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Central Houston Design Intern Builds Confidence Through Experience!

I am a Junior at Texas Tech University, majoring in Landscape Architecture and this is my first internship! The program at Yellowstone Landscape has helped me develop field knowledge giving me a solid foundation for school and my professional career in the future.

Working under Bryn Coubrough, Landscape Designer at the Central Houston Branch, has been a fun and educational experience.  From learning quick and efficient ways to use programs like photoshop, to plant identification of new materials at the plant nursery and tree farm, and shadowing meetings held with board members of HOAs, it was easy to apply my new knowledge to my intern project, Landpark!

Landpark is a commercial office building property located near the southside of Houston, TX.  The client wanted a complete redesign of the outdoor areas and I did everything from measuring the property during the site visit, creating a series of 3D photoshop renderings, and developing the AutoCAD plans.  Being responsible for designing a property for a “real” client is an exciting experience.  This project allowed me to make educated decisions with confidence, knowing that I am proposing a functional, aesthetically pleasing and sustainable design for the property.

I feel fortunate to have spent this summer working with Yellowstone Landscape.  This company, and the people in this work community have taught me a lot of things that will help me as I pursue my career, but they have also provided experiences that will help me throughout my life.

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Software Intern Learns the Importance of Good Communication!

The following is a guest post from Steven, about his intern experience this summer.

As a senior at the University of Florida, majoring in Information Systems, I went into this internship with no knowledge of what a landscape company does or a desire to work in the industry. Accepting this internship is one of the best decisions I have made to build my skillset for a professional career. I was unsure of which industry to enter postgraduate but interning with Yellowstone Landscape has taught me that I can go into any type of industry and succeed, no matter how uncertain I may be.

Throughout my internship I worked on a special project relating to the rollout of a new company-wide software program and the challenges that come with it. I was involved in researching challenges that came with the rollout of this software and finding solutions for improvements. While working on this project I met with all users including; Branch, Business Development, Account, and Office Managers, and various supervisors. This was a great opportunity to learn the ups and downs of implementing a new information system, while hearing the perspectives of upper management all the way to the field workers. This gave me a better understanding of how my actions and the implementation of an information system is perceived and affects the users. I also learned the challenges of implementing a new system and how to manage them to positively impact the employees and the company. My greatest take-away is the importance of communication. When implementing a new system, you must be willing to receive feedback, both positive and negative, to develop improvements and make the system user friendly.

As an Information Systems major, I imagined my entire time would be spent in an office behind a computer, but I was wrong! On several occasions I was given the opportunity to do field work, which got me out of the office, and gave me a better perspective of the work behind the numbers and data loaded into the system. This experience added to the versatility of my internship. It has also taught me when considering a career after graduation, to look for a position that includes diverse responsibilities and opportunities in different areas of a company.

This internship taught me how to utilize the tools and problem-solving skills learned in the classroom in an efficient and professional manner. I also developed a lot of my soft skills, especially communication, and I could not be more grateful for the experience and opportunities I have been provided by Yellowstone Landscape!

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Behind the Scenes of a Landscape Photoshoot!

Me: Look a pretty landscape. Let’s take a picture!

This is not how a landscape photoshoot takes place, but I certainly did think it was until I joined Joseph Barnes, our Marketing Director and Alex Shelver, our photographer on a property photoshoot last week at Old Palm.

Old Palm is a private residential Golf Club located in Palm Beach where we oversee the maintenance of all common areas and some of the private homes.

It was very interesting seeing how a landscape photoshoot takes place. It was very different from the ones I have been to in the past. For these projects, it's important to bring out the detail and effort the maintenance team puts into these landscapes.

I saw how our photographer, Alex, played with different angles to get the best pictures. He also used different cameras to get ground views as well as aerial views to shoot the entire property.

I learned that it is important not only to picture how pretty a landscape looks, but being able to capture the detail and effort it takes to get the landscape to look the way it does. But don't get me wrong, capturing how pretty a landscape looks definitely gets you some extra points.

