Creating Sophisticated Outdoor Living Spaces –

Time. It’s a finite resource and, ultimately, a good entrepreneur’s most valuable asset. When you carve out and hold sacred the personal time needed for God, family, friends, fellowship, rest, relaxation, and recuperation, the decisions you make about how you spend the time allotted to “working daybecome even more imperative. Successful entrepreneurs are determined in how they spend their time, always aware that wasted time is something that can never be recovered.

Eliminating wasted time is one of the motivators that drives good entrepreneurs to improve themselves and their business. Time management becomes a differentiator that sets them apart from their competition. Entrepreneurs invest in developing systems and processes that pay dividends as their businesses begin to run like well-oiled machines.

The best contractors are dedicated to improving through industry education in all facets of business – from design and construction to sales and business. They allocate resources to building a business that values ​​established relationships; both internally with employees and contractors and externally with their customers and the communities in which they thrive. They want to leave a mark, weather the storms and stand the test of time.

In my role as a traveling design professional, I have had the opportunity to meet many of these visionary entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey. Through our interactions, I observed and learned from them as we associated with their designs. We discussed their successes and struggles, and I was inspired by the ideas they learned. I hope sharing them will help others facing similar questions and challenges.

A unique aspect of my travels is the unique regional differences, biases and issues that our partner entrepreneurs face in their businesses. Whether it’s a product considered a necessity in Richmond, VA, but would never be considered in Charlotte, NC (which is only 5 hours away), or how a contractor in Port Charlotte, Florida, handles labor issues differently than another in Denver, CO – each with their own success.

Sometimes the issues are climate-related, and in other places the prejudice seems more psychologically driven. Each region seems to have its own set of specific puzzles to solve. But one truth I’ve found universal when working with these quality-focused contractors across the country is their frustration when their marketplace competition actively works to label them to potential customers as “overpriced” and consistently lower their prices. – often with disastrous results.

Good entrepreneurs know that time invested in customer relations is time well invested. – Luxury swimming pool design: Jason Brownlee

Time invested in your customers

The customer relationship process takes time – valuable working time that cannot be recouped if something or someone takes it the wrong way. It takes time to properly vet the prospect, go through a design process, and establish a strong relationship base that you feel comfortable building on. It takes time to provide both rough outline estimates and detailed project bids, and then often to revise both the design and the bid to better meet the client’s needs.

This allotted time is an investment on your part and should be reciprocated in kind from your client, as the purchase they are about to make as it adds to the value of their home is, for the most part, the second most important he will do in their lifetime – more than luxury vehicles, lavish vacations, college tuition and child marriages. As such, this investment should be treated with due respect by all parties in the process (which is a whole other topic for a future article).

What often derails this process is when a third-party “spoiler” enters the mix and actively works to sow doubt in the mind of the customer. I’ve seen this spoiler happen to several people – from a client’s home builder who likes to use their pool guy (often cheaper and with a kick), to the infamous “neighbor at a party” who gets brags about the “contract” he has gotten on his pool.

The most common spoiler comes straight from a competing swimming pool company, which actively uses the fact that quality-focused contractors aren’t cheap against them with phrases like “surely he’s proud of what he’s got.” ‘it does’ or ‘swimming pools should never cost so much. .” Or the best I hear, “he’s just trying to get rich from a project, we’re just making a little out of every project we build.”

Where you have invested time, effort and attention to detail to prepare and plan for the seamless execution of a signature project, the competitor is looking to rush in and derail the entire process you have built with a smoke and mirror sales number deception or genuine blissful ignorance of the true costs of the project when done to high performance standards.

It’s human nature to get frustrated with your customer when they wonder why you’re so much higher than other builders in their market. So how do you educate them on the valid reasons why good contractors cost more than their competition?

Like a professional service In the role of an owner’s representative in reviewing contractors’ bids for high-end clients, I have three criteria I look for in reviewed proposals. I believe these are the differentiators that separate quality-driven entrepreneurs from their market competitors. Quality-driven entrepreneurs:

  1. Consider and include everything
  2. Build it right
  3. Offer more
A good contractor considers and includes everything the client needs in their plan and contract.
Credit – Luxury Outdoor Living Designer: Jason Brownlee

Consider and include everything

When a quality-driven entrepreneur considers and includes everything, they eliminate “I didn’t include that” or “We don’t do that” comments from the comparison of offers that are intentionally or artificially deflated to improve appearance. of the number.

Each contractor must obtain permits, manage excess dirt or spoil, build a backyard access road, provide dumpsters and a portable bathroom, bring a gravel subbase, manage drainage and provide utility extensions to spaces (gas, electric, low voltage, etc.), include fencing (both during construction and final security enclosure), consider landscaping, l lighting, irrigation, etc.

A lot of auctions I see omit these and other necessary line items in order to make a number look more appealing. But at the end of the project, the costs are similar between the lowest and highest bids. This is a smoke and mirror deception designed to hook the customer and then deal with the consequences of the “misunderstanding” later. Almost all entrepreneurs have the same built-in profit margin, assuming they know it. The difference in the price of the proposal does not come from the amount of money the owner brings home. Instead, it comes down to process, how they operate, and what they choose to include and exclude.

Build it right

When a quality-driven contractor is committed to building well, it means they are holding their construction processes to a higher standard and will not deviate from it. It is not enough to meet the “minimum code” and expect to build a structural ship that will not have problems down the road. There are standards that must be met in order to build a quality ship because there are so many ways to cut corners and literally bury them underground.

When reviewing bid proposals with owners, I sit down with them and get very technical, discuss and review chip type building standards in a proposal before they make their selection . This shows the owner that a contractor has a working knowledge and understanding of what it takes to build properly and indicates if they have completed the advanced industry training available and understand the importance of quality construction .

Offer more

Finally, when a quality-driven contractor offers more, it means they are aware of the breadth and full range of features and options available and address or include them in their proposal to enable the customer to choose yes or no. This includes equipment options such as alternative sanitizers, availability of heating options, automation control, lighting systems, visual water and fire features, upgrades to finish and plating selection throughout, outdoor kitchen components, etc. etc The scope and scale of the final project with its usability options should ultimately be up to the client to decide and not pre-designed by a contractor who may not know their personal preferences, needs or desires for the project. ‘space.

A favorite saying we use in our lessons is, “Don’t let your middle class get in the way of this man’s money!” I’ve seen a contractor or pool designer/vendor end up dissuading a wealthy client from a fully tiled pool finish or an automated chemical control system, simply because it doesn’t respect the mindset. the contractor’s or designer’s personal budget. But for the customer, it may be nothing more than what he would have spent on another toy in his garage. It’s not your money to spend! Instead, it’s your job to know and offer all the options available, then let the customer decide what they like and dislike, or what they need and what he doesn’t need for his own outdoor living experience.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, when the client signs a construction contract, they are buying from you. Show the client that you have considered and included all aspects of the job and that they will not have any hidden charges that may have been known. Demonstrate that you are committed to building to higher standards with industry integrity backed by study certificate. Show all the options they might consider, not just the few that are easiest or readily available, and let them decide the scope and scale of the project they want for their family.

If you can prove these points, you will have moved this client from a price buyer to an investment mindset. Now, the time you have invested in customer relations as well as systems and advancing your business will pay its dividend.

Photo credit: J. Brownlee Design