for 2 offer and decides to takes up the 3 for 2 deal:

  • a full chest and abdomen wax (£25),
  • upper back wax (£15) and
  • full arms wax (£18).

The upper back wax would be the cheapest service, meaning that you would still make a decent profit. You still give your client the feeling that he has been treated well and had a good deal out of it. Remember, he only came for the one service!

2.

In a hair salon, a client comes in wanting her hair coloured and cut short, ready for an easy, carefree style! She knows about the deal and is interested in the following:

  • hair colour (£55),
  • cut (£30) and
  • blow-dry (£20).

The blow-dry service would be the cheapest, so again why not offer that for free? She gets to walk out of your salon, advertising your services (by mentioning it to her friends and family!) and again comes out with a sense of getting a great deal.

3.

If this is too costly for your start-up business, you could provide a 3 for 2 deal on hair care products instead.

While the hairstylist is working on the client’s hair, they would subtly bring into conversation the shampoo they are using, which is best suited for coloured hair. Also, they could mention the serum or frizz free product they have used. The idea is that when the clients go to pay, the products “happen” to be available on the front desk, along with the 3 for 2 offer.

The client would then want to continue the hair care at home and instead of just buying the one product, they would buy 3 knowing they are getting one (the cheapest product) free.

Remember, these are limited summer promotional offers to entice your clients, who want to look and feel good in the summer sun. You still have a business to run and may not be able to afford to do this all year round. But short seasonal offer sprints would work!

2. Offer Referral Cards

The best complement a salon can get is a referral. It is great when a client comes in to your salon telling you they were referred to you by a friend/family member!

However, you can also help the process along, if you aren’t getting many new clients. This is done by simply asking your current clients to recommend you to one of their friends or family.

You can create referral cards than you give to your clients to pass onto their friends and family. You can leave a space for your client to write in their friend’s name so it really is a personalised referral.

To add an incentive for your client, you could combine the referral card with an offer.

For example, a free add on treatment (e.g. free spray tan to boost their summer glow) for the referrer when they bring in a friend or family member.

summer promotional offers salon

3. Add Value To The Service

We all like to get a little more for our money. In fact, you will find that customers are far more motivated by receiving rewards than by a saving on a service, they would have paid for anyway. So rather than simply offering discounts, why not give your clients a little extra as a summer promotional offer!

A small bonus treatment or an upgrade is valued far more highly. The idea of course is that you offer the add-on treatment or upgrade for nothing this time. It then makes the client feel truly valued! Because they enjoyed the add-on so much, the next time they come to your salon, they will book and pay for the add-on treatment!

This is a great promotional idea for the summer, especially when your clients are probably looking to get multiple treatments done before they go away on holiday.

For example, a client comes in to get a pedicure, ready to show off her toes during the flip-flop season! The beauty therapist offers them a complimentary 20 minute foot massage, rather than the usual 5 minutes. Who wouldn’t be up for an offer like that?

summer promotional offers salon

Next time, the client comes in for a pedicure, they ask for a 20 minute foot massage, which they will happily pay for this time!

Another example perhaps, is a complimentary 10 minute Indian head massage which could be offered when a client comes in for a facial. Again, because they enjoyed the massage so much, they will come in and ask for it, if they are in need of a de-stress!

4. Have Summer Accessory Giveaways

Do you have links with a company that sells summer accessories, such as beach towels, water bottles, sun hats, sunscreen, sunglasses and flip-flops? If so, have them on sale at your salon. Get the company to promote your salon at the same time.

summer promotional offers salon

But more importantly, attract customers to your salon by using these summer promotional items as giveaways if clients come in and pay for high priced services.

For example, free pair of glamorous flip flops, when the client pays for 60 minute reflexology/gel pedicure.

5. Offer A Free Mini Gift

Hopefully, your clients have been treated well by the hairstylist, massage therapist or beauty/nail technician.

Why not allow your clients to continue their salon experience at home by taking away a free gift. This could be small bottles of a luxurious hair conditioning product, a small tub of bath scrub, moisturising cream or nail polish colour of their choice.

summer promotional offers salon

By giving your clients a free gift to take and use at home, they will be reminded of their salon visit. That reminder will hopefully remind them that they must book their next appointment with you!

