Landscapes + Hardscapes Contract Talk An honest look at the ‘price gap’ between commercial landscape maintenance contracts By Jerry Schill Schill Grounds Management ave you ever compared two landscape maintenance proposals and wondered, “Are they talking about the same property?” As a property manager, you are responsible for making sure you pay a fair price for quality landscape maintenance. The challenge is, with such a range in price among landscape companies’ services, how do you know what’s actually fair? H Set expectations No two properties are the same, and you have different goals, budgets and stakeholders to serve. So, talk openly about expectations for landscape main-tenance before the proposal process begins. Be sure your Request for Proposal (RFP) is updated to reflect your needs. Be clear about the number of visits you expect and what services you want. What happens when you don’t clearly communicate expectations before enter-ing into a landscape service agreement? A contract will not fully meet your needs. The price from one vendor might be much lower priced (because of fewer ser-vices, less frequency). Meanwhile, the higher-priced vendor is quoting on the services you need. tive landscape maintenance companies, be sure to compare contracts apples-to-apples. Here are three service variables that can drive up the price of landscape services, or reduce the contract price. Scope of services The contract should include the size of your property and list of services required to maintain it. Provide a landscape map and mark service areas. Frequency of service This addresses the actual number of visits that will be provided. Keep in mind, Ohio’s landscape maintenance season is typically 38 to 40 weeks long. A lawn will not require mowing every week. But you can bet that there will be a significant price different between a contract that includes 28 visits vs. one with 32 visits. Pay attention to this number – it’s often the reason for the Price Gap among service contracts. Safety and integrity You can’t put a price on safety. When companies cut prices down to compete, they could be sacrificing important in-house programs that benefit you, the property manager. Find out about your contractor’s safety record, and ask for proof. As for integrity, we often find that companies will underbid services to win a contract, and then they’ll increase the price later on. So, find out about future Properties | March 2017 Variables that impact pricing Now that you’ve communicated your expectations and needs with prospec-68 Photos courtesy of Schill Grounds Management There’s a lot that goes into the number at the bottom of a commercial landscape contract. That includes: services rendered and frequency of visits; the size and scope of your property; and enhancements that go beyond maintenance tasks. The reality is, there’s a significant price gap between landscape companies’ proposals, and there’s good reason why. By addressing this price gap head-on, you can enter into an agreement with a full understanding of what services are included, service fre-quency and expectations for quality. Before you enter into an agreement with a landscaper – or any service pro-vider – consider these helpful tips for understanding how a contract’s price is actually built.