7 Common Pitfalls That Cause Landscaping Businesses to Fail

Read Time7 minutes

PublishedNovember 6, 2023

7 Common Pitfalls That Cause Landscaping Businesses to Fail


Table of Contents

The lawn care industry is a complicated market with particular challenges, including fluctuating seasonal demand, labor shortages, and supply chain issues. Business owners have to remain ahead of challenges if they want to grow their landscaping company.

Keep reading for some of the most common reasons landscape businesses fail and how to overcome them. 

1. Lack of business knowledge

Some entrepreneurs enter the green industry with a strong passion and knowledge of plants and design but limited business acumen. In an extremely competitive industry, it’s crucial to understand the operational, legal, and financial aspects of running a landscape company to grow your startup into a successful landscape business.

The seasonality of the lawn care business makes budgeting particularly important. With inadequate financial management experience, small-business owners may struggle with pricing their services and understanding the nuance of the green industry’s profit margins. 

Poor planning results in wasted resources and inefficient processes when it comes to:

  • Scheduling

  • Dispatching

  • Inventory management

  • Billing and invoicing

A new business’s failure to implement scalable systems early in its operations makes it difficult to grow its customer base successfully.

Solution: In the landscape industry, the right tools make all the difference, including software. Rather than piecing together single-point solutions, look for an end-to-end platform such as Aspire. 

An all-in-one cloud-based software gives landscape operators visibility into every aspect of their operations and tools for contact management, job costing, scheduling, and invoicing. 

Aspire also offers a resource center with industry-focused support to help aspiring operators gain more business knowledge, including:

  • Tools

  • Templates

  • Guides

  • Blogs

  • Webinars 

In addition, landscape business owners can take advantage of education and networking opportunities through online courses, workshops, trade associations, and mentorship programs.

2. Underpricing 

Estimating landscaping projects is complicated, whether you charge an hourly rate or a flat fee. You need to balance:

  1. Charging enough to cover labor and materials while including a healthy profit margin, and

  2. Giving customers sticker shock

Without historical data, it’s difficult to know how long each service takes, which varies based on site conditions and crew experience. 

Customers may associate low prices with low quality. This can result in a lack of trust and reluctance to engage with businesses that appear too inexpensive. 

Even worse, underpricing affects the bottom line, as businesses often fail to cover their operational costs and generate sustainable income, leading to financial strain or even bankruptcy.

Solution: To determine your minimum pricing threshold, conduct a thorough cost analysis that includes:

  • Overhead

  • Labor

  • Materials

  • Profit margins

Aspire offers customizable estimating templates and kits that combine labor, material, subcontractors, and margins into single-line items.

In addition, Aspire’s job costing functionality leverages historical job data to inform pricing, estimates, kits, margins, and markups. It enables users to see real-time direct expenses by:

  • Division, branch, manager, crew leader

  • Service type, job, or work ticket

  • Property

With insight into estimated vs. actual costs, users can make corrections when needed and adjust future job bids to fuel growth and prepare for operational challenges. 

3. Inadequate business planning

Insufficient business planning leaves owners ill-equipped to navigate the complex and competitive market, resulting in operational inefficiencies, financial setbacks, and missed growth opportunities.

Many landscaping businesses fail to create comprehensive budgets and financial projections. Without these, they are often caught off guard by unexpected expenses, leading to cash flow problems. 

→ A landscaping company may underestimate the costs of acquiring and maintaining equipment, leading to unforeseen breakdowns that disrupt projects and increase expenses. 

Other crucial business-planning steps include conducting market analysis, creating buyer personas, and creating an operations plan for inventory, scheduling, and dispatch.

Solution: Develop a comprehensive business plan that includes:

✔ Financial projections

✔ Market analysis

✔ Operational planning

This plan should serve as a roadmap for your business's growth and sustainability. Regularly review and update the plan annually to account for new opportunities and changing market conditions.

Identify potential risks and develop contingency plans for various scenarios. This might include backup lawn mower equipment, subcontractor arrangements, or a clear response plan for weather-related disruptions. 

If necessary, consult with business advisors or landscape industry veterans who can offer expertise in business planning and financial management.