Here are five tips I learned that might help you get the best images the next time you're shooting a landscape project.

#1: Golden Hour: Try taking your pictures in golden hour. This refers to the periods right after sunrise and right before sunset. It will give great diffused lighting to your pictures that will add depth and interest to your image.

#2: Use Leading Lines: This trick serves to guide the viewers through your picture. Try using trees or sidewalks in order to accomplish this. They will instantly guide the viewer's eyes without them thinking about it.

#3 Study: Before going to the photoshoot, make sure you study your camera. This will allow you to know all the features it brings and make use of them when necessary. Also, if you haven't been to this location before, make sure to do some research before you go and pin point the locations you want to photograph.

#4: Use your creativity: When shooting, be creative in every possible way. It is important that you try every angle you can think of to get the best picture that outlines what you're trying to highlight. Don't be scared of doing something different. Different is good and it can go a long way in these kinds of shoots.

#5: Crop: Don't be afraid to crop your pictures. Usually the cameras that are used to photograph these shoots are high resolution. So even when you crop it, it still looks good and does not decrease the quality of the pictures.

I learned that the "Pretty Landscape Picture", has much more into it than what I thought. The detail and the work that is put into these types of projects is very hard and it's what makes the landscape "pretty". I never really appreciated it until I started working for this company, but now I can see a pretty landscape and focus on details that make it great. 

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Shadowing a Senior Account Manager

This week I got the opportunity to shadow Scott Barnes who is a Senior Account Manager here at Yellowstone Landscape in Palm Coast. I saw what it is to be him on a day to day basis and let me tell you guys, it is not easy. I watched him manage several properties he oversees, as well as watching him mentor a fellow intern named Zach. I want you to visualize my day with Scott yesterday, so here is a quick summary of my day with our senior account manager.

 8:00 AM 

- I met Scott at the office and he then took me to an emergency irrigation job. 

- I had the chance to see him mentor Zach who is a fellow intern and I saw how he shares his knowledge in lessons he is trying to teach him. 

- It was also fun seeing how Zack works his way through his internship as well as what he does on a daily basis. 

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 10:00 AM 

- Next, we went to a property that hired us because they wanted us to redesign and mantain part of their property. 

- For me this was the most interesting part of the day. I got to interact with clients and watch Scott draw out some sketched of what their new landscape could look like. 

- Since this property was directly on the ocean we talked about the maintenance problems that landscaping might experience because of it, especially the plants and trees that are not native to the area. 

- We also talked about some of the measures we will have to take in order for the landscape to thrive. 

- This was an incredible esperienve and learned a lot from talking to the clients and watching Scott interact with them. 

- Overall, FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY. 

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 11:30 AM

- Cementery Time!!!!! Our next stop was visiting a client at Craig Flagler Palms Funeral Home. 

- As dull as it may seem, going to the cementery was actually not that bad and not as depressing as I thought it would be. 

- We talked about the landscape maintenance of the cementery and some solution to a pest problem that they were experiencing. 

- This definitely was my least favorite part of the day, kind of creepy but still interesting seeing all the different types of properties that we work on. 

1:00 PM 

- After lunch, it was time to check on another job that Scott and his crews oversee. 

- I got to meet more of his crew members and it was nice getting to know them face to face. 

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 4:00 PM

- While we were on our way back to the office, we SAVED A TURTLE'S LIFE! 

Overall, this was a fun and creative experience. I had the opportunity to see how Scott interacts with his clients and his crew members. He was a great person to shadow and gave me important insight about his job.

 

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Summer Interns Gather in Florida

 

Our annual intern symposium was held earlier this past week. Interns from across the South and Southwest regions joined us for this special event that was created just for them. Our program integrated this fun and exciting feature so that they could learn more about our Field Support Office and get to know each other face to face. 

Our symposium gave our interns the basic essence of what our company is. We gave them a sense of what it is like to work here at Yellowstone Landscape. They had the opportunity to see what our teams do at our corporate offices, as well as out in the field. They also had the experience to get their hands dirty and work directly in the field for the company’s community service project located in Palm Coast, Florida. This project consisted of helping an elementary school renovate their garden by cleaning out their beds for new seeds to be planted.

