On a Landscaper of the Year finalist visit to Virginia a couple of years ago, a landscaper laughed as he told me he mowed just about every lawn in a huge neighborhood. Another landscaper, this one in Texas, told me “landscaping is contagious.”
It’s true. For a lot of people, having their neighbor’s yard suddenly look fantastic is a pretty strong impetus to have some work done on their own yard. If you’re doing great work, you should try to parlay that into attracting additional clients. So, how do you be the guy who takes care of every yard on the block or installs four water features in the same subdivision? Remember, the neighbors aren’t just seeing the finished product; they’ve been along for the ride for the entire length of the project.
It doesn’t matter if the waterfall is incredible and the patio is divine if they follow weeks and weeks of nightmares for the neighbors. Your workers need to be friendly, professional and presentable. While it’s impossible to be unobtrusive and get any work done, make an effort to minimize your impact on the neighborhood. Park vehicles as out of the way as possible, and don’t block driveways or streets. Clean up thoroughly at the end of each day. If you’re doing a project such as hardscaping where you anticipate noise, let the neighbors know what to expect in advance, and also how long you expect the project to last. If you’re proactive, those in the neighborhood will remember your courteous behavior and your thoughtfulness.
Showing up on projects regularly and maintaining a visible presence shows that you care about the client, and people notice. Keep your trucks clean (they’re rolling billboards, after all) and consider placing a small sign with your company name and information on each jobsite in progress. If a neighbor calls with a problem, let them know you’ll take care of the issue and respond as quickly as possible.
If your client is happy with the results, ask him or her to spread the word. When a neighbor admires your handiwork, your client should have your business card tucked away in a drawer to give potential referrals.