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Business Matters: Getting Costs Under Control

27/02/2024 - Services

In this article, Richard Bickler shares some invaluable tips on keeping business costs under control.

With three decades of landscaping experience, Richard Bickler is no stranger to the devastating effects of hidden costs and unexpected price rises. From extreme weather conditions, to employee sickness, delays in deliveries and nasty tax bills, he’s been on the receiving end of all of it. And he’s learned plenty of lessons along the way.

A back injury means that Richard can no longer get involved with hands-on landscaping but that doesn’t mean that his passion for creating beautiful spaces has been diminished in any way. As MD of Arbour Landscape Solutions, Richard has set out to make life easier for all of his industry colleagues. Which means that he not only works tirelessly to source the best landscaping materials at sensible prices, he’s also very happy to share his experiences to help others.

The Landscape Industry Specialist's top 12 tips for protecting your profit margins by getting costs under control.

  1. Calculate your business overheads and be sure to factor them in to your hourly rate. 
  2. Try not to compare yourself to competitors - your offering is completely different to theirs. Do be sure to give your clients the best possible value for money (which is not the same as cheapest price!)
  3. Research products carefully before quoting for a project. Think about the whole package - not just price but quality, customer service and delivery lead times.
  4. Develop a strong relationship with suppliers – the good ones will let you know when there are discounts to be had.
  5. Don’t guestimate prices for materials. Talk to suppliers BEFORE you submit the quote to your customer. Watch out for hidden costs. Make sure prices include delivery, offloading etc Register online to use the free online quoting facility on www.arbourlandscapesolutions.co.uk
  6. Things like late deliveries really impact on project costs – choose your supplier wisely – customer service is just as important as pricing.
  7. When clients ask for a tweak here or there, be sure to re-quote.
  8. Have a water-tight contract with the client. For advice on writing contracts and/or terms and conditions visit the Landscape Library
  9. Train your staff – don’t attempt work you’re not qualified to do. Yes, there is a cost to training, but the cost of remedial work is even higher. Talk to TASK about training courses.
  10. If in doubt – ask. Your Landscape Industry Specialist is here to offer technical advice on choosing and installing landscaping materials.
  11. Outsource the business tasks you’re less confident with. That way you free yourself up to focus on generating sales. Freelance marketers and bookkeepers are worth their weight in gold.
  12. Get a good accountant – make sure you are taking advantage of every possible tax-break.


Time-Efficient Procurement Practices 

You have your garden design, you know within a little which materials are required. Now it’s time to price the project.

You could spend time talking to supplier after supplier, trawling through catalogues, gathering samples, checking on availability etc. Is that the best use of your time? Will any possible price savings actually cover the cost of your time?


You could make full use of the tools on the Arbour Landscape Solutions website to find the products you need, and get prices and samples with just the click of a mouse.

Remember, that all of these tools are available 24/7. There’s no waiting for the office to open or the rep to come back from holiday. The information you need is there, instantly.

Online Quoting

Like the look of a product on the Arbour Landscape Solutions website but want to compare it with others? Simply click the “add to quote” button in the description. You can create a quote for each project and add as many products as you want to – then delete them again if they’re not right. It’s a good way to compare and contrast prices.

Our quoting system doesn’t hide anything from you. You’ll see delivery prices, VAT everything.

Discount for first time customers – if this is your first time using the Arbour Landscape Solutions quoting system, our team will apply a 5% discount to the entire quote. Redeemable if you order within 30 days.

Technical Information

Wondering which sub-base, adhesives or sealing materials to use? There is a confusing array of information out there. Don’t make costly mistakes. Talk to Richard Bickler at Arbour Landscape Solutions for FREE advice on any landscaping products…..even if they’re not on the website yet.

Another great source of advice is the Landscape Library. Written by Alan Sargent, a consultant with over 50 years-experience, this is an incredibly useful resource.  Click here to find out more.

Finding Reliable suppliers

The average landscaper buys from an average of 25 different suppliers. That’s a lot of people and it can make project management quite consuming.

Arbour Landscape Solutions is all about freeing up your time and allowing you to focus on the build. In short, when you buy from us, it’s simply a matter of choosing products, defining the quantities and requesting the delivery date. Richard and his team will liase with manufacturers, growers and hauliers and let you know when to expect your goods.

Business Matters

Arbour Landscape Solutions can’t run your business for you; that would be daft. BUT, Richard and his team can offer advice on landscape consultancy, technical information, and product sourcing. Those little snippets of information can be really useful when you are trying to keep costs under control. 

Getting costs under control is not about buying cheap products - it’s about running your business efficiently, minimising waste and offering such good value that your clients will recommend you to all of their contacts.

Useful Links

Landscape Library – articles and answers on everything related to running a landscape or garden design business

Product Sourcing services from Arbour Landscape Solutions

Sensibly priced website design and SEO services from Upshot Media