Expectations and landscape designs

Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
We don’t do a lot of designs, but we generally do hand drawn designs and charge by the hour, usually giving an estimate. I have a problem with one woman and wondering how everyone goes about the whole process of deposits, expectations etc.

we have not collected deposits for designs and just had the first time a woman refused to pay. We did a rough design and she had a bunch of changes and did the final drawing and she said it was great. She had added a lot of things on the end though that were not discussed before which brought it way over her budget.

We did get a budget before hand so we weren’t giving her something she would have no chance of staying in budget.

so obviously we are taking the loss on the time and will be making changes to how we do things from now on. I just do not want the stress of chasing this woman down for a few hundred dollars and probably bad reviews.

does everyone normally get money up front for starting a design?? what do you do when you have put in a lot of work and it is becoming clear you have someone who cannot be satisfied??
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
They don’t get any design time without a deposit

so for example,
Let’s say their budget is $30,000
You take a design deposit of $3,000 (10%)
This generally covers the design time.

if they chose not to do the project or have another contractor perform the work.. they’ve paid for the design
 
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
Thanks for the advice, I just never figured out a good system since 90% of projects we can easily figure out a quote without the design.

Some people seem to think they need a fancy design even though their yard is 1000 square feet and doesn’t involve anything but sod and some garden, which we can sketch out in 2 minutes if they are picky about the shape of the garden beds...

this woman doesn’t have anything of ours and I think she just burned her bridge with one of the few companies who would work with her. We are still out the time though, oh well, cheap lesson.
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
Thanks for the advice, I just never figured out a good system since 90% of projects we can easily figure out a quote without the design.

Some people seem to think they need a fancy design even though their yard is 1000 square feet and doesn’t involve anything but sod and some garden, which we can sketch out in 2 minutes if they are picky about the shape of the garden beds...

this woman doesn’t have anything of ours and I think she just burned her bridge with one of the few companies who would work with her. We are still out the time though, oh well, cheap lesson.
so... we don’t do designs for $5000 jobs.

if someone wants to know the shape of the beds, bring turf marking paint with you to the initial meeting/estimate
You can spray them out then and there.

same thing with a small patio , deck ... what have you

if you’re running about the lawn for and hour with multiple cans and colors ... they should get a design.
 
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
Well yea the idea is generally to convince people to not waste money on design as 90% of our jobs are in the $5-12,000 range, spending 10% on a design is a large waste of money, some people seem to think it is for whatever reason mandatory before doing anything with their yard.
 

Mudly

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Novelty oh
Well yea the idea is generally to convince people to not waste money on design as 90% of our jobs are in the $5-12,000 range, spending 10% on a design is a large waste of money, some people seem to think it is for whatever reason mandatory before doing anything with their yard.
It’s not A waste of money. It’s in writing. And a blueprint anybody can refer to. Up sells can happen with a design.
 
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
It’s not A waste of money. It’s in writing. And a blueprint anybody can refer to. Up sells can happen with a design.
I think its a waste of money for the majority of jobs we do because most people we deal with are concerned about the budget. Most jobs end up with some up sells either way. I would just rather someone get more for their money if its a job that can be explained through writing. It is usually the ones who are very picky who want the design. Actually we are doing 4 jobs over the next month where the client has come to us with their own basic designs which helps a lot too.
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
I think its a waste of money for the majority of jobs we do because most people we deal with are concerned about the budget. Most jobs end up with some up sells either way. I would just rather someone get more for their money if its a job that can be explained through writing. It is usually the ones who are very picky who want the design. Actually we are doing 4 jobs over the next month where the client has come to us with their own basic designs which helps a lot too.
Most jobs beyond a simple install cannot be described through writing, generally because of the surprising amount of people who have poor reading comprehension, terrible vocabulary range and wouldn’t even begin to understand any industry “norms” or lingo.
It’s a very typical thing for people to nod and smile and pretend they understand.
Then they get all pushy when something isn’t how they “thought it would be” and you have to go back to the contract and show them what they wanted isn’t in there.
You’re effectively showing the customer how dumb they are - which never bodes well.
Pictures are far more descriptive.
Plus
The longer a project takes to complete, the farther away their memory of what they agreed to and what they think they want is.
With the design they can keep looking at it and say “oh that what it’s going to look like”

you also don’t have as much problem with “Picasso the foreman” who thinks he’s an artist and is just going to do the job his own way.

give the guy a paint brush and a easel , here be creative at home ... we are at work right now.

I can’t stand the Winey guys who won’t follow the plan.
I didn’t hire you to “do what feels right today”
 

PaperCutter

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Northern VA
does everyone normally get money up front for starting a design?? what do you do when you have put in a lot of work and it is becoming clear you have someone who cannot be satisfied??
We charge a design fee for the majority of our projects. In our design agreement it states that X many hours of revision time are included, after that it's an hourly rate. That helps clients get decisive really quickly. If it was a smaller project or a referral so we didn't charge a design fee, we'll probably do a couple of small revisions and then tell them no more until we get a commitment to do the project.
 
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