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Why “Local” Matters in Commercial Landscaping (Part 2 of 2)

As of this writing, we have 33 Yellowstone Landscape branch locations across 8 states. That doesn’t make us anywhere near the biggest firm in the green industry, but it’s not exactly small either. So it might seem odd that a large company, with operations from North Carolina to Nevada, and a couple of dozen other points in between, would write an article about why “local” matters in commercial landscaping.

In Part 1 of this article, we looked at 3 very logical and very valid reasons that some clients believe choosing a local, owner-operator landscape company will yield a better result than a large, national company. But none of those 3 reasons got to the real “local” that matters in commercial landscaping.

When it comes to creating and caring for a commercial landscape, the only thing “local” that really matters is local expertise. 

Does it matter to you if the landscape firm has a great national reputation, but the local team that will care for your property doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing? Of course not.

The team you choose to create or care for your landscape has to be made up of Landscape Professionals who know exactly what plants will thrive in your environment, in each season. As conditions change, your landscaper’s team must diagnose and resolve any number of challenges that will present themselves through the course of the year.

Clients we work with across different areas of the country expect us to be experts in the needs of their properties’ landscapes, no matter how diverse those landscapes are. They expect that their property in Santa Fe, New Mexico will be maintained at the same quality standard as their property in Sarasota, Florida. Having been to both, I can tell you that those two landscapes could not look any more different, and the local expertise required to care for each couldn’t be any more specialized.

If the only “local” that matters is local expertise, then how can you, as a buyer of landscape services, know if the local team that will service your property is any good?

There are two pieces of advice that we give to each prospective client to help them feel confident in their selection of a landscape partner:

First, meet the local team that you would be working with. Have them come out to your property and walk it with you. Have them tell you what they would do to give you the landscape you want. If you want a second opinion about a problem area or issue you’ve been having in your landscape, ask them how they would handle it for you. There is no substitute for a face to face meeting. It’s the only way to really get a sense of what it would be like to work with them after the contract is signed. And anyone that won’t make the time to meet with you in person, or doesn't have time to walk your grounds with you, is probably not the right choice for a landscape partner.

Second, ask the landscape company to provide references in your local area. Then, go look at those properties. But be very specific about the references you ask for. Every commercial landscape company has at least one or two marquee properties that we plaster all over our websites and our sales brochures. But unless your property is like one of those large and recognizable ones, those pictures shouldn’t really impress you too much. When you ask for references, always make sure that the company gives you a list of properties that are similar in size and scale to yours. You want to find out how they take care of all their clients, not just the most famous ones. If they can’t (or won’t) give you references that look like the property you manage, then it should be a cause for concern, and may indicate they’re not the right landscape partner for you.

Does “local” matter in commercial landscaping? Yes. We can tell you that it absolutely does matter.

Nothing will ensure your satisfaction with your property’s landscape like the skill and expertise of the local Landscape Professionals that will be working at your property. So take the time to meet with the local teams from any landscape company that you're considering. Large and national, or small and local, it's the people that make the difference in your property's landscape, not the size of the company.

 

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Why “Local” Matters in Commercial Landscaping (Part 1 of 2)

Imagine you’re on a business trip. Right around the corner from your hotel, there’s a cool, neighborhood coffee shop. Across the street is a Starbuck’s. Which would you choose?

Coffee is one of those things that people can get very passionate, and very opinionated about. For every Starbuck’s addict, sitting in the same drive-thru lane every morning, there’s a diehard coffee drinker out there who absolutely refuses to set foot in a chain coffee shop.

In our experience, landscaping also brings out strong opinions and lots of passion. Don’t believe us? Try sitting in on any large HOA’s monthly meeting. We can guarantee you’ll hear someone mention the condition of the landscape.

And we totally get it.

That’s why we’re never surprised when prospective clients immediately tell us that they prefer to work with “local” landscape companies. But when we get the chance to ask a few follow up questions, we find out why “local” really matters to them. It’s usually because:

  1. They had a bad experience with a large, national landscape company in the past.
  2. They believe that being able to call the owner of the company directly will result in more responsive service.
  3. They want to feel like their money is staying in the local economy.

All three are valid and logical reasons to think that choosing a “local” provider is a better option than a larger company. Unfortunately, none of them get to the most critical reason that “local” really does matter. (For the real reason that “local” matters in commercial landscaping, stay tuned for the follow up in part two of this article.)

