5 Items You MUST Include In Your Commercial Landscape Maintenance Contract

Starting a new relationship—whether personal or in business—always involves a certain amount of risk. In our private lives, we’re on our own. But in the commercial landscape business, it’s standard to create a built-in risk containment device: the contract.

A good commercial landscape maintenance contract not only protects both parties, it can also be an invaluable communication tool to ensure that both you and your landscape contractor are—and remain—on the same page, and that you actually receive the service you want and expect.

commercial landscape maintenance contract

However, a contract is only as good as what you put in it. Here are a few things we highly suggest including in your bid request the next time you hire a commercial landscape maintenance company.

1. Exact Quantities

When we bid on a job, we always appreciate seeing quantities of materials listed.

It’s not because we can’t come up with them ourselves. We know how much pine straw per acre is appropriate for mulching newly seeded turf, for example. The problem is, our competitors may not. So, we might bid a certain job at 1,000 bales, and another company’s bid may come in at 750 bales. Now you’re comparing apples to oranges. And since one guy’s bale is different than another’s, it is best to specify square feet of bed to be mulched and at what thickness.

When it comes to writing up a contract, the more detail you can write into it the better. You’ll get a much more accurate proposal from your supplier the more details you include. And if you are bidding out a job, you’ll be dealing with much more consistent bids, which will make the process of supplier selection far quicker and easier for you.

2. Service Details

Instead of just saying “do my landscape,” think through exactly what results you need and want from your landscape provider, and include it in your commercial landscape maintenance contract. What services do you need (for example: mowing, tree trimming, flower bed renovation? How many times do you want the service to occur? Weekly? Monthly? 3 times per year? Think details: the more details you can provide, the easier it will be for you to compare and choose between providers. And the easier it will be for your landscape provider to understand and deliver the exact service you desire.


3. Vetting Requirements

Many of the bigger companies we work with include requirements for background checks, licenses and insurance as standards that landscape providers need to meet before they are even allowed to bid on a job. Some require education and experience of key personnel and financial strength of the company. Not every company does this, but we think it’s a very good idea, and this is why:

If you don’t require these things up front, things can degrade into a mess a few months into the relationship. You can end up in a situation where you get all sorts of bids from unqualified companies. Once the job is going hot and heavy, many of these companies fail to meet the timeframe or lack the financial strength to front materials and equipment needed. That puts you back at square one, having to go through the whole exhausting process of bidding the job out again. Much easier to just write these requirements into your contract from the get go.

4. References

It’s surprising how many companies don’t check the references of the entities they’re contracting with. We think that’s a bad mistake. How can you lose by including a reference request in your contract? Ask the landscape provider for a list of current properties they’re maintaining, and then follow through and call the references to verify that the company is providing reasonable service.  It doesn’t take long to make a few phone calls, and it can save you a lot of grief in avoiding sub-par contractors. Not to mention the time you’ll save by not having to go through the hiring process again after you hire a fly-by-night service that is gone in six months.

5. Conflict Resolution

No one goes into a business relationship expecting conflict to arise. But it does happen on occasion. Including a conflict resolution blueprint right in your contract can help reduce tension and provide a smooth way to end the situation in the event that a disagreement can’t be resolved. At a minimum, include a clause allowing either party to end the contract with 30 days’ written notice. If you like, you can also detail specific conflict resolution steps such as working with a mediator.

Landscape Maintenance Contract Red Flags

Finally, let’s take a look at a few things to look out for:

  • Refusal to give references. If a company is not willing to give you a list of the properties they maintain, that’s a red flag. Here at T.Lake, we will give you our entire book, 100% of the properties we do. Transparency rules.
  • Extremely low bids. If you get 3 bids and two are about the same but the other is half that, nine times out of ten you won’t get good quality work from the low bid. Or, perhaps they have substance-abuse or financial issues. Either way, it’s probably not a company worth your attention. In fact, some companies will automatically throw out the top and bottom 10% of bids, and make their selection from the middle of the field. That can be a good way to go.
  • Poor financials. Asking for P&L statements in your contract might be a bit over the top. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework. You can look up any  company’s financials online using their DUNS number, and then run a credit report to find out if they’re financially sound before doing business with them. It’s a small investment that could save you a lot of grief.

Need A Bid?

If you’re in need of commercial landscape maintenance, give us a call. We’d be happy to submit a bid. Or, if you need help deciding what services you need, we can help with that, too. Reach us at 478-750-7733 (Macon) or 478-272-3878 (our East Dublin office.) Or, fill out this short online contact form and we’ll get back to you soon!

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Topics: Commercial Landscape Maintenance