Business Sense: State of Services

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Aug 6, 2013

When it comes to pricing, and pitching, additional services to your customers, no doubt the current economy is a factor. While the extent of the recession differs throughout the country, many people are finding ways to cut back on spending and save more. You may receive many “no, thank-yous”, but Michele Tango, vice president of sales for Relms Landscaping, says it’s worth the effort to continue offering add-on services.

Located in Harwood, Maryland, Relms services an area just outside of Washington, D.C. “We’re really fortunate in this part of Maryland because of the influence of D.C. and Baltimore,” Tango says. “It’s hard here, but people are still spending money on their landscapes.”

Sign of the times
Tango says there are still plenty of requests for design/build projects, but many are on a smaller scale than in years past. She says Relms may trend toward more maintenance this year, because even though there are contract cutbacks most people still want their lawn cut and maintained. “We are definitely working with our customers to ensure the work we do and rates we charge are manageable.”

Because Relms offers a diverse base of services, pricing is different for each customer. With commercial companies, it’s generally a maintenance contract, so add-on services include additional enhancement such as plant installation.

With residential properties, you may have completed a design/build project and now the customer wants something else. Tango says sometimes the design/build projects turn into maintenance contracts. “About 50 percent of our residential customers started as installation clients and led to maintenance contracts. Add-on services are certainly the goal with new clients. Once a project is finished, you can follow up with a maintenance contract.”

Focus on the customer
Relms bids each project for the specific jobsite. “We don’t have an average square-foot price for pavers,” Tango explains. “Our philosophy is: You should only have to pay for what your project requires. If you price a project on an average, customers wind up paying for more material than they need.”

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Tango stresses the importance of nailing down your clients’ needs, as well as what is driving those needs. Money, environmental influences, a new home with an inherited landscape, and life circumstances can all have an impact on a customer’s choices. “You have to have flexibility to work with your clients. Address their needs,” she says. “That will be a big part of being successful this year – doing things maybe you didn’t do in the past.”