But for now, let’s explore the top three reasons that some clients believe only a “local” landscape firm can give them the kind of landscape care they expect.

#1 – They had a bad experience with a large, national company.

Here’s something it hurts to admit. Yes, sometimes employees of landscape companies make poor decisions. Sometimes salespeople in landscape companies lead clients to believe that they will get more than they pay for. Sometimes there are billing errors and irregularities that result in distrust. Sometimes people in leadership positions at landscape companies don’t resolve problems to the satisfaction of their customers.

We wish we could say that those things only happen in large, national landscape companies. But the truth is that all of these problems can happen in any company, regardless of their size, or the geographic location of their headquarters. Thankfully, that’s not the norm in the landscape industry. Most employees of landscape companies, large and small, just want to do what’s right, make their client's property look great, and make their client’s job a little easier.

#2 - They believe that being able to call the owner of the company directly will result in more responsive service.

We’ve been surveying our customers for more than a decade now, so we can say with some authority that responsiveness is the most important characteristic that clients value in a landscape service provider. No matter what the issue is, a responsive landscaper’s reply should be, “Don’t worry about it for another minute. We’ll take care of it right away.”

In our ultra-connected world, there’s simply no excuse for any request to go unanswered. Whether it be a phone call, a text, or an email - as a client, you deserve a landscape partner that picks up the phone and (more importantly) immediately begins working to resolve your issue. So, in times of need, is it more important to speak to someone that owns the company, or is it more important to speak to someone who’ll own your problem?

In larger landscape service firms, each property has a dedicated Account Manager that fills the role as the first responder to client issues. Behind the Account Manager is also a Branch Manager, a Business Development Manager, an Office Manager, and several specialty service managers (Irrigation, Spray Application, Tree Care, Landscape Designer). Not to mention district or regional management that can call in resources from other nearby branch locations if necessary.

Spreading the expertise and accountability across multiple people means that larger firms can deploy the right resources to diagnose and resolve issues much more quickly, especially in an emergency.

#3 - They want to feel like their money is staying in the local economy.

The “Shop Local” movement has extended far beyond boutiques and farmer’s markets. Consumers are more aware of where their money goes after they spend it than ever before. And that knowledge influences all kinds of purchases, even with B2B service businesses, like commercial landscaping companies.

Our industry association’s data estimates that 99% of the landscape companies in the US are owner-operators with less than $1 million in annual revenue. This means that the overwhelming majority of the $40 billion that will be spent on landscape services in our country this year is going back into a family run business.

While we can’t speak for those small businesses, we can tell you what happens to your money when you choose to partner with us. Labor represents about half of our cost of doing business, so approximately 50 cents of every dollar we earn goes straight back into the pockets of our employees. Those employees live in the areas where we serve. They spend their money on housing, groceries, and day care, just like everyone else in your local community. When we start new contracts, we hire more people from the local community, buy new equipment and supplies from local dealers, buy fuel from local gas stations, and buy new trucks from local auto dealerships.

Our local branch teams are fiercely proud of the areas where we serve because it's also where they live. They are career Landscape Professionals that work hard, raise families, and look for ways to give back through service projects and donations.

We know it probably feels like we’re trying to debunk some valid and logical reasons for clients to choose a “local” company, instead of us. Please understand that’s not our intent.

In fact, we agree that there is one very important “local” factor that should be a part of every client’s decision-making process. And we’ll explore that in the follow-up article, Why “Local” Matters in Commercial Landscaping (Part 2 of 2).

 

Image Credits:
Coffee Cup Photo via Tyler Nix on Unsplash
Starbucks Cup Photo via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Celebrating Your Trust in Us

In January, we gathered our Business Development staff together for our annual kickoff meeting in Houston, Texas.  We spent three days together, recapping our successes, talking through our challenges, learning how to better serve new clients, and enjoying each other’s company.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of talk about numbers at meetings like this, but when we get together as a sales team, the numbers we look at aren’t the numbers you might expect. The most important number for us isn’t our total dollars sold for the year.

The most important number to us is the number of new clients that signed on in the previous year. That’s how we measure success. From the smallest project to the largest, each one counts exactly the same to us.

We understand that when a prospective client reaches out, they’re starting their search for a new landscape contractor for a very specific reason. Maybe there was a service failure with their old landscaper. Maybe they want better communication. Whatever the reason, they start out a little skeptical. But after several discussions and negotiations, that client may decide that we are the best choice to meet their landscape needs, and they sign a contract with us.

