Everyday is a day in the Garden!

What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
I am pretty straight forward in my pricing. People have to remember that I am in business to make money, not to work for free or to just break even. My method works like this. I have a daily rate of $937.50 per day for myself and my assistant. I add 30% to whatever my labor and materials comes to in order to get my total. 

Example would go as follows: I have a project that takes two days. $1875 labor I have $2500 in materials on the job Gross profit would be $1875 Making the total cost of the project $6250.

What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
I typically start out with a fairly detailed phone conversation with a prospect. Based on the conversation and if I feel we will be a mutually good fit I set up a time to meet on site. During the meeting I can give some fairly accurate ranges of what things are going to cost. I give a verbal quote on site and if they agree that they want to move forward with me I will send them an itemized breakdown of the work and associated costs. I will get a 10% retainer on the job to hold their place in line. 

Once we go to contract I will receive an additional 40% to cover materials and odds and ends. Once the job is complete I do a walk through with the client and they sign off on the various line items. Once they sign off we settle up w final payment.

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I have taken design and Hort classes, and have to take continuing education courses in irrigation, horticulture, masonry, and business management in order to keep credentials current. I do these to stay current with the newest techniques as well as to stay current within trade associations. If I can become more efficient the savings can carry over to the customer.

How did you get started doing this type of work?
Randomly to be honest. I grew up working in the landscape industry and on farms in Eastern North Carolina. When I got out of college I moved to Wilmington, NC to take a summer off to decide if I wanted to go to grad school. While in Wilmington I got a job at a landscape company because the hours were good and I could make it to the beach most days after work. ha. I started off doing basic manual labor and helping where I could. 

As time went on the owner had me do more and more complex projects until she and I realized I had and eye for design. Design and horticulture became my passion. I lived and breathed plants, and still do to this day. I have worked for some super high end firms in my career along with owning my own firm for the past several years. This is my calling and I am so glad to be able to do this work day in and day out!

What types of customers have you worked with?
I do everything from small landscape enhancements to the design of formal gardens, and outdoor living spaces. Our average project is in the $8,800 range but we ,and have done everything from $2500-$150k+. I prefer to do jobs where we can get in and get out in a timely manner. That way the client doesn't get tired of us being on site, and we are not doing jobs where there is a lot of liability on our end. This is a business after all. So being efficient and hitting our budgetary margin is the name of the game.

Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
Here's a perfect example of a job that makes me happy. Client has a graduation party coming up and their property is a drainage nightmare! It holds water, and the kids and dogs are forever bringing a mess in the house. We implemented a drainage, and grading plan that moved water to the appropriate place off site. We then installed sod, new plantings, and mulch around the new beds that were created. Party goes off without a hitch, client is super happy with the result, and we get two referrals off the work. Couldn't ask for a better example. Project took approximately 3.5 days and cost $15k.

What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Do your homework! Gather pics, talk to people who have done similar projects if you can. Determine if you have a realistic budget in place for the work you want to have done. Determine if it needs to be a phased project or if it is better to do all at once. Just like any substantial purchase, the more info you bring to the table the better off your experience will likely be.

What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
1.) How am I going to pay for this? What happens if I don't have enough saved? 

2.) What options do I have for compromise if I can't get everything on my wish list. 

3.) Do I know anyone else who has had this type of work done? Have I spoken with them to make sure I'm not missing something? 

4.) Cheapest is not usually the best. There is a reason they are the cheapest. Understand that! 

5.) Understanding that this is someones business. It is just like any other business and has overhead and operating expenses. Unless it is a couple of high school kids working for $10hr know that you are going to be spending close to $1000 a day to have a reputable crew on your site working.

"Philip was great.  We asked for a full plan for our backyard, and then worked with him to execute certain pieces.

He was prompt with replies, and drew up a plan that we really liked, fun to work with, his pricing was fair, and his delivery on the work that we asked him to perform was on time! (a very pleasant surprise, since you always just expect delays with work like this).

 We'll definitely be working with him again and we transformed our backyard."
- John C.
A Happy Customer
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