How did you hear about them or where have you seen them?
Ads may not tell the whole picture. Ask around to see who people you know have used.
If a company is referred by a friend, family, or neighbor; you should probably stop searching. People don’t often refer a company that has disappointed them. If their schedule and expertise match your needs, we recommend acting on the referral.
Whose trucks do you see all over town? There might be a reason for that as well.
How long have they been in business?
Every business had a beginning! A new company may be a perfect fit if your project is small and undemanding. A complicated project commands experience! Don’t be a Guinea Pig, because it costs serious money to correct the mistakes of the inexperienced!
What is their background?
Once again you need to look at experience. Do they have training in design?
Years of mowing doesn’t automatically make them an experienced landscape contractor.
Have they done something similar?
As soon as you walk them through your wish list, they should be able to recall a similar project and tout their success. You don’t want to hear “I think we can”; but “I know we can … because we’ve done it!”
Are they experienced designers?
Don’t be afraid to ask to see an example. With today’s technology, they probably have pictures of landscapes they’ve designed and installed, right there on their tablet or phone. They’ll be thrilled you asked to see their work!
Do they charge for their design?
Most accomplished Landscape Companies will charge for their design. You are paying for the talent & experience, to pull your wish list together in a creative way and make it a reality. Their unique knowledge and selection of the right materials will be invaluable, if you want your landscape to stand the test of time.
Many landscapers will credit back the cost of the design if you have them do the work. Even if they don’t; it’s money well spent!
Do they subcontract any of the work?
This is actually a very important question to ask. Companies that can do everything with their own experienced crews, will be able to offer a seamless flow of work from start to finish, without delays or excuses from subcontractors.
What is their schedule & can they complete the job on time?
If your project is time-critical, you should make this point right up front when you’re calling for an appointment. Companies will probably be able to tell you then, if they can take on this work.
Larger companies may have more crews at their disposal and can have multiple projects under construction at the same time. The smaller a company is, the longer you may have to wait, because they must finish the job or jobs just ahead of you.
This isn’t necessarily bad though. If you’ve asked all these questions and feel comfortable so far, it could be worth the wait, if you’re not up against any deadlines.
Can they stay on the job until finished?
This isn’t a dumb question! Their scheduling problems are not yours. If they start your job, they shouldn’t have to pull off to do something else, with the promise of coming back another day. This often turns into more than a few days.
Can they provide references? (one customer with a project similar to yours)
This isn’t a bad question to ask, but please try and keep things in perspective. Try and think how you would respond if someone called you as the reference. Please keep the scope and dollar amount of your project, in balance with the reference you’re asking for.
You probably wouldn’t want to be bothered with 50 phone calls for $2,000 projects, when you spent $30,000 on yours. Don’t wear out a company’s hard-earned references. If you’re not comfortable by this point, a reference probably isn’t going to change that.
Referred contractors make this step unnecessary.
How many bids should you get?
There is no magic number! A good Rule of Thumb is no more than 3. If your project requires a design or Master Plan, and you don’t have anyone referred to you, we recommend talking to 2 or 3 companies, using the above guidelines to evaluate the best fit for your project.
Select that company and don’t put yourself in a position of having to compare 3 different designs. Every contractor will have a different vision and approach to your project and the more options you have, the more difficult it is to choose the best, because you may not be familiar with the plants and materials they’ve selected. The designs become rather subjective at this point and it’s often too easy to just make a decision based on price. The best solution may have just slipped through your fingers.
If you’re impressed with the first company, there is nothing wrong with hiring them, but please let the other 2 know right away.
When you take bids, one or two will promptly get things put together and come back to you in a timely manner. There always seems to be the one that can’t get back to you within the time requested, and too often people put the responsive bidders on hold while they are waiting on the slowpoke. Do not put up with this! Chances are if they can’t get you a bid on time, they won’t complete the work on time either!
Just remember their time is valuable too, and they’ll respect you for your consideration.
In summary, the referred contractor is most always the better path to take. Ask people you know, and tell them what you’re doing. If they had a great experience, they’ll be glad to share it with you.
When you see one of the “Red Trucks” with our name… it’s the call worth making!