Landscape Contractors – How to Make the Most of Your First Meeting
Many clients feel overwhelmed when meeting their prospective landscape contractor for the first time. Ideas are overflowing! But don’t worry. First meetings are usually just for, well, meeting and talking to each other – no need to tell them about your lifelong dream YET.
It’s an opportunity for the contractor to check out the property and see what work may have to be done. For your part, this is your chance to size up whether or not they are the right choice for the job. You can describe your dreams and plans later on after you’ve signed a contract.
To maximize the use of this meeting, be sure to ask the following:
> Have you worked on a similar project before? An experienced contractor is not all you want. They should be experienced in the specific type of project you have and prove it by presenting work samples.
> What billing method do you use? This may be a per-hour rate or a fixed sum depending on the scope of the job. With some contractors, you will be billed a portion of your total costs.
> Can you give me references? But don’t stop there; call these people. Ask about professionalism and reliability. Did they come to meetings or returns calls, texts or emails on time? Were the clients’ concerns handled professionally?
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 perfect way to determine what they may have in mind in terms of your project.
Defining Your Budget
Some people find it hard to talk to their contractor about costs, but it’s better to be straightforward about this right from the beginning. This enables them to work within your financial limits, instead of busting your budget which you probably never even mentioned to them anyway.
Scope of the Project
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.
Lastly, use this first meeting with the contractor to see whether you have personal chemistry together. 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.