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Completing a Landscape Project: The Step-By-Step Process

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Business Advice

First Meeting (Estimate Request)

Getting to know your clients: The first step in the landscape project process is getting to know your potential clients. Sit down for a meeting to discuss and gather information about their personal style preferences and lifestyle. Discuss their specific wants and expectations, as well as their vision for their landscape. Get a sense of who your customers are and how they intend to use their outdoor space. Once you get a feel for their unique personality and interests make some suggestions on how your business can turn their abstract ideas into reality, while still bearing in mind their need for a functional and practical space. Make sure to take note of all client details and communication history (the sales process from start to finish) in LMN’s built in Customer Relationship Management tool. You can find more information on that CRM tool HERE.

First Meeting (Estimate Request)

Ask questions and make suggestions:

  • Do your customers seem like laidback people? Why not suggest a great lounge area with a natural décor style?
  • Are they ‘outdoorsy?’ Advocate aesthetically-pleasing features like a rock retaining wall, as well as functional features like an outdoor fire pit.
  • Do they like modern designs or more traditional looks? Their answer might determine whether they’d prefer clean, simple lines or a more ornate look.
  • Are they hoping to use their landscape for entertaining? Perhaps you should suggest an outdoor kitchen for cooking and dining alfresco.
  • Do they enjoy sports and activities? If so, you might want to recommend a court for volleyball and badminton or maybe even a swimming pool.
  • Do they have dogs that need space to run? Children that need space to play? Are they hoping to use the space in the winter months, as well as the summer? Listen to their needs and wishes and provide compelling feedback and ideas.

Explaining the process: After you have gathered enough information on your clients to really gauge their vision, discuss your typical design process. Explain how your design concepts are generated and how your customers can expect the process to work: for instance, should they anticipate meeting with you throughout the process to select materials and plants? How will changes to the instillation process be handled?

Also, mention whether you plan to hire subcontractors and, if so, what portions of the project they’ll handle. Talk about the design process, as well as the actual building/instillation process. And after you explain the course of action, show off some of your portfolio projects that will appeal to your clientele. If they show an interest in outdoor entertaining, why not show them some of your best patio or balcony work? Point out fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, water features, interesting dining and lounging areas…whatever you think will get their attention and appeal to their vision. Explain your expertise, but be honest and open about the types of projects your business typically handles and specializes in.

Introductory Site Visit

At the end of your first meeting with a client, make plans to visit the site again to collect and gather all necessary site information and to begin the estimation process. Once an agreed upon date and time is set, bring all the tools you’ll need to accurately measure your project area. Find out the width and length of the lot to accurately measure the amount of materials you will need.  Make notes on the property’s condition and state, consider the position of the house on the property, go over methods of construction with your clients and advise/educate them on the process once again. There is a really great form in the LMN Systems Library which will help with this. It is called the “Site Assessment Form” and is attached to this article.

Estimating the Project

Use your site visit to put together an appropriate estimate for the landscaping job that keeps in mind all your costs – materials, labor, equipment and overhead. Request another meeting onsite to present the estimate to your customers. Once onsite, use this opportunity to explain your pricing and to go over the construction process with them. Also, use this meeting as an opportunity to answer any questions they may have. There are many different types of customer proposals that you can print for sales purposes in LMN depending on how much detail you want or need to show them. If you are just creating your first estimate, please check out our guide in our LMN Setup Guide HERE. You can also use something similar to the “Landscape Design Contract” attached to this article before the design phase so that the you and the customer are on the same page on what is actually going to be proposed to them.

Booking Job

Once the estimate has been approved, you’re ready for business! Schedule a meeting to review the plan and contract. Agree upon a contract that includes a detailed description of the job that is to be completed, the warranties, payment arrangements, as well as the project’s estimated start and completion dates. Now is also a good time to pick up a deposit from your customer (generally 1/3 of total cost). Make sure to take advantage of your estimate statuses in LMN Estimating and mark your ToDo tasks as “complete” as you move your customer through the sales pipeline too! This will help you stay on track with customer expectations.

Planning Project

Discuss the specifics with your customers in terms of their landscape design options, including their materials, colors, fixtures, lighting and other design basics as well as their plants, soil and decorative features.

Pre-Construction Meeting

Discuss delivery and placement of materials on the customer’s property, ensure the property is accessible for your equipment and discuss with your customers where equipment will be positioned. Go over site preparation and project setup with your customers so they know what to expect. Review and confirm material colors and patterns.

First Day on the Job

Crew arrives in morning, discusses any pertinent matters and answer any questions your customers might have. A second payment should also be made at this time (2/3 of total cost).

Project Underway

At this point, the design and build project is in progress – which might include digging, grading, installing trees, excavation for ponds, paving and retaining walls. Throughout the entire process, you should ensure you are in constant communication with your clients. Provide feedback on a regular basis and, near the end of the project, be sure to inform your clients of your final work day. Schedule a time for a final walk through. Proper time tracking is also very important during the actually build process of the project. If you are not currently taking advantage of our software for this part of the job (or if you are and want a refresher), please check out what you can accomplish with LMN Time HERE. LMN Time will even help you job-cost all of those labor hours quickly and easily!

Final Walkthrough

With your clients there to ask any questions and raise any concerns, complete a project inspection. After your inspection, present an invoice with full payment due.

Final Day on the Job

Focus should be placed on meticulously cleaning up the property and restoring the existing scenery so your clients can fully enjoy their completed landscape project.

Downloads

DOWNLOAD – Design Build Sales Procudure
DOWNLOAD – Site Assessment Form
DOWNLOAD – Landscape Design Contract

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