There are many parts to the landscape “game.” Some are small, some large, some moving and some waving their arms frantically in the air, calling you over to handle the imaginary emergency that needs to get taken care of immediately or the world will end. But I digress. All of these parts are in perpetual movement, changing in appearance, size, color, and texture. It seems that the only constant among these parts is the level of attention needed to pull all of these pieces together without sounding the alarm. In order to do so, it seems a landscape expert has to be as deft and skilled as a surgeon… or at least, someone pretending to be one, playing the board game “Operation” without tripping the buzzer on the “patient’s” nose.
When considering an Association’s landscape program and maintenance operations, there are an enormous amount of variables that go into deciding on the best plan. Let’s be honest, the term “landscape maintenance” could not be any broader. It leaves so much on the table. What Company “A” considers weekly maintenance, will likely be different than what companies “B” and “C” do. Every contractor will have their own spin on how they maintain a property. Is one right and one wrong? Not necessarily. What’s important is that, at the end of the day, the expectations of the homeowners and board members have been met. Meaning, they are getting what they are paying for.
The largest obstacle that we, as landscape contractors, will have to hurdle is controlling expectations. It is the job of the contractor to clearly outline, to not only the association’s board members, but also to its homeowners, the method behind the madness. Communication is the key to success. If the expectations are openly discussed and decided upon prior to operations beginning, the amount of “why” will be kept to a minimum. While weekly operations amongst contractors might differ, at the end of the day, it is a result-driven business. If the property looks good, most customers don’t really care how you made it that way.
Ok, now the plan is in place. The method has been laid out. Expectations have been clearly discussed. Staff is trained. The game of operation is about to begin. As was laid out earlier, the parts of the game are ever-changing. The mowing, the trimming, the fertilization program, the weed control, the edging, the flowers, the list goes on and on. At the beginning of the season, these are the items that are on the table. The goal of the contractor is to remove them from the list, one by one, without slipping up and letting the buzzer go off.
There is only so much planning that can be done. While visions of butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering through the air fill customer’s minds, the harsh contrast of diesel and motor oil are all the contractors see. Machines and trucks that were seemingly just serviced over the winter are back in the shop for tune-ups and repair. That’s all part of the game. Dealing with adversity is a daily occurrence. There will be issue after issue, reason after reason, hurdle after hurdle to overcome, but guess what, the client doesn’t care. They want it done, they want it done right, and they want it done now. There are still “pieces” that need to be taken off the table as dexterously as removing the plastic funny bone from the game “Operation.”
With a level head, a steady hand, and the knowledge of how to play the game, there should be no reason to succumb to the adversities. Take a deep breath, focus on the goal at hand, and do what you know is best. You will get the complaints, you will hear the noise and you will feel the nerves. Remember that you are the one in control of the situation. Step up to the table, and start removing the pieces, the best you can.