Prescreen Booklet

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Team-Green L&L, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    I am in the process of creating a question and answer booklet to help us prepare for an upcoming project that is still "being discussed".

    Here are my 20 base questions for the homeowner. Please reply with input on any questions I may be forgetting that would benefit us and the customer.

    Softscaping Questionaire:

    Question #1: How often do use your lawn for the following:

    Cooking ________%

    Dining _______%

    Entertainment ________%

    Relaxation ________%

    Gardening ________%

    Sports ________%

    Question #2: Do you have children? Y / N
    List Children: Gender and Age
    _____ _____
    _____ _____
    _____ _____
    _____ _____

    Question #3: Do you have pets? Y / N
    List number of pets:
    Dog(s): ______

    Cat(s): ______

    Other: ______

    Question #4: How much area do you want to landscape?

    Front Lawn: ________ ft2

    Rear Lawn: ________ ft2

    Left Side: ________ ft2

    Right Side: ________ ft2


    Question #5: What do you want to receive from your plant-life?

    Birds: Y / N
    Butterflies: Y / N
    Deer: Y / N
    Bees: Y / N
    Herbs: Y / N
    Fragrance: Y / N

    Question #6: How much maintenance do you want your plants to require?

    High Medium Low

    Question #7: Are there any allergy risks with family or friends?

    Question #8: Who will be maintaining your new landscape? Self / Company

    Question #9: Is there an irrigation system? Y / N

    Question #10: What is the sun path on your property?

    Front to Rear Rear to Front Left to Right Right to Left

    Question #11: Will you be installing lighting in the near future? Y / N

    Question #12: What is your initial budget for landscaping?

    -$2500 $2500-$5000 $5000-$7500 $7500+

    I know my budget is $ __________

    Hardscaping Questionaire:

    Question #13: What type of hardscaping will your landscape need?
    How many / sizes:

    Soil Retention Wall(s): ____ Length _______ Height _______
    Length _______ Height ________
    Length _______ Height ________

    Landscape Wall(s): _____ Length _______ Height ________
    Length _______ Height ________
    Length _______ Height ________

    Patio(s): _____ Length ________ Width _________ Grading: Y / N
    Length ________ Width _________ Grading: Y / N
    Length ________ Width _________ Grading: Y / N

    Fire Pit: Y / N Diameter: _______

    Walks: _____ Length ________
    Length ________
    Length ________

    Question #14: What type of materials will you be using on your hardscaping?

    Soil Retention Wall(s)

    1. Style ________________ Color __________________
    2. Style ________________ Color __________________
    3. Style ________________ Color __________________

    Landscape Wall(s)

    1. Style ________________ Color __________________
    2. Style ________________ Color __________________
    3. Style ________________ Color __________________


    1. Style ________________ Color __________________
    2. Style ________________ Color __________________
    3. Style ________________ Color __________________

    Question #15: Will there need to be grading to level out your lawn in these areas? Y / N

    Question #16: Will there be any vehicle or equipment traffic on your paving? Y / N

    Question #18: Does your property have any clearances narrower than 38”? Y / N

    Question #19: Are there special circumstances that we need to be aware of? Y / N
    If yes, please explain:

    Question #20: What is your budget for your hardscaping needs?

    $2500-$5000 $5000-$7500 $7500-10,000 $10,000+
  2. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Looks pretty comprehensive; I used to use a similar questionnaire, I'll see if it's still on the hard drive on my desktop. The only thing I can see adding is checking to see if any of the end users have special needs (mobility impairment, elderly relatives, etc.) that will affect the final landscape. It's kind of included in your #19, but people will be impressed that you thought to ask it explicitly.
  3. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    That is a great suggestion. THNX!
  4. Gatewayuser

    Gatewayuser LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,765

    Just a hint never call it a budget call it an investment and you will sell more work . It's good for the customer to feel like they are not just blowing their hard earned money.:waving:
  5. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Oh, and another thing- instead of asking the h/o to figure out how much space they need, I ask them how often they entertain outside and what the max number of people is at one time; and then I also ask them how large a group will use the space on a regular basis. After all, if they do a big Memorial Day party with 60 people every year but otherwise it's him, her and the dog the rest of the time, I'll do a moderate-sized patio but terrace them a level patch of yard to accommodate overflow.

