How to get best value from a site visit

 In How to, work efficiently

Any landscaper will tell you that meeting potential clients on site can really eat into your day. So you need to make those visits work hard for you. We’ve got some suggestions to help you get best value from a site visit.

Making site visits work harder for you

You’re taking time away from your current work in progress, using fuel to get there and forgoing time that you could spend with family. Meeting potential clients on site costs you dear – particularly if you don’t win the work.  

I’m not only the founder of My Garden Design, I also run a busy and successful landscaping business. And, like you, I feel as though I’ve missed opportunities by following up sales leads that never amount to work. I also get frustrated at making multiple recce’s to the same site, when really, one stop-by should have been enough.  So here are my tips on being just a bit smarter about site visits.

  1. Qualify the lead before you even think about arranging a visit.  
  2. Try to time visits so that they don’t disrupt your working day too much. 
  3. Be prepared.  Learn a little about the garden and about the client’s wish list before you set out.
  4. Take all the relevant information and equipment with you. 
  5. Figure out your earliest possible start date – they’re bound to ask!
  6. Have a standard check list of everything you need to learn from the clients and from the site itself. Do all of your information gathering on the first visit. That way any followups can be done via phone calls or zoom.

paul baker creator of My Garden Design

Qualifying the lead

In my blog “5 questions to ask a client before a site visit”, I talk a lot about qualifying the lead.  

What does that mean? Its finding out whether an enquirer is a good match for your services and whether they are likely to become a paying client. 

For example – you may offer a high end landscaping service where you aim to completely make over gardens. If your enquirer has a total budget of £5,000 – that’s probably not a job you’d want to take on, and so you would politely decline their invitation to visit.

Or perhaps you have a 12 month waiting list and your potential customer needs their garden revamped in time for a party in 3 months time. Again – a site visit is unlikely to result in you winning the work.

Take a look at the blog here. At the end of the article, is a useful downloadable client enquiry form with suggested questions.  If you are not able to take the call yourself, then another one of your team members can use this to gather information on your behalf.  I’ll post the link at the end of this article too.

Fit site visits into the least disruptive part of your day

It’s not just the driving to site and meeting clients that eats into your day …. Changing into clean clothes, finding your notepad and making sure everyone has what they need to carry on with the work in hand while you’re elsewhere all takes time. Plus, it’s a drain on your energy.

Try to develop a strategy for site visits.  Perhaps have a dedicated “admin” day when you can be working “on” your business instead of “in” your business. Use this day to build quotes, update your social media, follow up sales leads, and do your site visits. There’ll always be the occasional client who needs you to compromise on your timings and of course, you must do what’s best for your business.

site surveying and measuring equipment

Be prepared

Know what you want to achieve with a site visit and make sure you have everything you need to help you do that. Charge your phone before you go – particularly if you need it for taking pictures.

You might find it easiest to have a grab bag (or box) permanently packed.  Include in it 

  • Business cards (in a plastic box so they don’t get grubby)
  • Clean shirt – you only get one chance to make a first impression.
  • Photo album showing past work – helps to inspire customers and makes you look very professional
  • Digital camera (use the one on your phone)
  • Printed copies of MGD’s Garden Brief questionnaire (feel free to add your own logo)
  • A printed copy of MGD’s Client Guide to Garden Design (again – we’re happy for you to customise it with your own corporate identity)
  • Tape measure
  • Laser levels
  • Compass (if you don’t have one on your phone) that way you can assess how the sun will travel around the space.
  • Notebook and pens
  • Garden design prices – register as a customer on the My Garden Design website to access our Quick Quote facility on your phone, tablet or PC.
  • Information gathering checklist – tick off items as you work through them – saves you going back for a second site visit.

FREE time saving site visit tools from My Garden Design

There’s a lot to remember when you are on a site visit – and of course your prospective customer will have a whole host of questions for you too.

The My Garden Design team have created some simple tools to help you gather all of the information you need without appearing rude or pushy.

Quick Quote

MGD quick quote tool to speed up a site visit

If your client doesn’t already have a properly drawn design for their garden, you will need to arrange that for them.  When you use MGD, you can gather details at your site visit and upload them immediately so that we can start on the design right away. 

To find out what the design will cost, simply type the length and width of the plot into our website. You’ll immediately see what the design will cost you and a suggested price for your client. 

Garden Design Brief

Our garden design briefing tool is a comprehensive questionnaire to help you determine what exactly your client wants from their new garden. It’s foolproof. Even if they can’t yet picture their new garden, the questions will tell us what features to include.

The questions are very simple to answer – most of them have yes/no answers with the option to add more detail if you wish. You can either: 

  • Access the feature through your dashboard on the MGD website and complete it online together with your client. 
  • Download it in advance and email it to your client for them to think about. 
  • OR you can print it out, take it with you and ask your client to complete it in their own time.

Image Upload

uploading site visit images

As designers who won’t be visiting the site, it REALLY helps if we can see pictures of the plot and its surroundings.  We also need to see images of potential problems areas and of anything in the garden that needs to stay.

With MGD, it’s incredibly easy to upload images to your dashboard from your smartphone or tablet.  Much easier than it is to attach them to an email.  You can even do it while you’re on site.  Meaning that as soon as the site visit is done, you can move on to the next task with a clear head.

Measuring guides

No doubt about it, you absolutely 100% know how to measure a garden.  Let’s face it, it’s something you do anyway on a site visit, so there’s no extra work for you.  

We do, however, ask you to present the measurements in a standard way so that our designers can create accurate designs for you.  It’s important to know where the doors and windows are, where the access to the garden is, where permanent features sit in relation to everything else in the garden. There are some simple measuring guides on our website so that our designers will easily understand what you are telling us.  Don’t worry about scale drawings – as long as the measurements are clear and accurate we’ll be able to work with them.

Use your notebook and pen to create sketch maps of the site (with measurements), then take a picture with your phone and upload it to your dashboard.

Speedy service

Once your client has committed to having a garden design drawn (by commit we mean pay for), you can be 85% sure that you will win the landscaping work subject to your quote being acceptable.

We will help ease things along by designing their garden and emailing that design back to you within 4 weeks.  From experience I know that clients hate waiting for designs to be drawn up. With MGD you can manage their time-frame expectations.

In summary

To get the best value from a site visit, you need to be organised. 

Assess the likelihood of being able to convert the lead before you arrange the visit. 

Know what you want to achieve.

Take lots of information and sales tools to PROVE that you are the best firm for the job.

Sell the idea of garden design and ask them to pay a design fee so that you can understand what they want built and quote accordingly.

Use MGD to get the design created quickly – before the clients change their mind and go on a cruise instead.

Need help or advice?  The MGD team are here to share tips,  answer any questions you may have and give you a virtual tour of the My Garden Design website so that you can see for yourself how it could help you to run your business more efficiently.

 

Useful articles

5 questions to ask the client before a site visit

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graph representing garden design costs