4. Ineffective marketing

Business owners must know how to effectively market their landscape business to build long-standing relationships with new customers and a strong reputation in a competitive industry,

Most consumers search for landscaping professionals online. If your landscaping company hasn't built an online presence or optimized its website for local SEO, those consumers won’t find you. 

Many successful lawn care companies also build brand awareness locally by investing in traditional marketing campaigns such as billboards, radio commercials, direct mail, and local sponsorships to reach homeowners and commercial business owners. 

Solution: Invest in a professional website, regularly update social media profiles, and encourage customer reviews and testimonials to enhance your online presence. 

Optimize your website for local search by including location-based keywords and ensuring your business is listed in online directories like Google Business Profiles (formally Google My Business). 

Explore traditional marketing methods to reach a broader audience, combining them with online efforts for a multichannel marketing approach. Business owners who lack the capacity or marketing know-how should consult with a marketing agency to help increase their brand awareness and lead acquisition. 

5. Inconsistent quality of work

Customers rely on landscaping services to enhance the safety, functionality, and aesthetic appeal of their outdoor spaces. Inconsistencies happen due to a lack of:

  • Training

  • Proper employee resources

  • Quality control standards

No matter the reason, inconsistent work quality erodes trust and can lead to customer dissatisfaction, undermining a company’s ability to retain and attract clients. 

Poor customer experiences create churn and cause clients to share their bad experiences with friends and family or online.

Solution: Implement clear quality standards and inspection processes to avoid landscaping work inconsistencies. A checklist accessible via a mobile app that landscapers have to fill out upon job completion will ensure crews don’t forget any steps for the job.

Standardizing operations and automating processes through landscape operations software enables employees to provide better service to customers. Aspire offers fully customizable workflows to improve operational efficiency. 

The Aspire Mobile app improves communication between the office and the field. It also tracks hours and provides daily plan reports to ensure crews have all the materials and equipment necessary for the day. Job site checklists ensure all required tasks are completed for each property.

6. Overexpansion

In their pursuit of rapid growth, landscaping business owners may accept more projects than they can handle. This leads to a cascade of problems that hurt:

  • Project quality

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Employee retention

  • Financial health

For example, when a landscaping company decides to expand into new geography or branch out from residential to commercial landscaping without adequate resources, it takes resources away from existing clients.

In these circumstances, the quality of work and the company's reputation can suffer. Crews who are overworked will look for employment elsewhere. The chaos of managing an excessive workload results in operational inefficiencies, hurting the business's overall performance.

Solution: To avoid growing too quickly, develop a clear business plan and always keep an eye on key business metrics. When you power your business with Aspire, you gain access to customizable drill-down dashboards that provide the necessary data to make responsive decisions that protect profits and ensure sustained growth.

With Aspire reporting, data can be queried through standard reports and customizable search lists for insights into:

  • Financials

  • Sales

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Job costs

  • Team performance

  • KPIs

Armed with that data, business owners can expand gradually in manageable phases, allowing the business to adapt and learn from each stage.

7. Personal burnout

Running your own business, while rewarding, is a high-stress job. You must manage many moving parts while ensuring customers and employees remain happy. And if you’re still in the field, it’s physically demanding, too.

Personal burnout has far-reaching consequences on a business owner’s well-being, the success of the company, and the satisfaction of both customers and employees. 

Creating healthy boundaries to honor work-life balance helps you be a better operator and boss.

Solution: Automating processes with software streamlines operations and reduces errors to eliminate the need for oversight from leadership. 

Backed by cloud-based software accessible from anywhere, business owners can delegate tasks and responsibilities to competent employees and restrict their time and attention to the critical aspects of running a successful business. 

Set your landscaping business up for success with business management software from Aspire.

Many of the common mistakes that lead to landscape business failure come down to inefficiencies, whether in:

  • Training

  • Marketing

  • Quality of work

  • Business planning

A comprehensive business plan paired with the right landscape business software will guide and optimize your business from all angles. 

Trusted by industry leaders since 2013, Aspire Software was created by industry experts to meet the evolving needs of landscape contractors. Ready to see how Aspire can help you grow into a profitable business? Schedule a free demo

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