Scheduling Landscape lighting projects

Scheduling Landscape lighting projects

By Mike Gambino

It’s a fact of life that some clients just don’t really seem to understand the sort of schedule that is necessary to complete a landscape lighting project. Keeping to a schedule when you’re waiting for approval, response or something else from a client can take a lot of patience and a little skill. While not every client is the same — some are absolutely wonderful when it comes to scheduling.

“There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full.” Henry Kissinger

1. Putting Time Estimates in Context

This scenario is all too familiar: I prepare a proposal for a client, complete with a schedule or timeline. Then send it to the client and hear back nothing for days or even weeks. When I do finally get a response, the client wants me to take on the project — and he wants it completed on the schedule suggested originally. That schedule, however, was based on starting the project a week or two ago — and I may have picked up another project or two to work on when I didn’t hear back from the client in question.

I’ve seen plenty of estimates and proposals that highlight a date that I believe I can complete a project by. It’s rare that date is anything but tentative, however: instead, focusing the client’s attention on the amount of time it will take to complete the project after I’ve actually started it. Any prospective completion date needs to be in the context of the level of work that must occur before that date for a client to understand just how easily it can change.

2. Setting the Schedule when we actually Start

Once we’ve gotten the go-ahead to start on a project, we can set deadlines and completion dates. Now that we have some certainty that the project is actually moving forward, we can correctly predict dates — as well as tell the clients when we’ll need to get their approval on agreements as well as get a deposit for materials from them. The schedule may still be tentative in spots, but we don’t have to worry about trying to talk a client into a revised schedule based on when he actually got back to you.

3. Having Deadlines

Any time I have to wait on my client, it’s important to explain just how long of a response window he has before the project will be delayed. It’s important to be polite of course, but issuing a firm date is in both my own and my client’s interest. More often than not, I’ve been able to get exactly what I need with a sentence along the lines of “As long as you can get the deposit and signed agreement to me by the date mentioned, we’ll be on track for the project to be completed by the desired date.”

Issuing a firm date is in both my own and my client’s interest.

On those occasions when I have to keep following up with a client in order to actually get the deposit or go-ahead necessary, it’s useful to issue revised schedules, clearly showing new completion dates. Even pushing back the date by one day can get a client’s attention and response.

4. Can’t allow Clients to Push the Schedule

I submitted a project to a client on a Monday and didn’t hear back anything until the end of the day Friday — at which point, she wanted me to turn around installing the system before the following Sunday afternoon. It’s an awkward situation to be in: no one wants to tell a paying client that she can’t have what she wants, but at the same time, the only way for me to take care of it would have been to dump my Saturday plans. If you give in once to a situation like this (even if you charge extra), it’s easy for a client to keep doing it. Not only that it’s not fair to the client who gets bumped on Saturday.

This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 20 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

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