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Systems Will Save You

By: Mardi Dover

You are a talented landscape designer – you love the creative process, and your clients are

crazy about you and your results. But do you feel you are also a master juggler, working to

keep dozens of balls in the air, struggling to keep your business moving forward? Are you

overwhelmed with the business end of things because there are not enough hours in the day?

You may be thinking. “There must be is a better way to run a design practice!” There is, and it

is called systemization. Creating (and actually using) processes in your design business is the

most efficient and effective way to take control of your business. Systems are the bedrock of a

solid business, as they are a roadmap for all your workflows. Systems improve consistency,

reduce costs, increase trust with your clients/contractors/vendors, and boost your happiness

and confidence as a designer and business owner. Best of all, systems help you build assets in

your company and increase your profitability. And systems don’t have to be complicated,

costly, or time-consuming.

Think about your biggest pain point in the week? Let’s say it is creating proposals. Here is an

example of how you might tackle this repetitive task with a system:

First, create a general proposal template which includes the following:

1. A section for an introduction outlining your general understanding of the scope of work.

Be sure to thank the client for the opportunity to provide the proposal.

2. A list of all the possible tasks and deliverables for your projects. (Conceptual plans,

hardscape details, design boards, meetings, etc.)

3. The fee and payment schedule. (You will, of course, want to create a system for

determining fees.)

4. A list of what is not included in the proposal but could be provided at an additional cost.

5. End with a short paragraph naming your excitement about the possibility of working on

this project and with this client.

Put this on this on your letterhead and save this as a template.

Once you have this template, you can easily create a proposal for each project by simply

customizing the introduction, deleting the irrelevant deliverables, filling in the fees and

timeline, and personalizing the last paragraph about this job/client. Save this as a PDF, sign it,

and … DONE!

The landscape design business is unique, and it can be challenging to be successful because we

wear so many hats. As you create and follow systems in your business, you will see a boost in

your creativity, a rise in profits, and more satisfaction as a business owner.

1 comment

1 Comment

Martine Jaworski
Martine Jaworski
Jun 08, 2023

Well put, Mardi! What every young (and not-so-young designer) should know! Not taught in school, unfortunately...Do you have some other hints? Cheers, Martine

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