Like other green industry professionals, you may be reexamining your business offering in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the industry. But you’re not the only one seeing things in a new light. Your customers are rethinking their outdoor living options and how they use their backyards, decks and patios.
According to a recent survey by Houzz, approximately 79% of homeowners are thinking about making changes to their home in order to make it more enjoyable and outdoor projects topped their wish lists. While this was a predictable trend for 2020, the way outdoor living upgrades are being perceived has shifted. From outdoor kitchens and grills to lighting and pest control, here’s how to introduce these added features to your customers.
Offer a Seamless Transition Between Inside and Outside
Functionality plays a key role in the way homeowners view upgrades to their outdoor living space right now. How much your customers can or want to upgrade may be financially motivated, but the more functional those upgrades are, the more likely the customer will be to include them.
Roger Ramsey, National Specialty Products Manager for Ewing, explained that homeowners are looking for a “seamless transition between their interior and exterior living environments.” An outdoor kitchen with a grill, fridge, sink and a dining area becomes a place where the guests and homeowners can gather together without interruption. Homeowners may need additional storage space to keep utensils, pots and pans close by. Ramsey added, “The less time you run in and out of the house, the more useful that outdoor area can be.”
Lighting is another functional amenity that becomes key as the outdoor living space takes shape. “Fall is a great time for getting together outdoors,” Ramsey said. “People are working in the house, then they’re going to want to enjoy the yard at night as it cools down.” The addition of bistro and patio lighting expands the customer’s use of the space into the night time hours.
Get into the habit of asking your customers questions like:
- How much time do you spend outside?
- Have you thought about adding an outdoor kitchen area?
- Are you looking to get more use out of this space as the weather cools down?
- Would more storage help you make better use of this space?
Stress the Ability to Destress
The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) reports an increase in demand for more enjoyable outdoor spaces because homeowners are not traveling as much. Summer vacation plans might have been downgraded or scrapped all together. Creating an inviting outdoor living space will lead to more enjoyable staycations.
Adding outdoor sound like speakers or smart home devices enhances the overall outdoor living experience. “It creates the desire to be in the space and changes the dynamic of how people use the space,” Ramsey explained since music can be a great way to set the mood and create ambiance.
Water features incorporate the soothing sounds of running water into the outdoor area. “It’s a natural interface and a stress reliever,” Ramsey said. From fountains and waterfalls to ponds with a living, breathing ecosystem for fish and frogs, the relaxing ambiance of water provides an escape from day-to-day concerns. “What you’re paying for,” Ramsey added, “is the tranquil sound of water washing away the stress of a long day.”
Outdoor audio and water features have the added ability to mask noise pollution, which is especially important for customers who want to drown out any loud noises from nearby freeways, airports or other public venues.
Here are a few conversation starters:
- Have you thought about adding additional features to your outdoor living space?
- Are you planning to have a staycation and spend more time outside?
- How would you like to see this space used by family and friends during the holidays?
Remove Distractions with Pest Control
Plans for any outdoor living space should also include pest control. While the types and availability of products may vary from state to state, pest control options include brands that are odorless, multipurpose for various types of insects and brands that are safe to use around people and pets.
“I tend to focus on outdoor living, creating layers of lifestyle enhancement,” Ramsey said, “But you can’t enjoy the space if you’re getting eaten alive by mosquitos.”
“Think of it as layers of a lifestyle,” he added. “Hardscape is your foundation, then build upon that foundation with outdoor kitchens, lighting, turf, water features and so on. It’s just layer upon layer of options for the customer.”
Additional questions you could ask customers include:
- Would you like more information about how to keep pests under control?
- Have you thought about adding fire features to your outdoor living space?
- What’s on your personal wish list for this space?
- How do you see your kids using this area as the weather cools down?
As your customers spend more time at home, the way they utilize their backyards and other outdoor environments is shifting. By starting conversations with customers about how they use the space, you’ll create opportunities to highlight what you can offer, which in turn can help your customers enjoy their great outdoors.
Visit your local Ewing branch today for more information about available outdoor living products.