Business Accreditation for Landscapers

Managing people

1 April 2016

  

Almost every industry has organisations designed to uphold standards – either in a formal, regulatory capacity, or just as a recognisable authority that provides information and guidance. But what do businesses stand to gain by signing up for membership?

If you're running a landscaping company, the benefits of industry accreditation could be considerable. Here's a brief look at how accreditation can be good for business.

High standards and trust

In the landscaping industry, there are two leading organisations to choose from: the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) and the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI). The APL provides advice, training and representation to around 180 leading professional landscapers, while the BALI is a trade association, formed in 1972, that promotes excellence within the industry.

Becoming a member of the APL isn’t easy – it promises ’the toughest‘ inspection process around. A successful applicant’s first inspection is followed by annual reviews that ensure the business meets health and safety standards, has the required insurance, and that its work is of the best possible quality. These inspections are endorsed by TrustMark, a government-backed standards initiative.

Members of BALI, meanwhile, must sign up to its code of conduct, which stipulates that members must aim to achieve the highest standards of business and professional expertise, be responsible for the actions of their staff and sub-contractors, operate in an environmentally friendly manner, and invest in ongoing staff training and development.

Having such stringent codes and checks in place means that customers can feel confident putting their trust in the landscaping contractors recommended by these organisations. Both bodies also run annual awards shows (the BALI National Landscape Awards and APL Awards) where you can get recognition for your work – another credential to attract customers.

The benefits of inspections and codes of conduct are that customers and clients have a set of standards they can expect you to meet, and can trust that your indemnity policy and business practices have been checked. Tradesmen can display accreditation on third party sites like TrustATrader.com to enhance their reputation and attract more customers.

Skills development

The events and networking opportunities that both associations provide can help to develop employee skills. The APL, for example, tends to organise at least one event per month, which covers everything from practical masterclasses to industry seminars. BALI, meanwhile, has a presence at events like the Chelsea Flower Show and runs regular workshops on topics like design principles, costing and quoting, water gardens and health and safety.

Attending these events not only helps to keep your own skills fresh, but also means you can develop talent within your team and reduce the risk of accidents.

Resources

As part of their remit, many professional bodies also provide new information and tools. This can be through an online news feed, industry magazine or research paper, or it could be via live events like trade shows and talks. Many associations also advertise jobs and host networking events to help expand your contact book.

Support

Professional indemnity insurance can be combined with other measures provided by industry bodies to better protect your business. For example, many organisations offer mediation services. If a client has an issue with your service, or refuses payment, professional bodies can help solve the dispute.

Referrals

One of the biggest benefits of industry accreditation is, of course, that it can drive new business. Both the APL and BALI promote their members online, allowing customers to search their website directories by location and the service they're looking for. 

With options to include your business address, website, contact number and details of the type of work you do on the BALI site, this is a great way to reach customers and get direct, warm leads.

Eligibility

GOV.UK  lists hundreds of approved organisations and societies spanning dozens of sectors, so it's easy to find your representative if there is one.

To join, you'll normally need to pay a subscription fee and sign up to a code of conduct, you may also need to have professional indemnity insurance cover too. Tests are applied in some industries too, for example the Association of Professional Landscapers conducts a rigorous inspection that's repeated annually.

The benefits of membership could well outweigh the burden of regulation and the costs for your business. So, explore your options and research the best option for you before making a decision.

Are you a member of either of these organisations? Let us know if they have had a positive impact on your landscaping business in the comments below. Or if you’re interested in gaining accreditation for your business but aren’t a landscaper, have a look at our credentials for tradesmen article.