Landscaping is probably one of the biggest line items on your HOA budget. Oftentimes, board members are expected to know how to manage the landscaping for their HOA, but rarely given tools to do so. Or, if you work with a property management company, you are one more step removed from process.
For us, communication is one of the most important pieces of our job. We make an effort to be on site regularly, available by phone, by email, text – whatever is easiest for the customer. We make ourselves available to answer questions and keep things as simple as possible. Customers should be able to enjoy the fruits of our 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
While time-consuming, you need to understand all aspects of your HOA’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 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.
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 Maintenance
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 HOA to be left holding the bag. Ask if their employees are E-Verified and authorized to work in the US.
Managing your HOA’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 your HOA’s appearance, and the right landscaping team will be your partner in achieving an appearance that everyone will enjoy.
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