02/24/2005

Comparing Landscaping Services

Tips on how to choose a partner for landscaping services

 

Outsource? Out-Task? Or Both?

A study published by the Intl. Facility Management Association (IFMA), Houston, designated landscaping as one of the top 10 facility services contracted to outside vendors. While this study confirmed out-tasking of these services (i.e. hiring of individual, specialized vendors) was preferred over outsourcing (the hiring of full-service, single-source vendors), it can prove impractical for national entities.

 

Numerous full-service, single-source vendors do provide nationwide landscaping services. Thoughtful evaluation of both the national landscape providers, as well as the locally owned landscaping firms, is optimal.

A third option recently emerged, which involves a consortium of local landscaping entrepreneurs across the country who have joined together to provide a best-practice approach for those who do prefer the out-tasking but require a single source.

A high percentage of facilities professionals contract out landscape maintenance services. The landscape maintenance industry is a maturing industry, and there are many qualified companies from which to choose. Unfortunately, due to the relative ease of entry into the industry, there are quite a few unqualified companies out there as well. How can you make sure that you are dealing with a service provider that will do the job that you expect?

 

There are some obvious things that you are likely to do with all service providers, such as be certain that the contractor is licensed and insured. While landscape licensing requirements vary by state, most states require pest control licensing, some require irrigation licensing or certification, and some require contractors’ licenses.

 

Another good indicator of a contractor’s professionalism is their choice of trade associations. Numerous reputable companies belong to the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA). Select trade associations, such as ALCA, provide superior training and certification for companies and individual employees.

 

Increasingly, landscape professionals are earning certifications such as Certified Landscape Professional (CLP) or Certified Landscape Technician (CLT). Another positive gauge of qualification is the number of certified employees a contractor has assigned to your project.

When you’re not specific about a certain type of reference, the company is likely to give you contact information for their best clients. However, by specifying that you’d like to talk with clients who have properties similar in size and scope to yours (which the company has maintained for at least 2 years), you’re likely to get more useful information from the references.

 

There are some very important questions that need to be answered by a landscaping contractor during the proposal process. Their ability to clearly articulate the answers can be an important indicator of what kind of company they are and what kind of experience you may have as their customer:

  1. Who will be the person responsible for managing the contract?
  2. What is the staffing plan, and what is the tenure and experience of the people assigned to the job?
  3. What if you are not happy with the people assigned to your site?
  4. How will both on- and off-hour emergencies be handled?
  5. How will extra work be priced?
  6. What is the process for quality assurance on your project?
Since the proposal and sales process is, to a degree, an exercise in comparing promises, you have to be able to assess intangibles within the process. You get an indication of how the contractor conducts business by evaluating the contractor’s actions throughout the proposal process. How thorough is the contractor? Is the contractor asking the right questions? Are they listening to and including everything that you are asking about? Are they proactively looking at improvements that could be made to your property? Do they promptly return phone calls and show up for appointments on time?

Finally, it is critical to furnish detailed and consistent specifications to all companies submitting proposals. If you do not do this, it is really tricky to compare proposals on an “apples-to-apples” basis. Have contractors specify quantities of product being used for things like mulch. By doing so, you can often deduce why there are variances in their pricing. By asking for more detail, you can also get an indication of how well a contractor knows their business.

 

Bruce K. Wilson is director at Symbiot’s Landscaping Network (www.symbiot.biz), which is headquartered in Sandy, UT.

 

 


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Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

 


 
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