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By: Christine Gracey

January is the time of year when the members of the landscape industry in Ontario take an evening to celebrate and acknowledge their achievements of the past year. The Landscape Ontario Awards of Excellence program gets larger and better each year, with a huge number of entries in each of their numerous categories for landscape construction, maintenance and design.  For numerous years we have made it a priority to enter the Awards program annually, and to date have won 33 awards. This year we had four award winning sites.

As the landscape industry is a seasonal business in our Ontario climate, we tend to work frantic hours for nine to ten months of the year, and spend the rest of the year in recovery and catch up mode (and hopefully some vacation time). Taking the time during the busy summer months to document and photograph a landscape project that has been completed; and often a couple of years ago, is sometimes not always high on the priority list.  However, it really should be a priority for everyone involved in the industry for several reasons.

  • The awards serve as an important tool to show prospective clients that you are good at your job. It is an assurance that you are a reputable company, with recognition by members of your industry.
  • Photos and a good write-up about individual sites are very important to use to update portfolios or website galleries.
  • Use the photos as references for your clients. Sometimes they want to see work done that is similar to work they are thinking of. Sometimes they want to view projects that have been done in their area, in order to take a look at them. Sometimes these photos can be used to illustrate the design elements that are proposed for their project.
  • Use the Awards program as a reference tool for your own company. If you consistently have projects to enter, and sometimes win an award, that serves to let you know your company is on the right track. If a year or two goes by without you having a project or two to enter into the program, maybe you have to take a hard look at how your company is doing performance wise, and plan on making some changes.
  • Take a good look at your Award entries and Award winners and see if you can see a positive progression in your work over the years in the size, scope, complexity and/or quality of the projects. It is a useful tool to give perspective to you for future planning of your company and it’s direction.
  • Use the Awards and the Awards program to acknowledge the work of your staff and your crews. It is their hard work and attention to detail that has made these Awards possible. Ensure everyone involved has a chance to attend the Awards Ceremony, and let them have a moment in the spotlight. Give them copies of the photos so they can show the people important to them the work that they do.
  • Entering the Landscape Ontario Awards of Excellence is a small way to give back to your governing organization.  Even if you don’t have time or money to contribute in other ways, you are still promoting our industry and making a contribution.
  • Award winning projects are used for promotion and advertising throughout the year by Landscape Ontario, and this provides great exposure for your company.
  • Use the opportunity to visit past projects to check in with the clients. If you have to spend a couple of hours of labour to ensure the site photographs well, consider it money well spent in customer satisfaction. A happy client, and a client with an award-winning site, is one who will recommend you to others.

I have sometimes heard people say that they don’t have time to spend on the Landscape Ontario Awards of Excellence. However, I think you that every moment spent is well worth and can have a  lasting and positive  impact on your company.