How to successfully get in front of builders/contractors for installations

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by guitarman2420, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. guitarman2420

    guitarman2420 LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Midlothian, VA
    Messages: 617

    Up until the last year, 90% of our landscaping installs and designs have been in high end residential environments. What is the best approach when trying to expand into providing initial landscape installs to residential home builders? Go to the actual sales office of the builder; corporate offices of the builder; better relationship with local nurseries? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. TNGrassCutter

    TNGrassCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,321

    About all we do anymore is new lawn and landscapes for the biggest builder in town. You have to know people really to get in with these guys. They don't give new guys a chance much here they just use the same group of landscapers. I would go to offices or mail, email. I wouldn't worry about nurseries as most builders don't hang around them ever. Try and find a small builder from a mutual friend or family and see if they'll give you a shot. Don't jump all in at first, start slow and easy.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. dieselfuel

    dieselfuel LawnSite Member
    Messages: 114

    What he said. I have some pretty good connections with a few builders through family and I still haven't done any work for them. They have used another company and are happy enough they don't want to change. So even when you have the connections it can be hard to get the work. I actually spent Saturday afternoon drinking a 12 pack with one of the biggest apartment owners/builders in the area and he still won't give me a chance.

    And Saturday morning I was with one of the custom home builders (the nicest homes in town) and he said one of his projects is for a farmer who is going to do it himself, and some of the others he is getting the landscaping for free because another company owes him money.
  4. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 4,721

    I suggest you stay away from that kind of work. Around here, ALL builders want the install work done dirt cheap. They have no loyalty to anyone, and will change to someone else if they find they can save $5.00 on a $5,000 install job.
    It might be different in your area, but around here, there is little money to be made working for homebuilders. Oh, good luck on getting paid on a timely basis, also.
  5. guitarman2420

    guitarman2420 LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Midlothian, VA
    Messages: 617

    Thanks. That's the kind of info I was looking for. My wife is a landscaping designer and we do @ 35% of our revenue in design/install work with a much higher margin than in maintenance. We would like to improve the ratio to @ 50% by the end of the year.
  6. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    Mowingman is painting with a broad brush. You need to find the right builder who runs an operation similar to yours and will be loyal to you. The good builders have been burned by bad landscapers just like good scapers have been burned by bad builders
  7. TNGrassCutter

    TNGrassCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,321

    I will add that I've heard a lot about people not getting paid or having to wait. You have to find the right one. With mine, bills due Thursday at 2:00, checks ready Friday at 2:00, every week.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    I agree with that. Around here it's about the same thing. There are a VERY FEW builders who will actually pay what they should pay for nice landscapes. But we're talking like 1% or so. The other 99% are just like MowinMan describes.

    That's sort of true. There are a FEW builders who will allow for a reasonable budget and are willing to pay for high end landscapes. But they're so few, in my experience anyway, that they just aren't worth chasing.

    I don't even waste my time talking to them anymore. Every single time I've done it I've had the same bad experience. They turned out to be a total cheapskate, wanting me to cut corners and do landscapes for half the price that I normally do. No thank you.

    I would say 100% of builders are like that. Except for the fact that a real good friend of mine who owns a really big landscaping company in the area gets most of his work from a real high end builder. He swears to me that this builder (and 1 or 2 others he works for) really do pay him great money and allow them to do really big high-end jobs. And I see him doing them. So I believe him. But that's the only landscaper in town who I see getting good money and doing really nice quality jobs from builders. The rest of the landscapers who are working for builders have given in to their demands; cut corners, slap in cheap landscapes, no soil amendments at all, cheap sprinkler systems with cheap parts - just throw water everywhere with one zone, cheap hardscape work. All crap. I'm never going to put our company name on something like that.

    High end resi. is where it's at, IMO.
  9. PenningsLandscaping

    PenningsLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,853

    Depends on the local builders, and how receptive they are to this. In the market I worked for another company in prior to moving to New Jersey, the local builders made huge money low balling the installs, using lowest quality cheapest materials they could find, and doing a dog sh*t job. You can always tell which places had the contractors put in the landscaping when you see box woods the size of geraniums.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
  10. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    When you mention sales offices/corporate offices I assume you're referring to the big, mass production builders? Have fun. I worked on staff as a designer for a firm that serviced those builders, and later as a freelancer for a different firm. These builders tend to want the front yards at cost or close to it, and if they have a closing coming up you have to drop what you're doing and bang out the landscaping so they can finalize everything on their end. It all sucks.

    If you can hook up with a custom builder it can be a different animal, but not always. I'm working with a builder doing a $3.2 million custom home. The plantings, which are not overdone, just appropriate for a house that size, came in at $35k and she's like "whoa whoa whoa let's not get crazy with the plantings here." Haven't met with her yet to go over revisions but I wouldn't be surprised if we get pared back to maybe $20k. So less than 1% of the home value. Come on.

Share This Page