Account manager with crew in front of Top Golf

Things to Look for When Evaluating Bids from Landscape Contractors

Michael Tomaino Michael Tomaino

When determining the future of the HOA community you manage or represent via the HOA board, you will make certain decisions that can have a tremendous positive (or negative) impact. The financial choices you make are obviously at the top of that list and can cover everything from new amenities to maintaining the landscape.

As one of the most important aspects of an HOA, landscaping plays a role in just about everything. It sets the tone for the community with curb appeal, affects the daily life of residents, and can even be a safety concern when storms hit or maintenance takes a back seat. Factor in that it is part of the community that requires a substantial financial investment to design, implement, and maintain properly, and choosing an HOA landscape company suddenly looks like one of the biggest decisions you’ll have a part in making.

To ensure that your HOA community is in good hands, you’ll want to take landscape contractor selection very seriously, and that starts with a thorough landscape bid evaluation. So, whether you’re a seasoned HOA property manager or this is your first time going through the process, you’ll want to read on to brush up on the things to look for when evaluating bids from landscape contractors.

Choosing an HOA Landscape Company - Comparing the Bids

When you have a landscaping project that requires professional assistance–say you’re starting from scratch or looking for someone to regularly maintain the HOA property–you will typically accept bids from landscaping companies. In these bids, they will outline the scope of their work, provide pricing guidelines, and so on.

Knowing what to look for when performing landscape bid evaluation is essential, as it can help you identify legitimate options, eliminate those that don’t fit your criteria, and emerge with the best Tampa Bay landscaping professional for your HOA community.

HOA commercial residential common area landscape maintenance 6

Is the Bid Thoughtful and Thorough?

Sorting through landscaping bids can be overwhelming and tedious. If possible, it is best to sort through the bids quickly to uncover the real players and begin evaluating legitimate options. To achieve this, it’s important to efficiently reduce the number of bids so you can focus on those that might be a good fit.

One of the best ways to separate the wheat from the chaff is to ascertain which bids are thoughtful and thorough. If a bid looks thrown together, poorly organized, or as though the company did not put time, effort, or care into it, it is likely not worth considering. A landscaping company that presents its bid well, both in appearance and content, indicates that it values your time, understands the importance of your decision, and takes the process seriously.

residential landscape maintenance crew cleaning up shrubs 1

Transparent Pricing and Line Items

While it would be nice to have an unlimited budget when choosing an HOA landscape company, that’s not the reality for most communities. As such, you have to work within the limitations of your finances. This comes with challenges, but it can also help you through the process of landscape contractor selection.

Not only can you quickly eliminate bids that exceed your budgetary constraints, but you can also use the pricing included in bids to evaluate which companies you may or may not want to work with. Look for transparent pricing that clearly lays out the frequency of service, the prices for those services, and so on.

You should also be aware of the individual line items and how they may affect your bill. Your property is unique, and its needs can heavily influence the regularity of certain landscaping services. Things like edging, mulching, and irrigation system maintenance may be done bi-weekly, monthly, or even quarterly, while mowing may need to be done more frequently.

Examine the line items included in the bid to determine if they are listed transparently and priced fairly. If a bid is priced as a lump sum, it is impossible to determine the value of the services you will receive because the number of visits and price per service are not obvious.

Crew member pruning bush next to water 2

You (Usually) Get What You Pay For

The concept of diminishing returns applies to landscape bid evaluation. Lower bids are typically priced according to what they offer–the service you receive for a bid that seems too good to be true will likely be subpar. Similarly, a premium-priced bid gives the impression that you will receive exceptional service.

These principles tend to hold true, but when considering bids on either extreme of the pricing spectrum, it’s best to hold onto a bit of skepticism. If a bid is extraordinarily high, for example, it becomes nearly impossible for the service to meet expectations and justify the price. So, price should set expectations, but it’s safe to think of your landscape contractor selection as a bell curve, with the most legitimate options falling somewhere in the middle.

Low-ball offers are undoubtedly cutting corners and finding ways to reduce costs by doing so. If a bid is substantially lower than the others–say, 20% lower–you should take it as a red flag. Bids on the high end–again, in that 20% range–are probably not a good fit, as they probably overestimated the needs of your property or didn’t do enough research to provide an accurate quote.

Landscape maintenance crew weed wacking along water 1

Is the Scope of Work Correct?

Your HOA property has certain requirements to stay pristine and functional. Various types of maintenance are at the top of this list of requirements, ranging from regular mowing to occasional pruning. The size of your property, the frequency of these maintenance services, and the depth of involvement they demand are key when choosing an HOA landscape company.

In addition to the regular maintenance an HOA landscape needs, some properties are older and may require updating. If your HOA community is due for a refresh or you have enhancements planned, the scope of work will be much greater than standard. A landscape bid should account for your goals, your unique property, and the assessment of the work at hand.

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Room for Communication

Establishing a professional relationship means that the lines of communication need to be open. When approaching landscape contractor selection, you should look for a bid that invites discussions, clearly listens to your concerns, and views the dynamics of your partnership as a mutually beneficial relationship.

Sometimes, discerning this element in a bid is as simple as identifying the tone of the proposal. Other times, it may require some digging, including engaging the landscape company in conversation when you are trying to narrow down your list of prospects. The last thing you want to do is enter into a professional relationship with a company that does not respect or account for your input, making this a challenging but worthwhile factor to consider when choosing an HOA landscape company.

Account manager walking with HOA board member around property 1

Landcrafters - A Reputable Landscape Company in Tampa Bay

A landscape contractor’s reputation can say a lot about who they are and the work they do. While not the end-all-be-all, familiarizing yourself with their reputation by researching online and talking to other local customers with first-hand experience is a good place to start.

With over two decades of experience in the Tampa Bay, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, Landcrafters has established a strong reputation for stellar service and excellent customer relations. If you’d like to learn more or discuss your HOA property with an expert, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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Michael Tomaino

Michael Tomaino

Head Gardener for Landcrafters, Inc. Michael Tomaino, a cornerstone of Landcrafters since its inception, oversees all aspects of business operations with a wealth of experience. With years of adept team management and leadership under his belt, coupled with a robust educational background, both within and beyond the industry, Michael is dedicated to steering Landcrafters towards becoming the foremost landscape management provider in the Tampa Bay Area.