Landscape Maintenance. Design and Enhancements. Installation. Irrigation and Water Management. Fertilization and Pest Control. Snow and Ice Removal. Sports Field Construction and Maintenance. Tree Care.
The list of services, and specializations within each service, turns into a long list pretty quickly. So, it makes sense to us why some clients start to assume that we can help with any problem they’re having in their community or at their commercial property.
But, the truth is that we can’t possibly offer everything that a community or commercial property might need to operate successfully. As much as we may always want to be able to say “Yes” to our clients, there are some services and types of projects that we’ve chosen not to provide. And each has a good reason why we don’t think we’re the best vendor to be asked to perform that service.
Many times the service falls under what should be considered “facility services”. But with so many so-called “Facility Services” companies now offering to bundle landscaping services into their litany of offerings, some landscape firms have been tempted to start offering services and engaging in projects that are a stretch from their core competencies. Sometimes it works out well for the company and the client, but many times, the contractor can quickly get in over their head and ruin what was once a great vendor-client partnership.
Additionally, this bundling of services refuses to acknowledge that every type of work requires some level of specialization and expertise that can’t be attained when the list of services offered gets too broad. Inevitably, the provider will end up reasoning that it’s close enough to something they’ve done in the past and utter the fateful phrase “How hard can it really be?”.
So, here are the top four services that we are asked to provide, but we choose not to offer to our clients.
1. Lake and Wetland Management
This might seem like a reasonable add-on for a commercial landscaping company. Lakes and wetlands are indeed a part of the grounds and the property’s common areas. In some cases, they’re a large part of the property’s exterior appeal. Landscapers deal with irrigation and spray applications. We have special licenses, just like the lake and wetlands guys do. Seems close enough to what we do, right? Not at all.
Oftentimes, the community or commercial property finds that maintaining their internal bodies of water requires a specialist, and as with any specialized service, the costs can mount quickly. Determining the needs of the lake or protected wetland area is, literally, a science. And one small mistake can result in disaster for the community or commercial property.
While as landscapers we are working around the lake beds and wetland perimeters, what happens below the surface, within the micro-ecosystem of the water body, is something best left to a professional with the proper education and certifications to manage that water and maintain the health of any wildlife that rely on the water to survive.
2. Parking Lot Maintenance
This one can be tempting for many commercial landscaping companies to try their hand at, but we’ve chosen to stay away from parking lot repairs. Patching some asphalt, adding some curbing, and replacing some light bulbs. It doesn’t seem like a lot of extra work, but more is at play here that should be carefully considered.
First, asphalt and paving repairs are not something that should be learned on the job. There are many multi-million dollar asphalt and paving companies across the country that only do these types of jobs - all day every day. And even they still make mistakes sometimes. So while it might be painful to pay the price necessary to get them to come out to your property for what may be a small job to them, it’s worth it to get the job done right the first time. Improperly done paving work will always create more problems downstream and lead to far more costly repairs later on.
Additionally, parking lots are notoriously risky spaces at most commercial properties. They’re filled with accidents that lead to headaches for property managers. Your landscape or snow and ice management partner is certainly part of your risk mitigation strategy, but even as one of the largest landscape and snow service providers in the country, we’d never claim to be the one and only solution to securing and preventing accidents in your property’s parking areas.
3. Lighting & Electrical Services
Another one that creates a fuzzy line for some landscape companies is lighting. We’re huge fans of adding landscape lighting to your community or commercial property. It creates a new way for residents and guests to enjoy your grounds after dark and makes your property much more desirable and impressive for future residents and owners.
We’ve even advocated in several previous posts for adding colorful lights to your landscape to enhance the holiday appeal of your property. But we will never suggest that you ask us to be responsible for installing or maintaining that lighting. While we do occasionally enlist the specialized expertise of an electrician to help with lighting, irrigation, or water features for some of our clients’ properties, we will not take that work on ourselves.
When electricity is involved, there is a huge safety risk for our employees and we are never willing to ask them to do something they aren’t trained for, especially when the risk of electrocution is present.
4. Residential Landscaping
We’ve saved the most contentious one for last. Yellowstone Landscape is not a residential landscape service company. But, in the spirit of full transparency, about 2% of our company’s revenues each year come from private homeowner contracts. So, clearly, we don’t always say “No” when asked to perform residential landscaping and snow services.
And to further clarify, we’re not saying that we don’t work with many “maintenance-free” or “full-service” homeowner communities. These are contracts with communities that include landscape (and often snow and ice removal) services not only for the community’s entrances and common areas, but also include each resident’s yard, driveway, and walkways. These agreements are negotiated at the community level and each owner’s monthly service costs are paid through their association dues.
But 99 times out of 100, when a private homeowner comes to us and asks if we can take care of their lawn for them, the answer is “No”. And we understand their frustration. They see us taking care of the neighborhood’s common areas every week, in some cases that common space touches their own private yard. And while it’s true our crew could probably just “duck in real quick and knock it out”, that wouldn’t be fair to our other clients, nor would it be fair to our crews.
Commercial landscaping service providers and residential landscape services are not the same. The equipment may be similar, but the needs and scope of services needed to manage the grounds for a large-scale community or commercial property are not what most homeowners are accustomed to, nor is it what large-scale providers are built to deliver.
We have specialized service teams that work exclusively on our residential estate client properties, but they are set up very differently from our commercial landscape maintenance crews.
We have long considered ourselves a full-service landscape service provider, but there are limits to our expertise and what we can offer our clients. And we believe that to be a great partner, we need to understand what we’re good at, and what we’re not experts at.
Just as we don’t feel that most facility service companies are qualified to provide large-scale, professional landscaping, we know our limits and don’t offer many of the services their clients rely on them for.
Our goal is to be the best possible landscape and snow services provider to our clients. Drifting away from our core competencies, even for the good reason of just wanting to help our clients, dilutes our ability to deliver the services we were hired for in the first place. Rather than becoming a jack of all trades and master of none, we intend to remain a partner to our clients singularly focused on delivering excellence in commercial landscaping.
If you’re looking for a landscape services partner with the expertise and specialization to tackle your toughest landscape challenges, we encourage you to speak with your local Yellowstone Landscape Professional today.