Author Topic: The Landscape Hub Winter Work Campaign - Step Two  (Read 2827 times)

Alan Sargent

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The Landscape Hub Winter Work Campaign - Step Two
« on: August 04, 2013, 11:08:23 am »

Thank you all for your brilliant response to last weeks’ opening statement on the Landscape Hub’s Winter Work Campaign. The competition running alongside it has produced some very interesting slogans! We need many more – it doesn’t matter how many times you enter your thoughts – imagine you are sitting in on a brain storming session with an advertising company, all shouting out and developing ideas – what we need are more ‘Mantras’. Slogans such as my proposal ‘To Succeed, Fill a Need!’  How about another one. ‘Hubbers of The World Unite! We’ll Find Winter Work All Right!’ Keep ‘em coming!

The reasoning behind running a campaign by instalments is multi-faceted. I do not have all the answers to this tricky problem and need your input. For those of us living in the South – no problem, there is/should be loads of opportunities to find enough work, if we try and think outside of our usual boxes. I am keenly aware that many more landscapers live and work in more ‘hostile territory’ when it comes to both weather and potential customer base.

This is also a progressive affair. As a Campaign, it needs to grow and develop to suit everybody, and that means a Step By Step approach, based on a logical sequence of examining your own resources and available skills, identifying potential existing and new markets, making constructive contact with those markets, producing your own bespoke offer to them, in a timely manner.  (It is never a good idea to have to rush into these things, as it is so easy to take on work that you KNOW is no good to you, but you were desperate at the time, and did not work out your programme earlier.)

Step Two should follow on from Step One inasmuch as you need to feel completely relaxed and confident that you can service your offer. I will be covering the merits of Buddying Up with one or more people to enhance your work opportunities at a later date.

You need to now work out how much time you think you can reasonably/easily fill without additional Winter Work. Do you need to find one, two, three or more extra days each week? Do you need to find alternative works, as you rely on mowing and grass cutting for the majority of the year? If we cover off thirteen weeks – say January through to March inclusive – how many days work do you actually need? This is an important question, as over trading will cause as many problems as having too little work.

Existing Customers – not only those that you are working for today, but perhaps check out all those for whom you have worked for over the past three years. The numbers and type of clients will vary from firm to firm, but they should all be aware of your company, and have a clear idea of your skills and services.

Potential new sources will include Insurance Companies, especially your own. Parish Councils, Parochial Church Councils, (look around ten miles or more for this source, or as far as you could be called ‘local’), Trading Estates, Sports Clubs or anywhere with large car parks and wealthy visitors, Police stations in your chosen area (for Emergency works), Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes, Office complexes (again, where it is vital for the owners to keep the sites clear of debris/damage/snow etc), Private ‘Squares’ in Cities and large Towns.
National Trust and English Heritage sites. Large Estates e.g. Goodwood. Anywhere that MUST be maintained to a high standard, yet has had staff cutbacks, relying on Summer Staff. Offer them Winter Staff in an emergency, or to carry out vital works they do not have the staff to carry out. This is where Step One becomes very important.

Case Study  About twenty years ago, I was asked to carry out a modest (£4,000) job in London for a ‘Square’ – a privately owned communal area accessed only by residents, where they can sit/walk/exercise pets and children – their own private garden in the middle of the city. These may be found in virtually every City, from Bristol to Edinburgh. The owners of properties situated around the squares all pay a sum of money to a Managing Agent who operates and maintains the areas. This payment is mandatory, and forms part of their Leasehold Tenancy Agreement (no-one ‘owns’ their houses, but live in them on long term leases. Many in London are owned by The Duke of Westminster).

The job involved replacing a number of broken concrete edging tiles, to the sides of a very long path – almost 800 metres to both sides – in Randolph Crescent, St Johns Wood.
Importantly, the work could only be carried out during the winter, to avoid disturbing the various ‘owners’. We were so popular with the individuals involved because we treated them all as though they were ‘our’ clients, meeting, greeting, generally being friendly gardeners, clearing up behind ourselves, never leaving any mess, that we worked in that Square for three successive winters. Projects eventually included replacing all of the rope top edging, creating a new rose garden, complete with timber frames and swag ropes, and a host of other schemes. We turned down the opportunity to renew a whole lot of metal railings. Stupid! I wouldn’t turn it down now, but find someone to carry out the work on my behalf.

The Managing Agents were delighted, not only with our work, but to have found a ‘civilised’ company to work with, and we ended up working in over a dozen or more of the famous ‘London Squares’, recommended to other Agents. When I ‘retired’ from contracting in 2001, to become Head Gardener at Goodwood, my son, James (Arun Landscapes Ltd) took over my work sources, and even today still carries out similar work. Only a few months ago, he carried out works in Holland Park.
There is still plenty of work there though – James only carries out fairly large schemes – he lives fifty miles away, and has a minimum charge rate, so don’t be put off! There are many, many other Squares in need of Winter Work.

Next week, I’ll look at HOW to approach these potential sources, in such a way that they think that you are doing them a service/favour. Also WHO to approach, especially when talking to Parish Councils and other public bodies. I have been a Church Warden for quite a few years, and a Parish Councillor, so have a pretty good idea of the protocol involved, aiming directly at ‘the right person’.