How To Install Flowers Correctly

This video explains why learning how to install flowers correctly could make or break your business.

I’d like to give you some ideas on how to install flowers correctly. I’d normally stick to business and marketing advice and people advice and scaling the company and things like that. I leave the tricks of the trade and equipment topics to other people. However, in this case, I thought I’d talk about flowers a little bit. I think I can make a couple business points in talking about this example…how to make your business better and how to make your life a little bit easier.

In the early days, I installed flowers and I as a total newbie to the lawn care business. I’d been in it as a high school kid, you’ve probably heard me say that before, but I got out. Years later, I got back in the business. So I’m now in the business and everybody’s asking for flowers. So I’m buying flowers from the contractors, maybe I’m going to Home Depot or Lowe’s and I’m picking up some flowers. More often than not, I’m buying flowers from a legitimate flower source. We’re installing all types of varieties. We’re letting the client tell us, “Hey, I want these flowers or that flower.” We’re picking it up. We’re sourcing the color and we’re taking it out and we’re installing it.

Well, in those early days, I’d install pretty much anything you wanted me to install. I would also, basically, dig a hole and plant your flowers. Then, I’d wonder, “Why are we having so many problems with flowers? Why do we get callbacks? Why don’t they get big? Why don’t they look great?” We’re telling the client how to water them and we’re installing them.

You know, slowly, as we became smarter, just like everything else in business, we realized, wow, if you install the flowers at the right time of the year, then they can grow so much bigger. If you install the flowers and you fertilize them right away and then you don’t allow the client or you don’t fertilize them too soon, but you then follow up with the second fertilization, wow, what a difference it can make. Also, if you leave it up to your client in how to water the flowers and you don’t give very specific instructions, it can lead to all kinds of callbacks because the flowers die because they’re over-watered or potentially under-watered.

Also amazing, if you actually prep the soil, so you remove the dead flowers, you prep the soil, you fertilize and then you plant and you water, you make sure they’re watered before you leave (assuming it’s not the heat of- you know, assuming you’re not in the middle of summer, it’s not super hot and you’re going to burn the flowers by watering them in the heat of day), you control more variables. As a result, you have more success.

We found all these little tricks. Then, if you refined it further and you said, “You know what? I have clients that are asking for 20 different varieties of flowers. The different varieties that they’re asking for cause me all kinds of problems. They’re more finicky. To really thrive, they need to be planted at different times. Or if I plant this particular variety of flower and the winter color had a fungus and I don’t catch that and therefore replace all the soil before I put in the summer color, I’m going to lose the summer color.” You can imagine all the problems. We figured all those things out over time.

So, here’s my suggestion. This is the case with everything. If you’re going to do flowers in the beginning, read some books and figure out how to do it right. If you do what everybody else does and you just buy the flowers from a vendor and then you put them in the ground and you water them or you hope the client’s going to water them correctly, you’re never going to have great flowers. What’s going to happen is, your client is not going to be thrilled with you. They might love you for everything else, but you let them down in flowers because you just didn’t take all the steps you should have taken. You didn’t educate them. Therefore, the flowers didn’t turn out very good. That gives them a bad feeling about you and you end up getting fired for everything.

If you’re going to be in the flower business and your business isn’t very big yet, my suggestion is charge what you need to charge to do it right: to prep the soil, to fertilize, to install the flowers and get paid for it. Don’t try to offer a great price and simply, on demand, put in whatever flower the client wants. It’s a recipe for failure.

I also would recommend that you figure out the varieties that work. In my market, there are very specific varieties: Begonias, Vinca, Pansies, there are several others that I know are going to do well. They’re going to do well in every lawn, generally, every lawn if done right. As long as I’m aware of whether I’m planting the flower in shade or sun, those basic principles, they’re going to do well.

Once I get outside of certain varieties, I up my risk factor. So if I was as smart as I am now, which is only so smart, and I was getting back into the business, knowing what I now know, I would probably only install about 6 to 8 varieties of flowers. That would be it. I would only do it my way and I would charge the right price.

If it wasn’t a fit for the client, they wanted a different flower or they didn’t want to pay to have the flowers fertilized, they weren’t going to take my irrigation instructions or maybe even let me set their timer for them, I wouldn’t do the job. Because what it would end up doing, I learned over time, is it cost me my reputation. They don’t refer me. They’re not as happy with me. They might even eventually fire me for all the other services because of the flowers.

If you’re going to do it, if you’re going to be in that part of the business, be in that part of the business correctly. This carries forward to everything. If you’re going to be in tree trimming, figure out the 80-20 of tree trimming. What are the core principles you need to know? If you’re going to install mulch, figure out how to do it right. Figure out how to not do it one job at a time. Figure out how to stage your jobs and bunch them because that’s where the profit is.

Figure out the basics of whatever that service is that you’re going to enter into. Understand the key factors that, in a sense, move the lever to achieve success and prevent failure and frustration and all the other things that come from not understanding what you’re doing or doing it correctly or not being a pro at it. Figure those things out and then simplify it. Like I said, 8 varieties of flowers. That’s all we do.

As the company matures, you get smarter, you have a bigger team, and of course you can do more. But in the beginning, keep it simple, be really good at it. It will just make everything else in your life so much easier.

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