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Posted:  30 Apr 2011 01:33  
Hi everyone! First time posting here. It's been over a month now on this new business and I haven't had any luck. I've driven over town and looked at places. I've called over 100 places but with no luck. I don't live in a big town. Maybe around 20,000 people.

I typically cold call and see if they have a plant service or if they would be interested. I'm always polite and professional. Most people say they don't need the service. Or the secretary waters the plants. Or with restaurants they just don't want any. I've seen restaurants here in town with no plants or dying plants and they're still not interested.

I've shown them a portfolio of plants that are beautiful. I don't think I charge too much, plus I give them 2 options. Most people just don't want the service period.

Is it possible to be in a town that's too small for this? In your opinon, how long should someone try a business before they throw in the towel and move on? Should I go to the bigger towns?

I'm a single mom of 2 who homeschools. I've also been self-employed for 10 years in the residental cleaning business. I'm wanting to move on to something else besides cleaning. I know how to be professional and so forth, but I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've seriously thought about calling score or sba to find a mentor. I don't know if I'm wasting my time or not.

I'd hate to quit and wonder what might have been. Thank you for your time, Tina
Posted:  30 Apr 2011 04:48  
You may have hit on something there, Tina...SCORE is a good place to start, because you seem to lack a business plan, which is key to starting a serious business enterprise.  It will help you a great deal to get a mentor who can guide your first steps as a business person.  Even though you have run a cleaning business for ten years, you haven't really run a professional company (there are lots of free-lance house-cleaners, but very few are organized businesses).

It may very well be that your local market is either already over-saturated with plant contractors or is a "depressed" market with little potential for a business like the one you would like to grow.  If there is a neighboring area within reasonable travel distance (20 miles or so) that has some large office developments or a mid-sized city, I would definitely expand my horizons to include prospecting in those areas, where potential accounts will be more plentiful and concentrated geographically to make your routes more cost-effective.

As for marketing strategies, your mentor can help you with deciding on what might work best in your market.  Direct mail, phone canvassing, internet marketing, whatever...best of luck with the new endeavor, and remember that it will take three years or so before you will truly be able to assess whether or not your efforts are going to bear fruit for the long haul.  It's a commitment you must be willing to make...otherwise, you'll be cheating yourself and disappointment will be the result.

Clem
Posted:  02 May 2011 15:16  
Please don't be insulted by this comment, but what qualifies you to specify and maintain plants?  If I was a potential client, that would be the first thing that would come to my mind.  Although the business structure may be somewhat similar to a cleaning service, not many things die if they are not cleaned properly.  A substantial investment will be entrusted to you, and, as a client, I would want to know that that trust is founded in experience.

I would suggest working for someone who had done this already before I would venture into this arena of business.

Julie
Posted:  03 May 2011 22:32  
Tina, the typical sales cycle for an interiorscape contract is 6 to 12 months or more, meaning it can take that long to land your first sale!  So assuming that youv'e done your homework, there's enough of a market in your town and you have something unique to offer be prepared for this and keep another source of income going in the meantime.  Good luck! 
-Kathy Fediw
Posted:  06 May 2011 05:09   Last Edited By: Plantionus 
Tina,
keep your faith!
Even though it would help, you don't have to have a business plan, a horticulture background and 12 months ahead of you before getting business.
If you can run a cleaning service, you probably can run a watering plant service.
I have no idea if you know how to service the plants but if nothing else, you can learn.
The most important qualities are will and determination.
Keep your cleaning service as your main activity and develop your plant service on the side. Knock on doors to inform and educate people about the benefits of having a professional plant service (no more dying plants, creating an attractive image for customers and employees, no more who's in charge of watering the plants, no more trips to walmarts to replace the plants, one low monthly fee and beautiful plants, always.)
Eventually you will get customers and you will be rewarded by your efforts!
Posted:  06 May 2011 16:26  
I know I won't be popular with this response, but having no horticultural background or experience is asking for trouble.  Do you have any clue how long a Dracaena `Janet Craig' or Aglaonema will last in 40 footcandles?  That is an example of the knowledge base that you must have to be able to properly bid a guaranteed account.

I'm all for determination, but unknowledgeable, blind determination does more damage to this industry than many other things.  Again, gain some experience by working for someone else first.

Julie
Posted:  06 May 2011 17:55  
Plantionus, you gave some pretty conflicting advice and info in your posting!  First, you told Tina that if she can run a cleaning service, she can run "a watering plant service"...that isn't exactly the same as "a professional plant service", which is what you advised Tina to market herself as to her prospective clients.

Tina, take Julie's advice and get yourself up to speed on the industry you're planning on joining before you jump in with both feet.  That's a big part of "professionalism"...planning and preparation.

Good luck with your new venture.

Clem
Posted:  21 Jun 2011 03:16  
I've been in this business since the late 70's and have worked for some the largest in the industry before going out on my own. The best advice you got was to go to work in the industry first to learn the ropes before opening a business.
Posted:  22 Jun 2011 01:19  
If you think you can or can't you are correct. When I started in this industry over 20 years ago I didn't know a pine tree from a palm tree and "google" didn't exist. I am sure that if you "google" "how long a Dracaena `Janet Craig' or Aglaonema will last in 40 footcandles" or just post it on here, you will get the "technical" answers you need. If you think you can or can't you are correct.
Posted:  22 Jun 2011 23:50  
If it were only that simple.  The plants are the least of your worries when you're trying to start up an interiorscape business (or any similar service business).  Maybe in the Flintstone Age, when things were simpler...

