Do you ever feel like your landscaper might be saving their best work for someone else?
You’ve seen all the beautiful pictures on their website, and you wonder why your landscape doesn’t quite look like the photos you’ve seen online.
If you’re pleased with the service you’re getting now, but you just want to be sure your landscaper is doing the best work they can, here are 3 tips to help you push your landscape service partner just a little harder.
1. Learn What You Like
For some reason when it comes to landscaping, there are a lot of clients who don’t really know what they want to see in their landscape. They know what they don’t like, which is helpful, but they can’t point to what they want to see improved.
We get it. Not everyone has a green thumb. But you don’t need to be a Master Gardener or have a degree in Horticulture to appreciate a nice looking landscape.
Spend some time driving around to other properties like yours and look at their landscaped spaces. If you find a tree or a flower you like, take out your iPhone and snap a picture, and then send the pictures to your landscaper.
Here’s a helpful way to think about working with your commercial landscaper:
Think of your landscaper like you’d think of your favorite hairdresser or barber. If you wanted to try out a new look, you’d show them a picture of the style you want and get their opinion. They may suggest some slight changes (or try to talk you out of it entirely), but if they know what you’re going for, they can help you get the look you want.
Once you have a style that you’re happy with, your future visits become much easier. You can say, “Give me the usual” and you both know exactly what the end result should look like.
2. Spend Some Time with Them
These days everyone is busy. That’s especially true if you’re in property management. You’ve got a million things going on and landscaping is probably not at the top of your list.
In fact, if your landscaper is doing their job, landscaping shouldn’t even be near the top of your list.
But, here’s what your landscaper needs from you. Pick one day a month and put them on your calendar. Depending on the size of your property it could be as little as a half hour, or it could take up a whole day. Whatever the right amount of time is, just block it off on your calendar and set it as a monthly recurrence.
What should you do in that block of time you set aside for your landscaper?
Ask them to tell you what they’ve been doing. If you’re onsite or you can meet them at the property that’s even better, because then they can show you what they’ve been doing. Ask them to point out any areas of concern. Have them show you where previous problem areas have been addressed.
Consider that for most properties landscape maintenance represents a significant financial investment. For some communities and commercial properties, it can be more than half of the entire annual maintenance budget. Doesn’t something you spend so much money on deserve a little calendar time, too?
By calendaring time with your landscaper each month, you’ll stay up to date on what’s going well and what needs to improve. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting for your money and you’ll be able to tell your clients and owners about how you’re making the most of their investment.
3. Make Everything Related to the Landscape Their Problem
You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. They’re my landscaper. Of course it’s their problem.”
Here’s what I mean by make everything their problem.
Most commercial landscape companies offer services that go beyond basic maintenance – mowing, trimming, edging, weeding, blowing. Many can also offer pest and disease treatments, fertilization, tree care services, irrigation system management, landscape design and installation, etc. If you’re not using all the services that your commercial landscaper offers, you may be keeping them from doing their best work.
Many times the difference between the showcase properties that you see featured on a company’s website and yours are the services being performed beyond just the basic maintenance. Specialty services make all the difference between a property that stands out, and one that just looks “nice”.
When a commercial landscape company is responsible for everything related to the landscape, there’s simply no excuse not to make it look terrific. If we installed the landscape materials, control the irrigation, apply pest and disease prevention treatments, and take care of the regular maintenance services, it had better be a showcase property or we’re doing something wrong.
An additional benefit for property managers, when you have one vendor that’s accountable for all things landscaping, it eliminates finger pointing if problems arise. It makes your job much easier, because you’ll never have to referee arguments about why there was a problem in the first place. All you have to do is make one call and tell your landscaper to fix the issue. It’s their responsibility. End of story.
Once you’ve talked with your commercial landscaper about what you like, you’ve committed to spending time with them each month, and you’ve given them responsibility for all areas of your landscape, you should expect to see a better result than you have today.
In most cases, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that open communication and built-in accountability checks go a long way toward getting the best work your commercial landscaper can offer.