February 15, 2018
By Denis Flanagan CLD
LO Manager of Membership and Public Relations

Denis FlanaganThroughout 2018 Landscape Ontario will be distributing press releases with messages to the public on why they should hire a landscape professional, including what your prospective clients should look for when hiring a contractor. We will remind them of the basics, such as checking for references, WSIB and liability insurance, but one of the main reasons I think our members stand out as professionals is their ongoing commitment to education and professional development.

This commitment was obvious last month at Congress where a record number of members attended the show and also attended the many conference sessions. The conference rooms were packed with people eager to take in advice from experts like LO member Randy Tumber on how to design natural water features, and LO member Sean James who explained how to attract bees, butterflies and birds to your clients’ gardens.

These are both hot topics on the wish list of many homeowners who want the assurance they are dealing with professional designers and contractors who are up-to-date with the latest information on design, construction methods, new products and the latest technologies. Clients need to know their investment in their new landscape is going to give them the same enjoyment they see in glossy magazines and sales brochures.

Consumers also rely heavily on social media (like Pinterest) as their go-to source for inspiration. This is another great reason why companies need to keep up with the latest trends. At Hardscape LIVE! during Congress this year, the bleachers were full of contractors taking pictures and videos of the latest trends and techniques in pavers and walling materials.

The unique, extremely creative and professional work of LO members shown at the annual Awards of Excellence ceremony at Congress also helps to create some trends as well. These incredible projects were featured at the ceremony, on posters at the show, showcased on CityTV’s Breakfast Television and in several publications, blogs and websites. Our annual Garden Inspiration magazine distributed at Canada Blooms will also feature some of these award-winning projects, meaning tens of thousands of consumers will also be exposed to these spectacular projects.

All of this exposure to the public results in many potential clients visiting LandscapeOntario.com to connect with a qualified designer/contractor they feel can create the oasis they are looking for.

Those qualifications are only strengthened by our members continuing to educate themselves not only at Congress, but throughout the year. LO’s Professional Development Guide has a diverse range of topics including stonemasonry (a traditional art form that has seen a resurgence in today’s marketplace), designing perennial beds (which requires hours of teaching but pays off not only in gorgeous gardens, but also in clients that are willing to pay for a member to piece together a complicated botanical jig saw puzzle).

Through the hard work of LO chapters, sector groups and staff working together, more educational events will take place over the next several weeks: Landscape Lighting Conference, Irrigation Conference, Nursery Growers Short Course, London Plant Symposium, Peer to Peer Network Sessions, Fusion Landscape Professional program, Water Smart Irrigation Professional program, Grounds Management and Landscape Contractor Lecture Series, Gear Up for Spring and GreenTrade Expo...wow!
If you attended every LO educational offering over the next six weeks you would have put in more hours than it takes to earn a Master’s degree. Take a break and attend the Golden Horseshoe Chapter’s Family Bowling Weekend and Georgian Lakelands Ski and Spa Day.

It will take all of us to spread that word about the many professional services of LO members. We can send out press releases and put messages on social media from the Milton home office, but you should also take time to boast about your achievements. If you have won awards, attended courses, or earned a certification, be proud of those achievements and include them in your newsletters, portfolios and on social media.
Denis Flanagan can be reached at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com or at 905-875-1805, ext. 2303.