Patrick DuChene is the founder of DuChene Design Solutions, a remote landscape design, 3d modeling and rendering service. In a recent interview conducted with DynaSCAPE Software, Patrick discussed the steps landscape professionals need to take to remain viable in these times. In an industry where face to face contact with our clients has always been key to closing jobs, how do we move forward when that contact must be done virtually? Keep reading to learn about the steps you need to take to stay on top of your game in today’s climate.
Step 1: Establish Contact and Reassure
Call your client to discuss how you’ll be doing business moving forward. For example: " Out of respect for your safety and for the safety of my team, we will be conducting business via technology "(phone, video chats, email, etc.). Make sure they know that you remain available to them and that you still want to connect with them. This new way of doing things is also beneficial for homeowners, since they will be able to plan their outdoor project from the comfort of their home! To establish virtual contact with your client, there are many free platforms you can use. If you both have iPhone’s, you could communicate through Facetime, which is an easy and effective platform for all parties. If you’re both using different devices, you could use Facebook Messenger Video Chat, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. There is also a video chat platform called Zoom. An interesting feature of this tool is that you can record your meetings, allowing you to archive your exchanges! Learn more about its features and benefits here.
Step 2: Understand the vision
When discussing over the phone, ask your clients to give you a detailed description of what they want. Ask them to be as precise as possible. You can even encourage them to create a moodboard using Pinterest Pins. This will allow you to get a better understanding of their desired aesthetic. After receiving the description, follow up with them to make sure you understand what they want and that you’re all on the same page. Patrick also advises you keep hardcopy evidence of what they want in case they change their mind down the line.
Step 3: Gather as many visuals of the site
Ask them to send you pictures of the site, as many as possible, from as many angles as possible. Walk-through videos are also a good idea. Video allows you to get commentary which is always a plus and allows you to better understand their vision. Patrick also suggests audio notes that your clients can record when an idea or question pops up that want to run past you. For this step, make sure you make this as easy as possible for your client. Make yourself available by email, text, airdrop, etc. Remember, you’re there to make their life as easy as possible through this more challenging time.
Step 4: Measurements are important!
If there’s any way they can get site measurements, that would be ideal. That gives you the opportunity to know what you’re dealing with (big or small site, possible challenges, etc.) You can also offer to swing by their property to take the measurements yourself. Stress that there doesn’t need to be any contact between you two. If that isn’t an option, Google Earth is also an interesting tool for you to use. Zoom into their property to get a sense of the scale of the site.
Step 5: Collect and assess
Collect all the information they sent you and come up with an approximate price for the entire project. Call them and give them the estimate. For example: according to the information you provided me with, this is how much it should cost you in total.
Many contractors have found success in having one or two alternative landscape packages prepared in the event that the client’s budget isn’t perfectly aligned with what they’ve asked for. Remember, we have great resources available to help you propose cost-effective outdoor living features to deliver the greatest value possible.
Also, there are many contractor-friendly financing programs available. Techo-Pro contractors can benefit from our Pave Now, Pay Later program that allows your customers to finance part or all of their project.
Step 6: Seal the deal!
If they want to move forward after getting the estimate, schedule a follow-up with them where you will be able to provide them with a drawing for you all to discuss. Tell them that you’ll walk them through the drawing, they can give their feedback and that you can make a quick revision if necessary. This is also a great opportunity to discuss payment. Techo-Bloc has created a program called Pave Now, Pay Later that allows you to increase your bottom line by offering your clients financing options. Increase average project costs with this new financing tool!
Step 7: Get organized
There are services you can use, like Best Quote, that allow you to qualify your leads and interact with them virtually. Among other things, Best Quote allows you to:
- Gather trade-specific project information
- Get budget & buying stage insights
- Watch valuable video-walkthroughs
In the circumstances we currently find ourselves in, the virtual engagement element of this service is particularly interesting. Also, in an effort to help small businesses during these challenging times, Best Quote is waiving their set-up fee and extending their free trial. Now is a perfect time to try out this new way of doing business!
Not only is it important to engage with new leads, but also with old ones. Demonstrate your availability by sending email blasts regarding interesting additions your client list could incorporate in their outdoor spaces. For example: Did you know we have new outdoor kitchens that can be installed in 90 minutes? This feature would be the perfect addition to your exterior! This allows you to stay top of mind with your clients and you position yourself as a reference in the landscape industry.
Patrick suggest we use this time to make ourselves better, to connect more, to show how available and devoted we are to our clients. Innovate the way you do things. We couldn’t agree more! Take this time to try and find new ways to strengthen and better your business! We’re here to help along the way!
Check out his full interview!!