Find out what the customer wants, and then find out more.
“Don’t tell them what they want. Let them tell you.”
Seems like simple advice for a landscape designer meeting a prospective client. Of course, you’ve got to find out what the customer wants and needs before you can put pen to paper. But listening and executing a plan that reflects clients’ wishes is a competitive advantage for Lifestyle Landscaping because so many other firms gloss over those personal details.
When scouting a property and first meeting with a prospective client, Kevin O’Brien, landscape designer at the Grafton, Ohio-based firm, wants to find out what that person truly values. Here are some strategies he uses to dig deep so he can deliver a design with the type of detail that wows clients.
Speak their language. What words does the person use when describing his or her desires for the landscape? Jot those down. And when presenting the plan, reiterate those phrases.
Learn their habits. Who lives at the home? What do they enjoy doing outdoors? Are there pets? How often, and how, does the homeowner entertain? The questionnaire goes on – but you get the idea. Learn what makes the client tick so you can present a plan that caters to their lifestyle. Don’t stray from these values.
Respect the property. If you park in the driveway, ask the homeowner and find out when he or she might need to leave so your vehicle is not blocking the way. Do not trespass on neighbors’ properties. The last thing you ant to do is start a fued. Don’t use the client’s bathroom, if possible. Take garbage cans up from the street. “Be courteous,” O’Brien says. “And, most importantly, show up on time when you say you are going to be there.”