Our interns toured our headquarters as well as a local resort property that we work on. They got to see what our employees out in the field do on a day to day basis and were able to learn a little bit more about their tasks. In addition, some members of our leadership team gave our interns presentations on how to be successful in the workforce, as well as on the field we work on.

These fieldtrips were implemented to our program with the purpose of enhancing our intern’s exposure to the horticultural environment. We believe that these kinds of activities help them reach their maximum potential while also improving their professional development and communication skills.

Our internship program is designed in a way that will help our interns develop professionally not only as a student, but when they are ready to go into the work force after graduation. We pride ourselves on how we nurture our talent here at Yellowstone. This symposium is one of the many examples of how we hope to help guide them into a future career where they can find fulfillment.

It was a great week with this year's group of interns. We would like to thank every one of you who was part of this week and made it all possible. Our interns had so much fun visiting Florida and getting to know more of our staff.

 

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Why “Local” Matters in Commercial Landscaping (Part 2 of 2)

As of this writing, we have 33 Yellowstone Landscape branch locations across 8 states. That doesn’t make us anywhere near the biggest firm in the green industry, but it’s not exactly small either. So it might seem odd that a large company, with operations from North Carolina to Nevada, and a couple of dozen other points in between, would write an article about why “local” matters in commercial landscaping.

In Part 1 of this article, we looked at 3 very logical and very valid reasons that some clients believe choosing a local, owner-operator landscape company will yield a better result than a large, national company. But none of those 3 reasons got to the real “local” that matters in commercial landscaping.

When it comes to creating and caring for a commercial landscape, the only thing “local” that really matters is local expertise. 

Does it matter to you if the landscape firm has a great national reputation, but the local team that will care for your property doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing? Of course not.

The team you choose to create or care for your landscape has to be made up of Landscape Professionals who know exactly what plants will thrive in your environment, in each season. As conditions change, your landscaper’s team must diagnose and resolve any number of challenges that will present themselves through the course of the year.

Clients we work with across different areas of the country expect us to be experts in the needs of their properties’ landscapes, no matter how diverse those landscapes are. They expect that their property in Santa Fe, New Mexico will be maintained at the same quality standard as their property in Sarasota, Florida. Having been to both, I can tell you that those two landscapes could not look any more different, and the local expertise required to care for each couldn’t be any more specialized.

If the only “local” that matters is local expertise, then how can you, as a buyer of landscape services, know if the local team that will service your property is any good?

There are two pieces of advice that we give to each prospective client to help them feel confident in their selection of a landscape partner:

First, meet the local team that you would be working with. Have them come out to your property and walk it with you. Have them tell you what they would do to give you the landscape you want. If you want a second opinion about a problem area or issue you’ve been having in your landscape, ask them how they would handle it for you. There is no substitute for a face to face meeting. It’s the only way to really get a sense of what it would be like to work with them after the contract is signed. And anyone that won’t make the time to meet with you in person, or doesn't have time to walk your grounds with you, is probably not the right choice for a landscape partner.

Second, ask the landscape company to provide references in your local area. Then, go look at those properties. But be very specific about the references you ask for. Every commercial landscape company has at least one or two marquee properties that we plaster all over our websites and our sales brochures. But unless your property is like one of those large and recognizable ones, those pictures shouldn’t really impress you too much. When you ask for references, always make sure that the company gives you a list of properties that are similar in size and scale to yours. You want to find out how they take care of all their clients, not just the most famous ones. If they can’t (or won’t) give you references that look like the property you manage, then it should be a cause for concern, and may indicate they’re not the right landscape partner for you.

Does “local” matter in commercial landscaping? Yes. We can tell you that it absolutely does matter.

Nothing will ensure your satisfaction with your property’s landscape like the skill and expertise of the local Landscape Professionals that will be working at your property. So take the time to meet with the local teams from any landscape company that you're considering. Large and national, or small and local, it's the people that make the difference in your property's landscape, not the size of the company.

