Solving the aftercare issue
Mandy Buckland MSGD set up her own maintenance team
I have been running a maintenance and aftercare team for my practice since 2013. It’s a helpful service for the many clients who feel a huge pressure to keep their garden looking great after investing in a garden design project. I work out of Sevenoaks, Kent, so I’m close to Hadlow College, a land-based college that teaches the RHS Certificate. It’s a great resource pool for our growing team.
My team does not mow lawns: it’s about tending the borders, feeding, weeding, pruning and top dressing. They replace any failed plants and give advice on watering. Following a visit, the team member drafts an email back to the office including a list of the jobs completed, what sundries were used and what tasks they will be carrying out at the next visit. This is then emailed to the client along with an invoice, and the next visit is booked.
The aftercare team are drafted into new planting jobs, so they are part of the initial process and familiar with the specifics of the soil, borders, planting plan, plant choices, and they also get to meet the client. This makes for a great introduction to ongoing maintenance and care of a garden.
It’s important for them to look smart and professional – we’ve just ordered new dry-fit clothing with Factor 50+ protection for them.
The service keeps clients happy, creates additional revenue, allows us to stay in contact with them, revisit gardens we have worked on and get great images for our portfolio. We draft plant boards, planting plans and maintenance schedules for all our gardens, encouraging clients to get involved. I regularly bring in three garden designers who freelance for me, and they also help out with maintenance, planting and office work.
I personally visit every garden at least three times a year to maintain my connection with the client, talk through plans and direct the aftercare team when necessary. It’s also important to keep the hard landscaping, furniture and other features of the garden looking good, so we keep in contact with the landscapers who carried out construction so we can advise them when any repointing, painting, oiling and the like needs to be done to keep the garden looking great.