Honestly, Honesty is the Best Policy
Updated: Jun 29
Growing like a weed: I guess that's one way to describe Garden Therapy right now. What started as a little idea to fill my days during the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago has grown from a handful of trusting souls who generously gave me a few jobs here and there to a 3-inch binder full of client records and a waiting list that is weeks long.
Those of you who see me fairly regularly know that my work wardrobe is fairly consistent: stained blue jeans or faded shorts, and one of 10-or-so tee-shirts with a peppy saying emblazoned across it. Life Is Good is my go-to brand for workwear, not only because I am drawn to the uplifting messages on the shirts, but also because the cotton tees are sturdy enough to withstand thorns, briars, branches and mulch stains. My favorite among my work tees is a well-worn, used-to-be navy, printed with the word "grateful."
And I am
I'm grateful for the support of my customers.
I'm grateful to have met so many wonderful people through my business.
I'm grateful (and amazed) at the growth of Garden Therapy.
Since "the season" started in April, my work calendar has been filled with as much gardening as I could want. I have been gratified to hear from so many customers from previous years, asking for me to come back and work in their gardens/landscaping again this year. It's been wonderful to reconnect with gardening clients, whom I view as friends. I've also been so lucky to meet new people and see different gardens and yards, each with their own charm and potential.
As grateful as I am, though, I hit a rough spot. I didn't know how to tell people I was too busy to take on one more thing. I didn't know how to manage my time and schedule work for customers when I could actually, rationally, be there. My proverbial plate got so full it was like there was a leaning tower of pancakes on it and they were all about to hit the floor in a sticky mess!
At one point, my 22-year-old daughter, Sadie, sat down with me and created a calendar. She helped me "triage" the jobs I had agreed to do, prioritizing them by the order in which customers had contacted me, and then by what the assigned tasks were (so if someone had already purchased plants to go in the ground, for example, I needed to get there before the plants died). Sadie patiently asked the questions which helped me organize my thoughts as she wrote the client names in slots on the calendar she had created. Before I stopped talking, however, she stopped writing and leaned back from the table. "The month is full," she said. "You just can't possibly do any more."
"Not being able to" doesn't sit well with me.
"Not being able to" means I can't please everyone -- least of all, myself.
So, about this rough patch. I've tried dealing with it in numerous ways.
I've worked 20 days in a row without a day off. I've forced myself to take days off to rest. I've hired helpers. I've raised my rates for potential new clients. I've turned down opportunities to work for other companies and I've declined invitations to give estimates for new work. Those work, to varying degrees. But the thing that works the best? Honest conversation.
When I have apologized for the long wait for me to be able to work at someone's home, and when I've offered an explanation that I've been overwhelmed with work and am struggling to stay caught up, I've been amazed at the response. Almost every single customer has smiled and said, "I'm glad to hear business is so good for you."
I love my customers. They are good people. And for them, I am grateful.