How do you get Folks to listen to you?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by eskals, Jul 3, 2001.

  1. eskals

    eskals LawnSite Member
    Messages: 210

    I'll admit that I am a young guy and that I don't know even a small fraction of what you guys know about landscaping. However, I have picked up alot of info and knowledge through places such as, books, and experience. My major porblem is getting people to listen to me. I don't think I come across as an inexperienced yahoo, but who knows.

    For example, today I was talking with a lady about rocking an existing bed. Everything goes well. Then she starts talking about applying a landscape fabric in an area that can't be seen (hidden from view by bushes) and then putting some "Black Beauty Mulch" (which is only available at a few stores and looks exactly like topsoil) over it. Alarm bells go off: NO MULCH over landscape fabric!!! So I voice my concerns over it, and get nowhere.

    I hate to sound whiny or anything like that, and I know that people won't always listen, but any suggestions on getting people to listen? Do I need to be a bit more pushy, or what? Anyone know how to deal with customers like this?

  2. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,144

    Educate in detail the advantages of you way over what they want done. "My way or the highway" I am the professional... if they dont want it done right they can find some one else!
  3. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    It sounds like the issue may be credibility. And there's only one way to win that battle - make yourself more credible.

    I'll shoot you straight - if Lawnsite and some book reading makes up the bulk of your experience, you may be fighting a credibility battle for awhile.

    The more credibility ammo you have, the better. Join local landscape associations, and mention that affiliation when meeting with customers. Create a portfolio of past work to show potential customers. Volunteer a reference list, don't wait for them to ask. You want to invite them to check you out.

    Evan is right, too. I've spent a good deal of my life honing my skills and methods, and am not going to change them for a customer if I think they will negatively impact the efficacy of the project, particularly hardscapes. So when they say, 'we want it done this way,' I say 'this is the way we do it,' and I explain why we believe that method to be superior. If they push the issue, I let them know that I'm not certain that what they propose is a sound idea, and I won't put my name on something I don't believe to be sound. If that's a deal-breaker for them, walk.
  4. eskals

    eskals LawnSite Member
    Messages: 210

    I work for a landscaper and do some small side jobs on my own time (which my boss has no problems with). So I have experience with the physical aspect of projects but not too much on the business side of things. Lawnsite has been a good deal of help with the business side of things as far as hearing how you guys deal with customers and such.

  5. KD'sLawns

    KD'sLawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 160

    Eskals, you need to have the pro's and the con's of each task that you will be performing. You need to be able to tell her or any other customer why their idea is not so good, and what you can do to remedy the problem. people listen to someone with knowledge about any subject, not only in landscaping. But, you must form your own opinions and convey them as such. "The guys on Lawnsite said,". Don't relate it as someone elses experience or you will never get the job. Hope this helps.
  6. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 860

    Whats the problem with mulch over fabric?

    You need to pick and choose your battles. You don't have the experience to do that confidently at this point. And for gosh sakes, like KD said don't quote LS as a definative source. Yesterday (I believe) I saw a 14 year old supporting the buying decision of a 13 year old.
  7. PRapoza451

    PRapoza451 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    In a situation like that I would say " We don't install fabric under mulch, period" The only time we put fabric down is under crushed stone and not in driveways. If they ask why I tell them it doesn't work. It's a waste of time and money, and we don't do it. If you know something to be wrong just tell them "We don't do ______. If you give your opinion you leave room for them to come back and say well we want to do it anyway which discredits you. Some things can go either way just a matter of which way the customer wants to go. Other things there is no other choice " This is the way we do it."
  8. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    i dont get the no fabric under mulch thing. ive been using fabric under mulch for a long time, and yes u still get some weeds growing right in the mulch. but, u end up with far less weeds than if u used no fabric. we use preen, and fabric, no problem. anyhow, i hate it when people call u for an estimate, then tell u how it needs to be done. a few weeks ago this guy calls for landscaping, i go over there, he is a pain in my butt from the word go. he has 100% pure shade, and wants to know why his junipers look so sparse. he also has some rhodes, and az that r a little thin looking. i explain to him that the juniper requires sun, and the rhodes and az, even though considered shade tolerant, need some kind of daylight to look their best. he insists that i am full of crap(and these r the words he used) and wanted to know what kind of training i had. i explained that i have the best training u can get, about 20 yrs hands on, and working with others who have been in the biz along time. also i remind him that he called me, and he can shut his mouth and listen, or i can leave. well, he walked in the house and sent his wife out to apologize. i said no problem, look at the time, sorry got to run.
  9. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 543

    Maybe you should have sent his wife back in to kick his azz-aleas:eek: I think you handled this far better than I would have. One thing I found on a job today to consider about fabric was that whoever installed it under the 1" river rock we were working in used the felt/fuzz back kind. Over time this stuff plugged up and the ground underneath this stuff was mud. We haven't had any rain for a week and the yards are dry, yet this stuff was soaked. Good and bad.

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