How I Do It: The Benefits of Offering Portering Services - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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How I Do It: The Benefits of Offering Portering Services

Photo: Level Green Landscaping

If commercial landscape maintenance is your bread and butter, you know that your clients count on you to keep their property looking sharp at all times. One possible add-on service line you can offer your clients is portering services.

Portering services ensure that a client’s property is clean and presentable. This can cover picking up stray debris, changing out trash bags or emptying dog waste stations at an HOA.   

Level Green Landscaping, based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, started offering their portering services in response to client requests.

“Whether existing clients inquired with account managers about adding the service to their agreements or new maintenance RFPs specified the need, we recognized the demand for landscapers to provide this service in our market and felt compelled to respond,” says Marvin Balsoma, branch manager of Level Green Landscaping’s Baltimore location.

Balsoma says they have been offering the service for over a decade and their offerings expanded after onboarding a large client who requested the service at their site. He says HOAs have also driven demand as dog stations have become a standard amenity on properties.

Benefits of Portering Services

In the battle to stand out from other landscape maintenance companies, having portering services as one of your offerings can be attractive to property managers who want one point of contact caring for their sites.

Portering provides a convenient additional revenue stream for your business while offering a comprehensive solution for your customers, keeping them within your network and reducing the need to engage with other vendors,” Balsoma says.

Providing portering services also gives your team greater control over the overall appearance of the site.

“It also enhances quality assurance by providing another set of eyes on the property during the week, allowing us to quickly identify, communicate, and resolve any issues that arise,” Balsoma says.

Selling Portering

Balsoma says approximately 10 percent of their customer base uses their portering services.

Photo: Level Green Landscaping

He says their profit margin is slightly higher than their average for landscape maintenance services but lower than their average for snow management and enhancement services.

Level Green doesn’t have any standalone portering contracts, and Balsoma says they’re not opposed to having standalone portering jobs, but their main focus is still landscape maintenance.

“We view portering as an extension of our commitment to ensuring our clients’ landscaping and outdoor areas look top-notch, rather than as a separate, independent service,” he says.

He says they have developed targeted marketing materials to educate their customers on the benefits and practicalities of portering. Also, Level Green’s business developers now introduce this service early in discussions with prospective clients to explore if it’s a valuable addition they can offer.

Inside Portering Operations

The portering work itself is fairly straightforward: An employee will pick up trash around a property and/or empty pet stations throughout the site. Balsoma says they have a single person handling the portering on-site for their properties.

“It’s crucial to have a map of the property so your employees understand the boundaries, especially when servicing pet stations to ensure comprehensive coverage,” Balsoma says.

He also says it’s essential to understand the scope of the contract and communicate that to your employees.

“Some contracts may include hauling off bulk trash or waste, while others are solely for smaller debris, with large haul-offs billed separately,” Balsoma says.

As far as necessary equipment, Balsoma says you’ll need a small truck, trash grabbers and some type of people mover for larger properties.

“Some properties are quite large, so this person might be on-site all day and may need a mower or other small vehicle to move around the property efficiently,” he says.

Balsoma says the challenge is if you only have a few contracts that don’t justify having a full-time employee and truck for the service.

“You’ll need to figure out how to integrate it effectively into your schedule,” Balsoma says. “Additionally, portering requires work in all weather conditions, on holidays, and weekdays, even when our regular crews might not be working.”  

For their larger properties, Level Green will deploy their portering crew on specific days different from their maintenance visits. On smaller jobs, crews will handle portering while they are on site.

“It’s an efficient strategy to boost revenue with minimal overhead,” Balsoma says. “This approach addresses a growing demand from our clients for these services, which should enhance overall customer satisfaction.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.