1. Why Should I Hire a Commercial Landscaping Professional?
2. Questions to Ask Potential Commercial Landscape Service Providers
3. Landscape Maintenance Contract Essentials
4. Snow & Ice Removal Contract Essentials
5. Pros & Cons of Signing Long-Term Contracts
Managing commercial grounds on any type of facility -- college or university campus, office park, industrial site, health care facility, retail center, or homeowners’ association (HOA) -- can be challenging.
You want to keep your property looking attractive and professional, despite the nonstop flood of foot traffic, visitors, events, and potential liability concerns, such as snow and ice or weak and dying tree branches that could unexpectedly fall and cause damage.
There’s a lot to manage and think about when it comes to the outdoors on a large commercial site, just as there is a lot to maintain indoors. Your plate is full. Meeting the standards of the people you need to impress, whether it’s the homeowners in an HOA or faculty and students at an educational institution, is a full-time job in and of itself.
Just like you hire experts to manage your building security or wash windows, you should consider hiring a commercial landscaping company to keep your property’s grounds looking attractive all year long.
In this guide, let’s review the reasons why hiring a professional commercial landscaping company can make sense for your business and what steps you should follow to find the right partnership that can save you time and money, as well as meet and even exceed your facility’s expectations.
No matter what kind of commercial property you manage, you are always seeking ways to improve your daily productivity.
As maintenance costs rise across your entire facility, you constantly struggle to get the most out of your property management crews. Focusing on indoor needs and concerns, you may even find you neglect outdoor maintenance because crews lack the time, experience, or it becomes out of sight out of mind.
Here are some essential reasons outsourcing commercial landscaping can be the best choice for your facility.
When you’re trying to reach your goals, ensuring your facility is functioning as smoothly as possible can make a big difference in whether you get there or not.
When you partner with the right commercial landscape professional, they will take note of your specific goals. Then they include this in their plan to address your facility’s basic needs, as well as help you reach those other long-term goals on your list.
To do this, they have experts on their team with experience in various exterior maintenance areas -- from seasonal color to snow removal to hardscape repair. This ensures your problems are taken care of quickly and correctly, using the latest technologies, as well as the most recent safety practices. This is specialized knowledge that trained team members focus on day-to-day at all kinds of facilities that can benefit you.
Then if something is needed quickly, your commercial landscape service team can rally to bring you additional skills and resources immediately without you having to seek out other specialists or part-time help.
An in-house crew at your facility can naturally be pulled in so many directions to help complete last-minute tasks, in addition to regular duties. Things like emergency inside repairs or setting up an event space can take precedence over commercial landscape tasks.
This can negatively impact the consistent maintenance of your property, as well as its overall cohesive look and feel. A professional commercial landscaping company trains their crews on best practices so trees and shrubs are pruned the same each time, the lawn is mowed to the proper height, and snow is plowed in the most immediate areas first and piled in the right places every time.
Since their focus on the outdoor areas is laser sharp, they take note of and remember your preferences so this regular and reliable work remains constant.
You may not think initially that hiring a commercial landscaping professional could save you money, but it can.
Internal employees you would have to hire to do the landscape work, first of all, cost more than their wages. You have to cover everything from insurance to benefits to workers’ compensation and also spend time managing their reviews, growth, and progress.
Additionally, you have the cost of equipment. This includes owning, fueling, repairing, and storing your mowers, blowers, trimmers, snowplows, and other machines. You have to rely on your in-house crew to also choose the best equipment and keep it primed to perform on a weekly basis so they don’t use the wrong tools to get a job done, resulting in shoddy work. All of this takes a level of expertise and time that they may not have available.
Keeping costs down is a natural part of your job as a facility manager. But you also want great results. Hiring a commercial landscaping professional can actually get you the best of both.
