If you need your commercial property lawn cut and, should you choose a local vendor or would you prefer a nationally franchised chain? Look at what property managers discusses in a LinkedIn discussion group.
The answer depends on your needs. Do you want a premium menu ? Are you looking for only grass to be cut or someone who understands: Pre-emerging, fertilization, broad-leaf weed control, pest control, disease control, overseeding, topdressing, integrated pest management, etc. Ask your bidders to prepare a chart for the entire season. Have the months across the top, operations down the side and in the chart, when they will do these operations and the frequencies. They can even spell out the man hours and costs for each operation.
When you are happy with the menu and it meets your budget dollars you then can check into their references. Look at their equipment. If it is beat up, there’s a clue. Do they have an in-house mechanic ? Do they have specialized departments, tree care, chemical applicators, etc. What licenses do they have ?
Make sure that they know that their contract will terminate if they use equipments and tools that are inadequate for the job or if the equipment is not maintained such as keeping cutting blades and shears sharp. If your vendor wants to keep their mowing schedule at all costs, even in inclement, this not only affects the turf itself but creates ruts which late need to be repaired.
Hiring the biggest may not always be the best for your needs. Ask for 15-20 accounts that they have served for 3-5 years (this will show what their long-term record is) and then pick out 5 accounts randomly that reflect a similarity to your size and needs. You can then see what they look like in a running and operating mode. Compare your needs to the services provided. Keep in mind that you may be talking to 15-25 reference accounts, so this will take time. If your needs are for a smaller facility, then you may want to scale back the number of references to 2-3, but still request 15-25.
It is important to pick a company that believes in quality over quantity, and they have a team (not just “sales” force) culture that understands a properties needs. It needs to be managed. Not just mowed.