To the uninitiated, landscape maintenance doesn’t seem like rocket science: run a mower over the grass each week, trim the bushes, keep everything watered, and sprinkle a few chemicals over the grass every once in a while. Simple, right? So why pay a professional commercial landscape contractor when you can do it cost-effectively in-house?
Or can you?
If you’ve been maintaining your own commercial landscape for any length of time, you may already have begun to think of your landscape maintenance duties as more akin to an assignment from NASA than they are to raking your backyard. Here are a few things maintaining a commercial landscape has in common with rocket science:
- Equipment acquisition and maintenance. You don’t send a man into space on a shoestring. While your commercial landscape is a far cry from Mars (at least we hope it is), maintaining it well requires proper equipment capable of standing up to commercial use. Such equipment is not only costly, but it must be stored and maintained at your expense. It’s also important to consider the equipment purchase process itself. The wrong equipment choices can bust a hole in your budget pretty quickly, and/or compromise safety and efficiency. Do you know what equipment you need? Is your budget realistic? How qualified are you or your team members to select appropriate equipment for your needs?
- Fuel and chemical acquisition. Did you know that NASA recently experimented with using chicken fat for jet fuel? (It’s reportedly cleaner burning.) Successful aviation engineers stay on the cutting edge of science in order to do their job as effectively and efficiently as possible. So do successful landscape managers. On the chemical side, knowing what products are most appropriate for weed and insect control and proper fertilization is nearly a full time job in itself. Poor choices in this area can cost big down the road, and since the industry is constantly changing, what you knew last year may no longer apply. Even fuel acquisition, while it requires less specialized knowledge, still takes up valuable time. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost of purchasing and storing all these substances.
- Inventory control. The International Space Station utilizes all sorts of devices, from cargo bags to radio technology, to keep items from floating away. What do you do to stay on top of loss control? While we don’t have to deal with zero G down here on Earth, employee theft is a very real phenomenon: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75% of employees will have stolen from their employer at least once during their working life. Many of these thefts include physical items and materials—like fuel and small equipment. Whether or not they are ever discovered, these incidents create budget leaks that can and do affect the bottom line.
- Safety Compliance. When a rocket takes off, it exits the atmosphere in a matter of minutes. But it takes hours or even days to prepare for the event: the entire project must comply with any number of safety checks and regulations before it is allowed to launch. To a lesser but still significant extent, the same is true of commercial landscape maintenance. OSHA is renowned for inspections and penalties, but you may be subject to regulations and requirements from other agencies and/or your insurance company as well. Does your equipment have the proper safety and air locks? Is everything well maintained? Are you providing proper training for your employees, and who is responsible for managing them to ensure compliance.
- Materials Compliance. Did you know that NASA facilities are regulated by the EPA and other agencies for environmental compliance? So are we. Every state has rules for handling pesticides, as does EPA. Compliance with state and federal regulations for handling chemicals and fuel is a must. To apply many common landscaping chemicals legally, one must have a commercial chemical applicator’s license in addition to maintaining MSDS’s and application logs. The State of Georgia inspects regularly, and will expect you to have to have the proper licenses as well as having proper storage, handling and disposal procedures in place. Failing to do so results in penalties.
It All Boils Down To Efficiency
You don’t shoot something as massive as a spacecraft out of the atmosphere without being a master of efficiency. That means focusing on the core reason for the mission, and shaving away any item or project that doesn’t truly support that goal.
What is the core goal of your company? How efficient are your people when they pursue that goal? How efficient are they when they perform landscaping tasks? Does your landscape team have a manhour budget, proper industry training, an account manager to ensure that their tasks are completed efficiently and well?
Could Hiring A Commercial Landscape Maintenance Company Actually Be A Profitable Move?
The bottom line in management nearly always comes down to the bottom line. What is your ROI? Does your in-house landscaping really save enough to be truly profitable?
If the answer is yes, more power to you. But If after crunching the numbers you find that you are simply paying good people good money to waste a lot of time, give us a call. You can reach our Macon office at 478-750-7733, or call 478-272-3878 to speak with our East Dublin people. Or, just contact us here online.
I’ve seen so many cases where inefficient landscaping efforts simply leak away any potential profit from doing it in-house. When you hire us you can forget about the chemicals, the equipment choices and the compliance, and just focus on your core competency that generates revenue for your business. And that, my friend, is what I call rocket science.