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  #1  
Old 03-23-2014, 02:06 PM
A. W. Landscapers, Inc.'s Avatar
A. W. Landscapers, Inc. A. W. Landscapers, Inc. is offline
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Making Plant Selection Easy for the Client

Many of my clients and potential clients seem to put little to no effort into selecting the plants they want to have installed in their new planting beds prior to our consultation visit. They also expect me to know the name of the plant that is in their cousin Mary's front yard that is kind of lightish darkish green with a little bit of color that is kind of reddish brownish. Then there are the clients who know that they absolutely must have the plant that requires full sun but they want to plant it in the darkest part of the property that gets virtually no water.

Standing around a potential client's planting bed and discussing/describing various types of plants can be extremely time consuming and often ends with the client still being undecided about what plants they want or even how they want their planting beds to look.

The other issue I am experiencing is wasting time making the decisions on what plants to choose, the quantity needed and then typing/writing the plant info on proposals.

I'm looking for ways to simplify the plant selection process for both me and the client.

The idea I have is to create a ring binder with different predetermined plant packages that the client can choose from.

Each package would be assigned a name (gold package, silver package or whatever - this is not important now) and the package would list the plants and the quantities along with size being installed (1 gal, 5 gal, etc) and the mature size of the plant and requirements (sun, shade, etc). There would also be a picture of each plant in the package and/or a picture of the package installed with the plants clearly labeled. Then I'd also have a price listed for the package and a price listed for each plant so the client can decide how much they are willing to spend on their selections. No, I do not list individual prices on proposals…just one total price for the project. The prices in the binders are just there to give the client some perspective on how much they are spending so they can judge when they are starting to make their project too expensive for their wallets.

The packages would be organized in the binder by planting condition (shade packages, full sun packages, etc). The packages would then be further organized by price. I'd also create packages for boarder plants…____ type of plant along the edge of the planting bed is $x.xx per linear foot of bed edging.

I envision the packages being on the left page of the binder and an check box/insert quantity order form on the right page where the client or I can select the number of those packages needed/wanted and the number of extra individual plants needed/wanted.

The proposal would then state something like Plants: 1 Gold Package, 2 Silver Packages, and 5 (insert plant name here) 1 gal.

Does anyone use a similar system or have any suggestions/comments about this idea?

Also, I like to hear about the systems you use for handling plant selection with your clients/potential clients and the systems you use for including the plant information on the proposals.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Scott
A. W. Landscapers, Inc.
www.awlandscapers.com

Hustler X-One 60"
Wright Stander RH 36"
eXmark 21" ECXKA21 Mower
Stihl FC110 Edger
Stihl FS90 Trimmer
Stihl FS55R Trimmer
Stihl HS56C Hedge Trimmer
Stihl MS391 25" Bar Chainsaw
RedMax EBZ7100 Blower
Earthquake 16" Rear Tine Tiller
Honda 9" Mini Tiller FG110
2014 GMC Sierra Denali HD
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Equipment & Work thread: http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=415830
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  #2  
Old 03-23-2014, 02:22 PM
johnnybow johnnybow is offline
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I use a cad for my designs and then the customer can see exactly what they are getting with the pictures if thier landscaping with photo like plants.
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  #3  
Old 03-23-2014, 02:35 PM
CoastalPM CoastalPM is offline
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Plant Design

It really depends on whether the customer is residential or commercial, and the budget. Every job is different and should be customized accordingly. Using an app or design software to show the customer what it will look like is always a benefit. I use an app called iScape for Android, it goes on Iphone as well, since most of the customers want "instant gratification" these days.
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  #4  
Old 03-23-2014, 02:46 PM
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easy-lift guy easy-lift guy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnybow View Post
I use a cad for my designs and then the customer can see exactly what they are getting with the pictures if thier landscaping with photo like plants.
Your suggestion is spot on. With the availability of soft wear and decent flat screen monitors available I am confident especially from a residential standpoint that the desire to show and close the deal ASAP is key when meeting with clients. Having a budget and a selection of material based on client needs and a PowerPoint presentation of sorts of completed work would make great visual aids and keep the time invested to a minimum.
easy-lift guy
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  #5  
Old 03-23-2014, 03:13 PM
A. W. Landscapers, Inc.'s Avatar
A. W. Landscapers, Inc. A. W. Landscapers, Inc. is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoastalPM View Post
It really depends on whether the customer is residential or commercial, and the budget. Every job is different and should be customized accordingly. Using an app or design software to show the customer what it will look like is always a benefit. I use an app called iScape for Android, it goes on Iphone as well, since most of the customers want "instant gratification" these days.
I'll take a look at iScape.

This is mostly for residential and project budgets can vary greatly as I service very high end clientele with large properties with unlimited budgets as well as middle class homeowners with more modest size properties and tight budgets.

This idea goes right along with "instant gratification" by showing them they can purchase any of these particular set packages right now and if they want they can customize the package by adding additional plants or other packages. If they want complete customization, they can have that too.

