Throwing in the Trowel – Gardener leads the trades with a forward thinking approach
Back in Victorian times gardening used to be a wonderfully simple affair: you either had the wherewithal to pay your burly groundsman to tend to your estate, or you didn’t own a garden. The division was clear, wonderfully so in fact. There was no Hyacinth Bucket peering over the fence with disdain at your withering daffs. Nor was there the overwhelming selection of trowels and kneeling pads leering at you from the shelves in Asda as you shuffle towards the aisle where the bacon lives. No, they were simpler days, when botanists were considered eccentric explorers and the rest of us ordinary folk were left alone to uproot spuds in happy ignorance.
In contrast, we now live in a world where Titchmarsh and Monty actually inspire us to don our gardening gloves and stick in a few perennials after we’ve mown the lawn. Dare I say it, gardening is surprisingly therapeutic. The downsides are that it’s extremely time consuming and considerably harder than you might imagine. Not only does your green-fingered artistry only last until the next spot of drizzle, but most of what you spend your money on in Homebase gets eaten by slugs. Imagine Monet’s water lilies were getting scribbled on by a child and eaten by a goat as he was trying to paint them. He would have given up and watched Ski Sunday.
There is however a solution to all this heartache. The heroic gardener, who will pop round in a Transit, whip out the leaf blower and sort your garden out in a couple of hours, and all for the cost of a reasonable quality trowel.
Gardeners today are upping their game. Most are now far from the much-maligned man in a van with a mower who may or may not nick the stack of tiles from your shed. Many of them in fact are very well trained in landscaping, garden design and horticulture. They’re a new breed of garden expert, educated small-business owners who take pride in their work and have a genuine passion for creating beautiful outdoor spaces. Amazing, you say! Tell me who to call. Unfortunately it’s just not that easy. Finding an honest and reliable gardener is still a game of risk. But a little investigation, as ever pays dividends.
Eve Worrall, 25 from Falmouth in Cornwall is one such gardener. Her full title Eve Worrall (Dip.Hort) is the first clue that you might get a bit more thought put into your borders. Eve’s diploma in horticulture isn’t just a few letters on her business cards. It’s representative of her whole approach to gardening as a business which puts client satisfaction ahead of everything else.
I asked Eve how her business is placed amongst her competitors and whether she felt different in her approach.
“I really feel like it’s a changing industry. On the whole people haven’t got the cash to spend on regular gardeners at the moment so it’s getting more difficult to pick up work. There are a lot of gardeners who have packed it in and gone into office work or bar jobs, but I see it as an opportunity really. It’s like anything else, people want the best product for their money and I feel that because of my training and experience I can deliver a better service than the majority of the other gardeners out there. The main hurdle is communicating this message.”
Eve’s approach to marketing is also ahead of the times within her industry. It may come as a surprise to find that the majority of Eve’s work comes from non-traditional marketing. Gone are the days when an ad in the paper was the final word in accessing customers.
“It seems like my customers want more than just a phone number before they give me a job. They want to know that I keep appointments and work hard, to a high standard. I’ve found that word of mouth is great for this but nowhere near fast enough to gain me the clients I need. I started using Cuckoo Vine to market myself as it’s a really cheap way to get a powerful presence online.”
Search for ‘Eve Worrall Gardening’ on
CuckooVine.co.uk and you’ll see that Eve’s clients do the sales pitch for her. Not only do their reviews speak volumes, but each comment was automatically posted to all their friends on Facebook. With an average of 130 friends per person in the UK, this is an automatic marketing channel to be ignored at a business’ peril. Eve tells me of one experience when this almost went against her.
“I had a bad review once. Seeing as Cuckoo Vine is an independent site and I have no control over reviews this was potentially bad news for my business. However, some of my clients clicked on the thumbs down button and the review was automatically deleted. I think it’s great, it’s a very fair system which gives an open account of my day to day dealings with customers. I’d say any business owners who are proud of their ethos and customer services should show off by getting on Cuckoo Vine too. It’s helped secure new clients too because I can email them a link to my Cuckoo Vine listing and they can see the kind of feedback I’m getting.”
It’s a common problem within the service industry and the trades that there is very little consumer protection. If a gardener, or for that matter a plumber or builder, does a bad job then often it’s tough luck. There’s no comeback for the customer. I asked Eve whether she saw this as a problem which impacts her industry and business.
“I honestly feel like it’s the biggest hurdle in gaining new clients. People feel vulnerable letting gardeners and tradesmen into their houses or gardens, and the reason for this is that most people have been stung by bad workmen at least once. And there’s nothing they can do, you can’t walk back to a shop with your receipt, when it comes to tradesmen and women, people are completely reliant on the company they’re dealing with having integrity and an honest ethic. Unless you have some way of vetting companies, like Cuckoo Vine, you’re running a risk.”
In fact, addressing the lack of consumer protection within the trades and service industries is one of the main objectives of Cuckoo Vine as a website. Its aim in the long run is to start a new era of accountability within the UK’s service sector. No mean feat when scattered liberally throughout the trades are the Del Boys and sharks that make finding a trustworthy company a complete gamble. But this new level of accountability must start somewhere, and fortunately there are service providers like Eve Worrall Gardening who are leading the way.
I put it to Eve that by approaching her work, marketing and customer service in a forward thinking way, she’s doing a lot to put pressure on others to follow her lead.
“Well so they should! If a company can’t be proud of the way they deal with their customers, and if they’re afraid that feedback on their work might be public knowledge, then they don’t deserve to be in business. You can’t just sweep your clients under a rug, and for that reason you have to do everything you can to make sure they’re all completely satisfied with your company and your work.”
It’s this kind of mindset which sets Eve apart from many of her competitors. Gardening, like many of the trades, can be an old and simple business, but some companies are leading the way towards making the trades a customer based and contemporary business sector. If Eve’s approach is anything to go by, her business might even outgrow her herbaceous borders.
Find out more about Eve Worrall Gardening, leave reviews or even market your own business on Cuckoo Vine: