A simple hand drawn landscape design can help you sell.

When you are trying to convey a landscape design idea to your customer or are trying to figure out what they want, nothing beats being able to create a simple hand drawn design. A hand drawn design will allow you and the customer to get a better visualization on a landscape project. It also allows you to agree on a final design. One member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us a recent design he created and showed us how you don’t have to be an artist to create something functional on paper that will help you sell a concept. He wrote “when trying to sell a landscape design, don’t be afraid to put pencil to paper. If you want to make it even easier on yourself to draw, get some grid paper which will help you with property and structure outlines. A drawing can really help you upsell the project as well. You can show the customer how one area may look bare without additional plants or how some added landscape design elements could really improve the end result.

The design drawing gives the client a visual for plant placement, I also show them photos of each type of plant. This way there are no surprises and no ‘oh I hate those, TAKE IT OUT!’ or ‘I don’t like that there, can you move it 2 feet to the left?’ problems after the job is completed.

It’s like a blueprint to build a house. If a builder gives you a design & you ok the design, & sign off on it, you can’t ask him to make the living room 2 feet wider than it was on paper after the house has been built. The design shows what you wanted, what you agreed on and the price. Once you have all that it’s easy to deliver the finished product. If the client wants a change after everything is done, I can always do it but at an additional price. This is called a change order. It’s a good way to cover your butt.

Here is my most recent job that I spent about 2 hour

s picking up all the materials, + 8 hours on the job on day one + about 4 hours on day two. If you add in travel time we had about 15 hours per man with 2 guys, a total of 30 labor hours for the project.

As for the pricing,  as a general rule of thumb I charge around 2x the costs of the materials. A $7 shrub is often around $14 bucks delivered & installed. If you are doing a lot of new plantings it might be a bit less. You also have to consider the other tasks you’ll have to perform that don’t require new materials like pulling weeds, removing sod, pulling out old curbing, removing old plants, in this case we transplanted a few plants & dump fees (+time to dump) don’t forget the dump fees!

Most of the time, the client has a vague idea of what they would like at best. Often times it’s like ‘what do you think we can do with this?’ or ‘God, we need to get all this crap out & try to give it some curb appeal. I want some color.’ The customer is usually begging for guidance & ideas. I try and take control right from the 1st meeting.  If you do that, you will find they want and are willing to pay for your expertise. Become an expert that can deliver! You are essentially their exterior designer.

The same way people call an interior designer & say something vague like ‘I want this room to be more modern, what do you think?’ The designers 1st statement should be something like, ‘Yes I have some great ideas! But, I need to know what kind of budget you have set aside for this project?’ If your client has a $3,000 budget for the project & you don’t ask, you may well come up with a conservative design with smaller & less plants or species that aren’t as nice because you didn’t want to blow the unknown budget. Even if they except the cheaper job they may not ultimately be happy in the end. If you ask & they say $3,000 & you come up with a gorgeous design, install it perfectly & end up $200-$300 under budget you are a hero! They are happy & their home looks as good as it can for the money they WANTED to spend.
For the smaler residential jobs, I do not currently charge a design fee, though I’ve never lost a customer once I got to that point. Your confidence makes them confident. Remember that you’re the guy they want to improve the exterior of their home. When I am going to draw a landscape, I have found that using a measuring wheel definitely comes in handy. Not only for getting the proper measurements but it also helps when making a rough drawing of an existing flower bed on the fly to reference later.
Although I can create a drawing on the spot, I have found it works better when I can take measurements and interview the customer, then complete the designs at home & get back with them. Often I send the drafts via email for the clients reveiw & make revisions as needed. Residential designs usually take less than an hour for me to complete.

When I am finished with the landscape design, I make sure to take all my drawings, before and after pictures and put them all in my website’s portfolio for other future potential customers to review. This is a great selling tool.

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