Everyone was all smiles after our proposal presentation, and as we stood to shake hands, one HOA board member said she would be glad when a decision was made. “There are just so many things to consider in selecting a landscape company,” she sighed. “But then, this is a big deal to us. We want a company we can trust, not one where we have to look over their shoulders every time.”
I couldn’t agree more. Replacement costs caused by one skipped pruning, one careless fertilizer treatment or one unfocused crew member can drive your community association’s financial statement into the ground. So what should you look for when interviewing landscape maintenance companies? Here are 10 tips to get you off to a good start:
- Look at the company’s work by physically touring their properties. Do they look good on a consistent basis?
- Check the company’s references and call them. Ask how long they have used their services; how well the company communicates; how long does it normally take to have an issue resolved; and if they follow a set maintenance schedule.
- Verify that the company has a drug-free policy and performs detailed background checks on all their employees — random drug checks in particular.
- Are the company’s employees certified to be performing the specific function they have been employed to do (pest/disease control, fertilization application, arboriculture and horticultural services)? Are the certifications current?
- Ask to see a Certificate of Insurance for the company’s General Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurances. They should have $1 million in coverage.
- Will there be an English-speaking supervisor on your property at all times?
- What are the company’s warranties/guarantees for plant replacement, turf, irrigation parts and repairs?
- Does the company support its local community and charitable organizations?
- Finally, make sure all specifications used for the bid process are fully addressed by all companies.
- The happy ending to this story was that the company I work for — ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design — was selected not only for meeting all 10 criteria, but also for a reason that one board member so elegantly expressed: “We wanted our landscape partner to be trustworthy, competent, responsive and not be jerks to work with!”