I have come up with these 3 Landscape business categories of service based on my 27 years in the industry discussing the pros and cons of landscape maintenance, compare the three and see if your landscape maintenance company falls within any of these categories.
- First category is the startup companies, and there are many new small one man bands each month that are out mowing and blowing, putting bread on the table, nothing wrong with that but most of these companies will not be here this time next year. They have the capabilities to handle 8 to 12 clients and that is about it due to the many different scenarios that limit these small start ups from staying in business. Of course they do not carry industry licensing, liability insurance and often do not have their vehicles insured. Expect to pay the minimum amount per month for these companies and receive similar service.
- Second category are the companies that have managed to weather the tide of business in the first year or two. They start to learn the game of taxes, inflation, overhead, and insurance( although in my estimation only about 20% to 30% of these companies are up to date on their insurance and most are not licensed. Problem is these companies are usually running at a deficit most of the year for many reasons mostly due to lack of oversight (management). When these companies start to grow they find it very difficult to manage that growth including purchasing of new equipment, balancing payroll, invoicing and accounts receivables. What usually happens is that the owner is overwhelmed with the growth and size of the business and the quality of service ends up suffering as does the promise to deliver services on a specified day of the week (route) When this happens it is the first indication that the business is being stretched and will most likely suffer reputation damage that eventually leads to downsizing or collapse.
- The third category are companies that have a solid reputation built over many years of servicing clients with their main advertising emphasis being by word of mouth. These companies are solid in the community, are up to date on all licensing, insurance, bonding and do not have a negative report from disgruntled customers that follows them around on the internet. In this day and age you can inquire about any company by searching the internet, also a good place to start is the Landscape contractors licensing board of Oregon www.oregon.gov/LCB/contact.us.shtml
I have taken the time to make these comparisons of the landscape industry prefacing my discussion about what a lifetime warranty could be worth to a client who contracts with Westside Landscape to install and maintain their landscape project.
Cost of landscape maintenance to the client ( that’s you) is relatively the same for each of the categories mentioned, obviously a quality company that offers warranties and carries the proper licensing and insurance will cost more than the smaller operator with less overhead and operational costs, but not always, I have often received feedback from unhappy folks and experienced how much they paid for a very poor uninsured service.
Example the cost of weekly service from the startup company could run approximately $80.00 to $100.00 per month for a year around weekly full service maintenance program for an average size lot in a sub division. The cost for the same service category from the category three company will run about 20% to 30% more, a bargain if you consider the fact that they will most likely show up on time, with some consistency, when they say so and you don’t have to worry about the liability of an injured employee because they will have liability insurance.
Westside Landscape is one of a few companies in this category, the price of our service may or may not be a little more but as many of our clients have learned is well worth it, now let’s talk about the lifetime warranty.
I was just at a clients observing a crew replacing some arborvitae that had died, we were replacing them under the original installation warranty, front and back yard, sprinklers, grass, plants, lights etcetera. The problem is they choose not to use our company to maintain their landscape using a second category company with no insurance or licensing there for not eligible for the lifetime warranty. I noticed that the new sod lawn that we installed was nice and green but had been invaded by the noxious weed/grass called poa-annua. Ok you ask, meaning what?
Point is the client paid about $3,000 for the new sod lawn portion of the installation and in the next 2 growing seasons the lawn will be completely infested with the noxious grass due to the fact that the mowing company does not clean their mowers between lawns, spreading the seeds of this noxious weed to other lawns on the service route with no eradication program and no way to remove the infestation, only option is to start over because this noxious grass cannot be sprayed out once it has completely infiltrated the lawn.
Under our lifetime warranty when this grass begins to show in your new sod lawn we cut it out and remove it by hand and re-seed the spot with the same grass seed that was sowed in the grass at the sod farm. This is just one example there are many others from proper plant care, sprinkler systems, fertilizer treatments, water features you name it.
For example- if the client paid $3,000 for the new lawn, had hired us with the lifetime warranty at a cost of $30.00 per month more than the category one contractor or about $360.00 more per year to maintain their landscape they would not have this grass infestation problem saving them about $2,000 should they decide to replace the lawn within the first 3 to 5 years.
I understand that our service is not for everyone, but I learned a long time ago that it would be futile to try and landscape the entire earth so I focus on servicing clients that appreciate our service forming a niche among clients that are willing to pay a little more and value the fact that we are going to do what we say to protect their landscape investment at their personal property.