customers like to design or just be presented a plan?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Matt LI LAWNZ, Apr 19, 2018.

  1. Matt LI LAWNZ

    Matt LI LAWNZ LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    I operate a maintenance business in long island. We're going to more formally enter the design space. I'm wondering if you find customers like to participate in the design or just like to be presented a plan? I saw one nursery at a trade show which had an interested experience which was for customers to email photos of their home then they'd propose a plan. Or do customers tend to like looking through a "look book" to get ideas then you run with it from there? In our maintenance business we are hyper efficient on the customer doing everything online, no back & forth, not having to think, etc. And I'm wondering how to translate a similar experience to design where the customer is going to need to weigh-in more.
     
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,781

    There is way more to good design than picking out things that look good. That is the frosting. First you have to build the cake. My number one function as a designer is to understand what the homeowner activities are going to be, followed by what type of experience they should have doing those, and what are the physical requirements to get that done. Some of those activities are simply parking their car, walking into the house, sleeping in a hammock, ..... while others are more specific. They know some of these things, but sometimes ignore a lot of things that they are not focused on or aware of. Our job is to get them on the right track, get information out of them that give you the ability to address their needs. They don't hire a designer to pay them to let themselves design a landscape. They hire you to remove doubt from the success of the built landscape before it is built. Your value to a person looking for a design is directly linked to your ability to remove that doubt. If you are waiting for the customer to tell you what to do, they will not be looking to pay you very much. You have to take control.
     
  3. Drenched Designs

    Drenched Designs Sponsor
    Messages: 3

    Great response AGLA. I too design full time and second what AGLA said. In fact many times we have to save the customer from making some pretty big design mistakes. We have quite the checklist to fill out on our first visit. It is 2 pages but helps narrow the scope which in turn helps us nail the design!
     
  4. Andrew Carter

    Andrew Carter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I too design full time along with lawn care services, I have a garden design worksheet to start off the project.
     
  5. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,003

    whatever you do please make it low maintenance. people will say oh yeah we'll keep it trimmed or hire someone to do it but years go by and it's all growing out of control and turns into a big mess. you gotta think about the "future" when you plant things. this customer could move out one day and someone else moves in and so forth....to all the landscapers out there in the world, for the love of God please plant dwarf varieties and things that will take care of themselves for the most part....and use quality landscape fabric or plastic that will last not the cheap stuff. i see out of control flower beds every day and it drives me insane. :laugh:

    mulch with no fabric is a different story but we all know eventually people stop putting new mulch down so it becomes a big problem too.
     
  6. Todd73

    Todd73 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Florida
    Messages: 1,990

    The new construction builders are like that here. Palms everywhere. Shrubs 360 degrees around the house. A second layer of smaller shrubberies in front of the first. The buyer gets into the house, then has a coronary when they find out how much they need to pay, or how much of their lives they have to give up, to maintain all of that.
     
    weeze likes this.
  7. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,003

    there's some here with 100 or more flowers/plants/shrubs packed in so tightly you can hardly get in there to work. there should be about 25 if they spaced them out correctly.
     
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,781

    It really comes down to how design fits your business. More money is in selling products and selling services than in drawing a plan. A plan can certainly be a sales tool and also help you upsell to move more or more profitable products. What degree to which you are taking on design has to match how much you can put into it, how much you can get out of it, and it has to fit your customer base as well. It can require a high level of training and experience in some cases where it is a total site plan with structures, grading, drainage, and regulatory issues to deal with or it could be little more than mapping out a few plants in others. The simpler it is, the more you can leave it up to the homeowner. The more complicated, the more it needs to be facilitated by someone with a wider breadth of knowledge and abilities.
     

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