5 questions to ask the client before a site visit

 In My Trade

This is the 3rd article in our series to help landscapers hone their skills to sell garden design. This week, we’re looking at qualifying the lead with 5 questions to ask the client before a site visit.

Have you ever calculated the cost of a site visit to a prospective client? When you count the hours you spend on phone calls, emails, travelling time and quoting, the cost of selling landscaping and garden design is frighteningly high.

It’s great when your marketing is working well and you are getting lots of enquiries for your landscaping services. But take it from one who knows, some of those people, lovely as they may be, are just not going to be the right clients for your business. Knowing which sales leads to politely decline is an art – and it comes with experience. But you can help yourself by, first of all, defining what sort of work you want to do and secondly, by asking questions and discovering as early as possible in the sales process, if an enquiry fits your criteria for a client.

landscaper asking questions of his client

Qualifying the lead

In this article, we’re looking at ways to qualify the lead. In other words, deciding whether the person making enquiries is likely to turn into a good landscaping customer for you. And just as importantly, whether you will also have an opportunity to sell (and profit from!) a garden design service.

Our downloadable client enquiry forms suggest a series of questions to help you to guide the conversation towards obtaining crucial information.  We’ve made it into two formats – one for phone enquiries, one for email enquiries.

The first part of the download is all about contact details – I don’t need to reproduce that here. Section 2 asks about the size of the garden and the scope of works – are they looking for a driveway? , A patio? or a complete makeover?

The third section, as discussed below, is all about the questions that will help you qualify the lead and to direct the conversation towards garden design

Skip to the downloadable forms

The five most import lead qualifying questions

  1. Is there a deadline for completion?
  2. What is your approximate budget?
  3. Tell us a little about your plans – what would you like us to build for you?
  4. Have you had any other quotes for the landscaping works?
  5. Has Your Garden Design Been Prepared? Yes/NO

Completion deadline

Do you have a waiting list of projects to be done? Do you think that this person might get frustrated if their landscaping work doesn’t start as soon as the price is agreed? The answer to this question will help you to manage client expectations. If you know you won’t be able to meet their deadline, then let them know. Don’t go all the way through the site visit and quoting process only to lose the work on timescales.

Approximate budget

In my experience, most people have no idea what they should expect to pay for a garden makeover. If this is the case, ask for a ballpark figure and explain how a garden design will enable you to estimate a price and that the design and/or materials can then be adjusted to suit their budget.

If that ballpark figure is outside of the ideal parameters for your business, now is the time to warn folks that your company specialises in projects costing between £x and £y and do they still want you to arrange a quote.

Tell us about your plans

If the wish list doesn’t match the budget, you need to think on your feet. Judging by the conversation so far, do you think the budget might be flexible? Do you feel you could comfortably work with the client to create a garden they love within their budget? If not, could you offer to create a garden design that could be built in stages?

Have you had any other quotes?

It’s always good to know who you are competing with. If you want to quote for the job, you may be able to use this information to refine your sales talk or your quote – but remember – it’s very unprofessional to “badmouth” the competition. Let your portfolio of work speak for itself.

Has your garden design been prepared?

This is a warm-up question. Most domestic customers don’t realise that they need a garden design. If their answer is yes – that’s great, they know what they want and you can go straight to quoting.

No garden design? A look at our quick quote tool will enable you to quote there and then for a bespoke garden layout plan that will allow you to quote accurately for their garden makeover. If they’re happy with the price, you can start gathering information on your initial site visit. Thus saving yourself an awful lot of valuable time.

To summarise

Each and every landscaper has his or her preferred way of working. Some enjoy smaller jobs that can be done and dusted within a week. Others specialise in large, complicated projects with many elements. The one thing that is common to anyone running a landscaping business, is that we all want to make a living.

My Garden Design offers a speedy, online service for landscape professionals, contractors and developers who don’t have time to create garden layout plans. As part of our service, we have created FREE downloadable documents to help you qualify sales leads and guide your clients through the garden design process

Download our free resources here

E-mailable client enquiry form

Telephone enquiry form

Client guide to garden design – add your contact details to this free handout

Other useful links

Price up your garden design with our quick quote calculator 

Site Surveying – Alan Sargent advises

The Landscape Library – over 300 articles on all aspects of running a landscaping business

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