5 steps to making money from garden design

 In My Trade

It’s easy to spend so much time on garden design that your business doesn’t actually profit from it. This article offers tips on making money from garden design.

As with most business, the secret to making money is to avoid wasting time – yours or anyone else’s. Here’s my 5 step plan to becoming more time savvy. Or as my good friend Richard Bickler says – working smarter not harder.

  1. Manage potential customers expectations
  2. Qualify the lead
  3. Make sure your customer understands they’ll need to pay for a design
  4. Be well prepared for your site visit
  5. Avoid making more than one pre-sale visit

Manage potential customers expectations

I know from bitter experience that not every enquiry turns into a quote. Some people are just batting ideas around, others have big dreams but small budgets.

If you’re planning on making money from garden design, It’s important to only spend time on answering the enquiries that are most likely to convert into customers. How much time have you spent this week talking to people who are nowhere near taking the final decision to have their garden landscaped? Do you how what that has cost in terms of money?

I believe that every enquiry I respond to costs money – £2o at the very least.  Each 20-minute phone call takes me away from other work and potentially eats into my profit margin. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to people but I need to remember that time is money. With the 30 minutes either on the phone or responding to an email and the 30 minutes, it takes to get back into the swing of things that call has cost you an hour’s work. If you’re lucky enough to make more than £20 an hour,  that call will cost even more! Should the contact turn into work, that’s time and money well spent. If not, that’s money down the drain.

Think about your marketing – can you reduce the number of enquiries by managing expectations?

Use your website, your social media, your leaflets and however else you market your company to tell people exactly more about your scope of works. Explain that most jobs cost at least £x , that you charge for your garden design service and that you have a waiting list. Folks who accept your criteria will still contact you. Those that don’t want to pay for garden design are less likely to get in touch.  That’s called targeted marketing.

Qualify the lead

A site visit will cost you considerably more than a phone call. I can easily spend half a day on-site gathering information. So, to save me time (and money), I Use that first contact with a potential customer to ask lots of pertinent questions. Do as much as you can to find out a) If they are serious about having a garden makeover and b) how much they are expecting to pay.

Thanks to TV garden makeover programs, people don’t realise what landscaping actually costs. Have an example to hand to help them. Eg a 6m x 3m patio costs from £X,000 including materials and labour.  If this is outside of their price range (you’ll be able to tell by their tone of voice), you probably can’t help them. In which case a site visit is likely to be an expensive waste of your time – and theirs.

In our useful documents section, you’ll find downloadable customer enquiry forms. There’s a telephone “script” and an e-mailable form.  Each form has a list of questions that you NEED to ask your potential client before you even think about going to the expense of a site visit.

I tend to use a combination of the two. Start by asking questions on the phone, explain to them your quoting procedure (mine = site visit with measurements, design, quote, waiting list). During the phone call, you can prepare them for the cost of garden design and let them know that they will need to pay upfront but that the design will be theirs to keep. Next, I email them a questionnaire and a copy of our “Guide to Garden Design”.  Let them mull over the information and if they don’t get back to you – well they’re probably not the right client for you.

Make one site visit and make it count

qualifying the lead

Use pre-visit questions to discover how far along the buying journey a customer may be before contemplating a site visit
Read our blog about the decision making process here

Before you organise a site visit, be clear in your mind what you want to achieve. Yes, you will be hoping to close the sale, but you can also use the opportunity to get a thorough understanding of the client’s wish list and take garden measurements too.  If you’re planning to take measurements – you might want to arrange an appointment during daylight hours.

Before you go, set up a new project on the MGD website. There’s no obligation to order a design and this tool will save you an awful lot of time.  Have your measuring equipment, a notepad and a pen in the truck so that you can do a site survey while you are there.

By now, your client should realise that they will need a garden design before you can offer a firm quote for the landscaping. So they will be expecting you to ask questions and take measurements.

Start off by measuring the length and width of the garden. Enter those measurements into the MGD quick quote tool and let your client know what the design will cost them. Explain that the design will take into account their build budget. And, if it fits with your business model, offer to reimburse the design costs if they decide to hire you for the landscaping work.  There’s a section in the “Guide to Garden Design” handout that talks about budgets in terms that clients can understand.

If the prospective clients agree to the cost, you can go on to take pictures of the site and upload them to a project file on the MGD website. You can also carry out a site survey (or make a note to contact a survey service)

Next comes the client brief. Our online questionnaire can be used in two ways.

  1. Fill it in online with together with your client. This is by far the most efficient way to do it and it’s a great way to start building a strong relationship with your client. You can offer advice as and when it’s needed and guide them towards features that best suit their build budget. Using this method, there’s no duplication of work and you can initiate the design ASAP.


  1. You could print off the questionnaire and send it to the client before your site meeting. Some people need more time to consider the questions. At your site meeting, you can discuss their choices as you upload them to the website.

Finally, the payment. Once your clients have agreed to the design costs and have paid you for it. You can press the “buy” button on the MGD website. It’s up to you, but I’d recommend charging the RRP – that way you are covered for the cost of your site visit.  Your clients’ garden design will land in your inbox in 3 weeks time.  You can present the design to them, talk them through it and when they’re happy, you can prepare your quote for the landscaping works.

If the client doesn’t buy from you

No matter how well you qualify the lead and present yourself, there will always be people who choose not to go ahead with their garden design and landscaping project. If you manage to convert 50% of quotes into sales, you’ll be doing well.

Having said that, if a sale falls through, it never hurts to ask for feedback. You can learn from the process every time and you will get better at “reading” people.

On the subject of feedback – it would be great to know if our articles and handouts are useful to you. Please get in touch by email to let us know how we can improve our service to you

Contact the My Garden Design Team

Download your FREE enquiry forms and customer handouts here

You might also like these articles

Making money by bringing garden design in-house

How does good garden design make a landscape business more profitable? 


Recommended Posts
qualifying the leadNeville Stein business bios