Your building’s curb appeal is important because it helps create an environment that gives visitors, guests, owners, employees, and tenants a positive first impression on what kind of experience they will receive at your facility. Curb appeal is a direct representation of your business. You don’t want your staff to only tend to your grounds when they have time. You want to constantly enhance your curb appeal by bringing an expert in to handle it.
Having a trusted landscape partner with broad capabilities and experience can help free up your internal resources without sacrificing your property’s upkeep.
The right landscape contractor will also take as much pride in your property as you do because their company name and reputation is also visibly on the line. They want to show off what they can do best.
Landscape professionals are also motivated to do a great job because they want to keep your business. This means they will have a highly skilled and well-trained team ready to tackle the job. And throughout the year, they will continue to educate their employees, supporting them in their quest to learn plant identification, earn certifications, and broaden their knowledge base.
Your job as a facilities manager is busy. You are being pulled in so many directions. The goal is to get commercial grounds maintenance tasks accomplished without sacrificing other important inside to-dos. The last thing you want is tenant complaints or liability issues to pile up.
By hiring a company you trust for your commercial landscape management, you can relieve that additional stress, as well as lighten your workload. When you hire the right landscape partner, you won’t have to micromanage them or worry at 2 a.m. whether they are taking care of the massive snow and ice building up during a recent storm. Instead, you can sleep and arrive at your property in the morning to finished work and clear access to your property when it’s needed most.
When you do make the decision to hire a commercial grounds maintenance partner, you want to work with someone who will take the time to understand your needs and build a relationship with you. This way they know your preferences and continue to understand your business and your goals. A partnership like this can only lead to continually improving work and strategies.
A landscape vendor that wants to build this kind of relationship with you can also help you make a smooth transition from an internal to external landscape team. This might include helping you sell your equipment or transition your employees to new roles. That can be an added layer of stress taken off of your plate that you don’t have time to manage.
Has your commercial landscaping service underperformed? Do you feel ignored or that they don’t communicate well with you? Maybe you keep making lists of things you want done on your property but you have absolutely no time to address them. Not to mention, you thought these headaches were taken care of.
Listen to your gut. It might be time to find a new partner. But the last thing you want to do is make a bad decision. Whether it’s your first time looking for a commercial landscaping company to hire or you need to find a new one, you should begin your search armed with the right questions to be sure the service provider you choose to perform the landscaping for your commercial facility is the right one for you.
Here are the top 6 subject areas on which you should target your questions.
You want to find a service provider who has experience in maintaining landscaping at your specific type of facility.
Your commercial property type is unique and, therefore, comes with unique challenges. You need a business partner who knows where your high-traffic spots are, understands what areas need enhancements to improve your entryways and amplifies your company’s image, and makes picking up trash from all the foot traffic on your site a regular part of their duties.
Depending on the size of your facility, you could have a landscape crew arrive a couple of times each week to perform regular services or you may have a dedicated crew that is on your site full-time Monday through Friday. In this case, they are completely focused on your property, like an extension of your current staff.
To be able to understand how a commercial landscape contractor would work on your property and compare services from one company to the next, you have to get a full understanding of services provided, how often crews are at your property and how they work. Your commercial landscaper should be transparent and open about what services they provide, how they conduct business, and what strategies they use for specialty services. For instance, if they provide irrigation, is it performed by subcontractors, and did they disclose that to you?
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
Nothing expresses how a commercial facility feels about their landscaping service more than their willingness to share their positive experience. Service providers with expertise providing landscaping for commercial properties will have case studies detailing their work that they can share with you so you can learn how they conduct themselves and what working with them is like.
QUESTION TO ASK:
Commercial facilities must maintain safety at all times. As such, landscaping on these sites must enhance safety. Regularly trimming trees and shrubs so they aren’t a hazard or in the way, as well as taking care of any drainage or water issues, are some examples of things you need your service provider to include in their weekly maintenance work. It’s just a part of those specific tasks that are non-negotiable.
