Site amenities can bring extra income for landscapers and extra value for clients.
Have you ever designed or installed a landscape, looked back on the finished product, and thought, “It seems like there’s something missing?” It could be your design needs a little punch provided by “site amenities.” These extras can provide a healthier, safer, more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing landscape and take your design to the next level.
Fountains, artwork, lighting, containers, fencing, benches, even humble trash receptacles and hundreds of other items, can provide the details needed to give a finished appearance to a landscape.
Bill Morgan, national sales manager, AquaMaster Fountains and Aerators, points out adding amenities such as fountains makes for an improved site which can lead to satisfied, long-term clients. “By using fountains and fountain-type aerators in waterscape designs, the designer is elevating the value of the water feature and surrounding landscape for his client,” he says. Morgan also notes there are often practical reasons behind the amenities. “In addition to the elevated aesthetics provided by this type of equipment, improvement of the overall water quality of the waterscape can be expected if fountains are sized and placed correctly,” he says.
By keeping an eye out for potential amenities while bidding or installing landscape projects, it’s possible to generate extra income and leave the client with a better landscape. A customer interested in adding a pond might easily be sold on the benefits of adding fencing and lighting for safety or adding a fountain to oxygenate the water to provide a healthier fish habitat. Sculptures and other landscape art can lend attractive focal points to residential and commercial landscapes. Although clients often prefer to mull it over before committing to expensive amenities, putting the idea in their heads can lead to an installation job weeks, months or even years down the road.
Mike Elmore, Montage product manager, Ameristar Fence Products, says versatile contractors have more going for them because most clients prefer to minimize subcontractors.
“The ability to provide the customer a turnkey operation is a valuable benefit for the landscaper,” he says. “It offers the customer a simplified process. Benefits include simplified installation where the landscaping and fence can be installed in an orderly sequence minimizing impact to the site, delays, problems and confusion,” he says. He believes when landscapers take the customer from initial design stage to completed install it facilitates more communication as to the customer’s wants, needs and expectations.
No matter what type of amenity you are dealing with, you should consider the additional, stable income provided by maintaining the product. “Profit from the equipment sale, installation and subsequent maintenance programs can provide additional revenue,” Morgan says. “Generally speaking, more money is made on the installation than the equipment sale. Each site will have its own idiosyncrasies, so the installation price can vary greatly.” He says the installation process can be billed as a flat fee or a per man-hour charge, which varies from $75 to $200, depending on the skill level involved. Morgan says the maintenance end is attractive even when the economy is flat and sales are down because most clients are still willing to pay to keep existing equipment running.
Elmore suggests contractors interested in adding a new service to their repertoire investigate professional organizations for valuable product information and certified training. For fencing, he recommends The American Fence Association, which has state and national chapters.
“The American Fence Association Certified Fence Professional designation is the association’s stamp of excellence,” he says. “This is achieved through the certified
testing program for installation knowledge.” The association also offers a field training school where students learn all facets of installation of various fence materials.
“I have always believed the quality of the product is above everything else,” Elmore says. “Install the best quality materials you can and never cut corners to save a few bucks. Price materials fairly. Don’t give away the work and don’t devalue your product in front of the customer by selling on price. Sell features, value, benefits, and investment cost vs. life expectancy. Understand that consumers are educated and are looking for value for the money, not the cheapest price offered.”