Advice for Rookie Landscape Design Companies and a Refresher for Veterans

Good advice for rookie landscape design companies, as well as veterans:

1. Gain experience first
Before starting your own landscape design company, work for someone else. Don’t take a few courses and think you can start out on your own. You can, but it’s not the wisest course of action.

2. Build interpersonal relationships
You may think it’s all about you and your design. It’s not. It’s about your relationships with the client and with the contractor. That’s the secret to getting great results. And, you need to be flexible. Clients may have a preference for a different contractor, but this doesn’t mean you can’t still work with them to create an outdoor environment.

As for finding subcontractors you know and trust, it takes time. Eventually you’ll find one you like. Stick with them.

3. Learn Spanish
It’s not enough to just know the plant names and drainage and grading. You also have to know field Spanish. You’ve got to learn it; it’s just the way of the world.

4. Give every project your all
By giving each project, no matter the size, all of your attention you are able to begin building a brand and a reputation. It is the quality of work, design and installation that sets a company apart. With good photos and word of mouth, your successful project will bring more work. When you continually produce client-pleasing landscapes, word will spread.

It’s a step-by-step process.

5. Don’t underestimate business skills
No matter how well you can transform a backyard into a beautiful oasis, you need to learn how to run a business and how to run it well. Business management, website design, PR, organization, communication – it’s all important. You have to be willing to put the time and the money into these things.

6. Give back
Less of a strategic business tip, this is more of an ethical one. A business is part of the community, it’s not just you going home every night. You have to think of yourself as being part of the overall community. Help or sponsor a local non-profit and get noticed in return.

7. Don’t undervalue your knowledge
Coming up with pricing for projects is a tricky business, as every project is different, but you also need to know how much your skills are worth.

Remember, people are going to pay more for experience, so in the beginning you need to charge accordingly, and this harkens back to tip No. 1. If you don’t have experience you cannot charge customers as much.

8. Be able to tell them what you do
If water features are your passion, make sure you aren’t doing jobs that take away from that.

Figure out what is it that you really do, and what you offer the client. Once you know what you are really trying to accomplish, you can tell clients what you do in an elevator pitch. This leads into the next tip.

9. Know your preferred areas
Although a landscaping company may eventually grow to be all things to all people, when starting out it is important to know your niche. If a company doesn’t know who it is and what market it serves, it can end up being pulled in directions that are not within its area of expertise.

Just because you can do it doesn’t make it the most strategic use of your time. Say, for example, a client says, ‘Do you put in drainage systems?’ and maybe you can, but is that where you want to spend your time? It might be, but you could be doing three new lawns during that time.

10. Travel as much as you can
If you’re looking for inspiration, there is no better option than checking out public gardens, going on garden tours, and attending workshops.

These avenues give landscapers the opportunity hear garden experts share their knowledge and to see numerous landscape designs that focus on variety, color, and sustainability.