Understanding The True Cost of Business Helped One Landscaper Double Profit Margins

Case Study: Business Mentoring & Growth Planning


A Sydney and Mudgee based landscaping business was struggling to break even with pressure mounting as its owner considered the idea of selling. However, things turned around after engaging in a full suite of financial and business advisory services, in particular, business mentoring. In a relatively short timeframe, the landscaping business managed to double its monthly profit margins, in addition to offering a key team member equity in the ever-growing business.

Les Edwards is the owner behind multi-award winning, Sydney based landscaping business, Edwards Landscapes. Having started the business back in 2006, Les and his family decided to make the move to Mudgee in 2020. As part of their move, they made the decision to set up a business arm from their new country NSW location whilst continuing to manage the Sydney-based side of the business. Les explains,

“The intention wasn’t to work from Mudgee but when we moved, word got round there was a new landscaper in town. One thing led to another and all of a sudden we had a team set up in Mudgee whilst still running Sydney.” 

The business was proving successful, with continual projects on the books, satisfied customers at each job completion, and award accolades in Landscape Excellence. However, the numbers were just not adding up and profits were not easy to come by. With these mounting pressures and the loss of a long-standing accountant, Les was referred to Cumulus to help turn his business around.

“Before working with Cumulus, I just didn’t understand the true cost of business. It’s not that we weren’t doing the work, it’s just that we weren’t pricing right.”

Les hit the ground running. The holistic nature of Cumulus’s services helped him get his bookkeeping and general accounting in order, along with business mentoring that included planning sessions and monthly catch-ups that focused on;

  • Processes and team
  • Understanding key drivers and what a profitable job looks like
  • Review of pricing models
  • Succession planning for a key team member that included gifting an equity share of the business

“Cumulus gets into you, they get involved. They are relaxed and approachable and feel like a part of the team rather than an external agency. We’re tradesmen, so we’re not going to be sitting in meetings in a suit. Our chats happen at the back of the ute or travelling between jobs, and Cumulus gets that.

If I want to call Ben (Cumulus Director), he’ll answer, I don’t need to organise a meeting. And that way of working extends across the team from bookkeeping to accounting, all the way through to Ben who gives us leadership and direction.

In just 18 months working with Cumulus, Les successfully turned the business around with monthly profit margins doubling across the business.

“The biggest lesson we’ve learnt is to keep things simple. Since working with Cumulus, we have simplified everything and just focused on a few core numbers and objectives. That’s been the main difference in our success.

With the help of Cumulus, Les also gifted an equity share of the business to long-standing employee Tom Rowles, which has allowed Tom to take a role in management while Les focuses on sales.

“It’s something I wish I had done sooner. Since gifting Tom a stake in the business, he’s gone to a totally new level and it’s great to see. Thanks to Ben’s encouragement, we are taking some great strides ahead.

Looking forward, the future seems bright for Les with plans in motion for what’s to come next.

“We’ve gone through a fair bit of change and we just need to cement that. Looking forward, we’ll turn our attention to growing the Mudgee side of things and mirror what we did in Sydney. Eventually,  I would love to back out of the business and get my dedicated team members to take on more, and eventually take over. That’s the plan.

Les’s advice for those in a similar situation;

“You’ve got to have a good working relationship with your accountant or whoever is giving you advice. I’d worked with another accountant for years and never once spoke about the things that we have spoken about with Cumulus. Changing to Cumulus was a real gamechanger.

You may only sell one business in your life, so it’s sensible to get advice from experts who see many transactions unfold.

Speak with Cumulus for advice on your business.
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