Let’s review some practical methods to find and hire a company best suited for you and your home.
For those who have the time and ability to research there are many professional formats to source out a great lawn care, gardening or landscape maintenance company. But how do other satisfied customers do it?
WHERE TO LOOK
Through our many years of experience working for and with various companies in the industry, in administration and as a labour force. We can say that the average homeowner will commence their search for a property maintenance company through the following formats..
Google: No need to be a professional “Googler“. Just type in “Property Maintenance”, “Lawn Care”, “Gardener”, “Snow Removal” etc, with the name of your city and endless lists of options come up along with maps with their addresses in comparison to yours.
Note: Don’t be duped by the address. Larger companies have a head office which will show up in the search. That does not mean that the people providing the service live anywhere near your community.
Kijiji: A one stop shop for anything you need. Type in keywords much like the ones noted for Google, and select the range or location of preference; likewise lists and lists of companies come up.
Note: Kijiji allows a company to post free ads, however, if the company wants those ads to show up on the first few pages of a potential customers search the company has to pay a small fee. Likewise for companies that show up at the top (or very bottom) of every page. Those companies paid to boost their advertising. Start looking at companies from the third page onward to find a truly local and affordable company.
Also, look for a company that took time and effort into the content of their ad. Kijiji allows businesses to post pictures, location, and a fair amount of information. If you find an ad that has little more than a company name and phone number, it’s safe to assume this company lacks in not only customer service and experience, but also quality.
Print Advertising: A good local company will go do to door, distributing flyers, post cards or door hangers seasonally. Don’t through them out, at least have a look and give it a chance. Only larger companies, with large overhead and/or large quantity of customers will pay for Canada Post to distribute the advertising for them. A professional moderately sized local company will produce professional quality printed advertising, without extra costs of paid distribution and seasonally only.
Word of Mouth: The ultimate way to find a great lawn care provider or gardener is through word of mouth. Talk to your neighbors, coworkers and friends. Who do they use? Are they satisfied? What are the prices like? Likewise, if you are a property owner, don’t be afraid to pass along the name of the company that provides your lawn care services. Many companies offer referral discounts for the free advertising!
Red Flag!: Excessive professional advertising (print, television, radio) would suggest that a company has a lot in overhead costs which would be reflected in their prices. Alternatively, if the prices seem low or at least competitive, this would suggest that the company covers its costs by taking on a very large quantity of customers, which would mean that some if not many of the customers may be a fair distance away.
Satisfactory: Most moderate size companies, who are truly focused on their local community will print advertise seasonally only. This would include post cards, door hangers, business cards and/or flyers. These moderately sized companies only accept local properties and therefore do not need to use expensive advertising that reaches the whole province let alone nation.
Further, in order to ensure top quality care and personal connection with each customer, the quantity of local customers must be kept manageable. If a company is advertising monthly or quarterly, it is likely that they are taking on too many customers to be able to provide the expected service and care that a home owner would want.
Summary: Excessive professional advertising = higher prices or too many customers
A simple Google search (i.e Property Maintenance, North York), will bring up a whole list of companies servicing your area, including their websites.
Today most companies have a website. These days anyone, even the technologically disabled, can create a website. With so many do-it-yourself options available, no longer is it a must to hire a graphic designer or website developer to create a functional website. A good option for moderately sized local companies to provide and easy access resources and advertising to their customers without any excessive costs. However, there are a few things to consider…
Red Flag!: A website that looks TOO professional, very interactive, immediate online quote options etc etc etc, often times means that it was professionally done, is affiliated with many other sources and therefore costs quite a bit to develop and maintain. If we look back up to the “Advertising” section, we can determine that this company will either be very expensive in its prices and/or is eager to attract many many new customers to cover these costs.
Also be wary of websites that are static. Essentially, websites that are quite basic in nature. Perhaps a few buttons you can click on that may lead you to a few pages describing services they offer etc., however do not seem like they have been updated in awhile, no personal touches, no posts or messages, no seasonal changes. Although, this type of website may not be too problematic; it could be that the company may in fact be moderately sized and local but the owner doesn’t have much staff, time or technological/literal ability to do frequent work on his website. Never the less, a website is an interactive extension to the company and a resource. A website that is cold and disconnected from the company could be a sign of the customer service and general connection/communication you can expect. If a website looks like it has been around for awhile, yet has no testimonials or reviews, again question the customer service and communication of the company.
Satisfactory: Look for a website that is bright and cheery, is updated with little notes or informative posts at least seasonally, and generally one that seems to reach out to you…one that has a very personal feel.
Summary: Professional website = big company with many clients, Static website = Potentially poor customer service and communication.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
After you have reviewed the websites and have comprised a list of potentials, it’s time to ask the necessary questions to find the best property maintenance company for your home. Along with the standard questions, there are a couple key ones to pay attention to.
Location: Most people will ask the company if they service their area. That doesn’t quite get you the required answer. Just because they service your area doesn’t mean they’re local, and just because their posted company address seems close to you, that doesn’t mean that the people providing the service are part of your community.
The right question to ask is “What are your service area boundaries?”. If they don’t answer or give you a very broad map of the area(s) they service, you will know that this company is not as local as they advertise to be and therefore their ability to provide you with a full and intimate service is hindered.
Services: Most larger companies offer the Fast Food version of property maintenance. Only the service you signed on for, little in detail work, in & out and off they go until the next week.Particularly if you are a senior citizen, pregnant, disabled or for whatever reason, you may want to have a bit more of a helping hand. You may want to know someone who comes around every week will care enough to help when reasonable to. Outdoor handy man type responsibility, perhaps move something heavy.
The right questions to ask are not just about contracted standard lawn care and garden maintenance, but further. Try to get a sense of how much this company cares about the customer.
Limits, Caps and Discounts: Always ask about any caps or limitations in the service. For example, for snow removal, some companies cap it at 25 snow falls. After that, they start charging your per additional snow fall. Or, their snow contract cut off is end of March and any additional plowing they do you will be charged separately per visit. If you consider the winter we just had where there were snow falls and ice storms in early April, that would certainly be an inconvenience. If a company doesn’t offer seniors discounts or referral discounts, you’d have to question their customer loyalty and commitment to caring for your property. Even companies offering the very lowest prices should be able to offer a little something.
The right questions to ask are about limits in service, caps in service and any discounts offered or possibly awarded. Too much limitation and no bend for the customer helps to foresee a gloomy experience with that company.
Just a Mention…
Calling: A phone call is often preferred but remember that a moderately sized local company may not have a fully functioning office. In fact, the company owner may be part of the labour force, so it would be difficult for him to answer your call right away if he is elbow deep in dirt or working with very loud and dangerous equipment. Make sure to leave a complete voicemail message. He’ll get in touch with you as soon as he has a moment or pass it on to someone who can answer your questions.
Emails: Usually a preferred method of communication in this day and age. You can detail all your questions and expectations, and even include some photos of the property to allow for a faster quotation. When the company owner or his staff review your email, it will be at a time when they can really sit down and provide you with all the answers you need to make an accurate decision. You will have the emails on record so that you can use the provided information to review against other companies and really get a chance to make an educated decision. Also, the lovely thing is that emails are generally binding. If the company owner told you something over the phone, he doesn’t have to stick to it. But if it’s written down…What he said is what must be! Win/Win for all.
Let us know if there are any other questions or topics you’d like to discuss.