    That kind of ties into the question of budget vs. investment- I think that is 100% a matter of personal sales style. I look at what I do, and I sell what I do, as being a knowledgeable consultant for the client's landscape needs. Once they understand that I want to work within their budget and that I'll not only tell them what they need but also what they don't need, we can have a frank discussion about what they have to spend and where they're willing to spend it. I had a customer in a high-end neighborhood a few years back call me for a design and say "I don't want to limit your creativity with numbers, just give me the best backyard you can." So I put hours into refining a great renovation that came in just under $50K, which was very reasonable for that area. She said "oh that's too much! I was thinking more like $10K."

    I rolled up my plans and walked out. Ever since then, if the homeowner will not have an honest discussion with me about budgets, I tell them I'm not the designer for them.
  6. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    Thank you Nick for this info. I never really put much thought into that part.
  7. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    This is exactly why I am developing this booklet. We've catered to too many dead leads due to the homeowner's ignorance in the costs of a landscape. If they have a budget, 85% of the time they have not decided on a reasonable budget and need some coaching in this area.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I do find this interesting, a way to prevent oneself from wasting a ton of time estimating what later turns out to be a whim, someone got temporarily excited and thought they had a lot of money...
    Then again anytime someone blabs off about unlimited budgets and crap like that, it's usually a red flag. I've never had a customer who started out talking about ALL THIS MONEY WE WANT TO SPEND actually end up spending if as much as most of the rest, to me this is just a lowballing move along the lines of a 'money flaunter.'
    The intent of the money flaunter is to allow greed to get the best of us, as greed clouds the judgement, we are at this point more likely to UNDER bid, crazy as it might sound, in hopes to get all that money, we forever spin our wheels in the chase that never reaches an end or a goal (at least not our goal).
    Still, it is frustrating to waste the time estimating a year's worth of work for nothing.

    Something just dawned on me, perhaps the word budget tends to entertain the thought of skimping...

    That's not to say one should do things as expensively as possible from the business owner's standpoint, but certainly if the customer is already thinking along the path of not spending much...

    Ultimately it does have to be budgeted, much in the same way we ultimately work by the hour...
    But in as much as we never price by the hour, perhaps the customer shouldn't be budgeting from the git go.

    So I like the word investment myself, I see how it would help.
  9. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    top- I just feel like calling it "investment" is a little... sales weasel-ish? I don't know... when I have my initial meeting with the homeowner, I walk the property with them, talk about their goals, toss out a couple numbers to gauge their reactions, but then I just come straight out with "have you thought about how much you're looking to spend on this?" And sometimes I've had to say "I think your budget may be a little light for what you want to do. Let me give you some options." I had a homeowner with a $15,000 budget for $50,000 worth of hardscape and plantings end up spending $30,000 on the compromise because there was no BS.

    I don't know- I've done the psychology of sales stuff and all, but I have a 0% contract recision rate by just smacking them between the eyes with reality.

  10. Lawnmasters

    Lawnmasters LawnSite Member
    Messages: 180

    We ask all the questions we can think of while walking the property with the customer about their wishes, likes, dislikes, what their "vision" is of the property. How do they "see" it in their mind. I've had lots tell me verbally what they are seeing, then show me a picture of something totally different.

    As for asking if grading is going to be needed, I am the expert, I tell the customer whether it will be needed or not, most homeowners can't even tell you what grade is, much less see it.

    Are retaining walls needed? Again, we are supposed to be the one's with the experience and the eye. I look at the property, take my information for a base map. Ask as many questions as I can, go back to the office and draw a landscape design based on what I have been told. Make another appointment for follow up and presentation, sell it, book it.

    It never hurts to have too much information, just be careful to not ask questions of the homeowner that they are expecting you to answer. It might give them the impression that you don't know what your doing. I have had customers reply " I don't know, that's why I called you" after some questions.

    Good luck on your efforts, looks good to start.

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