 

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Why “Local” Matters in Commercial Landscaping (Part 1 of 2)

Imagine you’re on a business trip. Right around the corner from your hotel, there’s a cool, neighborhood coffee shop. Across the street is a Starbuck’s. Which would you choose?

Coffee is one of those things that people can get very passionate, and very opinionated about. For every Starbuck’s addict, sitting in the same drive-thru lane every morning, there’s a diehard coffee drinker out there who absolutely refuses to set foot in a chain coffee shop.

In our experience, landscaping also brings out strong opinions and lots of passion. Don’t believe us? Try sitting in on any large HOA’s monthly meeting. We can guarantee you’ll hear someone mention the condition of the landscape.

And we totally get it.

That’s why we’re never surprised when prospective clients immediately tell us that they prefer to work with “local” landscape companies. But when we get the chance to ask a few follow up questions, we find out why “local” really matters to them. It’s usually because:

  1. They had a bad experience with a large, national landscape company in the past.
  2. They believe that being able to call the owner of the company directly will result in more responsive service.
  3. They want to feel like their money is staying in the local economy.

All three are valid and logical reasons to think that choosing a “local” provider is a better option than a larger company. Unfortunately, none of them get to the most critical reason that “local” really does matter. (For the real reason that “local” matters in commercial landscaping, stay tuned for the follow up in part two of this article.)

But for now, let’s explore the top three reasons that some clients believe only a “local” landscape firm can give them the kind of landscape care they expect.

#1 – They had a bad experience with a large, national company.

Here’s something it hurts to admit. Yes, sometimes employees of landscape companies make poor decisions. Sometimes salespeople in landscape companies lead clients to believe that they will get more than they pay for. Sometimes there are billing errors and irregularities that result in distrust. Sometimes people in leadership positions at landscape companies don’t resolve problems to the satisfaction of their customers.

We wish we could say that those things only happen in large, national landscape companies. But the truth is that all of these problems can happen in any company, regardless of their size, or the geographic location of their headquarters. Thankfully, that’s not the norm in the landscape industry. Most employees of landscape companies, large and small, just want to do what’s right, make their client's property look great, and make their client’s job a little easier.

#2 - They believe that being able to call the owner of the company directly will result in more responsive service.

We’ve been surveying our customers for more than a decade now, so we can say with some authority that responsiveness is the most important characteristic that clients value in a landscape service provider. No matter what the issue is, a responsive landscaper’s reply should be, “Don’t worry about it for another minute. We’ll take care of it right away.”

In our ultra-connected world, there’s simply no excuse for any request to go unanswered. Whether it be a phone call, a text, or an email - as a client, you deserve a landscape partner that picks up the phone and (more importantly) immediately begins working to resolve your issue. So, in times of need, is it more important to speak to someone that owns the company, or is it more important to speak to someone who’ll own your problem?

In larger landscape service firms, each property has a dedicated Account Manager that fills the role as the first responder to client issues. Behind the Account Manager is also a Branch Manager, a Business Development Manager, an Office Manager, and several specialty service managers (Irrigation, Spray Application, Tree Care, Landscape Designer). Not to mention district or regional management that can call in resources from other nearby branch locations if necessary.

Spreading the expertise and accountability across multiple people means that larger firms can deploy the right resources to diagnose and resolve issues much more quickly, especially in an emergency.

#3 - They want to feel like their money is staying in the local economy.

The “Shop Local” movement has extended far beyond boutiques and farmer’s markets. Consumers are more aware of where their money goes after they spend it than ever before. And that knowledge influences all kinds of purchases, even with B2B service businesses, like commercial landscaping companies.

Our industry association’s data estimates that 99% of the landscape companies in the US are owner-operators with less than $1 million in annual revenue. This means that the overwhelming majority of the $40 billion that will be spent on landscape services in our country this year is going back into a family run business.

