Six Things Every Property Manager Should Know About Lawn Maintenance

Lawn Maintenance is one of the most important seasonal contracts.

As the weather conditions improve, we can sense leasing season is about to begin.  Two items bring prospects to our leasing center.  They are our leasing skills, and the appearance of the community.  Our curb appeal is the first impressions we offer our prospects.

Our grounds; lawn maintenance is the foundation to our curb appeal.  Flowers, shrubs and exterior decorating can add to our appearance but the appearance of the lawn is key.

When the lawn maintenance services are provided by a contractor, communication is critical to achieve an attractive appearance.  The decision and awarding of the grounds contract will take considerable effort.  Here are a few tips to manage this important service.

  1.  Understand the proposal.

    The contractor will be selected based on the price of his services and the company reputation. The grounds contract generally includes mowing, blowing grass cuttings, edging and sometimes other services.

Lawn maintenance

Photo by Daniel Watson on Unsplash

Meet with each contractor to eliminate any confusion on the expectation of the work .  Early in my career, I learned the importance of a pre-bid meeting.  I managed a very large property.  Reviewing the bids for grounds, we had very competitive prices for mowing.  But one contractor stood out with a very economical price for edging. Several weeks into the contract, I noticed the property was not being edged. A call to the contractor provided an answer that he would do some edging every week.  In a month to six weeks, and certainly before the summer was over, the entire property would be edged-ONCE.  My decision based on the edging price didn’t take into consideration that the edging was completed once for the season.  Important lesson learned!

2.  Meet The Crew

Owners of companies are generally very professional, cordial and quick to agree to any detail requested during the bid process. Meeting the people who will perform the work establishes accountability.  You’re looking for agreement and understanding in the terms of the contract.  A verbal description of how the work will be performed and what you should expect in terms of a finished product.

3.  When Damage Occurs

One of the biggest problems with lawn maintenance involves the uses of string trimmers too close to buildings. The bottom rows of siding are filled with cuts and knicks. A costly repair;  this unsightly damage can be avoided with care and attention. Walking the property at the beginning of the season with photo documentation will establish a baseline for an inspection at the end of the season for possible repairs.  Occasionally a rock or other item is picked  up by the mower blades resulting in a broken window in a building or possibly a residents vehicle.  With appropriate documentation, you need to know how the vendor will resolve these problems.  Don’t forget to obtain verification of the vendors insurance.

4.  Weather Delays

Lawn maintenance

Photo by Nikolay Zakharov on Unsplash

Generally the contractor will place your property on a schedule. Mowing every Tuesday. But what happens when it rains on Tuesday? Do you get mowed on Wednesday? Do you wait until the next week? And if rains the next Tuesday again? During the “growing” season a week delay, or two can result in excessive amounts of clippings. Will the vendor clean this up? Is there a fee for this service?  It’s also important to be clear if the pricing for the contract is a per mow fee, or a flat fee for the month or the season.  In many climates, there are drought weeks where there is no reason to mow.  If you cancel a mow, will the billing reflect a week that you aren’t charged?  If you are able to cancel a mow saving the fee; how much notice is expected?

5.  Time for Service

Establish a time frame for starting and ending the use of power equipment of the property. It’s not possible to schedule a time when all residents are away from the property. But if you have a demographic with late night employees, is it possible to schedule start of work after 10 a.m.? After whatever craziness our residents experience in their workplace during the day, they generally don’t want to be greeted with the sounds of mowers, blowers and edgers at the end of the day.  Establishing a policy of no power equipment after 6 or 7 p.m.  Confirms that your residents aren’t frustrated listening to mowers and blowers until the sun goes down.

In addition to limiting service times around the resident profile, its also important that there is onsite staff available when a contractor is working at the community.  In the slight chance there is a problem, the contractor has a team member that can assist.

6.  Understanding the Size of the Company

Is this a one man business or are there multiple crews? If there’s a breakdown of equipment or transportation vehicles, will there be any delays in meeting the schedules?  Depending on the size of your property its important to check with references.  Both the caliber of work, but also the size of the properties.  Finding out three weeks into the season, that your grounds are “just a little too much” for his crew.  Could leave you scrambling to get a place on another schedule.

The grounds maintenance service is a large financial investment.  The property appearance, your curb appeal is the first impression.  Using these tips can help get the results you need to present an attractive property for your residents and your prospects.

Photo by Rémi Müller on Unsplash

 

Lori Hammond
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