Thanks to the public's interest in updating their homes, Marshall has found building her business amazingly easy. "Customers don't want to do it themselves, so when they find out about me, they're really happy," says Marshall.
Marshall's clients also appreciate her affordable rates and access to new products. "We stay current on the latest trends, and we don't charge an hourly rate for our services," she says. "We're also able to get group discounts on the latest merchandise and pass those savings on to the clients."
The interior isn't the only home location to benefit from affordable, attainable technology, says Tim Hanauer, owner of Earth Graphics, a mobile service that provides digital images of proposed landscapes from an on-site van. "Six years ago, we didn't have a digital-imaging system with the ability to be mobile," says Hanauer. "The landscape industry's traditional lead-time for producing plans is about four weeks. With this mobile digital technology, we've cut that to one day, and customers are really responding."
Since Hanauer started the company in late 1994, Earth Graphics has seen a steady increase in business. Today, it has three vans and one franchise unit that generate $222,000 annually in design fees, and they are geared to open more franchises. Hanauer expects the company to create 925 residential landscape designs this year.
Like many in the home-improvement industry, Hanauer has found today's consumers eager to fix up their homes. "A lot of people want a landscape they can enjoy," he says. "With telecommuting and working from home becoming more popular, people want inviting landscapes."
During his 14 years in the landscape industry, Hanauer has seen job prices rise considerably. "When I started in the business, clients commonly spent $2,000 to $5,000 on landscaping. Now they're willing to invest $15,000 to $20,000," he says.
With the increase in expense has come a renewed interest in creative landscaping. "We're seeing a lot of naturalistic and authentic items," he says, "such as real cobblestones, landscape boulders and waterfalls."