Turning a hobby into a prosperous career
A Bobcat MT55 mini track loader and out-of-the-box marketing efforts help Boise landscaper succeed in competitive marketplace
Michael Wiegand, Habiscapes
Ten years ago, Michael Wiegand left a career in management to start a landscaping business in Boise, Idaho. Today he’s successfully grown his business through quality customer service, savvy marketing tactics and improved productivity from a Bobcat® mini track loader and attachments.
Wiegand became his own boss in 2002 when he founded Habiscapes. A self-proclaimed backyard hobbyist, Wiegand pursued landscaping after he found other careers unfulfilling. Today his company specializes in yard renovations, promoting water conservation, and installing new plants, hardscapes, retaining walls, walkways and underground irrigation systems.
When he started, Wiegand and his crew did much of the landscaping by hand with wheelbarrows and shovels.
“We started small and I’ve been pragmatic about how I’ve grown my business,” he says. “As the projects got bigger, we rented equipment but we had problems getting it into backyards. We started going from $5,000 jobs to $50,000 jobs, and that’s when we needed equipment running all the time to be efficient. That’s when we found a Bobcat mini track loader, which we rented from a local company.”
Michael Wiegand and his MT55
Productivity takes off
The difference between working with and without the Bobcat equipment was dramatic. Wiegand eventually purchased an MT55 from the local dealer, H & E Equipment.
“We’ve become much more efficient with the MT55,” he says. “A job that previously took us five days to complete can be done in three or three-and-a-half. It’s a very versatile machine that is used for everything — from removing sod and carrying it away to bringing in trees and hardscape materials.
“Because of its size, we don’t have to take any fences apart; we save valuable time that would otherwise be passed onto the customer. We can easily pass through gates, and the loader’s controls are very intuitive. I don’t worry when I’m driving it between fence posts. It’s so precise that I don’t worry about running into something. It does everything we want it to do.”
Before he purchased the MT55, he tried another brand of mini track loader and was disappointed.
“The other machine couldn’t match the MT55,” Wiegand says, “and we took it back after two hours because it couldn’t go up a grade.” That’s not a problem for the Bobcat mini track loader, which Wiegand says he depends on for every job. “We service it every 50 hours, wash it and keep it in top running order,” he says. “If it goes down, my productivity would suffer.”
When needed, Wiegand rents additional Bobcat attachments for the MT55 from his Bobcat dealer, including a trencher and an auger when he and his crew complete underground irrigation projects. “My salesman will bring them to my jobsite and they work phenomenally. The trencher attachment is much faster than a walk-behind trencher.”
Being his own boss has enabled Wiegand to live out his passion, even if it means working seven days a week and up to 14 hours a day. “I like what I do and it’s very rewarding,” he concludes.
In an effort to differentiate himself from other landscaping companies in his area, Michael Wiegand pursued a new marketing opportunity and listed his business on Angie’s List®. Angie’s List is a consumer service that provides company listings with a rating system and customer testimonials.
“We eventually rose to No. 1 in the Boise area, and it led to getting a couple dozen jobs,” Wiegand says. “We’re proud to say that we have straight A’s. We pride ourselves that we do everything we can to please the customer on each and every job. We don’t treat a $5,000 job any differently than a $50,000 job.”
In 2010 and 2011, Habiscapes was named an Angie’s List “Super Service Award” winner.
Additionally, Wiegand has found new customers by giving talks at the Idaho Botanical Center and a local nature center. His talks help attendees learn how to better conserve water and transform their yards with native grasses and plants, and a variety of decorative hardscapes.
Angie’s List® is a registered trademark of Brownstone Publishing, LLC.