Patrick DuChene, founder of DuChene Design Solutions LLC and DynaScape’s landscape design guest blogger, is committed to providing cutting-edge 2D and 3D design presentations for landscape design/build firms; he’s also a consultant for business owners who are looking to grow, compete and succeed in the industry.
Wrapping Up the Season
The season is quickly coming to an end, and many of you are in the process of completing as many projects as possible before the weather shuts you down, or your clients “check out” during the holiday season. Once the season does come to an end, we’re faced with 3-4 months of downtime. This is where we begin to focus on how to improve upon our successes from this year, as well as implementing procedures to avoid the mistakes we’ve made along the way. As a landscape design business, I do not have to deal with as many logistics as design/build firms, but this doesn’t mean I don’t have my share of practices that can make or break my business. I want to describe two of these that I want each one of you reading this article to work on immediately that will guarantee you a better and more productive season next year!
Organization and Consistency is Key
I have had the opportunity to train many people on DynaScape’s landscape design software and consult landscape companies on efficiency. One weakness I commonly see is a lack of a well-organized file structure where things such as contracts, drawings, site photos, etc. are not in a location that is easy to find. This may not sound like much, but it’s very difficult to watch someone try to find a drawing when asked to locate it, or find any kind of document in their computer system when they don’t “remember” where they put it. This [not knowing where something is] will bleed productive time out of your day, week, month and season.
Internally, as well as with many of my clients, my design team uses a file structure that allows each one of us to very quickly find any document within seconds so we can all maintain as much productivity as possible. Let me suggest a very simple structure with which you can start, and you can modify as needed for your own circumstances. When you are working with a client, that client should have their own folder in your network, or Dropbox, Google Drive or whatever host you use for all your data.
Let’s call this client Joe Salemi! You visit Joe on-site, gather all your data such as photos, elevations, and notes and return to the office. When you return to the office, a new folder for ‘Salemi, Joe’ should be created. In this folder, sub-folders such as “Befores”, “Scans and Surveys”, “Drawings”, “3D Modeling and Rendering”, “Inspiration Images” should all be created, and the pertinent information should be put in these folders immediately. With this structure, it is extremely easy for you (or anyone) to access whichever files you need by following a very simple and CONSISTENT path to the files. This structure must be communicated to everyone on your team and in your organization so there are no inconsistencies.
If you create this simple file management structure, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to find things, how little confusion will arise in your organization or with your client, and you will have a clutter-free desktop without the countless icons that can make one’s eyes go crossed! I promise you, spend some time establishing this structure, stick with it, and it will be so much easier to do your work!
The “Secret Sauce” of Success
The second item on which I want you to focus is paying more attention to your customer than your competition. I have watched a lot of interviews of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and one thing that always stands out to me is what he talks about as Amazon’s “Secret Sauce.” In an interview from 2018, Bezos states, “the number 1 thing that has made us successful, by far, is an obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.” Focusing on your customer will give you a much bigger advantage over your competitor as opposed to focusing on your competitor.
Many of us follow others on social media, or we try to pattern ourselves after other companies or individuals, and we spend a lot of time worrying about what the “other guy” is doing. Meanwhile, we’re not putting enough time into worrying about our own customers.
My focus has always been exactly this; worrying about what everyone else is doing does nothing for your clients and is a waste of your time. Great communication, responsiveness, loyalty, honesty, and follow-up are what I have always focused on. I think these things are what has made my company what it is today, and I guarantee they will make yours better as well. Running a successful business isn’t rocket science. In all honesty, in the landscape industry, those who call people back and do what they say they’ll do will dominate and succeed. Period. The more you focus on how you can provide your client the best experience possible, the more your business will flourish.
Join Patrick DuChene in Charleston, SC on January 14-16, 2020 for a 2.5 day workshop in which he’ll dive deep into the following topics:
- Prototype setup;
- Working with surveys;
- Creating the base sheet;
- Starting the design;
- Tools to do the drawing;
- Figure libraries;
- Doing the drawing;
- Plant and material labeling and favorites;
- Preparing the drawing for DS|Color;
- Presentation prep; and
- Site + drawings info.