Home Owner's Associations play a huge role in maintaining the livability of communities large and small. The board of an HOA bears a heavy burden of responsibility- managing the assets of an entire community. Being on the HOA board is many times a thankless job. From my experience, it is not the type-A personalities, who just love being in charge, that end up in these unpaid leadership roles. No, it's usually people who care about community, have some time available, and can't say no that get to be on a HOA board.
Many boards hold a key meeting in December. They will be deciding on a budget for the next year. It's time to consider what to spend money on and who to spend it with. One of the key contractor's that many HOA's use is a local landscape professional. In fact, maintaining common areas can be the largest single expense for many communities!
What can help a Home Owners's Association Board to select and hire an excellent landscaper? All the usual advice about licenses, insurance, references, etc apply. Here are three tips that go beyond the obvious to help you choose a great landscaper for your community!
How To Choose A Great Landscaper For Your Community:
1- Hire A "Full Service" Landscape Firm
A "full service" landscaper is a professional who can handle most, if not all, the tasks associated with your landscape. Why have an irrigation guy, a water feature company, a landscaper to do improvements, and a crew to mow lawns? Hire one company that can do ALL of these. Think of the time you will save in dealing with repairs and improvements if you already know who to call.
Does this mean you have to hire a large landscape company? No, just one large enough to handle your property. In fact, it might be beneficial to look for landscapers big enough to handle the property but small enough to care. As a community you should be one of the most important clients that your landscaper has. If you are not- you have hired a company that is too large.
2- Choose A Landscaper That Is A Good Communicator
Imagine this scenario: Your landscape maintenance crew shows up on the usual day for your service. They notice that the lawn has grown, but is not too long. They know from experience that the turf gets very soggy after a rain- and you had a downpour yesterday. The landscape crew leader makes the judgement call to forgo mowing and focus on other areas of your landscape. Great- right?
Maybe not. One of the homeowners in the area notices that the lawn has not been mowed and thinks : "Those lousy landscapers are slacking off! The HOA board obviously has no idea what they are doing.... I am going to call and email them tonight!" Sound familiar?
If your landscaper is a good communicator he will send you an email or make a quick phone call- just a "heads up". When your neighbor calls that evening you aren't ambushed. You are calm, cool, and informed. Not so bad being the president, is it?
How can you find a landscaper who will communicate like this? Pay close attention to how responsive they are when you first contact them about service for your community. If it takes two days to respond to a call from a potential large client.... How quickly will you hear from them when you are a client? Make sure they are utilizing email- many landscapers are a little slow to adopt technology. If they use social media to interact with customers- even better. This is a company that knows how to communicate!
3- Keep The Landscape Contractor You Have Now
If you are happy with them! You probably have a landscaper right now. If they are doing a good job- keep them. They know the property, the community, the little old lady who would prefer they not use a blower near her house before 10 am. Don't throw that experience away just to make a change or even to save a few dollars.
Ross NW Watergardens works with eight Portland area HOA's ranging from 12 units to large communities with several hundred houses. We enjoy working with these community volunteers to care for all their landscaping needs.