Again, this is a temporary summer promotional offer, so you don’t need to break the bank, when buying these sample mini gifts. It’s a nice gesture, which will reward you in paying customers!

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Providing great summer promotional ideas will energise your staff (who may be feeling the summer slump).  It will also help your salon business with the transition into a busy autumn rush.

Related Posts:

How To Successfully Market Your Salon For Mature Clients

6 Ways To Market Your Massage Therapy Business

4 Blog Topics To Drive Traffic To Your Spa And Beauty Salon Website

How To Manage And Grow Your Hair And Beauty Salon!

For further blogs on the health/hair/beauty industry go to our Blog section of our website.

Business Processes Automation

Why You Should Automate Your Business Processes

Business processes automation is becoming a key part of many companies’ growth strategies. The automation market was valued at $4.26 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $18.45 billion by 2023.

However, according to a report by Ted Schadler, titled The Sorry State of Digital Transformation in 2018, up to 22% of the businesses surveyed have still not adopted the change. (see image below).

What businesses need to understand, regardless their industry, digital transformation is becoming crucial to workflow business processes’ efficiency and success.

Business Processes Automation

Long story short, if you wish to have a growing list of happy customers, you need to start focusing on process excellence. Business processes automation is a straightforward and extremely effective way to help increase customer satisfaction and grow the business.

There is a perception that most automation tools are more suited for mid to large size businesses. The truth is every size business whether it is a solely run by one employee, or by a small team, can use technology to automate repetitive manual tasks.

What Does Business Processes Automation Mean?

Business processes automation is the use of digital technology to carry out recurring tasks or processes in a business, where manual effort can be replaced.

It can streamline a business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery or contain costs.

Business Processes Automation Examples

For a better understanding of business processes automation, let’s take you through examples of day to day tasks where businesses should automate.

Booking Appointments

Business Processes Automation

For any business to succeed and survive, they need to get more clients coming in the door to buy their products or services. If you are running accountancy or any service based business, you will need to book in clients to sell your services. If you are taking bookings manually, it is time consuming and can also lead to overlap of bookings and no client show ups.

This results in poor sales and waste of your valuable time. You can use an appointment booking solution which enables you to streamline the entire process and let client’s book appointments at time of their own convenience.

Grow in Cloud’s appointment scheduling feature can help all service based businesses. Furthermore, you can send email/SMS reminders prior to appointment time to reduce no show ups.

Business Processes Automation

Invoices/Payments

Sending invoices accurately is a requisite to getting paid on time. However, most small businesses face late payments due to sending the invoice in the wrong format. You can read this invoice format post to ensure you can send invoices in a correct format.

Business Processes Automation

By using an invoicing software invoice template, you can be rest assured the invoice is sent in correct format. You can insert clients details and amount with the invoice due date. The invoice will then automatically be emailed to clients with the option to pay online.

Business Processes Automation

If the client doesn’t make payment on due date, an automated reminder can be sent a gentle reminder. For repeat customers you can set monthly recurring invoices without having to worry about sending invoices each month.

Email Marketing

Businesses need to win more customers’ to grow and increase sales. To increase sales, marketing teams need to devise campaigns to target potential customers and turn them into prospects.

Business Processes Automation

Email marketing is proven to be one of most effective marketing method. It gives you 3800% on your investment. You can use email marketing software to automate your email campaign and generate more leads and sales.

Organize Leads And Customers

Grow in Cloud enables you to organize, track and nurture leads and customers for in one place. This powerful CRM has everything you will need to capture to build a rapport with your clients and upsell/cross sell to them.

Business Processes Automation

Communication

Businesses use omni- channels to communicate with clients. However customers are more interested in businesses getting back to them ASAP.

Business Processes Automation

Businesses can use customer support software and live chats which send push notification to customer support teams. They will have full detail of clients query and can resolve without the need of getting on the phone or sending a technician out.

File And Document Sharing

Business Processes Automation

Save time spent on sending endless emails with attachments to team members. Use Google Sheets or Dropbox to upload files in location which team members can access. You can also create new documents and edit existing ones without any problems using Google Sheets.

