How to Create a Business Development Plan

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business development plan

Is it just us or is it hard to believe we’re already halfway through Q1? Seems like just yesterday we were setting goals and intentions for 2023 and now we’re checking in to see the progress and achievements we've already made.

Like most landscape business owners, the start of the year is full of ideas, excitement and intention. But as the year goes on, it’s easy to get distracted from your long-term business goals as the day-to-day operations take up most of your time. This year, we’re leaving all that behind. To make it easier for you to set goals (and crush them!), we’re sharing our business development checklist that will keep you on track year-round. Follow these steps and you’ll be blown away by your annual success.

Business Development Checklist:

  • Let’s say your goal is to make $5 million this year. That’s a great goal, but what does it really mean? You, as the landscape company owner, may know what steps are required to meet that goal, but often other employees in your company won’t be able to understand the breakdown. Without a holistic understanding from everyone on the team, you won’t be able to work together toward a shared goal.
  • So, how do you break it down? Consider what services are going to lead to that final $5 million: $2 million from installation jobs, $2 million from maintenance and maybe $1 million is from outsourced tree care. You can take this information and relay it back to your sales team so they know which areas of the business they should be focusing on. Sales team manages the sales pipeline and they need to make sure they are creating opportunities to match the annual income goal. Your sales and operation pipelines need to be in constant communication otherwise you’ll have a broken system which makes meeting goals nearly impossible.
  • Furthermore, you can take the annual number ($5 million) and divide it by 12 so you know your monthly goal. Go even further and divide it by 4 so you know your weekly goal. These weekly, bite-size financial goals are going to make it easier for your employees to conceptualize and execute–and before you know it… You’ve made $5 million in a year.
  • And remember: Goals don’t always have to be about a final number. Instead of hitting $5 million in revenue, consider phrasing goals like “this year we’re going to increase our workload” or “we’re going to work with new clients.” If you can identify and outline your goal, you’ll be able to define your strategy from there.

  • Broadening your connections with other industry professionals and landscape business owners, sets you up for more business in the future. How? If you’re registered with local and national landscape associations, your business will be on a list when people in your area (and beyond) are in need of a service.
  • Not only that, being part of larger organizations gives you a leg up on competitors, as you’ll have access to networking events, technology expos, expert advice, and local connections. Basically, when it comes to joining these associations, there are no downsides.
  • To begin, we recommend starting local. How can you get involved with your local community? Is there a chamber of commerce? City hall? Local government? If you show your interest and are actively involved, your time will be rewarded.
  • Next, get connected with your local trade services. We’re talking about plumbers, electricians, HVAC companies, etc. If you can get involved with the local service trade business, they can recommend or refer you to their clients when they inevitably need lawn care services.
  • For state specific organizations and associations, Texas offers the Texas Nursery Landscape Association (TNLA) and Colorado has a statewide organization, the Colorado Association of Landscape Contractors. Check to see if your state offers something similar because clients (and potential clients) may be willing to pay a higher price for a team that’s recognized at the state level.
  • The NALP (National Association of Landscape Professionals) offers certification to become licensed landscape technicians which can attract people and businesses to work with you, too.
  • Bottom line: Using these associations to network can help you become a better business person, teach you how to manage people, offer tips on how to improve your operations and sales, and create more work opportunities for the future.

  • The keyword here is “specific.” It’s one thing to say you want to tackle more work, but identifying exactly who you want to work with will make strategizing that much easier.
  • For example, do you want to work for a certain landscape architecture firm? Are there any interior designers in your area? Do your research then create opportunities to get to know them. That could be as simple as sending their team an email or dropping a flier off at one of their job sites. The best thing you can do is get on their bidder list so they can begin partnering with you. Show them your work, brand, quality, and expertise–and they’ll have no reason to turn you down.
  • Let’s say your desired specific area of growth includes working with higher-end clients. First, you need to know the area you typically service. Weigh the drive time and ease of access before jumping into a new demographic, as it’s easier to tap into the resources that are already around you.
  • Lastly, is there a new line of service you could explore? This could be installation, maintenance, tree care, power washing, irrigation repairs, plant healthcare, etc. If someone is subcontracting out other yard work after you’ve completed the standard mowing and trimming, ask yourself how your landscape business can become the all inclusive lawn care company clients can use that does it all.

  • Now that you know your goals, joined networks, and created growth in your service offerings, now you want to expand who you can service. First things first, ask yourself who your clientele is now. Can you break down where they live, what services they ask for, how often they require maintenance, what their average bill is?
  • To create sustainable growth, you need to assign ownership to the who, when and what. Who is your ideal client? When are you going to act on your next steps? What is your game plan to capture a new audience?
  • Some easy tips that smaller businesses have found success with include posting fliers in the specific neighborhoods you want to work in and including a referral message at the bottom of every invoice. Even something as simple as “please refer us to friends and family” can go a long way when trying to build up your clientele.

  • Finally, it’s time for the good stuff: Your wins! After all the hard work on the front end (outlining your goals, defining the strategy, making steps to meet those goals), you’re now at the point to see what your hard work has achieved.
  • We recommend setting up weekly or biweekly discussions with the entire team to discuss what has gone well and what could be improved upon. By including everyone, each team member can better see their direct contribution to the company’s success. Not only that, it keeps everyone on the same page as far as tracking goals.
  • So, how do you actually track success? Measure the timeline of each of your goals, breaking them down by week, month and quarter. This way, you can plot the expected path to success and you’ll have a specific place to check in each week. You’ll be able to see if you’re behind, on par or ahead of schedule–which will further inform which steps to take next.
  • It’s of vital importance to constantly know where you stand against your goals–so be sure to schedule this touchbase meeting week after week if you want to stay on top.

How do you feel? Inspired to create a new set of goals? Ready to chase a new service offering? Us too! And the best thing about business development is that it’s a constant part of running a landscape company. Just because Q1 is halfway over doesn't mean it’s too late to start. In fact, we think there’s no better time to use this checklist to set new goals for the remainder of the year–and we know you’ll be able to crush them.

Want more executive advice? Take a look at our peer groups and see what this style of coaching can do for your landscape business.