Jenny Millar’s business Garden Angel is keeping her very busy. “As soon as one job finishes, another seems to take its place, so my calendar has been quite full. As the sun sets later with daylight savings, I manage to fit in three gardening jobs some days, to stay on top of the work and keep everyone happy,” she explains.
Starting her own business was a welcome restart for Jenny, after a stressful period of family, employment and financial changes that had taken a real toll on her. With help from the NEIS program in Shepparton (delivered by Box Hill Institute); Jenny worked out what she could offer and turned those services into her business model. The process wasn’t as complicated as she had thought it would be and made a real boost to her confidence and morale.
Jenny quickly discovered that Garden Angel could supply a range of complimentary services. She simply had to take a step back and look at what could fit together well, for her and for her clients. Being ready to take opportunities is what NEIS training is all about.
In response to requests, Jenny started selling fertiliser and other products she could deliver when working on a job. This was a big help to frail or time-poor clients. Jenny could buy at trade prices from manufacturers and wholesalers. Marking items up to retail price gave a valuable service to clients at no real cost to them, while making a little more money for Garden Angel.
Most new clients are word-of-mouth referrals, some from existing customers and some from a local nursery that Jenny has a great ongoing relationship with. Loyalty to suppliers is crucial for successful businesses. “I once postponed my gardening jobs over a three-day period, to pot up bare-root trees at the nursery, to help them with that sizeable task,” says Jenny. Many new clients are referred to Jenny by the nursery; who are then able to supply Garden Angel with the variety of plants needed for a new project. “It is wonderful to have been so well supported and encouraged by my suppliers, clients and friends who have kept the work coming my way,” she says.
There is no shortage of customers for Garden Angel. “My rates are really reasonable, clients like me and what I can offer them,” says Jenny. “They like supporting a local, reliable, small business and a hardworking single parent.”
“I have been too busy to get business cards done yet, and quite frankly I haven’t needed them! I tell people not to lose my phone number, as I am not listed in the phone book and my number isn’t given out to every man and his dog,” says Jenny.
“I touch base with most of my ongoing clients regularly, and others periodically – everyone seems very happy. I try to go the extra mile, to offer a bit more than my clients expect; to leave them pleasantly surprised and to show them I can be counted on,” says Jenny. “Some older and unwell clients also look forward to my visits for the conversation as much as the work in their gardens. A great part of the job is seeing a client’s mood improve as their garden improves.”
Would you like to have a chat about your new business idea? Find out if you may be eligible for this Australian Government sponsored program. Use the postcode search tool to locate your nearest NEIS provider.