So now it’s time to find a vendor for your landscape maintenance services, where do you begin? More often than not, when we get invited to bid on a new property, we are given a scope of work to work off of—a scope that the incumbent may have been working off of, or something that was devised at some point in the past. In some cases, we don’t get any scope at all—we’re left to determine what we think is best. At the end of the day, an RFP is supposed to provide an “apples to apples” comparison as to what particular vendors are offering based on the particular site, and then what it will cost for those services. Generally speaking, each vendor will take some liberties in putting this pricing and scope together, and it’s very rare that the true “apples to apples” comparison work out. Most importantly for the customer, the services promised don’t always match the budget laid out. Hopefully, you can see how this can be a slippery slope where things don’t match up, and your budget and site both suffer as a result. The last thing you want to do is change vendors year after year in search of the perfect combination of services rendered and annual spending.
What can you do to prevent this? What can you do to ensure that everyone is bidding on the same thing? Most importantly, how can you guarantee that what you are asking for is exactly what your property needs? After all, why would you recycle an old scope that is no longer relevant to existing site conditions? Having the conversation with an industry professional ahead of the release of the RFP is imperative to make sure that you are getting what you need in your contract. After that, determining if your existing budget aligns with the services required to increase property values and occupancy. If those are your main drivers, the things that separate you from your competition, making sure that your scope and budget are aligned is crucial.
In a perfect world, starting this process in June is optimal. Not only does it give you insight into your next year’s budget planning, but it also allows the industry professional to see all of the property’s elements in their ideal form. At that time, turf and plant material should be very healthy. Mulch and/or pine straw has been laid and is doing its job (more on this in another blog). Trees are fully leafed out and it’s easier to monitor any disease or stress. After walking the site and having a conversation around the existing budget, the industry professional can put a scope of work together that will protect one of the largest assets any site has—the landscape environment.
After that evaluation, you can confidently release an RFP that you can count on leading to an “apples to apples” comparison of services rendered and pricing. One of the most important things we do at CLM is RFP Consulting. Several of our industry professionals take a look at the property and put our heads together to provide an ideal scope of services for the property. From there, we evaluate the number of hours and materials it takes to perform the work to the specific scope, and that’s when we determine an annual price. If you have any questions, please reach out—we are always happy to help!