This need for safety also extends to the people visiting your commercial site. They must avoid slips and falls when walking in and out of your facility. A commercial landscape company that keeps this in mind, for instance, will clean off debris after they mow sections to avoid any hazardous walkways before moving on to the next section. It’s a common courtesy that makes their service extra special, focusing on your unique needs.
This includes not just crew member behavior but also the general appearance of company vehicles and employees. Since they are a representation of your brand while working on your property, clean, logoed uniforms, well-groomed workers, and neat, maintained vehicles are crucial. Employees should also be wearing the proper safety gear and personal protective equipment.
Another aspect of safety is insurance. You can typically verify a company’s insurance by a COI “Certificate of Insurance” that your provider can send you if you request it. Once a contract is signed, your facility is listed as an “Additional Insured,” which is further proof that any work a commercial landscape professional does on your property is covered.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
Commercial landscapes are dynamic. Sometimes they require service at off-peak hours or at times that don’t interfere with important busy hours at the facility.
This is why holding occasional meetings and sending regular communication between the landscape service and you (as well as any necessary staff) is crucial to determine what needs to be done and coordinate appropriate timing.
Brief monthly meetings, in addition to quarterly or at least biannual meetings for review and redirection, help maintain an ongoing dialogue to ensure everyone’s needs are being met. You should be comfortable with the amount of communication you receive from your service provider, as well as the reporting on services provided. This relationship building and communication builds a certain level of trust.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
When discussing landscaping for your commercial facility, your landscape professional should be completely transparent about the costs involved and what’s included versus what might be considered additional services or enhancements. They should also be willing to discuss your budget needs and challenges -- not only at the beginning of the year but also mid-year when you might have budget questions or concerns.
There’s also a level of value you should be able to expect from your commercial landscape service provider. A partnership is about fixing problems without having to be asked. You don’t want to have to chase around your service provider to tell them you noticed a dead shrub. The goal of a great partnership is removing your headaches … not adding to them.
Value can also be seen in how crews respond to situations that happen on a daily basis at your facility. Landscape professionals must be trained to be sensitive to visitors on your property. This includes being willing to smile, step aside to let people through when necessary, and quietly do their jobs. So on top of technical lawn care skills, your service provider should have people skills. Crew members should consider themselves as part of your company’s experience as they are there on the grounds among your employees and visitors.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
A conscientious crew is helpful when it comes to landscaping for commercial facilities. This is true not only to make people feel comfortable but also to meet their sustainability needs.
For instance, power equipment can be noisy. Does your services provider make sure to use louder equipment during hours that you've approved that are less disruptive? Do they avoid major courtyards during lunchtime? Do they politely turn off loud equipment when people are walking by to wait for them to pass?
When it comes to sustainability, your commercial landscape service should be using the latest equipment that reduces noise and emissions. They should also perform proper lawn care services, which means they are using targeted products on calibrated equipment to minimize inputs and maximize results.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
When it comes to commercial landscape maintenance, you want a proactive approach that includes lawn care, mowing/maintenance, trash patrol, spring and fall cleanup, and regular pruning, as well as seasonal color boosts and enhancements.
While you might think these services will be the same from one company to the next, there are a few factors that will impact commercial grounds maintenance costs.
We want to help you understand where your budget dollars are going with a look at some of the key elements you should seek in a contract, as well as some items that can influence the total price of your commercial landscaping costs.
A harsh and unpredictable Northeast Ohio winter can especially wreak havoc on a commercial facility that needs to clear ice and snow from its entryways to make traffic flow seamlessly on and off its property throughout the day. Sidewalks and parking lots also need to be open and accessible to keep people safe throughout the winter season.
When a storm hits in the middle of the night, you want to know you did everything you could while planning in advance to ensure your facility is functioning smoothly come morning rush hour.
Here are the essentials to include in your commercial snow removal contract, so you’re not left adrift when that big snow and ice storm hits your campus.
