David Guthery, landscape designer with LandCrafters, LLC in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is a recipient of a 2020 Gold Award of Excellence for Residential Landscape Design and Construction for the Eastend Tudor project. He says one of the more unconventional reasons he participates in the award process is because it forces him to follow through on hiring a professional photographer and staging a project — something that comes with other benefits as well.
Awards Can Anchor Your Marketing
“That gives me a whole series of images which I can then go on to also use for marketing and advertising,” Guthery admits. “Going through the award process ultimately becomes the foundational piece of my marketing campaign.”
Guthery says that high-quality, professionally taken photographs are important for the award entry process — but can have value on the company’s website or even used in print magazines at other times.
Of course, Guthery says that winning a national award also comes with a lot of prestige — and that’s important for the specific marketplace that LandCrafters serves.
Clients and Employees Want to Be Associated with Award-Winning Work
“We’re in high-end residential work — and there’s a certain expectation level that comes with that market,” Guthery explains. “It’s a consistency thing. As a client, pre-COVID, you would come into our office and sit in a chair and see all of these awards around. It sets a tone that our clients expect.”
Guthery says that awards can also build employee morale.
“They’re part of something exciting and there’s that prestige factor for them, too,” he says. “When we win something, we make a big deal of it with our team — the construction crew that built it but also the maintenance crew that keeps it looking great. They’re all part of it.”
Planning Pays Off
For landscape contractors just getting started in the award arena, Guthery suggests taking the time to learn from folks who have been through it before. He also says that it’s essential to plan ahead. You have to wait for plants to grow in and the landscape to mature a little for that “finished look.”
Guthery also urges the importance of fully prepping the site ahead of photographing it. He says it’s easier to win an award on a project that you not only built but also maintain. Then, you can be sure that it’s kept up to par for a professional photo shoot.
“When it’s shoot day, we’re being super picky and looking at every single detail,” Guthery continues. “We always have a shop-vac because there’s always debris. And I even carry a dust broom on me. The day before we do a free mowing for them and stripe it. And if it’s in the summer, we’re doing a free refresh on mulch and just freshening everything up. We might even plant a few annuals or stage pots. The site should look the best it’s ever looked on shoot day.”
Guthery says that if you put the time in, it will pay off. He admits it can be time-consuming but for the benefits, it’s worth that investment.
“If you throw it together, or try to wing it, it’s probably not worth your time,” he says. “If you’re going to go after an award, the goal is obviously that you want to win. If you plan ahead and execute that plan thoughtfully, you’ll get the results.”
Learn more about the national Awards of Excellence. Applications are accepted from late winter through summer.