pro landscaper magazine
pro landscaper magazine

Meet the landscaper using YouTube to show what it takes to grow a business

by | 22 Feb 24 | Commercial Landscaping, Domestic Landscaping, Long Reads

Olly Gregson

Viewers can follow the highs and lows as Olly Gregson expands Hardwood Landscapes and pursues his budding property development company

Not that long ago, Olly Gregson had no personal social media accounts. The 27-year-old had shied away from being in front of a camera and was uncomfortable sharing parts of his life on the internet. He didn’t even like sending a voice note. Fast forward to now and Gregson has just uploaded the seventh episode of his new YouTube series that documents how he runs and is looking to grow his company, Hardwood Landscapes. So, what changed?

“I came into landscaping because I needed something to do, and I wasn’t in a position where I had lots of choice. I started working for myself seven years ago, and when I’d grown the company to a size where it was starting to get quite stressful, I needed to look at what we were doing and why. What have we built and achieved so far? And if we wanted to go further, how are we going to do that? So, we decided to start showing people who we are, what we do and that we are taking it seriously.”

Hardwood Landscapes has grown organically since it was founded, with Gregson reinvesting the profits. It’s been tough, he admits – there have been months when he wasn’t sure if there would be enough money in the account to pay the staff. “Luckily, someone pays an invoice in time, or I’ve used my personal credit cards to move money around to be resourceful; rightly or wrongly, that’s part of it.”

It’s this transparency that Gregson is looking to show through his YouTube channel. Rather than only showing the highlights, he wants to show the struggles companies face when they’re the size of Hardwood Landscapes and the hurdles they might have to overcome to grow. Viewers hear about the early mornings and late evenings, paying (or sometimes forgetting to pay) ULEZ charges, and a series of vehicle problems (part of which, we’re told, is Gregson justifying the need for a new Defender).

“It’s showing how difficult it is to break into the next revenue bracket and build relationships with new designers and gain show build opportunities. It’s showing what it actually takes. We’ve had six major breakdowns this year already – we spent over £10k on garage bills in January alone. So, it’s helping landscapers who are looking to start their own companies to know what they’re getting themselves in for and that you can battle through it. When we’re building these amazing calibre of gardens that I know we’re capable of building, I want people to know what it took to get there.”

What the videos are not is how-to guides. Gregson had seen these on Instagram and the backlash they can face, with other contractors arguing about best practice. “They highlight the issue in the industry – the non-regulation of landscaping companies.” So, he opted for longer form content on YouTube that would show his personal journey rather than offer advice.

Olly Gregson, Hardwood Landscapes

Olly Gregson, Hardwood Landscapes

The videos are a big investment, both in time and money. Along with having to purchase the filming equipment, the two videographers – Paddy and Tyler – are with Hardwood Landscapes full time, also carrying out the marketing. At the moment, they’re editing the videos, though Gregson has now brought a video editor on board to join the media team. At first, he admits there was quite a lot of editing where he was still trying to get comfortable in front of the camera – it was “terrifying” filming the first one. He was on a plane back from South Africa when it was uploaded, so didn’t know how it had been received until he landed. Fortunately, he came back to a “few views, really nice comments and loads of messages. That helped to get rid of the discomfort and self-doubt.”

Gregson also built confidence by talking to one of the people who first inspired him to make these videos in the first place – Daniel Ashville Louisy of Ashville Aggregates, who has been producing his own longer form videos for around three and a half years and has nearly half a million subscribers as well as a full-time media team and editing suites. “The media side has been fundamental in their company growth. I met Daniel in Dubai last year, so spent a lot of time with him, learning about how it all works. I told him I wanted to do the same and he was really supportive. He said when you do get started, all you’ll wish is that you’d started sooner, and that you hadn’t made all those excuses about being in front of the camera.”

He met Ashville Louisy at a mastermind held in Dubai by Tyler Newman, founder of PropertyEd, which helps people to become property developers – something which Gregson is keen to do, setting up his own development company, Gregson Homes. This is all documented in the second episode of the series, and we’re told that Newman will be a regular on the channel as Gregson shows how he raises investment funds for Gregson Homes and grows the portfolio.

Multi-award-winning landscaper Mark Gregory will also be a series regular after Gregson reached out to him for advice. He’d called him to talk through a few of the frustrations he was facing, and as soon as he mentioned wanting to set up a YouTube channel, Gregory’s interest was piqued. “I couldn’t get him off the phone,” laughs Gregson. “He was really intrigued.” He’ll be putting questions to Gregory most episodes and will soon be inviting followers on his Instagram account to submit their own questions.

As well as guest contributors, this year’s content will show Hardwood Landscapes trying to grow its maintenance offering, which is run by Jake, and expand its landscaping service – run by Matt – into the commercial sector as well as refine its domestic side. The company has just moved into a new yard, setting itself up for this growth. And like Ashville Aggregates, the YouTube videos will hopefully play a part in this. It has already sparked garden designers to get in touch with Gregson and senior landscapers from other companies to express interest in working for Hardwood Landscapes. So, whilst the videos might be a considerable cost, they’re showing signs of a return, and Gregson hopes to monetise them enough to cover the costs of making them too. But this would be a “by-product of being authentic and staying consistent” rather than the end goal, he says.

Gregson is undoubtedly ambitious, and viewers will be able to follow him as he strives to achieve his goals. One thing is for certain – he’ll be nothing but honest about the setbacks as well as the successes.

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