Grow in Cloud’s document management feature also allows you to be able to request and share documents with your clients.

Task Management

You can save yourself time and energy by using a solution which allows you to create daily and repeating tasks and assign them to respective team members.

This can be producing reports, setting agenda for meeting and submitting VAT returns.

Business Processes Automation

You can use Grow in Cloud task management feature which is sufficient to solve this challenge. Here you can also prioritise the tasks easily.

Business Processes Automation

Social Media Posts

It is important to have a social media/online presence to show client’s social proof. However, posting on different social media channels is time-consuming. It is necessary if you want to grow your business’s social reach and customer engagement.

Business Processes Automation

You can use Buffer or Hootsuite to automate social posts for free. You can set date and times when you want posts to be distributed on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Benefits Of Automation

It is definitely worth investing in digitalising and automating your business processes. It is not uncommon to question how it will help with day to day running of businesses. Below are some of benefits you will immediately see:

Streamlined Processes

One of the greatest benefit is you will have streamlined process and take away the need of performing repetitive tasks. From day to day business running, there will be clear accountability.

You will be able to send customisable notifications to clients suppliers, get valuable insights, and faster turnaround times. The time wasted on performing manual tasks can be spent on business development or customer service.

Compliance

By having a business processes automation system which keeps a record of each tasks and activity, makes it easier to stay in compliant with regulators. This information can be presented to demonstrate compliance during audits.

Increased Productivity

When you automate a business processes, it streamlines processes and increases productivity. Your staff will have more time on their hands and be able to perform more tasks and see more customers. It will also save you time spent on time consuming tasks, such as chasing customers for payment.

Customer Satisfaction

Providing exceptional customer service can give you competitor advantage over your rivals. Focusing on simplified processes and operational excellence, helps you meet your KPIs and exceed customer expectations with ease. When you consistently meet and exceed promised customer service standards, then customers are more likely to develop a preference for your company.

Sit down with your team and think about how each task are currently performed. Then automate processes by signing up or registering for the appropriate solutions and customising messages/template.

If you have a budget constraint, prioritise by automating tasks which takes most of your time and which would increase your sales.

Summary

Grow in Cloud is an all-in-one small business management system, which can be used to perform ALL essential tasks; online appointment scheduling, sending appointment reminders, sending online invoicing and receiving payments online, requesting and sharing documents and staff  task and calendar management. As it is a cloud based application, the best thing is that it can be accessed from anywhere and on any device with internet connection. To sign up for a free 30 day trial and start using Grow in Cloud for free, click here.

Further Business Related Blog Posts

10 Ways To Grow Business 2019

Why Your Small Business Needs A Contact Management Software

14 Productivity Tools To Help Small Businesses

Why You Should Use The Summer To Revise Your Business Marketing Plan

Starting a cleaning business

How To Start A Cleaning Business

If you’re looking for a business that can effectively get you off the ground fairly quickly, with minimal expenses, then starting a cleaning business could be a good option to choose.

However, it is important to note, that even though it’s a fairly simple business to start, competition in this industry is high. There are lots of small organisations out there. So, you need to have a clear idea of how your business will stand out in this crowded market.

You also need to think about whether you will be prepared to clean every day or are you more suited to the administrative side of a cleaning business.

A cleaning business can cover everything from one cleaner with a few domestic properties to maintain each week, to a large commercial business with thousands of staff and clients on their books.

There are domestic cleaners, office cleaners, hospital and school cleaners as well as carpet, window and vehicle cleaners.

starting a cleaning business

Here are 11 ways to help you set up and start your cleaning business:

1. Determine The Type Of Cleaning Company

There are two main types of cleaning businesses to consider:

Residential cleaning business:

Residential (or domestic cleaning) will involve cleaning people’s homes and can be undertaken by you, as soon as you secure some clients. You may eventually take on another member of staff or two, as your client base begins to grow.

Commercial cleaning business: 

For cleaning commercial properties, you will definitely need a team of people (as the properties will be tend to be large office buildings). You may have a managerial role rather than be on the ground cleaning the offices.

