It's important to find out whether there is enough local demand for your turf supply business. Be aware that the turf supply industry is a competitive one, made more so during periods of economic downturn and when the housing market slumps. You will be competing not only against small, local concerns but also against national turf farms that are willing to accept orders from all over the country. Many turf suppliers now offer online sales and promise next day delivery. The market is particularly competitive for the more general purpose grades of turf which is also sold by many non-specialists like garden centres, builders merchants and DIY sheds.
Check out the competition in your area to identify how many other turf suppliers are already operating. Bear in mind that, as well as cultivating turfgrass, some suppliers and farmers strip existing pastures for turf.
It may be that you will only be competing directly against a small number of turf businesses because you will be growing a highly specialised type of turf - for example for sports grounds and stadiums. If this is the case you will need to find out not only how many competitors you are likely to have, but also the level of demand in your niche market.
Things to consider when you're checking out your competitors' operating practices include:
- the type of turfgrass cultivated
- the quality of the turf - does the grower comply with the Turfgrass Growers Association quality standards
- the range of services offered, for example ground preparation and installation
- the prices charged, including delivery costs
- how quickly orders can be fulfilled
Your potential customers
Spend some time approaching local businesses and organisations that might be keen to use your services. For example local builders regularly need turf for new housing estates and one-off developments. Developers of retail and industrial parks may need turf as part of their landscaping plans. Your local authority might be looking for a turf supplier for parks, play areas and other amenity areas. Don't forget to draw potential customers' attention to the quality features of your turf - for example that it is very hard wearing and weed free, can thrive in shady places, or that it keeps its colour well during the winter months.
Use the Record sheets to help with your market research.