Commercial landscape contractors help maintain your commercial property’s professional appearance and even enhance its value. But starting a contract with a new vendor can be daunting. How can you be confident in your choice? Here are seven tips to help you get comfortable with a new commercial landscape contractor before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Ask for references.
References from other clients should be near the top of your checklist when you’re getting to know a potential commercial landscape contractor. If they’re hesitant to provide references, you can safely take it as a red flag to not proceed further. Companies that do quality work know their customers will back them up.
2. Request work samples.
A picture really can be worth a thousand words when it comes to commercial landscape work samples. Does the prospective new commercial landscape contractor have a portfolio with photos of their landscaping work? Seeing examples can help you better understand their style and determine if it’s a match for your vision for your commercial property.
3. Ask about their mission and values.
The more you can learn about any business partner, the better. So, finding out what drives your commercial landscape contractor’s business and what they value can offer a glimpse into what you can expect in your working relationship. And the good news is, most will be more than happy to tell you all about what makes their team great.
4. Delve into the details of their service model.
It’s also important to understand how your commercial landscape contractor will provide their services—when, how often and by whom. Are they self-performing, do they subcontract their services or do they use a hybrid model? Understanding their service model is a good way to get more comfortable with the company so you can build a strong and enduring working relationship.
5. Establish a comprehensive scope of work.
A thorough scope of work (SOW) is key in finding a partner that both understands and can fulfill your requirements. Clearly establishing your expectations up front ensures that the vendor provides a proposal that addresses all of the required aspects and provides a framework for the overall work product once an agreement has been executed. One challenge with determining the scope is that it may not be accurate based on past performance of prior vendors or horticultural practices in varying geographies, which could lead to concerns and additional spend in the long run.
So, it’s a good idea to allow for a Q&A during the vendor selection process. This helps ensure the potential vendor has a thorough understanding of your requests and expectations and can verify anything that seems unusual or out of the ordinary—while giving you the satisfaction that the commercial landscape contractor understands your work expectations.
Plus, it’s important to know they really understand what you’re looking for. So, don’t be afraid to quiz them once you’ve covered the other essentials on your list. And don’t accept “yes” as an answer. Ask them to summarize and reiterate the vision and specs you’ve shared to ensure you’re both on the same page.
6. Consider a trial arrangement.
If you’re initially hesitant to go all-in with a commercial landscape contractor—for whatever reason—remember that starting a new relationship doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Consider offering a portion of your contract to the new vendor as a trial and see if they perform to your specifications. For example, give one geographic region to the new vendor, and if all goes well, you can always add more regions and properties.
7. Get comfortable with the technology component.
Whether you’re managing 10 properties or 100, a well-designed technology platform can be your friend, allowing you to keep tabs on all of your properties and jobs. If you have a platform you use, will it seamlessly integrate with the vendor’s system? If they have their own project management platform, what kind of training will you need to use it effectively? What does their system do? Can you see photos and visualize the QC process? Can you make sure the contracted landscaping maintenance jobs are happening on schedule as promised? How user-friendly is it? Are they using an out-of-the-box solution or a platform that’s designed specifically for this use? Ask your questions, and then, be sure to request a demo if it makes you more comfortable.
Download our seven-step checklist to help you find the right commercial landscape contractor for your properties.
If you’re looking for a new commercial landscape contractor this season, consider MCS. With boots on the ground via regional service centers and an expansive network of service partners across the U.S., we can work with you to effectively meet all of your commercial landscaping needs. Whether you have a few properties in one market or hundreds of locations across the country, MCS has your commercial landscaping needs covered. Learn more about all of our exterior services or request a landscaping quote today by contacting Tom Snyder or Dan Riddle.