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Landscape Designs

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JimLewis, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I was a little taken back lately when I returned a client's phone call the other day. The lead came from Service Magic. Say what you will about them, I get lots of great leads from them. Only reason I bring up Service Magic is because it's pertinent to the conversation I had with this client.

    The client was looking for landscape design work. We have several great landscape designers who work for our company on a freelance basis and we've done a lot of geat design work. So before I could even get to that, the customer said, "Oh, thanks for calling me back. I was reading up about the 3 firms that Service Magic referred to me. It seems like your specialty is more in the installation phase of landscaping rather than design. I am really looking for just design work."

    I said, "Oh, Well we have a number of excellent landscape designers - one in particular who I really like. I'd be glad to arrange an appointment."

    He just didn't really want to hear anything I had to say from that point on. It was as if he didn't believe we really could do anything except installation. His next response was something like, "Yah...Ok...Well, I'll let you know...I really want to hire a company with some experience in landscape design. No offense. But I'll call you back if I am interested, thanks."

    So that really hit a nerve. Because I think the designers we work with are top notch. But it's true that if you look at our website (before today) we really had no mention or examples of landscape designs we had done.

    So long story short - I've posted several pictures of some landscape designs we've done. I just want some feedback. Are these nice enough to make a new client feel confident that they can hire us to do design work? Any of the designs you see that you WOULD NOT include in the list?


  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    I looked at your site. The plans are very professional.

    Lots of people get filled with notions and preconceived ideas either on their own or from other people. I think this is more true with the internet age. So many people get hooked on the computer and the cyber experts to solve all their needs.

    This person has an inability to think and reason and therefore they lock onto statements of opinions as fact. Someone told this person that landscapers are all incapable of doing design work and that all designers are brilliant.

    Reasonable people can be reasoned with even if they start off with assumptions.

    Let's face it, there are a lot of people in the landscape installation field that have no ability to design. But, lets also face it that there are a lot of designers out there who don't build who are equally as bad. A reasonable person would want to talk to the designer (design/build or design only), look at their designs, look at their portfolio of built work, and then decide who is right for them. That client was not a reasoning person.

    You might have one other thing working against you because you are in Oregon. You have an overactive government who has convinced everyone in the state that they can not use toilet paper without the government to protect them. OK, maybe not that, but you are incapable of pumping your own gas according to them. Anyway, I have seen lots of articles and internet posts about landscape designers being licensed in Oregon. These articles have had all of these reasons why it is important that the designer is licensed and how with that license they are all experts. It sort of makes an us against them mentality between contractors and designers. Your moron potential client got sucked in, I think.

    Who knows better? You who design and build and maintain over and over and over, or someone from art school who sketches and then needs you to make it work? Now I know that is a stereotype of designers, but if they stereotype contractors it is fair game.

    Don't let one idiot make you question your capability. This guy could not even pick his own designer, he needed service magic to make the decision for him. I think you don't need this guy.
  3. allinearth

    allinearth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 614

    Look at it this way. This guy may have helped you out by pointing out a weakness in your site. Now you have it fixed and are better off. I have run in to the same type of people...Can't tell them anything, their mind is already made up. Best to spend your energy on customers that recognize and respect your ability. The designs look good. What is the going rate for design work and renderings in your area?
  4. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    Jim, the designs you have posted look to be of very professional quality, but is that what the phone call was about? As Andrew has suggested, we live in the cyber age, where people think that a computer and a software program are what creates the designs. Did he need to see before pictures, 3D imaging and the installation pictures.

    I do not find most of my clients are impressed with the plan drawing, but in the results. My drawings are all very technically accurate and carefully drawn, even colored for the client presentation, but their eyes seem to gloss over until the 3D imaging pics and the the Horticopia generated plant photos and information are presented. You do have to explain that the imaging is just a representation of the vision, but the client can now "see" what the design will look like in "real" time. It is all about perception, not always about the facts.

    You are a wise man to seek the assistance of designers to enhance the professionalism of you business. Many firms that have a "design team" get caught in the same old landscape rut. By seeking outside sources you have been able to broaden your choices. Maybe that is what you need to highlight, not just the drawings, but the diversity of "your" design staff. The selection of proper plants and placement and the choices of hardscape and utility. I work with quite a few landscapers and their clients eyes light up when I am introduced as the designer. They feel that the landscaper is the muscle and the designer is the brains. Not always true or accurate, but it is a common perception. The skill of the design is not necessarily on the paper, but in the plant & material selection and the placement in concept on the property. A good designer is more than someone that can draw, or use software for pretty pictures. They should be a plant expert, knowledgeable about hardscapes, lighting, irrigation and all other facets of what goes into a good landscape.

  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    That's the understatement of the year! I tell you, it's getting REALLY old having to deal with the rediculous laws and rules we have here. I often think of moving to another state just for that reason.

    Thanks for the other comments. I appreciate them. I read them all.
  6. gslawncare

    gslawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    I think you should show the drawing and then a live picture. People are all about results. I want to see color and actual homes and before and after. The tech drawings are the last thing a client cares about. Give a client a tech sheet and see the look of confusion.
    I don't give a tech sheet until I get a signed agreement. I usually submit the 3-d shot with an agreement. That way, the client can't give the tech sheet to another installer at least without the plant desc. and lay-out specs.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    He saw the designs on our site and now he called me back wanting to make an appointment. Go figure! How funny.
  8. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    your designs look great
  9. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    Jim, just goes to show, most consumers are impressed by pretty pictures. Glad you got the second oppurtunity with this potential client. Now you can really wow him with your work.

  10. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    just a suggestion.

    perhaps scanning the images in as opposed to taking pictures of them that show the table and the like. Especially #7 and #5 is very blurry.

    The designs look really nice, but we are people that can understand them. Your average General Public person wants to see pretty pictures, colors. The same people that want to plant oak trees really close to create immediate pricacy.

    My other suggestion would be to group the designs. Put the before picture, then the design, then an after picture and perhaps a 2 years later picture. That way the potential client can see the whole process. Sort of a line up of 4 thumbnails in chronological order with labels below or something.

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