It is time for the March Madness to begin and whether you are an avid college basketball fan or you don’t know a Blue Devil from a Boilermaker, chances are you are going to be filling out a bracket and making your picks for the winners. But what kind of strategy are you using? Do you study the records, pore over the difficulty of the team’s schedule, analyze the star player stats, listen to the hours of prognostication on the TV and internet? Or do you pick by your favorite uniform color or the most endearing team nicknames. No one can tell you that your strategy won’t be effective and even having no strategy (random selection) is actually a strategy in and of itself and can sometimes produce winning results.
However, more often than not putting some thought into your choices and actually reasoning through your decisions will produce the greatest chance of being alive in your pool when the Final Four teams face off. The same holds true for the selection process for your landscaping and snow removal vendors. Selecting the right firm for your building or your community is a big decision that will have a direct impact on the value and marketability of your property to residents, potential buyers, customers, employees, visitors, etc. To ensure that your landscape maintenance/snow removal team has the right level of expertise, resources, and experience for your property, make sure you conduct a thorough review process. The more quality information you can consider, the more informed your choices will be when making these extremely important decisions.
Know who you are hiring and how long have they been in business? Don’t just look for longevity. Many mediocre companies have survived a long time by churning and burning through customers. Look for the ones that have long standing relationships with similar customers to tell you who is providing the best level of comprehensive, responsive service over the long run.
Know their professional affiliations and certifications. Members of established and respected trade organizations are more likely to promote honest and ethical business practices. They are also more inclined to be current in their licensing and certifications, and more aware of industry standards and technological advances to be able to handle all of your ancillary needs safely, legally, and cost effectively.
Bigger is not always better. National and even large regional companies can talk about their size and status, but how much “hands on” interaction are you going to have with one of them? How many layers of phone calls will it take to reach your contact, and how long will it take to get a call back? How important will your single contract be in the scheme of a multi-million, or now with recent mergers, billion-dollar company? A local company will more likely provide the personal contact most clients are looking for so ask for their references and find out if they answer their phones. Will they available to you when you need them? Is there a decision maker accessible to you when you have issues? Will they value your business or are you just another number on a spreadsheet?
And of course, cheaper is not always better either: Landscape maintenance and snow removal contracts are by and large service based and the chief part of that service is labor. A contractor’s hourly labor rates are a factor of how much they are they paying their people; and the overall cost of the service contract is based on much time those people will be spending on your property. Consequently, lower priced contracts usually mean lower priced labor (less experienced/less talented) spending less time servicing your property at each visit.
Be sure you have shared expectations. Some contractors will do whatever is in the best interest of your property while others will look to charge you for every “extra” item they can. Many contractors offer low prices up front then make back their money by flooding you with bills for extra work that they say was not included in the contract. Contracts are more than words on a piece of paper. They are an extension of a relationship that must be built on trust. If you do not trust that your contractor is treating you fairly and giving you the best value for your money, why would you be doing business with them?