In March of this year, we opened up a landscape business, so we can offer customers one-stop shopping.

Now we can control the quality of both the landscape and the pools, to make sure we’re selling the way we want. In the past, we had lost jobs because of the landscaping. Either customers were looking for one-stop shopping, or they didn’t like the landscape professional. I’ve had many times where clients said, “We really liked your pool but the landscaper didn’t impress us,” so then we’d lose the project.

I think the biggest lesson we’ve learned is how important it is to sit down with the customer to discuss plants beforehand. When it comes to landscape, customers don’t always know a lot, so you have to really educate them to make sure you put in the trees and shrubs that they like. A lot of times we go with them to the nursery, so they actually get to pick plants out and tag them. This gets the customer more involved. A lot of times, when they can see the plants, they upgrade to bigger specimens than they had originally planned, so you upsell them without even trying.

By going to the nursery, we also get better plantings than if we just ordered them sight-unseen and had them delivered. If there’s a 15-gallon tree that’s getting ready to move into a 24-inch box, we can grab that tree and the customer gets a higher quality.

— Larry Duffy, president, Cameo Pools, Mesa, Ariz.