Six tips to ensure your Association hires the right landscaping company

Recently, we posted a video on our YouTube channel
regarding best practices for pest control and fertilization programs. In this
blog, I would like to expand on that topic a bit but reviewing the process of
selecting a great landscaping contractor.
Landscaping is probably one of the biggest line items on your
Association budget. Oftentimes, board members are expected to know how to
manage the landscaping for their community, but are rarely given tools to do
so. Or, if you work with a property management company, you are one more step
removed from process.
For all board members, communication is one of the most
important pieces of the job.  Landscape contractors should be on site
regularly, available by phone, by email, text – whatever is easiest for the
customer. A great landscape contractor will be available to answer questions
and keep things as simple as possible. Clients should be able to enjoy the
fruits of the landscaper’s labor.
If you are evaluating your current landscaping company, or
soliciting a new one, here are six tips to ensure you hire a
company that will meet your needs for the long term.

Create a Thorough RFP (Request for Proposal)
While time-consuming, you need to understand all aspects of your Community’s
landscaping. It’s typically much more than just mowing. Either on your own or
with a prospective company, go through your grounds and systems in place in
order to make sure that any proposals you receive will cover all aspects of
your landscaping care. This will also ensure that all companies will be bidding
consistently. This can include trash removal, tree trimming, annuals, palm
trimming, bush trimming, irrigation, drainage and more, depending upon your
specific needs.
Ask for & Receive References
Ask for references for properties similar to your own. Call them or, even
better, go explore the properties to see their work first-hand. If a
prospective landscape company cannot supply similar references, they may be too
small for your needs.
Check Credentials
Professional landscaping companies will have credentials. In Florida, they will
be a part of the FNGLA, Florida Irrigation Society, Certified Arborists, and
others. You want a landscape company that is involved in these organizations,
experts in the business, and dedicated to training and certifying their employees.
It’s More Than Mowing!
While it may be tempting, from a cost perspective, to hire a landscape company
that primarily does mowing, take another look at that RFP you created and see
all the different aspects of your community that may need attention.
Maintenance is important, but you also want to be sure that your landscape
company has experts in areas of irrigation, design, and pest control, so if
something does come up – and it often does, they can handle it easily and
effectively. If your landscape company only handles mowing, you will find
yourself with additional time and money spent on projects beyond their
abilities.
A Point of Contact
Communication is key. You want someone who you can call who knows about your
property and is attentive to your needs. If there is an issue that needs to be
addressed, you want direct access to someone who can solve that problem – not a
voice mailbox where your concerns are left in limbo.
Are They Insured & Licensed?
This goes without saying. Ask for proof that your landscape company has the
proper insurance and is licensed. The last thing you want is for an incident to
affect one their employees or a resident and for your Association to be left
holding the bag. Ask if their employees are E-Verified and authorized to work
in the US.
Of course, all of the tips above are prior to actually
meeting with the perspective contractors in person. Once you have narrowed down
your choices, be sure to interview them to ensure that they are a good fit for
your board and community.
Managing your Association’s landscaping can seem daunting.
But, if you arm yourself with the proper information, have a plan, and know
what questions to ask, you put yourself in control of the situation. And having
control means you get the results you expect. You want to be proud of the
appearance of your community, and the right landscaping team will be your
partner in achieving an appearance that everyone will enjoy.