5 Questions For Awe-Inspiring 1st Impressions
When you serve on the board of directors for a Home Owners Association (HOA), community landscaping is a vital element of the all-important first impression each guest receives from your community. And in Southern California, landscape maintenance is not only one of the most important items to a community, but it also can be the largest line item in an HOA budget. For these reasons alone, it is imperative that the service you receive from your current or potential landscape maintenance firm is the best it can be.
How can an HOA be sure?
With more than a quarter century of service and experience and with a growing HOA portfolio of more than 200 acres in some of Southern California’s finest communities, Urban Landscape has developed a short list of five questions your HOA can use when interviewing a landscape maintenance service provider about your current or potential property care. We know there are a host of choices in the landscape maintenance field, and we want to assist you in making the right choice for your community.
1. Is the landscape maintenance firm based locally?
Many prominent area landscape management companies are merely operating units of larger regional or national contracting firms. Although large firms offer what appears to be the most cost effective solution, by placing as many bodies on the job as possible, it may end up costing the community in both quality of service and hard dollars. The type of labor used by these operators is primarily minimum wage, and often lacks the training, expertise and motivation to deliver quality service on an ongoing basis. Large-scale operations also lack quality management oversight and service delivery processes that ensure your HOA community proactive landscape management. Financially, these large providers may appear to offer the most cost effective maintenance contract, but they make up the difference over time by invoicing for costs incurred in irrigation, plant replacements and unexpected maintenance issues. All costs then are passed along to your HOA.
2. Are the firm’s owners committed and involved?
Do the owners or executive team members of your landscape maintenance firm ever visit or walk your property? By partnering with a local firm, your community benefits from the involvement of ownership, management and field employees on every level. If the owner is in close contact with your community, you can rest assured that not only will oversight be at a maximum, but that maintaining a high quality of service will be the top priority.
3. Is the firm’s care proactive and preventative, or reactive?
The right landscape maintenance firm can identify potential issues before they become problematic cost drivers for the community, and then implement solutions in a timely manner. Areas such as irrigation management, erosion and fire prevention are just a few of the ways that trained field personnel help your community protect and preserve your grounds from costly physical and financial damage. For instance, proper irrigation management minimizes water usage, avoids slope erosion and maximizes plant life while reducing plant replacement. How well does your current firm understand your HOA property?
4. Are plant choices unique?
Remember that vital first impression. Your community should stand out and not look like every other community in the county. Does your maintenance firm use generic plant material over and over again for each of its clients, or does it tailor your landscaping to match the aesthetics of each community? Look for a firm with a strong design and construction background, one trained to use unique foliage that enhances a property through the use of color, drought tolerant plants and hybrids.
5. Is the contract bid all-inclusive?
Don’t assume anything. Ask exactly what services will be included in a landscape maintenance firm’s HOA contract bid. The best firms demonstrate a commitment to providing the most comprehensive service to your community by offering all-inclusive contract bids that cover irrigation and trees as a part of the general maintenance contract.
In addition to these questions, here are others to consider:
• What is your level of satisfaction with your current service provider?
• Are you receiving the kind of service you should be?
• Is your provider responsive to your community’s needs in a timely manner?
• Does your provider have a high retention rate with field personnel who are well trained and managed?
• Are your costs being managed consistently? Are you frequently receiving invoices for additional or unplanned costs?
• Does the maintenance enhance your community or simply maintain it?
Urban Landscape hopes these questions will greatly assist you in your community’s search for the right landscape maintenance firm, and that you will consider including Urban Landscape in your community’s next bidding process.
By Garett McCorkle