11 Questions You Must Ask Your Landscaping Firm
By Dennis M. Baker President and Chief Executive Officer, Avendra, LLC | October 28, 2008
Whether it's a five-star resort or a two-star hotel, customers rate location as the number one deciding factor when booking a hotel according to a recent consumer survey by HotelClub, a leading online accommodation specialist. But as everyone knows, within the "location" category there are many choices. With today's online virtual tours customers can get a fairly accurate evaluation of the details of your location in advance. Obviously room size and d'ecor, attractiveness of common areas and available amenities are critical in that evaluation, but the exterior appearance of the grounds, everything from flowers to plantings to trees, is also important to your hotel's image.
To better serve a hotel's desire to provide beautiful exterior settings and an initial positive first impression to the arriving guest, Avendra's contracting experts recently negotiated two major national landscaping contracts. Besides coverage, professionalism and great pricing, the two companies we chose also offer owners environmentally friendly landscaping alternatives that can help lessen dependence on mowing and watering. In formulating these programs we culled information from a wide spectrum of customers and the supplier community and along with our vast experience in this area, used that to develop a list of points to consider. These were critical in evaluating potential service providers to ensure that they would be capable of providing the necessary expertise, service, terms and overall value. Some of the key issues that you might want to consider as you think about these services for your property are listed below.
1. Staff Expertise - When selecting the next landscape maintenance firm for your hotel, find out if they have sufficient expertise. For example, are the employees properly licensed to handle and dispense chemicals? Do they have horticulturalists and landscape architects on staff? In this same vein, if something unexpected happens that requires immediate action, can you readily contact the proper expert at the company's offices for consultation? Further, you might want to check if the potential bidders are members of appropriate professional trade associations. For example, both of our vendors belong to PLANET, a professional landcare network that keeps its members aware of the latest trends, offers certification and helps maintain the standards of the landscape maintenance industry.
2. Insurance and Indemnification - Due to the nature of the services provided, determining appropriate levels and types of insurance coverage is essential. This can be complicated, but it is critical that your landscaping supplier possesses adequate insurance coverage and in addition, provides appropriate indemnification to protect your investment and to limit your liability.
3. Immigration Verification - A longstanding issue within the landscaping industry is the widespread use of undocumented workers. In order to protect your hotel from any wrongdoing it is imperative to have verified workers. Avendra took this issue very seriously and both of the vendors we chose are heavily involved in the Federal program known as H2B that arranges for Visas for workers and provides immigration verification.
4. Geographic Coverage - If you are a multi-unit operator it is assumed that by leveraging your purchasing across all your hotels, you get a better deal. Ask bidders if they can provide services at all your properties and properly discount your price since they are getting a larger share of your business? Further, with a uniform provider across all your properties, you get consistency of quality and service, so all of your hotels stay true to your standards.