CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Grasshoppers earns its stripes

PUBLISHED: 00:16 19 November 2011 | UPDATED: 14:57 20 February 2013

Jacquie stevens and Jason Knight

Jacquie stevens and Jason Knight

"Which way do you want your stripes?" That's one of the questions asked by Grasshoppers, a garden maintenance and soft landscaping company based near Cirencester when visiting a new customer to discuss their garden requirements, including how the...


Set up more than two years ago Grasshoppers found a niche in the market between garden designers, landscape architects and regular self-employed gardeners to provide regular, reliable garden maintenance. The idea worked so well that they now employ 8 full time staff and part-timers.



Whilst many people think that gardening is seasonal, owners Jason Knight and Jacquie Stevens are changing this preconception.



"Despite people thinking there is little to do in the garden during winter, nature actually provides work for us to do all year round," says Jason. "What we're doing is educating our customers so that they see the job for what it is: A year-round project to keep their gardens in the best shape."



Whilst he admits that January and February are the quietest times of the year, winter tidy-ups are still important to clear leaves and plan for the year ahead.



Grasshoppers focusses on developing good working relationships with customers, including the prestigious Watermark Club at South Cerney, where they provide soft landscaping around the new developments and reinstating the lakes and banks to recreate wildlife habitats.



Other work comes from local homeowners where they provide regular garden maintenance.



With business expansion in mind, Grasshoppers is determined to develop its business into a year-round activity, and has been working with Gloucestershire Enterprise Business Services to plan ahead.



"We know we're not a seasonal business," said Jacquie. "We just need to make sure our customers know that too."



Grasshoppers can be contacted on 01285 650007.





Seasonal Businesses



If you sell Christmas trees or ice creams, your business will be seasonally affected. In fact most specialist retailers will experience peaks and troughs; every tourism business plans for its season, farmers work around the clock in the summer months and have you ever tried to get a plumber in the winter? Unless you've booked your boiler service two months earlier, you won't get a look-in until the weather improves.



Few businesses make their income evenly over 12 months and the successful ones will put the fallow months to good use.



A well-known local example is Westonbirt Arboretum, a historic collection of trees, owned and maintained for the nation by The Forestry Commission. A seasonal tourist attraction, the arboretum faced nine months every year without the colours that made it famous. Now, except in the spectacular Autumn season, Westonbirt is a venue, hosting live music entertainments in the Summer and Christmas events, as well as offering an upmarket caf and art shows. The marketing team has triumphed in developing a year-round attraction.



How did they do it? Probably by taking a step back and looking again at what they had.



Few businesses have 600 acres of prime woodland at their disposal, but whatever you do; you can make your business work for longer.



Business development can gain new new contacts or customers. When your business is quiet, pick up the phone and arrange to visit potential new customers or research new markets.



General maintenance is often how tourism or catering businesses use their time, but balance this with revisiting your marketing strategy and look at what your competitors are up to.



If you make your own products, build up your stock for the next round of craft shows or exhibitions - you can also consider developing an e-commerce website and open up your business to the world. If you have a craft market stall at weekends but little to do during the week, could you teach your craft to others? This offers the double whammy of earning money and marketing your products at the same time.



Look at what you sell and consider whether by making something similar, you can extend your season. If you make wedding dresses for the Spring and Summer, could you make evening dresses for the Christmas season?



Some businesses are only ever going to be busy for a few months of the year, such as restaurants and cafes in tourism hotspots or by the seaside. Those running such businesses often decide to work long hours from Easter to the end of September and accept that they must make 12 months' income in seven months of the year.



Philip Timson, director at Gloucestershire Enterprise Business Services (GEBS) which provides support services and programmes to help small businesses in the county, says the toughest challenge for small business owners is maintaining cash flow and looking after staff. "The key to a successful business is accurate forecasting and sharing that information with your bank manager to make sure they are prepared to support you during times of low or no income. Then all parties are aware of all the facts and there should be no nasty surprises."



Seasonal Businesses



If you sell Christmas trees or ice creams, your business will be seasonally affected. In fact most specialist retailers will experience peaks and troughs; every tourism business plans for its season, farmers work around the clock in the summer months and have you ever tried to get a plumber in the winter? Unless you've booked your boiler service two months earlier, you won't get a look-in until the weather improves.



Few businesses make their income evenly over 12 months and the successful ones will put the fallow months to good use.



