3 Interiorscaping Mistakes I’ve Made That You Can Learn From

It was right around this time of year, when the average midday temperature in Florida starts getting into the eighties, when it happened.

I had an extra hard work load this day due to several foliage change outs I had planned.  One of my high-end clients had top level executives flying in from all over the country this week and needed their building to be spot on.  My van was packed floor to ceiling with beautiful Phalaenopsis, white birds, peace lilies.  My second stop of the day was in the middle of downtown at a huge office complex and I was fortunate there was an empty vendor slot left in the massive parking lot.  Three hours later, I finally finished and decide to grab some lunch at one of my favorite little delis around the corner.  Wasting an hour eating, it was around two fifteen by the time I get back to my vehicle.  I opened the van door and all I could do was gasp.

My brand new Spath and white birds all had large black spots on their wilted leaves.  All the Phalaenopsis flowers had shriveled and partly fallen off.  Basically, the seven hundred dollars I spent for my client’s replacement plants baked away in the deadly sun while I was inside enjoying lunch.  For fear of something being stolen, all my van windows were up and the doors were locked. The interior temperature must have been well above one hundred and fifty degrees.  With my vehicle parked in the middle of a blazing blacktop without a sliver of shade in sight, the clear windows acted like a magnifying glass and scorched the delicate peace lily’s leaves into black paper.

I was so focused on getting my day done, I completely forgot about the safety of my foliage.  It was hard enough losing most of my seven hundred dollar inventory, but now I had to run around the local markets paying retail prices to replace the twenty-five orchids I needed that day.

By the end of the week, I had my van’s windows tinted and was dedicated to finding shaded parking spots if plants were in my vehicle.  While those of us who’ve been in this industry for several years may call this a no-brainer, new staff may not realize plants can get sunburned.  The average person sees plants growing outside in the direct sun and automatically assumes that all plants want sun.

While I wish I could say I no longer make this next blunder, I still catch myself doing it here and there.  That mistake is…quoting a price before all information is considered.  I had an account that was a chain with each location matching the other.  I quoted all locations sight unseen since in my mind they were all the same.  What I didn’t realize was one particular branch operated inside a military base.  While civilians are allowed inside, it can take up to forty-five minutes to an hour to go through the inspection lane in this high security area.  In addition, trying to leave the base at certain hours was also a nightmare.  If this wasn’t enough, I found the location itself only had one window for natural light which doubled the replacement factor that I hadn’t added into my quote.  So between the extra time and higher replacement ratio some months were bad, very bad financially.  When quoting, I now try to uncover any logistic issues or space requirements by visiting each location before sending a finished proposal.

I made this embarrassing mistake recently.  My significant other and I had been agitated with each other.  The built up tension and repressed irritation finally came out due to lack of sleep mixed with my usual weekly stress.  Later that night, I called my boyfriend irate to let him know how much I appreciated his selfishness.  After he answered, which surprised me a little since he had been ignoring my calls the past twenty-four hours, it was on.   Once I finished, I couldn’t wait to hear the stupid defense he was going to lay on me.  Unfortunately, that would have to wait because while I was swept up in my little fury, I had hit the wrong Mike and just aired my dirty laundry to one of my client contact’s cell phone.  Although he joked about it, I’m still embarrassed every time I see him in his building.  Touch screens make it very easy to dial the wrong person, especially if you have “fat fingers” like myself.  Now before opening my mouth, I double check to make sure I know who I’m opening it to.

I think no matter how long we are in our fields, there will always be opportunity to mess up and learn from our mistakes.  Many of us don’t realize some of our nation’s most successful people had their fair share of mistakes as well.  Abraham Lincoln, as an entrepreneur, failed in the corporate world. He wasn’t a financially successful lawyer as he planned but look where he ended up. Edison didn’t see the thousand unsuccessful attempts to get the light bulb to work as failures but as a thousand necessary steps to getting it right. Henry Ford went broke five times before finding success. R.H. Macy lost seven businesses before he established Macy’s.

I’ll leave you with a quote by Conrad Hilton, the successful American hotelier and founder of the Hilton hotels. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. “

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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