So I have a recurring problem that I am sure isn't unique to me; I go to give a bid, and the customer doesn't know what they want exactly. They maybe have some vague ideas of some of the things they want to see, but they are looking to me for ideas for what to do. In these cases, I often get comments like this, "We were thinking of maybe a water feature over there....and we know we want some lawn and some plants but we can't agree on where or how much grass and what kind of plants. We were looking to you to help us come up with some good ideas." And so the problem is that I don't always have any good ideas. Now, sometimes, I do have a brilliant idea. I just get a vision of something that would look great. I get excited about it, and I am able to convey my ideas to them and get them sold on my ideas too. So in those cases, I don't always need a designer. But other times I just look around for a few minutes and nothing comes to mind. It's then that I am reminded that my education isn't in design; that I am really not nearly as creative as our designer is. So at that point I almost always switch gears and try to sell the customer on the need for a design. It's then that I sometimes run into resistance. I don't know why. Nearly every landscaping show on HGTV or otherwise these days starts with a designer and a landscape design. So I would think that someone who is looking to invest $10,000 - $20,000 would already have considered a design a necessity. (Incidentally, I never have a problem selling designs to people whose budget is over $20,000). But for whatever reason, some people seem to be resistant to the idea of having a design done. So I try to educate them and also to remove any misunderstandings they have about a landscape design. First, I mention that it's not as expensive as they might think to get a design done. Our designer routinely does top-quality designs that others around here would charge $1000 - $1500 for, for only $450 or so. And in my mind, that's a great deal. Then, I sell them on the importance of having a landscape professionally designed by someone with a degree in landscape design vs. a design done by someone whose background is more in landscape construction (i.e. me or my competition). And I sell them on how talented our designer is, and how she often comes up with very creative ideas for our customers. Next, I help them understand how a design helps me to formulate an exact bid, rather than just a guestimate price. Finally, if they mentioned that they have been talking to other contractors as well and were just trying to get ideas from several contractors I tell them, "When you work with a designer to come up with a design that encompasses exactly what you want to see happen in your yard, now you have something to give to each contractor. And you are now comparing apples to apples. Otherwise, if you just rely in each contractor's idea of what they would do, you're comparing apples to oranges and it just leads to frustration." So even after all of this, it seems like only some of the people I talk to are interested in having a design. The rest say, "Hmmm. Ok. Well, we'll think about that. But without a design, you can't give us any ideas or pricing" and I just say, "No. I am sorry. I can't. I need to have a more clear idea of what is really going to happen here. Otherwise, the quotes I would give you really don't have any real basis in reality." So where am I going wrong? Or am I? How do you guys handle this situation? Just move on to the next customer who "gets it" and quickly leave these kinds of customers in the dust? Or do something different to get them to agree to a design? It's frustrating knowing that the best thing for my client is really to have them work with a designer and have a design done - but not being able to convince them of it.