And that’s something we don’t take lightly.

We realize that signing a contract with a landscape company is a big decision. For many clients, we’ll be one of their property’s largest expenses. Not to mention the impact their landscape has on the perception of their property’s value.

The number of new clients that join us each year is something to celebrate because each new client represents a tremendous amount of trust that has been placed in us. Each signature on a contract represents a property manager or owner putting their faith in our ability to do what we said we’d do.

So, when we get our Business Development team together to celebrate the growth they’ve made possible for our company, what we’re really celebrating are our clients. We celebrate the trust that each client has placed in us. And we recognize the awesome responsibility that comes with that trust.

 

If you’re a property manager or owner, thinking about starting your own search for a new landscape service partner, we’d love the opportunity to earn your trust. Start by scheduling a conversation with your local Yellowstone Landscape Pro. You can sign up here.

 

At this year’s celebration, we hosted a welcome and awards dinner at the historic Majestic Metro theatre in downtown Houston. It was a great event to start to the year, and our team had a blast. Thanks to all those who helped make the evening possible.

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Winter Plants for Your Commercial Property

Plants are an essential part of our lives. We might not realize it, but plants bring comfort, color, and vibrancy to otherwise dull places. During the winter, when trees are barren, your property’s landscape can look pretty gloomy and unappealing. Here are some beautiful winter plants suggested by commercial property landscape experts that are low maintenance and will definitely add life to the melancholy of the winter season.

 

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Winter Safety Issues in Your Landscape

For property managers, winter brings new safety concerns to your commercial landscape. It’s the responsibility of the property manager to ensure tenant and visitor safety and security throughout the year, including during the wintertime. And winter is when many of the most costly hazards happen; primarily due to slip and fall claims.

This is why property maintenance, upkeep, and landscaping are year-round jobs, and the duties and responsibilities of property managers aren’t just limited to warmer seasons.

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Protect Your Commercial Property’s Landscape This Winter

Some people think that once winter hits, landscaping companies shut down and wait for spring. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Protecting your commercial property’s landscape during the winter season is a big responsibility for your landscape contractor. While you may not see mow crews and pruning going on each week, there is still plenty to do.

If you have a landscape provider that doesn’t help you protect your landscape in the winter, then consider hiring a professional landscape company before the upcoming winter season arrives. Failing to care for your landscape through the winter will dramatically reduce the appearance and value of your property.

 

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Snow & Ice Services You Should Include In Your Commercial Landscaping Contract This Winter

Falling snow is one of nature’s most beautiful displays. Unfortunately, snow turns into a problem when it starts to pile up on your commercial property. When it covers driveways, parking lots, and walkways, it can bring your business activity to a standstill.

The timely management of ice and snow issues on your property is critical to the safety of your clients and help keeps the business operating properly.

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Environmental Benefits of EFI Technology for Commercial Landscape Maintenance

Yellowstone Landscape is committed to providing high quality landscapes for our clients. We also understand that we must provide our services with as little environmental impact as possible. One of the ways we reduce our environmental impact is through our continued investment in equipment powered by modern, commercial EFI engines.

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What is IPM and How Does it Benefit Your Commercial Landscape?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a process to manage pest problems, while reducing risks to people and the environment. IPM is used to eliminate all types of pests, in agriculture, urban, natural, and wildland areas. IPM is based on a strategy that aims for the long-term elimination of pests and their potential for landscape damage, through a variety of techniques such as habitat manipulation, biological control, planting of pest-resistant varieties, and use of a modification of cultural practices to secure your commercial landscape.

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Tips on Tree Root Care

A tree’s roots aren’t always underground. They can grow above ground, in open air, and even underwater. All they need to grow is an environment that supplies oxygen, water, warmth, and nutrients to it. They grow without predefined patterns, adapting to their surroundings as opportunities present.

Caring for tree roots is all about understanding the growth of the root and providing the necessary means for proper growth. If you see big roots sticking out of the ground, snaking or curling on the soil’s surface around a tree, sometimes it indicates other underlying issues. The roots of the tree normally grow just below ground, in the top 11 to 17 inches of soil. Their overall spread is much wider than most people realize, but they don’t show on the surface unless they’re forced to. The roots of the tree are primarily exposed in one of two cases:

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