The idea is to make the design/sales process easy by showing the clients pictures and enabling them to make easy selections so they can say "I want that one there and this one over here and one of those over here and line all the beds with that and over here I want you to mix these two packages in this bed."
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Regards,
Scott
A. W. Landscapers, Inc.
www.awlandscapers.com

Hustler X-One 60"
Wright Stander RH 36"
eXmark 21" ECXKA21 Mower
Stihl FC110 Edger
Stihl FS90 Trimmer
Stihl FS55R Trimmer
Stihl HS56C Hedge Trimmer
Stihl MS391 25" Bar Chainsaw
RedMax EBZ7100 Blower
Earthquake 16" Rear Tine Tiller
Honda 9" Mini Tiller FG110
2014 GMC Sierra Denali HD
7' x 16' Enclosed V-Nose Trailer
6' x 12' Dump Trailer
Equipment & Work thread: http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=415830
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  #6  
Old 03-23-2014, 09:17 PM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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Sounds to me like you're at a point where you can go one of two ways. Either you're the authority in the client's eyes and you can design it for them, all they have to do is sign... or you can be an order taker. I think life is easier and you can close bigger sales if you're the designer, not the order taker.

Speaking from experience, I tried the package approach 4-5 years ago when I first started. I designed several patios with attached plantings. The designs were great - assuming 5-10% waste per pallet there would be virtually no pavers or wall blocks left over when we were done and I had even figured out how to create layout templates so the installers could knock them out. The deal was you take the package as shown, or changes were $75 fee plus an hourly rate for design time. Complete disaster. EVERYONE wanted to massively customize the designs and I finally pulled the plug because not only were people changing things, they then weren't signing. It sucked. So I went back to being a designer, and suddenly we were back to people figuring if that's what I said they should have, they should have it. Way easier.
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  #7  
Old 03-23-2014, 11:27 PM
A. W. Landscapers, Inc.'s Avatar
A. W. Landscapers, Inc. A. W. Landscapers, Inc. is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
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To be clear, I'm not talking about selling identical looking planting beds. The "packages" (for lack of a better term) are to help clients find the general look/type of plants they want after I guide them towards the "packages" that are most appropriate for the growing conditions of their yard. Also, when I get feedback from the client during the consultation visit I can use a visual of a "package" to see if we are both on the same page and perhaps get a commitment from the client on what they want to purchase.

What I have been finding is that potential clients are doing little to no research on trying to identify the types of plants they want or even the general look they want even though they may have a clear image in their head of how they want things to look…Most aren't even showing me a photo of something that appeals to them.

I feel confident that I would be able to close more sales during the initial consultation visit if I can get the client to commit to a plant list and have them view a photo that looks similar to what their project will look like.
__________________
Regards,
Scott
A. W. Landscapers, Inc.
www.awlandscapers.com

Hustler X-One 60"
Wright Stander RH 36"
eXmark 21" ECXKA21 Mower
Stihl FC110 Edger
Stihl FS90 Trimmer
Stihl FS55R Trimmer
Stihl HS56C Hedge Trimmer
Stihl MS391 25" Bar Chainsaw
RedMax EBZ7100 Blower
Earthquake 16" Rear Tine Tiller
Honda 9" Mini Tiller FG110
2014 GMC Sierra Denali HD
7' x 16' Enclosed V-Nose Trailer
6' x 12' Dump Trailer
Equipment & Work thread: http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=415830
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  #8  
Old 03-23-2014, 11:56 PM
cotyledon cotyledon is offline
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hey buddy yous want a red one , or a blue one? huh? fo get bout it !

(that's what a landscape deal sounds like here in ny)
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  #9  
Old 03-24-2014, 01:57 AM
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TPendagast TPendagast is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. W. Landscapers, Inc. View Post
I'll take a look at iScape.

This is mostly for residential and project budgets can vary greatly as I service very high end clientele with large properties with unlimited budgets as well as middle class homeowners with more modest size properties and tight budgets.

This idea goes right along with "instant gratification" by showing them they can purchase any of these particular set packages right now and if they want they can customize the package by adding additional plants or other packages. If they want complete customization, they can have that too.

The idea is to make the design/sales process easy by showing the clients pictures and enabling them to make easy selections so they can say "I want that one there and this one over here and one of those over here and line all the beds with that and over here I want you to mix these two packages in this bed."
I use pro landscape.

In addition to cad, it has an image editor, you can put a copy of the program (limited functionality) on your iPad and take a pic right there with the client,of their actual space
and with your finger select the plants and size them give you a pseudo virtual appearance of what it might look like.
If you do your homework ahead of time, you in put all your costs into the program and you can give a proposal on site, right then and there, based on all the things selected on your screen.

the program comes complete with the plant picture as well as it's zone, sunlight and water requirements, a quick write up that can be read right there off your iPad or sent via email to the client.

This helps them select, and sets up a system where you can say "let's take a look at this plant"…you pull it up on the iPad "oh no! it says it won't work in that location!"

It does have a search engine, so you can click, zone, sunlight, water requirements etc, and it will give you a list of plants that WILL work by category, tree, shrub, flower…. woody, deciduous, ever green….whatever you set your parameters to.
It doesn't have every plant ever known to man in there, but it does pretty much have anything in common usage.

(it also has other things, like boulders, pavers etc)
there is also a feature where you take a picture of something that it doesn't have in it's library, and then make you own entry and you can use it in the future,

Another neat feature is it can show the same landscape at night, so you can upsell landscape lighting right then and there, showing them what it might look like.
it also has a grow in feature, that will show them what it will look like in 3, 5, 10 years.
This helps convince them not to over populate beds.
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  #10  
Old 03-24-2014, 09:27 AM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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Scott, what size sales are we talking about here? $2-5K foundation plantings/island beds?
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