My very first indoor landscaping job!

plant.babies(Zone 7-8)August 11, 2006

Boy, it's a little bit scary!

A local health food store owner asked me if I could do a plant display in his front window that gets good light.

I have some really large Dieff. and Monstera plants, and a few smaller ones that would look good w/ them.

I can also put small table plants in the dining area w/ price tags on them for sale.

Is there anyone who does this for Retail businesses?

He said the reason there are not plants in the store is because they don't know how to take care of them.

What do I charge? Do I draw up a simple contract and agree on the money up front (seems safer and logical), or put the plants in and rely on a verbal contract?

I imagine that I would:

buy cheap display tables and pretty fabric,

get some pretty pots and put the plants in them,

care for them every week.


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You will fail in the business if you value the work more than the person who is paying you. They want the display. Explain some various things that you could do for them and see what they like. Then go back to your office and calculate the price for it. Price out your materials, mark the price up by some %, estimate your hours, multiply your hours by a rate that covers your overhead and a reasonable wage, and give them a price in a written proposal. That proposal should explain exactly what you will do and provide, but also have a line in it that says anything not specifically covered in the contract is an extra and will be billed as such. It is not emotional, it is rational.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 7:21AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

You definitely want to put something in the contract that covers whether the plants are guaranteed - if they die or start looking shabby, who pays to replace them - you or the client?

You also want to put something in there about how the client is not to water or move the plants around.

There is a great message board at that will tell you way more than you want to know.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 9:22AM
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oh, thanks for the interior landscape board! I didn't know it existed.

I plan that I will own the plants, that no one but me will touch them, that if they get sick/die, it's on me unless I find someone was messing w/ them!

We are a tiny town, so I think this will be a good test relationship.

I definitely feel I have a good balance between doing the work and getting paid well for it!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 3:09PM
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maybe I need to rethink this idea.

I don't want to get terribly involved and complicated!
It's just one store. (maybe later, if other stores see the display and contact me, I'll get more into it. Almost every store and business around here has plants displayed)

I think I'll just draw up a one-page contract -- "I put some of my own plants in, you don't touch them, you pay me x amount of dollars each month, I come weekly to inspect/address the display, you let me know 2 weeks in advance of wanted changes/removal, I do all changes/watering/feeding, etc"

I should be able to tell right away if my plants are suffering in some way. The guy already said "we don't have plants because no one here knows what to do", so I don't think they'll touch them.

Possibly we would even do a barter -- my display for a dollar amount of organic stuff from the store.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 3:22PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Reality is that unless you have a really good environment (appropriate lighting and temperature), the plants are likely to decline over time. If conditions are really bad, you may be replacing plants every 6 months to keep them looking top-notch. If conditions are decent, you still may have to replace every few years. Plants also may outgrow their space and have to be replaced. Be sure to charge enough to set aside money to handle this if it happens.

Emphasize in writing that "you don't touch them and neither does anyone else in your store", and if anyone does, you don't pay to replace them. You'd be amazed how many customers and their children play with the plants, dump soda and gum in them, etc. Plants occasionally get stolen too - you don't pay for that either.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 8:46PM
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Realize that you are lending them a certain amount of $ worth of plants. Is the "interest" on this loan reasonable when you consider the time you have to invest in servicing the loan?

$200 worth of plant and one hour a week will yield you how much a month? Who will service that for less than $35 per hour? Now, who is going to rent $200 worth of plants for $140 a month?

Lets say its $500 worth of plants. Do you want to lend someone $500 in order to earn $140 a month?

You need to sell the plants at a profit and then get paid to maintan them or you are just assuming risks for little money.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 9:42PM
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txjenny(z8 TX)

I notice you mentioned bartering. I've done this with 3 clients so far, and it's a little tricky but can work if you think through it. On any project, i only barter up to 25% of my estimated "take" on the job; this helps with cash flow. you can't barter everything and expect to earn something. Also, i spell out the bartering terms clearly in my contract so there is no misunderstanding. And contrary to how bartering is thought of, you still have to pay your taxes on the bartered amount!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 11:45AM
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thanks everyone -- I haven't done anything about this guy yet. I was thinking I don't really have as many huge plants as I had at the beginning of this season -- I cut most of them down to make more plants.

It was a passing conversation, and I still need to go talk to him in more detail about what he envisions for the space, which is a very nicely lighted large NE corner w/ approx. 15 x 20 windows.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 5:26PM
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