HOA Landscape Maintenance - Choosing the Right Lawn Service Company
Choosing the company for your HOA landscape maintenance can mean the difference between happy homeowners and a lynch mob showing up at the monthly meetings. Anyone who has ever been on an HOA board or attended meetings for their community has seen it: The homeowner complaining about the dead tree at the entrance. The do-it-yourself’r who suggests the exotic plants that they use for their own yard.The fixed-income crowd questioning the cost of every bid that is presented. The fact of the matter is that selecting the right HOA landscape maintenance vendor can not only satisfy all of these people, but they can save the community money in the long run. In addition, a successfully maintained HOA landscape will help increase property values of the homes and will draw higher numbers of potential buyers to the community. That is a benefit that cannot be overlooked in this extremely difficult real estate market. So how do you choose the right HOA landscape vendor? This process can be challenging due to the vast number of companies willing to maintain your HOA landscape and the recent economic troubles have actually increased those numbers. You don’t have to be an expert in HOA landscape maintenance or an avid do-it-yourself’r to find the right company. Whether you are a resident or a Board member, a little education and a healthy dose of common sense will bring the best company right to the front of the line.
It’s all about the money…Or is it?
The Board has decided that it’s time to select a new vendor for their HOA landscape maintenance. There is a meeting and one lucky person gets the job of obtaining 3 competing HOA landscape maintenance bids. The bids come back, the Board selects the cheapest one and everyone is happy. Not so fast. This mistake is repeated by communities everywhere and it may have even been the process used to select the HOA landscape maintenance vendor that you are currently trying to replace. With dwindling HOA budgets caused by foreclosures and non-paying residents, this method is completely understandable. However, it is important to understand that the professional landscape industry is extremely competitive and it is possible to get what your community needs at a price they can afford.
It’s not the size that counts…
Actually, it does when considering companies for your HOA landscape maintenance. It may not be what you are thinking though. Although there are exceptions, a company’s size will have a tremendous impact on the services available, quality of those services and the customer relationship that you will experience. An HOA landscape has a unique set of needs. Unless there is an active HOA Landscape Committee, the Board is relying on the maintenance vendor to identify issues. For this reason, finding a full service vendor can be a real benefit. The crews are typically trained to identify and report issues beyond basic maintenance such as irrigation deficiencies, pest infestations or fertilization needs. A maintenance-only vendor may overlook these areas as their responsibility starts and stops with the maintenance. Avoid small “truck & trailer” vendors for your HOA landscape and focus on medium to large companies that can offer full service and comprehensive HOA landscape management.
Wine tastes on a beer budget
Getting the lowest price possible for HOA landscape maintenance should always be a top priority. Budgets are tight and the list of community needs are long. However, there is a big difference between cheap and getting good quality at an affordable price. Choosing the cheapest bid can have a devastating effect on the community and their long term budgets if the quality of service is poor. Plant material and turf areas in an HOA landscape require proper maintenance, irrigation, pest control and fertilization to grow and mature properly. When HOA landscape maintenance is done correctly, the plant material will thrive. If done incorrectly, it will suffer and possibly die resulting in expensive re landscaping costs. In the long run, how much money was really saved? To determine the quality of the vendor, do your homework and ask a few questions. Do they have any references? Will they send the same crew each month or will it change periodically? This is important to ensure a consistent level of service. How are service concerns handled and how quickly are they addressed? Do they have experience with HOA landscape maintenance? These are just some of the concerns that should be addressed when selecting the right vendor for your community.
Make the recommendation
Once you’ve narrowed down the options for your HOA landscape maintenance, consider the customer service level that is needed. Are you comfortable dealing with a sales person or do you prefer someone more involved in the day-to-day activities? Picking a company that is knowledgeable and willing spend the time to work with you on the process will help achieve your goals and will be a real asset in the success of your HOA landscape. One final thought. The best thing that can happen for your community is to select the most qualified vendor. Deciding against that vendor because they are unaffordable could be a mistake in the long run. The landscape industry is very competitive and most vendors are willing to work with your budgets in many case. Don’t be afraid to be up front and ask for the price you need. The long-term success of your HOA landscape and your community depends on it!