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Discover how Chris Cueva built his own landscaping empire

Landscaping is one of those property maintenance activities that is easy to take for granted when everything is trim – but becomes more urgent and costly the longer it is neglected. Anyone who maintains a large green area, especially if the area is used for a commercial purpose, needs to have adequate landscaping taking place to keep everything neat and safe for human use.

Landscaping is also, perhaps primarily, use for transforming natural environments into something aesthetically pleasing and functional for human use. The best landscapers are hardworking, physically-fit, and have a robust understanding of the natural environment they are entrusted to work with.

Having worked on landscaping jobs since the age of 11, helping his father’s lawncare business, Chris was well versed in the trade by the time he started running his own crew at 14. By the time he graduated high school (where he studied entrepreneurship and marketing), Chris was prepared to enter the industry proper and began to gain experience working for a variety of landscaping companies and even an arborist.

Chris later got the chance to work as a supervisor at an irrigation and landscape contracting firm, which gave him a lot valuable experience in a variety of situations. Although he is currently studying business administration and pursuing a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida, Chris was able to start his own company in 2018 under the name Cueva Lawn Care LLC.

Despite the pressure of managing a business at such a young age, Chris was nice enough to share some insights into building a profitable company that earns the trust of its surrounding community.

Knowing your path & leveraging existing assets

Chris says, “it was easier for me to get my start since I came from a landscaping background – I already knew the basics of how that kind of company runs and what expectations customers have”. Certainly, from the get-go Chris benefited from already being engrossed in the working culture of a professional landscaper, positioning him well to hone his business skills and kickstart a career without delay.

“Education is always important, but you need to pick your battles” Chris goes on to say – “…don’t delay your career if you know you’re ready, get out there and start making money. You will learn 100% more about running a business by actually doing it and making mistakes, rather than being lectured about it.”

Location, location, location

Chris explains that the humid and subtropical climate of Florida means “overgrown lawns with waist-high grass are pretty common, so there’s no shortage of work for us”, revealing that part of his success is simply due to location. “There’s no denying that Florida is a landscapers’ dream, especially with the number of retirees here who aren’t keen or capable to do their own mowing, hedging and trimming.”

It’s also certainly true that by essentially continuing the legacy of his father’s business, Chris has been able to capitalise on the existing trust his family name engenders in locals. “It’s no secret why the business is named Cueva – that name means something to people, it carries the character of hard-work, respect and professionalism.”

This is also a great motivator for Chris, who takes his reputation very seriously – “right from the start the pressure was on to live up to public expectations, and this was a positive drive for me to work as hard as possible.”

Get the word out

With his education in marketing, Chris was well aware of the importance of setting his business apart from many functionally identical firms when he just started out – “you need to stand-out and offer something the gives you a foothold in public mindshare”. Chris goes on to explain that even an activity that most people dismiss as a mundane chore can be advertised in a dynamic way that “believe it or not, can be exciting for customers, especially if they don’t normally hire contractors to do anything in or around their property”.

Chris says that YouTube has been a great marketing tool for him, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Yelp. He added that “you don’t need to be on every single platform, just the ones that make sense for your business and are used habitually by customers you’re seeking”.

In summary, Chris Cueva has demonstrated an impressive journey of no-nonsense business development that tells a clear success story. Hopefully the insight Chris provided in this article is able to help you plan and establish your own enterprise – whatever it may be.