When you’re looking for a commercial landscape maintenance partner, you hope that you’ll find someone you can work with for the long-haul.
You want to find a company you can trust that won’t disappoint you. You want the best price. You want a top-quality service. You don’t want headaches. You want to know things are going to get done when they need to and that you won’t have to micromanage something you hired a professional to handle.
We get it. Anyone in your position would want the same.
But there are multiple options when signing a commercial landscape maintenance contract with a landscape services company. And understanding them can help you make the best decisions for you and your business.
Typical commercial landscape maintenance contracts last from one to three years.
One-year agreements need to be renewed each year, while a three-year agreement is considered more long-term.
There are definite pros and cons of long-term agreements. Let’s review them so you can become familiar with your options.
When you go with a short-term contract, the process tends to feel transactional.
What this means is you might not be building a deeper relationship where you can get to know your contractor and they can get to know your site.
Through multiple years, a contractor gets to learn about your site, watching it go through multiple growing seasons and weather conditions. This process can reveal weak areas or trouble spots that become targets for improvement.
Pro: You develop a long-term relationship where you get to know your contractor and they get to know you and your preferences.
Con: If you prefer a transactional, short-term relationship, this may not be for you.
A three-year commercial landscape maintenance contract typically locks in a price for all three years.
So as a facility manager, you know there won’t be any surprises in your exterior maintenance budget for that amount of time.
What’s more, is you can plan out the use of these dollars for three years. So if there’s a project you want to work on -- maybe a renovation of an entranceway or important area on your property that needs attention, for instance -- you can phase out that renovation strategy and the dollars necessary to complete it over time. This could enable you to tackle a bigger project that you have always wanted to address but never had the chance to with the limitations of just your annual budget.
On the other hand, when you’re renewing a contract annually, your maintenance prices may go up -- not only because of the rising cost of materials but also due to the lack of stability in the labor market because labor is a landscape professional’s biggest expense. Plus, you don’t get to plan out any strategies more than just a year ahead.
You may be thinking you get short-term gains because you get to negotiate annually, but the cheapest price doesn’t always mean the greatest value when choosing a landscape maintenance provider.
Pro: Lock in prices so you can better plan and budget. You create a long-term planning strategy with someone who is invested in bettering your business.
Con: If you prefer to negotiate pricing annually and plan only for the short-term, you may want to stick with a contract that renews annually. Again, however, if you’re constantly searching for a lower cost, you may not get the best maintenance plan available for your commercial property.
Doesn’t it almost feel like you go through the bidding process and finally make a decision on a partner, and then one year later you have to do it all over again?
A three-year contract saves you the time of putting out RFPs and reviewing, analyzing, and responding to bids every year.
Pro: You will not have to send out RFPs and accept new bids each year.
Con: If you prefer starting over each year with a new contract and vendor, this may not be for you.
You may find yourself looking at several bids on the table, detailing landscape maintenance plans for your commercial facility.
And you have to compare the similarities and differences and make a final decision. But, unfortunately, no two contracts are worded exactly the same, making this process challenging, adding to your already long list of things to do.
At the end of the day, you just want to hire a company that has the same high standards for quality work that you do in other areas of your facility. After all, the landscape firm you hire will be a partner -- an extension of your property management team.
Let’s look at some things you should pay special attention to when choosing your landscape service provider.
Details Matter. Commercial maintenance programs can vary greatly based on the size of your space, as well as the level of complexity and attention required. All of this can influence grounds maintenance costs.
When a landscape company estimates your project, multiple staff members should be spending from between 100 to 500 hours on your property doing the preliminary work necessary to give you the best plan and price possible. They do this to get the best feel for traffic and pedestrian flow on your site, as well as focal areas that need refinements. They walk the site to get a feel for its safety. They identify critical areas for snow and ice management. They measure the site. They ask questions of you and your team and welcome questions in return. They do their homework on what is most important to your facility and its core values.
