How To: Enter the Corporate Estate Market

Departments - Design/Installation

September 6, 2011
Brian Horn

Nothing good comes easy, and that holds true for getting corporate estate clients, says Shannon Mitchell, project landscape architect for Mariani Landscape. "We've been trying to get into that more and more but it's a very tough market because a lot of companies, they've got restrictive budgets for landscaping," Mitchell says. "So you need to be able to know who your competition is and really whether or not some of the other corporate places you are going after were worth it."

While it can be a tough market to break into, corporate estate work can generate a steady stream of work. "With corporate estates specifically, they generally have lots of buildings. They typically have more than one office, and if you get in good with them in one office, you do a good job the first time around, there's going to be repeat work there that you can hold on to."

– Brian Horn

Illustration by Vic Kulihin

  1. The more you can offer the better – like being able to offer design/build at the same time as maintenance as a way to spruce up a building. “There are design opportunities where you can say – this area here isn’t looking that great, why don’t we offer up some opportunities or suggestions on how we could resolve this from a design standpoint,” Mitchell says.
  2. Competitive pricing and knowing your competition are important when looking for corporate jobs. That means keeping your ears open and staying in tune with what your competition is doing. “You just hear by word of mouth what some of the pricing is that they’re offering,” he says. “And when you do that you can decide whether or not it’s actually worth it to get into that arena.”
  3. Offer unique suggestions to problems. If a company has a drainage problem in a parking lot, you might offer them the suggestion of permeable pavers. “Let’s say it’s a company that works in something to do with the green industry. You’re helping the environment, plus it looks good from a company standpoint because you are selling those types of products,” Mitchell says.
  4. Know what you can offer and what others can’t offer, and then play up what you can offer. When you get a chance to present to a potential client, you want to stress your strengths. “A lot of these companies, they are prestigious companies and sometimes they don’t always have the budgets to do real big landscape projects, so you need to be able to know what you are good at,” he says.
  5. You have to go to conferences that potential clients might attend. “For example, I do a lot of hospital care work so I go to a lot of hospital conferences on design for new hospitals and healthcare systems,” Mitchell says. “It’s going and meeting these people and dropping a card here or there saying, ‘Let’s get together sometime for lunch.’ It goes a long way.”