Words of Wilson features a rotating panel of consultants from Bruce Wilson & Company, a landscape consulting firm.
Is your service game on point? As a former commercial property manager, I’m often asked to share information that will give landscape service companies a competitive service advantage. After many years partnering with some of the best – and some of the worst – commercial landscape teams, here’s my advice for getting it right:
Like any relationship, communication is the key to success. Being open and honest with your property manager will make you feel more like a partner and less like a vendor. Ask great questions about your client’s needs and goals, learn as much as you can about the commercial real estate business, and build a service delivery model to wow your clients and boost your reputation as a strong and enduring partner. This is an important consideration for contract renewal.
Get to know the property management business.
Do your research on your client’s property portfolio, their management and front line teams, their capital improvement strategies, and their goals. Learn to speak your client’s language, including industry jargon. Are they working toward green build or LEED certification? Seeking sustainability upgrades for improved asset valuation? Struggling with weather events, water restrictions or other critical issues that impact your ability to deliver an enhanced return on their investment? Plan on attending BOMA, IREM and IFMA conferences and trade shows to engage with the property management industry.
Set clear expectations for team performance and delivery.
When bidding for a landscape contractor, many factors weigh into the decision-making. Mostly, however, it’s who’s going to be the easiest to work with, who’s the most reliable and who has the greatest reputation for going above and beyond in a manner all property managers appreciate. The most valuable considerations are:
- An account manager that is responsive and dedicated to the project, has a sense of pride and ownership in the property and listens to the property manager’s requests and suggestions.
- A team that can deliver on the vision and engage with the client effectively and openly.
- A landscape service company that exhibits passion and a willingness to take on new challenges.
- A process that includes frequent site walks with a focus on quality and detail, ensuring everyone is satisfied with the work being performed.
- An approach grounded in flexibility and proactivity, with recommendations for unforeseen items, in order to avoid unnecessary change orders and minimal additional costs.
- A landscape business that can be trusted, has a good reputation, and has good word of mouth. The best property managers want to work with the best services companies and often turn to other property managers for referrals. Having a solid referral network and positive reviews goes a long way to establish credibility.
There are some red flags a property manager is going to consider:
- High turnover. This is a property manager’s number one pet peeve. When the baton is passed to a series of account people or crew leaders, it can compromise continuity, derail a budding relationship and result in missed opportunities and dropped balls.
- Overpromising. Having someone who says “yes” to every suggestion is an area for concern. Property managers would rather have contractors challenge their assumptions than agree to everything and disappoint on delivery.
- Language barrier. Not being able to communicate with crew members can be frustrating for a property manager, when site walks are being performed and the account manager is not present to address areas of concern.
As a property manager, the way my property’s landscape looked and performed was something I took personally. Not because it was my job to oversee it, but because it was an extension of our building’s image and asset. A well-maintained and healthy landscape generated great pride when we drove into work every day.
As Albert Einstein once said, “the most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see”.