How to start a project from a designer’s perspective.

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It’s been many years since I first visited a client to sell my design & build company to them.

In all these years , some things never change and first impressions are always top most in my mind. Fortunately with many years of experience, a huge portfolio, a large portfolio of awards, and dozens and dozens of personal recommendations, it’s a little easier. However one should always remember “You are only as good as your last job” !

My system for want of a better word starts with my secretary, she will engage the potential client, take down details of why they called what they would like and, then make an appointment she knows I can keep – missed appointments or forgotten phone calls are extremely rude and guaranteed to lose you a project.

Because like most males (I suspect), my navigations skills are not particularly good, when she creates a temporary file it includes site directions, phone  contacts etc.,

It also includes our questionnaire. We developed this as a means to extract information vital in providing what the customer was really seeking at the price they were willing to pay so that we could “Under promise and over supply” ..

During the initial visit, I will, listen about twice as much as talk, ( for those of you who know me well, this is a very interesting concept) discuss likes and dislikes, make a few notes, walk around the property and take site pictures, as it is usually the lady of the house only during the day, the site questionnaire is left to be completed, along with a fees for design work – I have never not charged for design work ( we may give part back on acceptance of the project), but we have worked on the principal that if you do not pay for something you do not value it !

Nothing is free in  this world, and hiding your design costs inside the work is no exception, we are in business to provide an exceptional service at a fair price, that enables us to pay our staff, maintain insurances, replace equipment etc.,etc., finding the right balance is always a challenge.

Whilst walking around the site, it’s a great idea to make notes of access, height restrictions, positions of services, gate widths etc.

This initial visit would usually take about an hour perhaps a little longer, and often the acceptance rate to stage two the design would be around 55%.

Sometimes folks just wanted our award winning design skills, and that was fine as long as they paid the true price for them.

So here is the questionanaire.

Brief description of what you are looking
for : …………………………………………
………………………………………………………………………
………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………
………………………………………………………..
How you use your garden :
Do you have animals ? : Yes / No.

Do children play in the garden ? : Yes / No.
Do you like gardening ? : Yes / No.

Do you like cutting grass ? : Yes / No
Do you entertain in the garden ? : Yes / No.

Do you like relaxing in the garden ?Yes/ No.

What sort of Budget you would like us to Design
to : ……………………………………………………
(It helps enormously if we can have a figure to
work to, we should be able to produce a Design
within 10 percent )
Some items to consider :
Lawns. Yes / No
Shrubberies Yes / No.
Rockeries Yes / No

Ponds Yes / No.
Streams Yes / No

Fish / Koi Ponds Yes / No.
Paths Yes / No

Patios Yes / No.
Terraces Yes / No.

Walls Yes / No.
Ground contouring Yes / No

Vegetable gardens Yes / No.
Garden Features :
Garden Shed : Yes / No.

Power & Lighting Yes / No.
Irrigation Yes / No.

Summerhouses Yes / No.
Greenhouses Yes / No

Gazebo’s Yes / No.
Pergolas Yes / No

Seating Yes / No.

Please add any other comments on the back of this sheet,
the more we know the better the design.

 

We also suggested that a likes and dislikes list was created so we knew what to add or avoid.

Finally, rather than try and describe the items or styles we suggested that clients either take pictures, or articles from a magazine or bookmark web pages. so we could begin to build a profile picture of the type of landscape they sort.

We can go into this in more detail on our radio show at Growing Trends on www.cravingtalkradio.com

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