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  • Writer's pictureEric McQuiston, PLA

How to Be an Exceptional Landscape Client – Ensuring an Outstanding Outcome!


How to be a great customer!

When you're ready to elevate your outdoor home or business environment, your journey often begins with seeking out reputable contractors nearby – a solid starting point indeed. Many landscape contractors have dedicated years, if not decades, to refining their craft. Most are passionate about their work and execute it with excellence. Nevertheless, there are proactive steps you can take to guarantee a stellar result.


Forge a Strong Connection with Your Contractor


Exploring your options is perfectly fine. Reach out to several establishments and gauge their responsiveness. Are they willing to engage with you over the phone or direct you to someone knowledgeable? Remember, time is valuable, and while not everyone may offer phone consultations, some might. You'll need to determine whom to invite for an onsite consultation – and expect to compensate them for their time. Just as an appliance repair technician charges for a house call, landscapers deserve compensation for their expertise.


Come Prepared

Once you've scheduled appointments with one or more contractors or designers, be ready to invest time in walking your property and discussing your vision. The initial meeting offers valuable insights into your property and the contractor's approach. Be flexible in rescheduling if the weather turns inclement – navigating your property in rain or snow serves no one.


Compile a list of your wishes and concerns for reference. Ask questions and attentively listen to the responses. Your designer might inquire about details that seem intrusive, such as who will frequent the space or if anyone has allergies. Such queries aim to anticipate potential challenges – perhaps an elderly relative struggles with steps or a child has allergies to bee stings. Such information is crucial for tailoring solutions.


If you feel confident after the initial meeting, consider accepting the contractor's offer to develop a solution and estimate for construction – with the understanding that this service warrants payment. You're investing in their years of expertise, talent, and skill to bring your outdoor vision to life. Just as one pays a physical trainer or a financial advisor, compensating a landscape contractor or designer is equally justifiable.


The Independent Designer Option


While a landscape contractor's primary focus is on construction or management, an independent designer or landscape architect works exclusively for you, advocating for your vision. Though hiring an independent professional may seem like an added expense, their expertise often pays dividends, ensuring a more satisfactory outcome. Their allegiance lies solely with you, guaranteeing that the envisioned solution is executed correctly and within budget.


Moreover, a design crafted with an independent professional can facilitate obtaining multiple construction estimates – a freedom not typically afforded when working directly with a contractor. Crafting a design and estimate demands considerable time and effort, expenses that, whether explicitly charged or not, contribute to the project's overall cost.


Some Phrases to Avoid


When engaging with contractors for landscape services, certain phrases are best avoided:


  • "What's the cost if I provide the materials?"

This approach overlooks the contractor's expertise in sourcing materials and may signal to them that you're a challenging client, potentially leading to inflated estimates or reluctance to take on the project.


  • "Can I get a discount because my spouse has started the work?"

Such requests are typically met with a firm refusal, as professional standards and construction methods may not align with DIY efforts, often necessitating corrections before work can proceed.


  • "Will you watch out for my pets?"

While contractors generally respect such requests, it's important to remember that your property becomes an active workspace, necessitating responsibility for pets, children, and furnishings on your part. Additional services may incur extra charges.


  • "What's your labor cost?"

This question can raise red flags, as it's uncommon for clients to inquire about a contractor's internal business operations. Such inquiries may lead to increased pricing or the contractor declining the project.


Conclusion


Hiring someone to enhance your lifestyle requires mutual trust, backed by clear contracts. Whether you opt for an independent designer or a trusted contractor, your active participation is essential for a successful outcome. Establishing a positive rapport and a mutually respectful relationship are key to realizing your outdoor vision.


For further inquiries or comments, feel free to reach out.


~ Eric

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