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Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JimLewis, Apr 3, 2012.
No problem. Just point me in the right direction. No website link in your sig line.
@sdlandscapesvt on twitter
I never ask for a budget. I listen to what they are asking for, discuss various ways to get it done, pay attention to how they react to certain things that might clue me in, and then design what matches our discussions.
.... then it gets priced. Sometimes we adjust the design, but not usually.
The second to last thing that I want to do is disappoint on a design because I have to cut out things that they want in order to fit the budget.
The very last thing that I want to do is crunch numbers while I'm designing.
There is a reason the car salesman has you test drive a car. It is no different than landscape design. If you show them what they really want, they often find a way to buy it. That "how to get a budget" is an extremely basic sales tool that only gets you to settle for their pre-determined number. You really are not affecting the client, only limiting yourself.
Develop your sales skills to excite the client about getting what they want, show it to them, show them what it costs, and leave them with the decision to cut things out or find a way to pay for it. You'll always be the good guy and you'll upsell a hell of a lot of projects over any budget you get out of them ..... not to mention saving the hassle of designing to a price.
When you make a landscape seem like a bunch of stuff coming out of a box and your role being the guy that will deliver the boxes you leave them with the feeling that anyone can deliver the boxes. That makes you easily replacible by the guy with cheaper boxes.
Take it to the next level by making the landscape theirs. Get everything they want into the design, show how it fits their lifestyle, the layout of their house, and how all the activities are in appropriate relations to what is going on around them. Then price it. If it costs too much, you telll them how money can be saved and let them make those decisions with you. They almost always keep it all, unless you added crap that they never wanted and you never discussed with them. This makes you very important to them as the facilitator of their design and they don't usually have the confidence that bringing in someone new will get them the same results - it is your job to lose.
Yah, that's basically how we've been doing it for years AGLA. The problem is people just don't have the kind of funds that they used to before the recession. People don't have plenty of ways to "come up with more money". And these days, we lose more jobs because what we designed was higher than they had to spend than for any other reason. We still do land several big jobs every year where people do figure out a way to come up with more money. But those are the exception. Most just don't have any extra money or any other place to get extra money. But they do have $10K or $15K or $20K or more to spend. And if we can design within that budget, or at least near it, we can get the job! And more importantly, not waste so much time spinning our wheels for no reason.
When we come up with a design that at least comes close to their budget, the % of jobs we land is dramatically increased. And while I'd love to press everyone for bigger, better, more.... the reality is most people just don't have more and are already being squeezed everywhere else.
I'm sorry. But my experience is usually the opposite. We've been creating designs that include everything people want and asked for and they absolutely LOVE the design. They just cannot afford it. Some of them will cut parts out and do it phases. We get a lot of that. But many just end up leaving entirely and never get anything done. Whereas, if we had designed to their budget, we could have easily landed the job.
I'm not saying that you go Walt Disney on them, but if you have been dealing with design clients for a long time you should always be looking for the qualitative budget and manipulating the conversation to discuss materials and amenities such that you understand the client well enough to know what too much is.
I also know that someone with a $10,000 might pay for a sketch of a few plants, but they won't pay for a design because it is too high a percentage of their budget.
Disagree. If they have a 10k budget and the proposal is at 20 thats a big problem. They make want a lot of things and want to waste a lot of your time designing stuff they can't afford. If I get a budget it is kept in the back of my mind while designing and some higher end items or larger plant material won't be used. However if I feel something would add a lot to the project then I put it in as an option. Kind of like you get when you car shop.
Yes, that would be a problem, but why does this never happen to me?
The first is that I charge a design fee and I have yet to have someone with a $10k budget sign a contract. The second is that I interact with them and determine a subjective budget ... ie, modular block instead of natural stone, or many other hints that you can get out of them.
However, my way is not for everybody. It depends on your market and your client base and whether you make a living on the design or on the build. There are way more $10k landscapes to be built than $50k landscapes which means more opportunity to work and make money. I only design. I am not viable in that market because I can not sell design in that market. You can still make lots of money selling $10k landscapes. I am not marketable as a design only person if I charge enough to make a living. ... but I make a lot of $50k+ landscape jobs for a lot of contractors doing it this way.
Yes, that would be a problem, but why does this never happen to me?
I guess its because you are so great and the rest of us should worship you. If you are design only a client isn't going to call you unless they have a good size project. We are design build and I'm sure my market is way smaller and lower budget. Here 50k jobs are the exception, especially these days. If I marketed to those clients only then I would be out of business pretty quick. My market is what it is, and I have just adjusted to suit it. I happen to like it except for sometimes brutal summers.
No. I explained why. I also explained that there are a lot more opportunities in the $10-$15k projects for contractors. I can not get that work because people will not hire me to do it - they just won't dedicate any money out of that limited budget for something other than built work. I can design $5k landscapes. I just can't get anyone to pay me for it.
You need to do what you need to do to land those customers that are out there whether they are $1k or $100k. You mentioned that jobs over that $10-$15k are few, but they are there. When those come along, it might be nice to know another approach that you can use to help yourself land the job. All I'm doing is telling you what I do that works very effectively for those jobs. You can choose to be insulted by that or choose to take from it anything that may be useful. That is up to you.
When prospective customer is describing a landscape that will clearly be over $30k, many don't like the conversation starting with budget. It is a given that they have the money and makes you look like you are all about the money like a kid in a candy shop. Stert with pleasing them on the design. When that is done, price it out. It is a different situation and should be handled differently. That is all I'm suggesting.