Clem
Posted:  23 Jun 2011 00:39  
Clem, I forgot please refresh my memory <scratching head> how many interiorscape businesses have you personally started/owned? FYI, Personally I have started, built and sold three of my own, GM'd two of the top 10 in the world and consulted with many more start ups and medium to large size businesses 1-12MM. I have always found that if you think you can or can't you are correct! Finally, I would like to say what the guy at the local store said to me today. Sir, "Have the good day!" Not have a good day but Have the good day! LOL, I thought that was funny.
Posted:  23 Jun 2011 23:21  
Hey, Fred, so why don't you tell us who you are so we can bask in the reflected glow of your reputation?  Just curious...

Clem
Posted:  23 Jun 2011 23:55  
most people are anonomous here. thats whats so great about this forum
Posted:  24 Jun 2011 15:09  
No, that's what limits the credibility of this forum.  If I don't know the identity of the person who's posting about their experience in the industry, how do I know they're telling the truth?  No accountability, no credibility.

Clem
Posted:  24 Jun 2011 16:03  
I agree with Clem.  I find postings by anonymous people to be suspect, and therefore, lower in credibility.

Some people purposely post outrageous/incorrect info, just to see if they can get a rise from someone.

Julie
Posted:  25 Jun 2011 06:14  
LOL,

I simply asked Clem a question <smirk> which was totally avoided and attention diverted immediately to a totally different subject. There are people here that I have spoken in private with and know who I am. So, I laugh at the actions of those who wish they knew me. The fact is that if you think you can or can't you are most of the time correct. Now, if the original poster would like to give a better description of her location and situation I would be very happy to help her sell her first account. I would also be interested in doing an assesment of the situation and provide any guidance I possibly could. Other than that, I just like pointing out a few things from time to time. Again, remember I simply asked a question and was immediately attacked for remaining anonymous. I was very shocked at the fact that Julie agreed with Clem. LOL    (((((((NOT))))))) So back to the question,,, Yo-Clem-bo how many was that? ROFLMAO
Posted:  25 Jun 2011 14:14  
I guess we can't all participate in Fred's alternate universe.  Oh, well...
Posted:  27 Jun 2011 16:22  
So now I'm added to your hate list, huh?  Nice professionalism.

Julie
Posted:  12 Jul 2011 12:38  
Ahhh, the politics of a forum.  Pick a forum, any forum, and this stuff happens....

Anyway,  IMHO, I think working the industry first is good advice.  I think SCORE is great advice.  Gaining knowledge before you jump in is also right up there...

This said, have you a web presence?  Have you considered a Chamber of Commerce membership, have you networked, have you told everyone you meet what you are doing?  The power of networking is great!  Have you listed with your current clients/cleaning, that this is a service you offer?  (mind you, a lot of my residential accounts have "cleaner/housekeepers" and I would be ...irritated if they took "my" job from me!)

Not to be odd, but where are you located?  This could be the main factor you are stopped by.  You say a smallish town, is this town struggling as it is?  Then you are in the wrong town/industry!  No offense meant to the general public, but one of the first things to go is "services" and plant service is usually up there on the list.  (sadly) unless you are in a very good geographic area!

all this said, Good luck.  It takes some serious drive to own two businesses, be a Mom and a home schooler.  If nothing else, your kids will learn determination and a lot more from you!
Posted:  10 Aug 2011 17:51  
"Ahhh, the politics of a forum.  Pick a forum, any forum, and this stuff happens.... "

LOL ain't that the truth. There's no way to check out anyone's credentials on an anonymous Internet forum and besides, even the biggest expert on something can still be wrong. What you have to do instead is to check out the truth of what they're saying. Which means that questions like "how many businesses have you personally started" don't make any sense. Anyone can claim anything. Doesn't make it true, and doesn't matter anyway.
Posted:  10 Aug 2011 18:46  
Jason,

I, too, dislike the anonymous forum setup, but it is what it is at the moment. 

I've been doing this work for over 30 years now, and I've seen a lot and had to deal with many different scenarios and problems, so I try to give my best take on the question at hand.  I always try to give multiple possible solutions to give the questioner the most flexibility in dealing with their specific situation, but if I don't know the answer, I'll always say so.

That's the beauty of a community of like-minded people...someone among the group is likely to have experienced something similar and can give us all the benefit of their experience and the lessons learned.  Those blowing smoke are just having fun and wasting time.

Clem
Posted:  27 Sep 2011 06:01  
Fred Flintstone, aka pompous a.s.s.
Don't attack those who are protecting the Interiorscape industry. There's nothing worse than obtaining an account that has been at the hands of the cleaning lady. No offense to Tina, but some experience will go a long way.
This site is used by professionals seeking advise, not looking for threads of useless banter by people looking for a thrill.
And Fred, I've heard that the Grand Poohbah has decided postings by neanderthals will no longer be accepted.
Now make yourself useful and go let Dino out.
Posted:  21 May 2012 12:33  
There are people here that I have spoken in private with and know who I am. So, I laugh at the actions of those who wish they knew me. I simply asked a question and was immediately attacked for remaining anonymous.Anyone can claim anything. Doesn't make it true, and doesn't matter anyway.

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