Within these two main types, you may also want to consider:

  • Specialised cleaning – there are worth exploring if you and to stand out from the others. Specialism can range from a window cleaning business and a carpet cleaning business to a roof cleaning or a car wash/car valet business. All of these could be done as a residential or a commercial cleaning business.

2. Have A Budget

Cleaning equipment costs can vary a great deal. For example, for domestic cleaners, more often than not the equipment is provided by the households. You may want to bring your own cleaning materials (cloths, dusters) and products (creams, sprays). You can include the cost of these in your prices.

starting a cleaning business

However, for a commercial cleaning company there’s some basic equipment you’ll more likely need to invest in:

  • Equipment trolleys
  • Cleaning products
  • Professional, industrial vacuum cleaner
  • Sweeping machine
  • Van to keep equipment and for travelling to companies

3. Research The Market/Target Audience

Researching the potential market/target audience, as well as the local demographic, is instrumental in deciding the type of cleaning business you should start.

For example, if you’re planning on running a domestic cleaning venture in your local area, then you’ll need to make sure that people in the area are financially able to pay for someone else to do their domestic chores.

Market research will also be key when working out your charges. You could do this by checking out websites of competitors. Or even, by ringing around the local competition (as a potential client) to find out. This way you can make sure your prices are comparable.

4. Check Relevant Regulations And Training Courses

You do not need a license when starting a cleaning business, but obtaining a criminal records check from the CRB will help to improve the image for you and your team, as trusted professionals.

Training is also not essential but some basic training, such as an NVQ or Cleaning Operatives Proficiency Certificate could give your business credibility.

If you’re going to be taking on staff then there is a number of regulations you’ll need to bear in mind:

-Typically cleaning work is not very well paid – it’s likely that your staff will receive the minimum wage in the UK (currently £8.21 for 25yrs and over as of April 2019) so you’ll need to keep on top of annual rises.

-You’ll also be responsible for employer’s liability insurance. This protects you against the cost of compensation claims, arising from employee illness or injury, sustained as a result of their work for you. It is a legal requirement if your cleaning business employs one or more people, and you could be fined for each day you’re not covered.

-If you’re taking on commercial cleaning jobs you’ll need to adhere to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – which state that when you take on a cleaning contract with an office or other business premises you must use their existing staff.

starting a cleaning business

-There’s also a number of health and safety regulations to consider, as cleaning often involves working with potentially harmful chemicals.

5. Work Out An Invoicing And Payment System

You will need to manage cash flow. Things to think about-will you be expecting cash-in-hand or advance payment?

As with any new business, cash flow can be difficult to manage. This is particularly for domestic cleaners, as clients can become unreliable (how regularly they’ll want you, holidays, sicknesses…)

With this in mind, you’ll need to work out a payment system with clients that work for you. Usually, people expect to pay their cleaner cash-in-hand on the day, but for cash flow purposes (and for the sake of professionalism), you may want to insist on an advance payment system.

It may be worth considering the available options for accepting mobile card payment.

starting a cleaning business

It may be more useful to use a system that allows you to send invoices online as well as take payments from clients online too. This allows for a more seamless process and gets rid of unnecessary delay in taking payments.

Online Invoicing with Grow in Cloud lets you create and send customised invoices from anywhere. It’s easy to use online invoicing tool saves you time and enhances your client communication experience. 
You can also get paid instantly with Grow in Cloud’s online payments solution. Grow in Cloud works seamlessly with payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe.

starting a cleaning business

6. Use An Appointment Scheduling System

As technologies for scheduling tasks continue to evolve over the years, they are replaced by cloud based systems. Issues of cost and compatibility have been addressed.

Appointment scheduling systems are software designed specifically to grant business owners an easy way to arrange and manage their various appointments.

Apart from booking/scheduling appointments, most businesses are now under pressure to join other businesses and remind their clients of upcoming appointments via SMS or email.

starting a cleaning business
Names have been hidden for data protection purposes.

By using a proper appointment scheduling software, such as Grow in Cloud, with features of appointment reminders and notifications included, these time-consuming tasks are managed automatically and with little user effort. 

7. Create a Website

There are many small businesses that still don’t have a website. Reasons they give: – don’t have the skills, the time, or the money to build a business website.

starting a cleaning business

But a surprising number say that their business doesn’t need a website. Either because it’s not required or because they use social media instead.

