Save this Spring! - Get Unlimited Users for 3 Months. Get the deal.

Have a Portfolio?

| Topic:

Business Advice

A solid portfolio of completed work and customer testimonials no doubt adds credibility to any pitch. But when it comes to gaining information about your client’s taste and the size of their budget for a project, a portfolio can serve many functions.

We’ve all been there. We put in the hours designing the backyard, the pool, the patio, only to find out that the design work, up until this point, is either too cheap, too expensive or doesn’t match the client’s taste. Having a conversation prior to designing a job is an extremely powerful way to gather information about your client and increase your chances of putting together a design that will blow the client’s expectations out of the water while serving you with a healthy profit for a job well done.

Instead of knocking on the front door, having the client control the conversation from the get-go, with you ending up alongside the homeowner on their property, ask to sit down and show your portfolio. Then, after having a controlled conversation, offer to go outside and look at the property.

A conversation is one of the best ways to screen out whether a client can afford a $50,000 or a $750,000 project. By asking to sit down with the client at their home, by walking through their front door and to the kitchen table, you’ll get a chance to look at how this client lives. On your way to the table, to show your portfolio, look around: check out the art in the home. Look at how their home is furnished. Every second you have until sitting down is a chance to get into the owner’s mind, figure out the style or taste they enjoy living in, and start a business conversation.

Do they have an expensive, modern, or classic taste? What type of art is on their walls? Is the house disorganized or extremely organized? Does the client have children or look like they entertain guests regularly? A few glances around the house will provide you with a mass of information to use when designing and building a quote.

Take advantage of this information and use it to start a controlled conversation.  You’ll have a better understanding of what that client is looking for and what they can afford. If you pay attention and think critically during the walk from the front door to the kitchen table, you’ll have a better snapshot of their interests and whether or not this is the type of client or type of job, you want to put time into.

If their home reflects a modern style of living, presenting a pool with a curved design may not suit the client’s taste. But a modern, square-cut pool could land you the job, potentially off the pool’s design alone, if the pool is the “deal maker” for the client.

Perhaps the pool isn’t the most important part of their project, and offering one in a design could be a deal breaker and a waste of time.

Let’s face it. As landscape contractors, it’s hard to be unique. We buy the same stone and use the same equipment, for the most part. But presenting a bid that matches why the customer is looking to hire a contractor in the first place is something that doesn’t happen too often in our industry (or on the first try, anyway). Sure, we may get there without asking any questions and simply free-styling the design process, but after how many re-drawings? And could that time have been spent somewhere else? You’ll never know why the client is hiring a contractor unless you screen for info and have a conversation.

The benefits do not stop there. If the client’s house is extremely disorganized, has old mail and bills scattered across the table you’re sitting at, this appearance combined with a yard that’s a mess could lead you to not wanting to bid on this job. Allowing you to avoid the hassle and focus on completing another job with fewer barriers.

To end, there are far more chances you’ll design the job right from the get-go as a contractor if you completely understand why the client is hiring. When we center in on the client’s needs and reasons for hiring a contractor, we can better tailor the landscaping experience to their preferences. This could lead to up-sells on the property, or lead to ignoring design features that normally would have been added to the bid if we didn’t know the client’s general wants and needs.

Being an active communicator will help you design and sell effectively. More importantly, communicating will help you land the jobs you want to be a part of while decreasing the chance of missing great opportunities in our industry.

You’re just one step away from better

Start Your Free Trial

30-day free trial. No credit card needed.