While we can’t speak for those small businesses, we can tell you what happens to your money when you choose to partner with us. Labor represents about half of our cost of doing business, so approximately 50 cents of every dollar we earn goes straight back into the pockets of our employees. Those employees live in the areas where we serve. They spend their money on housing, groceries, and day care, just like everyone else in your local community. When we start new contracts, we hire more people from the local community, buy new equipment and supplies from local dealers, buy fuel from local gas stations, and buy new trucks from local auto dealerships.

Our local branch teams are fiercely proud of the areas where we serve because it's also where they live. They are career Landscape Professionals that work hard, raise families, and look for ways to give back through service projects and donations.

We know it probably feels like we’re trying to debunk some valid and logical reasons for clients to choose a “local” company, instead of us. Please understand that’s not our intent.

In fact, we agree that there is one very important “local” factor that should be a part of every client’s decision-making process. And we’ll explore that in the follow-up article, Why “Local” Matters in Commercial Landscaping (Part 2 of 2).

 

Image Credits:
Coffee Cup Photo via Tyler Nix on Unsplash
Starbucks Cup Photo via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Celebrating Your Trust in Us

In January, we gathered our Business Development staff together for our annual kickoff meeting in Houston, Texas.  We spent three days together, recapping our successes, talking through our challenges, learning how to better serve new clients, and enjoying each other’s company.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of talk about numbers at meetings like this, but when we get together as a sales team, the numbers we look at aren’t the numbers you might expect. The most important number for us isn’t our total dollars sold for the year.

The most important number to us is the number of new clients that signed on in the previous year. That’s how we measure success. From the smallest project to the largest, each one counts exactly the same to us.

We understand that when a prospective client reaches out, they’re starting their search for a new landscape contractor for a very specific reason. Maybe there was a service failure with their old landscaper. Maybe they want better communication. Whatever the reason, they start out a little skeptical. But after several discussions and negotiations, that client may decide that we are the best choice to meet their landscape needs, and they sign a contract with us.

And that’s something we don’t take lightly.

We realize that signing a contract with a landscape company is a big decision. For many clients, we’ll be one of their property’s largest expenses. Not to mention the impact their landscape has on the perception of their property’s value.

The number of new clients that join us each year is something to celebrate because each new client represents a tremendous amount of trust that has been placed in us. Each signature on a contract represents a property manager or owner putting their faith in our ability to do what we said we’d do.

So, when we get our Business Development team together to celebrate the growth they’ve made possible for our company, what we’re really celebrating are our clients. We celebrate the trust that each client has placed in us. And we recognize the awesome responsibility that comes with that trust.

 

If you’re a property manager or owner, thinking about starting your own search for a new landscape service partner, we’d love the opportunity to earn your trust. Start by scheduling a conversation with your local Yellowstone Landscape Pro. You can sign up here.

 

At this year’s celebration, we hosted a welcome and awards dinner at the historic Majestic Metro theatre in downtown Houston. It was a great event to start to the year, and our team had a blast. Thanks to all those who helped make the evening possible.

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Winter Plants for Your Commercial Property

Plants are an essential part of our lives. We might not realize it, but plants bring comfort, color, and vibrancy to otherwise dull places. During the winter, when trees are barren, your property’s landscape can look pretty gloomy and unappealing. Here are some beautiful winter plants suggested by commercial property landscape experts that are low maintenance and will definitely add life to the melancholy of the winter season.

 

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Winter Safety Issues in Your Landscape

For property managers, winter brings new safety concerns to your commercial landscape. It’s the responsibility of the property manager to ensure tenant and visitor safety and security throughout the year, including during the wintertime. And winter is when many of the most costly hazards happen; primarily due to slip and fall claims.

This is why property maintenance, upkeep, and landscaping are year-round jobs, and the duties and responsibilities of property managers aren’t just limited to warmer seasons.

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FIELD SUPPORT OFFICE

3235 North State Street
PO Box 849

Bunnell, FL 32110
877.785.6685

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Excellence in Commercial Landscaping