There is an importance of a website, for sales. This is important to every business and not just for a cleaning business.

Developing a website won’t automatically bring paying customers to your business but through the use of SEO (search engine optimization) of your website, you can improve your chances of being visible online. This will help bringing in potential clients/leads, who are more likely to make a purchase of the variety of cleaning services that you offer.

8. Create A Marketing Plan

As well as spending money on equipment, it may be necessary to allocate a budget for marketing too. One of the struggles when starting a cleaning business (and in fact any service based business) is building up a client list.

When it comes to marketing a cleaning business some traditional advertising, such as classified listings and flyers could be the best place to start.

starting a cleaning business
An example of a flyer that could be created for door to door marketing. Obviously you need to add your contact details on the flyer!

It’s worth considering online advertising as well, such as pay-per-click, particularly if you are offering a niche service (and can therefore go for a specific search term, e.g. “Borehamwood Window Cleaning”).

Don’t be afraid to go out and knock on some doors too! Cleaning can be a personal business and prospective clients may be more likely to sign up if they see you and know who exactly they are doing business with.

9. Use Social Media

Almost everybody you know, will be on a social media site of some sort. It is a great platform for sharing your content as well as connecting with potential clients or maintaining relationships with existing clients.

Depending on what industry you are in, some social media sites work better than others, so here are a few that would be more useful for your cleaning business:

Facebook:

Facebook has the most users (over 2 billions) out of all the social media sites so having a Facebook Business page is worthwhile for a cleaning business to reach a wide audience of all ages.

You can also create Facebook as a way to set up a community for your clients who can post cleaning tips and hacks or share questions with each other about cleaning products.

Instagram:

Instagram is the most popular social media site at the moment. It is a visual marketing tool so it is useful for showing before and after cleaning process pictures. 

You can share short cleaning tip videos on Instagram stories, share pictures of your team with brief information sharing fun background information about them.

Twitter:

Twitter is another great way to interact with your clients and potentially new ones as your clients can promote you and your cleaning business through tweets. You can engage with your audience by hosting Twitter chats as well as create a community for your clients and interact with them in real time.

Whichever social media platform you use it is always a good idea to use one or two and use them well and post regularly so you are not overwhelmed trying to keep up to date with your posts and trying to run a cleaning business!

Also, try and get your clients to tag you and your business when they add posts to their own profiles-this is another way of promoting your cleaning business on their contacts list.

10. Develop A Strong Brand

Once your cleaning business gets started and builds momentum, it’s important to build a brand that you can be proud of.

You will want to keep gaining new customers via word of mouth and personal recommendations. You also want to be able to get existing happy clients to provide testimonials.

To build a brand identity for your cleaning business, it’s a good idea to have a logo designed and to have a simple uniform for you and your cleaning staff, which has clear branding on it.

starting a cleaning business

Try to create a USP that isn’t just about price; something that clearly defines your brand as a cleaning business that stands out from a heavily competitive industry.

11. Have A Contact Management System

Once you build up your client list, you may want to consider some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system to help you keep track of your client data and offer promotions to loyal clients.

A contact management system allows you to store key information about your clients. This is usually their contact details (name, address, telephone number and email address), communication, payments and interactions with customers.

All this is kept in one place. It can also keep a record of each activity; such as booked/ reschedules appointments, sales, invoices and any notes made by staff member.

starting a cleaning business

There is a misconception amongst many small business owners that a contact management system is only suitable for large businesses. They think that small businesses (especially a small cleaning business) do not require a contact management system, because they have a small database, which can easily be stored and managed on spreadsheets.

However, in order to build and scale your cleaning business, you do need to invest in a contact management system.

Summary:

Focus your early marketing efforts on friends and family members. Ask them to help share, advertise and promote your cleaning business.

They can be your best service ambassadors (especially if you can afford to clean some of their rooms for free, to show off to prospective clients!)

Good luck with starting your cleaning business. Happy Cleaning!

To try out and sign up for Grow in Cloud’s 30 day free trial, simply click here.

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starting a cleaning business

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