Business Smarts: Aligning Your Landscape Company with Property Managers’ Needs and Preferences - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Aligning Your Landscape Company with Property Managers’ Needs and Preferences

Photo: Level Green Landscaping

Property managers have plenty of commercial landscape companies to choose from, so how do you stand out?

It can be a hard market to break into, but it comes down to building strong relationships. Check out some of the ways to strengthen your relationship with property managers.

Property Manager Preferences

While communication is a priority for property managers, the majority prefer to have one point of contact when working with your company.

“Most property managers do not want to be inundated with calls from multiple people telling them redundant updates or heaven forbid, contradicting information,” says Clare Munie, national account manager with Munie Greencare Professionals, based in Caseyville, Illinois.

Munie adds that one point of contact is ideal, but providing a backup contact such as your foreman or account manager’s supervisor can provide a level of comfort to both parties to ensure any emergency will be handled.

Photo: Level Green Landscaping

The desire for property walkthroughs is more of a mixed bag depending on individual property managers or the type of property. Joe Chiellini, president and CEO of ASI Landscape Management, based in Tampa, Florida, says typically property managers of multifamily sites don’t have the time to break away and do walks. Meanwhile, those with HOAs or CDDs are more willing to walk a site, especially if it is scheduled ahead of time.

Munie says as trust is established, walkthroughs are less common, but some property managers have it as a part of a weekly or monthly routine.

“We encourage walkthroughs with our customers as there are often opportunities to elaborate on certain site issues and can bring up chances to expand the scope or enhance the grounds through an upsell,” Munie says.

Larry Leon, director of business development for Level Green Landscaping, based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, says they also encourage walkthroughs with their property manager clients.

“Many younger property managers may not have grown up with the same connection to the outdoors and nature that older generations of property managers did,” Leon says. “They spent more of their formative years online and engaging with computers. Thus, their interest level in learning about what we do is somewhat less.”

While property managers don’t want 10 proposals every week, Chiellini says they do want you to be proactive and bring warranted proposals like a tree limb hanging low or scraping the building. He says this is where walks come in handy as you can ask if they’d like a proposal for different elements as you see them.

Chiellini says they send out proactive emails every week where they explain what they’ll be doing on site. They also send property managers an email afterward, letting them know which issues they were able to take care of and which might be handled in the next few days.

“Proactive communication is absolutely essential in grounds maintenance,” Munie says. “Everyone has to answer to someone and if we aren’t doing our part in communicating the plan, there is a lot of unnecessary communication between our PMs and their customers and clients. Our role is to ensure they are equipped ahead of time.”

Your attention to detail is another way to stand out to property managers. Leon says while most clients simply want sites to be neat and clean with good curb appeal, it is up to landscape professionals to do the right things such as proper pruning practices. Chiellini adds that taking care of minute aspects of the landscape allows property managers to focus on other items on their agenda.

“Having a team who is trained that a small weed growing almost out of sight is still a weed that needs to be addressed is imperative to a company that wants to create raving fans,” Munie says. “An area property managers really rely on for attention to detail are items beyond the contract. The extra set of eyes. We maintain multiple housing communities with 1,000+ residents and having the extra set of eyes to catch work orders before they are turned in as resident complaints goes miles with our customers and often turns into upsell opportunities for us.”

Red Flags Property Managers Watch For

If you’re having trouble landing accounts with property managers, make sure you’re not waving any possible red flags.

Leon says some red flags property managers watch for include a lack of comparable references, higher pricing, not enough evidence that you have a system to hold yourself accountable for proactive communication, no innovative ideas, and no evidence that you are focused on converting to electric fleets and equipment.

Being new to the market in general or being too rigid with scheduling can also cause property managers to be reluctant to work with you. Chiellini advises sharing your safety program and your insurance MOD to highlight your operation standards.

“As a manager, if somebody can’t talk to you about their safety program or maybe cover a few items, or even maybe know their MOD right off the bat, you probably don’t want to do business with them,” Chiellini says.

Photo: ASI Landscape Management

Munie adds that beat-up equipment and a lack of uniforms are other red flags to property managers.

“If you don’t have respect for your brand, how are they to expect you to have respect for their brand?” Munie says. “It’s important to remember that everything you and your team members do as a contractor is a reflection of the properties you work on.”

You can address some concerns property managers may have. For instance, if they ask if everyone on your crew speaks English, you can answer this openly and honestly while addressing where their concern is coming from.

“I tell them, ‘Listen, I’m just like every other landscape company out there. I do have to hire a Hispanic workforce. They are the hardest working people we can find right now,’” Chiellini says. “I go, ‘Can I promise you that everyone on the truck speaks English? No. Can I promise you that your foreman, your production manager and your account manager all speak English? 100%. Is my foreman properly marked with ‘foreman’ across his safety vest? 100%.’”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.