A well-known local example is Westonbirt Arboretum, a historic collection of trees, owned and maintained for the nation by The Forestry Commission. A seasonal tourist attraction, the arboretum faced nine months every year without the colours that made it famous. Now, except in the spectacular Autumn season, Westonbirt is a venue, hosting live music entertainments in the Summer and Christmas events, as well as offering an upmarket caf and art shows. The marketing team has triumphed in developing a year-round attraction.



How did they do it? Probably by taking a step back and looking again at what they had.



Few businesses have 600 acres of prime woodland at their disposal, but whatever you do; you can make your business work for longer.



Business development can gain new new contacts or customers. When your business is quiet, pick up the phone and arrange to visit potential new customers or research new markets.



General maintenance is often how tourism or catering businesses use their time, but balance this with revisiting your marketing strategy and look at what your competitors are up to.



If you make your own products, build up your stock for the next round of craft shows or exhibitions - you can also consider developing an e-commerce website and open up your business to the world. If you have a craft market stall at weekends but little to do during the week, could you teach your craft to others? This offers the double whammy of earning money and marketing your products at the same time.



Look at what you sell and consider whether by making something similar, you can extend your season. If you make wedding dresses for the Spring and Summer, could you make evening dresses for the Christmas season?



Some businesses are only ever going to be busy for a few months of the year, such as restaurants and cafes in tourism hotspots or by the seaside. Those running such businesses often decide to work long hours from Easter to the end of September and accept that they must make 12 months' income in seven months of the year.



Philip Timson, director at Gloucestershire Enterprise Business Services (GEBS) which provides support services and programmes to help small businesses in the county, says the toughest challenge for small business owners is maintaining cash flow and looking after staff. "The key to a successful business is accurate forecasting and sharing that information with your bank manager to make sure they are prepared to support you during times of low or no income. Then all parties are aware of all the facts and there should be no nasty surprises."

0 comments

More from People

Tue, 15:01

Harnessing the power of social media, charity awards and dreaming up new projects - it’s all in a day’s work for Gloucestershire children’s charity Pied Piper and its corporate supporters

Read more
Tue, 12:27

The Cotswolds’ very own Prince of Wales turns 70 this month, so we looked back on some of the highlights of his life and career, and wondered what birthday pressies we would buy for the man who has the world at his feet

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

When landowners are looking to sell their land, and want a transparent journey that delivers them best value, Rosconn Strategic Land is here to take them through the process.

Read more

Radio DJ Paul Gambaccini has secured a payout from prosecutors over unfounded allegations of historical sex offences. The presenter, 69, was arrested in 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys in the early 1980s. Mr Gambaccini always denied the claims, calling the case “completely fictitious”. He spent a year on bail before the case was dropped. Two years later he gave this interview to Katie Jarvis

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Barn Theatre’s artistic director, Iwan Lewis, talks to Candia McKormack about a rather special project aimed at bringing the Cotswold community together in commemoration of the Great War’s fallen

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The environmental charity set up to protect Stroud’s industrial heritage now enhances the lives of its own volunteers. Katie Jarvis meets chief executive Clare Mahdiyone to hear about her Cotswold Life

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Alex Caccia was in two minds about setting up Animal Dynamics as a limited company, but a shark attack warning changed all of that. Tanya Gledhill meets a man on a mission to change propulsion, one animal at a time

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

He quit his job with a few thousand pounds in savings and an empty garage. In less than a year, Nick Grey’s technology company Gtech was flying. Tanya Gledhill meets him

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

How does it feel to interview Sir Michael Parkinson, the nation’s best-ever interviewer? Katie Jarvis takes a very deep breath – and finds out

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When Charles Martell became the latest High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, he started discovering things about the county he never knew – not to mention things about himself, too. Katie Jarvis spoke to him about saw pits, walnuts, peaceable towns and pink-headed ducks

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A cast-iron work ethic drove Marcus Gomery from a car wash kid to Managing Director of one of Gloucestershire’s leading financial planning companies. Tanya Gledhill meets him

Read more
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Katie Jarvis talks Marmite sandwiches and poison dart frogs - but definitely no cider - with Reggie Heyworth, who runs the Cotswold Wildlife Park

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Exceptional design and incredible vision are the hallmarks of coombes:everitt architects. John Everitt tells Tanya Gledhill how the practice is building on its success

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search