Make sure your landscape professional knows what’s most important to you and your commercial facility during this exploration process as you factor in your maintenance costs.
Your Landscape Professional Becomes an Extension of Your Team. Whether your commercial facility is large enough to require a dedicated crew of multiple team members each day or the weekly presence of a landscape crew, your professional landscape team should become an extension of your staff.
Your commercial facility is a living, breathing space with constant movement from vehicles and pedestrians throughout the day. Part of your college landscaping costs includes having a crew that is sensitive to the timing of various events on your property, as well as regular classes, meetings and busy times and spaces. This includes turning off equipment when large groups of people are passing by and cleaning off mowed areas before moving on to the next to ensure each campus segment remains tidy and reflects a positive presence.
Crew Experience & Communication Are Important. The professional landscape crew members who perform work on your commercial facility are the most essential parts of keeping your site looking good, positively boosting your image and enrollment, and proactively meeting your demands and suggesting improvements within your budget restraints. As a result, labor is the largest expense of a service-based company and can impact landscaping costs.
Therefore, you want to know you are getting professionals who are worth the price. Just like anything else, lower prices could mean less experienced crews unfamiliar with the specifics of your specific type of commercial site who are also paid at lower rates.
Experience also means knowing how to regularly walk your property, looking for improvements and proactively addressing any maintenance issues.
Keeping in touch with you is also crucial to understanding your changing challenges and needs. For instance, Turfscape’s field managers attend weekly campus facility meetings to ensure they don’t miss anything important to the college. The account manager is also on site at least weekly for quality control. Then, a supervisor or executive will visit quarterly to check the pulse of the university vice presidents and managers and ensure things are running smoothly.
Finding a business that you can count on to bring fresh ideas, follow through on promises, and do amazing work on your commercial landscape may feel overwhelming.
We understand that. The last thing you want to do is research many businesses and then be dissatisfied with your decision or the results. You have people to answer to, and you don’t want to waste time or budget dollars choosing the wrong landscape service provider and then have to go through the process all over again -- all while the landscaping at your facility suffers.
As you compare the top commercial landscaping companies in Northeast Ohio, we hope you’ll consider Turfscape in your search. We started our business in 1988 with the goal of providing responsive commercial landscape services to the Northeast Ohio community. Our focus has always and will always be on commercial landscaping because we believe maintaining that core focus makes us better.
These differentiators are what set us apart from the competition.
Our Employee Tenure. Advancement from within is a major focus of our core employment philosophy. That means the people in our management positions have all worked their way up from field crew members. Most of our managers are also landscape industry certified with a certified landscape technician or a certified landscape professional designation, as well as licensed in pesticide applications.
We firmly believe that when we take care of our commercial landscaping company team members, they take better care of our customers.
Every morning before each day starts, we do a morning huddle, discussing best practices, seasonal changes and tips, and safety reminders. Our account managers and field supervisors are also out in the field all day checking on crews, critiquing and teaching service techniques.
Our Focus on Customer Communication. Communication is something facility managers appreciate and crave. You don’t want to have to guess what was done or what’s going on or if something will be done on your property. That’s what you are hiring a professional for.
At Turfscape, we appreciate consistent and regular communication, too. That’s why we guarantee same-day communication with our customers. This doesn't always mean we can solve your problem in 24 hours, but we will text, email, or call you back, depending on your preference, and let you know we’re aware of your question or issue and that we’re working on it.
Internally, we take this communication piece very seriously as well. In our process, work is not marked complete until it’s communicated to the client as complete. Until we reach out to you and let you know a problem was resolved or a project is considered finished, it is not filed as complete in our office. This is to ensure that communication is not forgotten or neglected. We refer to this process as “closing the communication loop.”
Doing your research on which landscape company is a good fit for your commercial landscape is important. Having trouble with this process? We’d love to help you and learn more about your facility. Get started today with a free consultation. We’ll review your options together so you can feel confident and make a great choice.
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