Mastering the Art of Big Landscaping Jobs: Insights from Keith Kalfas and Brian Fullerton

Uncategorized Apr 30, 2024

Hey everyone, Keith here!


Today, I want to share some golden nuggets from a recent chat I had with Brian Fullerton about tackling big landscaping jobs.


Whether you're just starting out or looking to scale up, these insights are going to help you navigate the complexities of larger projects.


Starting Small and Scaling Up

Starting with smaller projects is crucial in the landscaping business. It allows you to build your skills, understand client needs, and manage your resources effectively. Brian and I discussed how important it is to start small and gradually take on bigger projects.


I shared a story about a $13,000 job that involved a complete overhaul of a property's landscaping.


The key takeaway? Don't jump into big jobs without building up your experience and confidence through smaller projects. Each project teaches you something new, and every challenge you overcome builds your capability to handle more significant tasks.


This gradual progression ensures that when you do take on larger projects, you are fully prepared to meet the challenges with the right skills and knowledge.


The Importance of Planning and Phasing

One of the most critical aspects we covered was the importance of detailed planning and phasing the job.

Breaking down a big job into manageable parts not only makes it less overwhelming but also allows for better control and execution.


For instance, day one might be dedicated to clearing out old plants and debris, while subsequent days focus on installation and detailing. This methodical approach ensures that each phase of the project is completed to the highest standard and that the final outcome meets the client's expectations.


Planning also involves preparing for the unexpected. Weather, supply issues, and other unforeseen circumstances can affect your timeline and budget, so it's essential to have contingency plans in place.


Effective planning also includes regular communication with your team to ensure everyone is on the same page and any adjustments to the plan are made swiftly.


Pricing Strategies and Customer Communication

We also dived deep into pricing strategies. It's crucial to ensure you're not just covering costs but also making a profit.


A good rule of thumb is aiming for a 50% gross profit margin. This means if the total cost of the job is $6,000, you should charge at least $12,000 to ensure a healthy profit.


Transparent communication with your client about costs and expectations not only builds trust but also prevents surprises down the line. Discussing the budget upfront and keeping the client informed about any changes ensures that both parties are on the same page throughout the project.


It's also important to be transparent about potential additional costs that may arise during the project, so the client feels informed and involved in the decision-making process.


Upselling and Managing Expectations

Upselling isn't just about increasing your earnings—it's about offering value to your clients.


During the job, opportunities might arise to enhance the project, which can benefit both you and the client.


However, it's essential to manage expectations and ensure any additional work is fully agreed upon.


For example, if you notice that a garden could benefit from a new irrigation system, discuss this with the client and explain the long-term benefits. Always ensure that the client understands the value of the additional work and agrees to the extra cost before proceeding.


Managing expectations also means being clear about what can realistically be achieved within the budget and timeframe, and always striving to exceed those expectations where possible.


Practical Tips for Execution


When tackling large landscaping projects, the difference between success and failure often lies in the details. Here are some practical tips that can help ensure smooth execution and high-quality results:


- Utility Services: Always call utility services before you dig to avoid damaging underground lines.

This is not just a safety measure but also a legal requirement in many areas. Damaging utility lines can lead to significant disruptions, not only for your project but also for the surrounding community.


It can result in costly repairs and potential fines. By contacting utility services, you ensure that all underground lines are clearly marked, and your team can work around them safely.


- Checklists: Use checklists to ensure nothing is overlooked.

This can include materials, tools, and processes. Checklists help maintain quality control and ensure that every aspect of the job is completed.


They are especially useful in large projects where multiple team members may be working on different tasks. By having a standardized checklist, you can ensure consistency and completeness across the project.


Checklists should be comprehensive and cover everything from pre-job safety checks to final inspections. They serve as a fail-safe to prevent small oversights that can lead to bigger problems down the line.


- Setbacks: Anticipate and prepare for potential setbacks.

Having a flexible approach and being prepared to adjust plans as needed can help keep the project on track despite challenges. It's also crucial to maintain a positive attitude and view each setback as a learning opportunity that can improve future projects.


Whether it's unexpected weather conditions, supply delays, or equipment failures, setbacks are a normal part of any project. The key is to have contingency plans in place.


This might mean scheduling buffer days for weather delays or having backup suppliers for critical materials. By planning for these possibilities, you can minimize downtime and keep the project moving forward.


- Communication: Effective communication is vital in managing large projects.


Regular updates and meetings with your team and the client can help ensure everyone is aligned with the project goals and progress.


Use tools like project management software to keep track of tasks and share updates in real time.

Good communication also involves listening to your team and client feedback, which can provide valuable insights and help you make necessary adjustments to the project plan.


- Quality Assurance: Implement quality assurance processes to ensure that all work meets the required standards. This could involve regular inspections and audits at different stages of the project.


Quality assurance helps identify issues early, allowing for corrections before they become more significant problems. It also ensures that the final product meets both your standards and the client's expectations, leading to higher client satisfaction and repeat business.




Landing and executing a $13,000 landscaping job isn't about luck; it's about hard work, planning, and customer service.


By starting small, planning meticulously, and communicating transparently, you can scale your landscaping business to new heights.


Remember, every big project is an opportunity to showcase your skills and build your reputation in the industry.


Embrace each project with enthusiasm and dedication, and you'll see your business grow and thrive.