Forsythia hasn’t bloomed yet but the season has begun for landscapers.  This time of year I’m commonly asked: “I guess you’re getting ready to get busy?”  As I’ve told folks many times, the season begins after the first warm and sunny weekend in early spring.  Our phone is ringing off the hook and inquiries through our website are blowing up.  It’s exciting.  I love this time of year.

The majority of our business these days is project-based installations such as landscapes, hardscapes, landscape construction, e.g., decks, pergolas, sunrooms.  While we enjoy a wonderful slate of return customers each year, the majority of our business comes from new clients.  In a genuine effort to be the very best full-service landscape construction company we can be, I often reflect on the business attributes that are most important and difference makers to our customers.  As a consumer of services, not just landscaping, I thought you might be interested in my list of service provider difference makers.  This list applies to every profession from a window washer to a surgeon.

Experience – This is not a ranked order list but without hesitation when I’m looking for a professional I’m looking for the person/company that has the most practical experience.  The most valuable contractors are the ones with which you’d have a hard time finding a situation or detail they haven’t already dealt with.  You’re paying for services to be completed more efficiently and executed correctly.  Having an experienced professional is a major part of the equation.

Subject Matter Expertise – Experience alone does not make an outstanding professional in one’s field.  The very best operate on a firm foundation of relevant training and acquired the knowledge they apply to their trade.  Old school on the job training and techniques combined with a firm grasp of the current and emerging best practices is a desirable professional package.

Craftsmanship – Don’t discount the details of the execution of your project.  Contractors with an inherent attention to detail and a knowledge of the little trade techniques and tricks often yield the little things that make a big difference in the quality and appeal of a project.

Design Creativity – Execution and design are not always bedfellows but provide the total package.  A great project starts with a great design.  The very best organizations create designs that meet the functional and referential requirements while delighting the senses.

Customer service/communication – The customer experience delivered by a contractor/professional is a major factor to consider.  Many factors go into this category and some of the most important include:

  • Communication – availability, frequency, and thoroughness
  • Pleasant – are the representatives enjoyable to be around?
  • Honesty – do they do what they say they’re going to do, disclose all important issues and have your best interest in mind?
  • Completion – was the job completed on-time, (given reasonable effects of circumstances) and are all punch list items taken care of in an expeditious manner?

Financial Security – An organization may have every base covered from experience to design to customer service but unless it is empowered with the finances to execute they will come up short in its and your intended outcome.  Lack of a secure financial foundation results in corner cutting such as in quality of materials and execution of the details as well as placing the completion of the project at risk.

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