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Landscape Views - Issue 7

This is a column by landscapers, for landscapers. In it, you’ll find knowledge, views and insights from professionals just like you, who are currently working in the industry. This issue, we’ve got feedback on a subject that is probably on many of your minds…

Q. When you’re busy, do you turn down work?

Craftsman Gardener Services

Interviewee: Peter Halligan (Owner- Director)

Location: Auckland Staff: 9

We’ve been in business for 40 years and while we are usually really busy, we are exceptionally busy right now. Of course, we try not to turn down work. But it really depends on the client’s timing needs – if they are happy to wait, then we can slot the work into our schedule. For example, we were working on a job in March that the clients initially hoped could be done last July. Often, clients are surprised they have to wait, but come around to the reality easily enough. Most of our work is acquired through word of mouth, so they have a bit of a background, and many have been told that the wait is worth it.

On the other hand, if the client isn’t able to wait, we might have to let that work go. Or, sometimes, we partner with other landscapers to provide the additional capacity.

The other factor now at play that impacts timing is the availability of supplies. In terms of plants, with enough notice from the client about when their job will be available, we can get orders into a nursery and allow them to grow there until the timing of the job allows them to be planted. It just requires a bit of forward planning.

Design and Garden Landscapes

Interviewee: Wayne Butson (Chief spade-technician/Director)

Location: Dunedin Staff: 10

We do sometimes turn down work. Of course, our first priority is to keep our staff busy, but we sometimes pass up jobs if they are outside the scope of what we normally offer, or aren’t in line with our best skill set. For example, we don’t currently do maintenance, so if we get approached, I

have a couple of businesses I’ll recommend the work to.

It’s not that we cherry pick, we do try to help everyone, but if a job doesn’t reflect our preferred type of work, we might pass that on. We are always looking for projects that challenge us and provide for creativity, so we might pass ona simple project like a driveway.

We’ve been in market for 30 years, so we are well known and most of our business is referrals, so generally clients will wait. Most of the landscapers around here have three months of work, so most clients need to wait some time no matter who they use.

However, it’s important to manage client expectations by letting them know there will be a wait, particularly between the ‘meet, greet, plan and price’ process and the actual ‘spade-in-the-ground’ start.

The Plant People

Interviewee: Alan Subritzky (Director)

Location: Auckland / Christchurch (+ projects elsewhere)

We never turn down work, unless we have a sense from the client that payment could be tricky! We have many loyal clients, and if they were to ask us to do work and we said no, that would not be loyal on our behalf. So, it’s important to me to be able to meet our client’s expectations and return the loyalty they’ve shown us.

We avoid turning down work with careful planning. That is partly possible because we only do commercial work now, which tends to be planned more in advance than residential. It does include residential group housing projects, but the client will be commercial, so we don’t get a phone call from an architect asking us to start next week.

With commercial work, you get awarded the projects in advance, and you see it developing, so you plan for that, plus we havea range of sub-contracted labour we can pull together when we need it.

Also, in the distant past, I turned down a job because we were too busy, and then a job got cancelled and something else happened and then of course I regretted turning down that job. I don’t like the memory of that at all!


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