Homeowners all have expectations of their community association’s landscaper. The problems begin when expectations aren’t met. Managing those expectations is a key contributor to a successful and mutually beneficial long-term relationship.
For many homeowners’ associations, landscape maintenance is the single largest line item in the budget. Landscape maintenance is also often the service that homeowners quickly identify as a benefit of paying their HOA assessments and living in the community. So let’s first acknowledge that homeowners having expectations is justified. The key is managing and communicating appropriate expectations.
A Clear Scope of Service:
The first step to managing homeowner expectations is ensuring that the board and the landscape contractor’s expectations of the services to be performed align. All too often we encounter HOAs that have gathered bids for landscape services without a clearly stipulated scope of service. A little work on the preparation of a scope of service will save a great deal of confusion. How frequently is mowing to occur? Does the contract price include pruning? Will shrubs be hand pruned or sheared? Is mulch included in the contract price? In what quantity will mulch be supplied?
A clearly written request for proposal (RFP) will ensure everyone’s expectations align.
Once the board and contractor have agreed to a clear scope of service, the board and its management company can effectively communicate with homeowners about what services have been contracted for, and what have not.
A Clear Schedule of Service:
With a clearly defined scope of service in place, it is next helpful to define when during the calendar year various services will be performed. A specific date is not the point, but a range of a month or two will allow everyone to know when various services are supposed to be performed. Are landscape beds to be edged and mulched in November or February? When will seasonal pruning be performed?
A Clear Channel of Communication:
With your scope and schedule in place, the board and property management company are in a better place to communicate effectively with homeowners. Often misunderstandings about the homeowners association landscape expectations. We have found that most homeowner complaints about landscapers are not about what happened, but about what didn’t. Sharing the scope and schedule with homeowners allows them to be better informed stakeholders. Informed homeowners are better able to align their expectations with the service the association has actually contracted for.
In fact many of our clients share an informational piece annually (See Here) that reminds homeowners of what to expect from the landscaper and when. It also establishes a communication channel for homeowners to follow if they have questions or concerns about their landscape maintenance. Using an agreed upon channel ensures the contractor’s crew is not being regularly interrupted and also allows the board and management to more quickly detect potential performance problems.
A Clear Means of Evaluation:
In following these steps you have set a foundation that will allow the association to effectively evaluate the landscape contractor’s performance. An annual review of the scope of service and homeowner comments provides a means of evaluating whether your contractor is living up to their contracted commitments.
You hold high expectations for the appearance of your landscaping and want a grounds management provider who shares your goals. Following these basic recommendations allows your board and property manager to deliver on the promises that you make to residents and other stakeholders.
Wise Property Solutions is East Tennessee’s only Accredited Association Management Company (AAMC®). As the region’s leader in community association management, the firm is committed to the industry’s best practices and continuing professional development. Wise Property Solutions’ certified and highly trained property managers empower well-organized and efficient communities. The firm maintains offices in both Knoxville and the Tri-Cities.
Tri-Cities, TN-VA: 423-926-7373