You know you do great work. Your customers know you do great work. So why isn’t your shelf weighted down by engraved gold trophies and awards shaped like embossed glass shark fins?
In landscaping, as with most industries, awards don’t chase you down, you have to be proactive. To go out and get them. That’s how the Grammys work. The Oscars too. If you want one, you’re going to have to do a bit of campaigning.
Luckily, there are TONS of local and national landscaping awards you can apply for, competitions you can enter that play to your strengths. And awards you win come with benefits that go beyond the hardware.
Awards give you an edge over your competition. They provide a well-deserved pat on the back to the employees who work so hard. They congratulate property owners on their creative ideas and YOU for bringing them to life.
Hey, it’s okay to want awards. Winning feels good!
So how do you find competitions to enter? How do you get nominations? And most importantly, how do you outdo the competition?
Within the world of landscaping, there are a lot of industry associations with their own national and regional awards. The NALP (National Association of Landscape Professionals) has several categories of awards landscaping companies and individuals can win. As does the APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers) and Houzz offers both national and state-specific landscaping awards.
Since these contests are nationally recognized, they tend to be more competitive and have a bigger impact on the company that wins (more on that later).
Every state and many cities have their own landscaping awards up for grabs. States and some cities have their own landscaping industry associations, and those associations are looking to award outstanding work.
Start with a quick google search of your state and city, and we’re sure you’ll find a few contests worth entering.
Additionally, many Chambers of Commerce offer awards for landscaping. And if you’ve reached a milestone in your company (if you’re growing fast or if you’ve doubled in size for example) local newspapers and are often eager to shine a light on your success.
If your lawn care or landscaping business does something well, something that sets you apart from your competition, chances are there’s an award for it. AmericanHort offers awards for sustainability. There are awards for landscape architects, for students, and for irrigation specialists.
So think hard about what it is you do well. The aspect of your business that sets you head and shoulders above the rest. With a little time spent looking, chances are, you can find an award that suits you.
We mentioned this earlier but it’s worth mentioning again. Apart from the awards that honor landscaping companies, there are many awards that honor individual members of the team. The NALP has several, including the young entrepreneur award, the women entrepreneurship award, and the lifetime leadership award.
Read through some of the application requirements for the awards listed above, and you’d be forgiven if you thought awards are more trouble than they’re worth.
After all, they cost time and money, and with no cash prize, why bother?
Winning awards is a great way to win free marketing, both within the industry and in the area you service. Industry professionals recognize the hard work that went into the winning project, and the awarding body will often honor winners with splashy spreads on their websites.
Spreads you can refer to in press releases once you bring the award home, which often results in write-ups in local papers and periodicals.
Readers of the paper don’t have to understand the difference between landscape design and landscape installation to understand what it means to be the best.
Gaining outside recognition for a job done well is a hugely motivating factor for landscaping teams. There is a great deal of pride that comes with earning the respect of your peers.
Entrepreneur.com cites positive reinforcement as one of the best tools business owners can use to motivate employees. So not only does it feel good to win, but it encourages teams to bring their best in the future.
The landscaping industry is tight. Our customers have a lot of options they can choose from. That means you can’t leave stones unturned, and you should be leaning into every advantage you’ve got to rise to the top.
If your email signature is full of accolades and accomplishments and the competition isn’t, that might be enough to cause your customer to choose you instead.
Running a landscaping business can often feel like a thankless job. Sometimes it can seem like you’re jumping from one problem to the next, and you simply don’t have time to celebrate your success.
Winning an award is a great way to take a moment for yourself, to look back with pride on the projects you’ve completed. To enjoy a bit of recognition for everything you do.
Let’s face it, winning is awesome.
Awards are rarely won by companies that don’t plan ahead. A proposal that’s missing pieces looks thrown together, or doesn’t follow submission guidelines is often thrown out.
If you want to win, take the award seriously. Set deadlines. Winning entries take time and effort, and winning is always worth it.
The best succulent garden in the city won’t win the water artisans of the year award. There are so many landscaping awards up for grabs that you don’t shouldn’t really have to stretch.
Pick the designs that showcase what you do best. Find the contests looking for just those designs, and submit your work to the right place.
Nothing undercuts quality work like bad pictures. Professional photographers understand light, composition, and how to capture a project’s best features better than you.
An image submitted this year from one of my client's Lotus Gardenscapes
Generally, photographers aren’t massively expensive and the value they add to an award submission is always worth the cost.
What went well? What went wrong? What unexpected difficulties did you face in completing this project?
We’re glad you decided to hire a photographer, but judges want more than nice pictures. They want to know the story behind a project. They want to know about the problems you solved, the budget concerns, the time constraints.
There are a lot of average landscaping companies out in the world, doing good work. But it takes a great landscaping company to think on its feet, solve complicated problems, and still build something beautiful.
Many awards require votes or nominations. Don’t be shy about it, ask your customers to help you out! If they are pleased with the work you’ve done, a quick vote in an online poll is not too much to ask.
Additionally, if you need help putting together your awards or a plan for submitting them, I can help you stay on track.
Once the contest is finished and you’ve won your award, that doesn’t mean the work is over.
You’ve been handed a valuable marketing tool, now’s the time to use it. Contact local papers and industry organizations, adjust your marketing materials to reflect the fact that your clients are choosing an award winner.
This information should go on your blog, your social media, your email signature, and it should be plastered in a highly visible place on your website.
And whatever you do, before the day finishes, take a second for yourself and your team. Lean back, high five a few times, and enjoy this moment. After all, you’ve earned it.
And it’s time to start preparing for next year.
AmericanHort Interior Plantscape Award
American Society of Landscape Architects Awards
Landscape Architecture Magazine Awards
Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Your State Landscaping Associations
Lawn and Landscape Leadership Awards
Lawn and Landscape Employee of the Year
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