Landscape Contractors – How to Make the Most of Your First Meeting
Clients are typically overwhelmed when consulting with a potential landscape contractor for the first time. Ideas are overflowing! But there’s no reason to worry. This purpose of this meeting is just to, well, meet and talk – no need to explain your dream landscape YET.
It’s an opportunity for the contractor to check out the property and see what work may have to be done. For you part, you can assess them and whether they are the right choice for your project. You can talk about your dreams and plans after you’ve signed a contract.
To make the most out of this initial meeting, there are a few questions you must ask, including:
> Do you have experience with a similar project? An experienced contractor is not all you want. They should have experience with projects that are similar to yours, and show work samples as proof.
> What billing method do you use? This could be a per-hour rate or a fixed amount based on the size of the project. Some contractors may also bill you a percentage of your project’s total cost.
> Will you be able to provide client references? But don’t just ask for references; call them. Ask about professionalism and reliability. Did they come to meetings or returns calls, texts or emails on time? Were the clients’ concerns handled professionally?
Checking Out Portfolios
Ask the contractor for photos of their previous projects and not only those you can find on their website. In other words, their portfolio, and do review it with the contractor around so questions you may have can be answered right away (sometimes, you can forget about the most important ones). This is a good way to get hints on how they might approach your project.
Some people find it difficult to discuss cost issues with their contractor, but these should be made clear right from the get-go. This lets them work around your financial limits rather than exceeding your budget, which they probably never even knew until you complained.
Scope fo the Job
Do you want the contractor to do the entire project, from conceptualization to execution, or just certain parts of the job, like making a planting plan or a landscape site plan? This is obviously one of the main factors that will dictate your project costs, and your contractor should be be aware of it right from the start.
Finding a Fit
Finally, take advantage of this first meeting to gauge whether there is chemistry between you and the contractor. In most cases, a landscape project will run for weeks at least, so you’re going to have to spend quite some time with them. Working with someone you don’t like can have a negative impact on how satisfied you will be with the results of the project.