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Changing the Public’s Image of Landscape Contractors

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LMN News

Ban The Term Landscaper

As we all know, our industry, like many others, has a significant problem with how we are perceived by the general public. Some of it is “rooted” in the history of our profession, but most of it is perpetuated by ourselves, our industry, suppliers and vendors. Unfortunately the most damaging aspect of all of this is the word that is commonly used to describe our profession — “landscapers”. Naturally, none of this is done maliciously and much of it is done because no one really questions it. Well I think it is not only time to question it but to finally do something about it. Some of you may disagree with what I am going to suggest, but here goes.

I would like all of us to remove the word “landscaper” from our vocabulary. That’s right! I want it stricken from your business cards, letterhead, print ads, website, and if I have my way, the English language (foreign languages too).

Now just hold on a minute and put down that pick axe, t-square or spreadsheet and just hear me out. Let’s first look at the meaning of the word “landscaper”. I just Googled “landscaper” to find the common definitions of it. Ironically, Wikipedia does not even list the word and just redirects you to, landscape, landscaping, landscape contracting, landscape architecture etc. Next, I went to Merriam-Webster and all they say is that “landscaper” is a noun. They don’t have a description of it nor do they use it in a sentence. Finally, I went to Dictionary.com, and finally found a definition, “a gardener who does landscape gardening.” Huh? Does this in any way shape or form describe you or your business? Does it really even describe anything?

Landscape Architect, Gardener, Designer, Contractor, Builder, Excavator, Plumber, Carpenter, Electrician all have well defined descriptions as to what type of services their industries provide and all of them conjure up imagery that is much more professional than that of a “landscaper”.

So here is my solution to all of this is. Instead of calling ourselves landscapers, which as we know is an ill defined term and quite often has a negative connotation to it. Instead, we should use the terms landscape contractor, landscape maintenance contractor and landscape design/build contractor. For one thing it will provide some clarity within our own industry as to who we are and what we do. And as simple as it sounds, it will help educate the consumer and start to change the publics perception of what we do in our “chosen careers”. It will also help to provide all of us with a more professional image and a more accurate description of ourselves, our businesses and our industry.

When I look at our membership and our industry, I see entrepreneurs, business owners, professional companies, artists and craftsmen that are all part of a multi billion dollar industry – it’s time the public sees the same. If I still haven’t convinced you, do yourself a favor and Googlethe word “landscaper” and then select images. Take a look at a few pictures and you decide whether we need to work on our image or not. My personal favorite is the guy with the 1990’s Billy Ray Cyrus mullet.

Have an opinion on this? Then let yourself be heard. Click here to email your thoughts to us and we’ll post a best-of collection of opinions.

Jody Shilan is a former landscape contractor and award winning designer. He has sold tens of millions of dollars of installation work throughout his career and now uses his 30+ years of experience to teach other landscape design/build contractors how to dramatically increase their sales and standardize their landscape design/build/sales process. He does this through private consulting, public speaking, group workshops and his “exclusive” members only website www.FromDesign2Build.com.

Jody Shilan appears as a guest blogger for LMN Blog, Landscape Management Network’s resource hub for all things related to building a better landscape business.  For more on the Landscape Management Network, check out the website at www.landscapemanagementnetwork.com.

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