When I first started out as a landscaper, I made the rookie mistake of trying to compete on price. That was a quick path to disaster. I found myself always selling my services short and either making little money (or losing money) on every job. I told myself that I was getting my foot in the door with my clients.
Why Should Contractors Never Compete on Price?
However, the problem is that once you bottom line your services, you have nowhere to go. It becomes hard to upsell and every discussion becomes about price. It is also not very fun and somewhat troubling working with clients who only want the bare minimum, or who ask about cutting corners.
To survive as a general contractor, you have to switch your mindset and your model so that you are in the driving seat, choosing the best clients, who want quality services and are grateful to hire you or your firm at (almost) any price. You can then hire the best specialty contractors that you know do great work and offer excellent customer service and maintenance to your customers. When quality, reliability and ‘wow factors’ become the focus of what sets you apart, it is a winning situation for you as a construction project manager, your subcontractors and your clients. Even as a new contractor, whether you are in Texas, California, Florida or any other state, you do not and should not focus on offering the lowest price.
So, how can you avoid the lowest price trap? One way is to focus on offering luxury or upscale services. Here are six ways I created a luxury brand with my landscaping business. But first, let’s talk about what luxury means in the current market.
What is Luxury Landscaping?
What luxury means today is quite different than it used to be. Today’s Luxury Landscaping is not about the extravagancy of your design or the wealth of your clients, but the uniqueness of your vision, technical skills, taste, quality and the wealth of your knowledge to adapt to the constant changing environment. Luxury doesn’t have to be synonymous with extreme costs, which may be a relief to your clients.
Now let’s turn to the 6 tips that can elevate a construction project to luxury status.
The first tip is that the old rules no longer apply. As an old school Landscaper would ask, “Is it public, private, or service space?” Traditionally, public space is generally refers to attention-grabbing landscaping. Private space by and large refers to sanctuary landscaping. Service space is typically refers to utility landscaping. While these categorizations can sum up your designs neatly to your clients, luxury Landscapers do not define their designs by these approaches because of their limitations. By thinking outside the box and applying styles for different uses of space in unexpected places, you can create an element of surprise that lifts the project above the mundane Although, your client’s wishes is paramount but it is still your responsibility to utilize the space luxuriously with your vision. “Elephant or static landscaping” has passed its prime.
Integration Nature Into Your Design Space
Nowadays, many homeowners are more ecologically conscious of their environment. They want to promote and protect the environment with their investments. A Luxury Landscaper always presents environmentally friendly materials as the only option to prospective clients. In fact, offering a green certified project is a great way to add a premium to your offerings. Luxury Landscaping is all about nature and the environment. It is not all about exquisite or enchanting flowers any longer, as many homeowners are turning their lawn into edible landscaping. This tread is growing across the country, and you must keep up with your vegetables and fruits cycles.
Although there is a trend of importation of landscape designs from one area to another part of the country or from a different country, don’t do it without consideration to the ecological impact of the land. Above all, be sensitivity to the environment in constructing the space with natural and local resources, such as native plants, succulents, perennials that are drought tolerant, drip irrigation or its trickle alternative, size of the lawns, solar heated pools, and more, that are environmentally friendly and still preserving the feel and look of luxury, while giving your owner a sense of pride about environmental responsibility.
Complimentary or enchantments of space
The Oxford dictionary defines landscape as “all the visible features of an area of land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.” For Luxury Landscapers, it is our responsibility to compliment or enhance what’s already there. Most successful Luxury Landscapers use what’s already there to create their masterpiece. “If someone has a natural stone element within the architecture of the house, we will try to repeat the use of that stone or brick as part of the landscape design.” According to a New York Luxury Landscaping Design Company that designs and installs some of the most notable landscapes on the east end of Long Island.
Luxury Landscapers are like impressionist artists, trying to make the imperfection of a space perfect with colors, and elements of the land. Don’t ever forget that your vision is what complements and enhances the environment.
The added value of the space
Some property owners, especially home investors, use the illustrious look of Luxury Landscaping to position or differentiate their real estate holdings from other homeowners or competitors. As many home investors would attest, view from the street makes a great difference of how potential homebuyers see the property, and their willingness to pay for it. The importance of added value of a landscape cannot be over-emphasized by the return on investment and quick turnover of the property. In a nutshell, Luxury installations are a reassurance policy to potential homebuyers or tenants that the property is specially designed and uniquely different from any others around. Luxury is about makes a property special.
Privacy and security
In this day and age, the first line of defense is the landscape on the property. A Luxury Landscape design should creatively prevent unauthorized entry or encroachment on the property. Sometimes, just planting thorny hedges can create impassable barrier to the property. According to Stacy Waxman of SecurityChoice.net, three easy landscaping tips to improve home security are
1. Plant shrubs with thorns.
2. Get rid of hiding spots.
3. Install motion-sensitive lights.
Recognition of outdoor lighting as key component of landscape has taken hold in Luxury Landscaping. The effectiveness of using outdoor lighting to manage the ambiance of a property, such as the driveway, pathway, patio, garden, etc., to deter burglars, or unwelcome visitor cannot be over-dramatized enough. It is your responsibility when consulting with a client to bring to the table the lighting component, if such crucial provision is not part of the contract design. This is really something to think about as luxury landscaping methods have methodically moved to forefront of property safety and security, and have been embraced by security experts.
Maintenance of the designed space
You have created a masterpiece that can be very expensive to maintain. Or your masterpieces is not being maintained according to your specification due to change of ownership of the property. These are some common examples that have besieged the quality of luxury landscaping.
Three ways to categorize the maintenance of a Luxury Landscape
Groundskeepers or homeowners need to know how to maintain and manage the landscape long after you have gone. You should leave behind the maintenance management manual for the Groundskeeper or homeowner. You will be glad you did because your work could be well maintained for a long time, even if the management of the property changes hand.
A recent example that vividly brought home this point was none other than a very high end Luxury Landscaping Company in Chicago that sent out glossy brochure to a potential client, only to find out later in a local Newspaper, that the masterpiece on the front page of the brochure had become an eyesore because of lack of maintenance. I don’t have to tell you that the company didn’t get the contract. In defense of the company, when the brochures were printed more than twelve months prior, the original owner had actually been scrupulously maintaining the landscape. However, when a different owner took over due to foreclosure, it became less of a priority.
Remember, the work you did few months or years back, particularly, if you are using it on your ad campaign, should be monitor constantly for change of circumstance or ownership. If there is a change don’t hesitate to contact the new property owner or management. “Luxury Landscape should stand the test of time through maintenance.”
The last point on this tip is that many of these conscious homeowners are also interested in the well-being, including salary, license, and insurance of workers on their properties and all of your bids and work should be done with this taken into consideration. Luxury starts with the quality of the people hired to do the job.
Ultimately, these six tips used by luxury landscapers can be applied to all aspects of general contracting. Find opportunities to create surprises (that are still functional) in your projects, create custom vs generic solutions, complementary features or special touches, integrate nature and use environmentally sensitive and local or regional materials along with instructions for care and maintenance. Let your clients know the skill and premium prices commanded by your team. All of these steps will go a long way to setting your work apart and creating a sense of luxury and pride for your clients. Back up your creativity and vision with excellent customer service and follow up that will keep them coming back to you for years to come.
Never Be Afraid to Charge Appropriately – Your Role in Construction Project Management is Critical!
If you have any doubts about making the case for your importance as a General Contractor managing construction projects, this video from Singapore’s Building Construction Authority is a fun overview of all the construction professionals critical to erecting modern buildings.