Your industrial facility might not get the foot traffic of a retail site or corporate park, but the landscaping on your grounds deserves to be treated with the same level of quality, care, and concern for safety and plant health. Whether you manage an independent industrial building or portfolio of industrial properties in the GTA, your landscaping needs include comprehensive maintenance and enhancements that deliver a return on investment.
Industrial properties are a growing part of the GTA, with a range of new and older facilities requiring varying landscape maintenance levels to uphold properties’ value and appeal to tenants. Not to mention, landscaping on industrial properties often must comply with industrial park regulations for grounds maintenance. An experienced landscape provider will act as a partner, ensuring that your industrial landscape meets code specifications.
Let’s not forget, your industrial facility is a work “home” for employees who care about having a lovely environment. They want to feel proud when they pull into the parking lot, and they appreciate opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with seating areas for taking breaks.
So much goes into maintaining an industrial property that not just any landscape provider can adequately handle the job. You need a contractor with a successful track record for serving industrial properties like yours.
But where do you begin?
This guide to hiring a facility maintenance company for your industrial property will guide you through the process of finding the right grounds management partner. From understanding site-specific needs to asking the right questions and submitting effective RFPs. You’ll be prepared to vet and hire a landscape firm that values your industrial property as you do.
Know Your Goals
Landscapes are unique—no two sites are the same. Location, visibility, the type of businesses housed in buildings, and the age of your industrial property are some factors that influence the landscape services your grounds will require. So before you begin searching for a landscape provider, stop and seriously consider: What are your goals?
What matters the most on your industrial property? Is it upgrading the landscape to compete with newer industrial properties in the market? Do you want better screening to block street views? Are plantings outdated or scattered along with the property, and do you need a budget-wise plan to begin improving the site? Are you failing compliance with some industrial park landscape regulations? Are you hoping to provide a more appealing environment for employees to enjoy? Is the landscape on one of your industrial properties lagging behind others in the portfolio in terms of quality and overall appearance?
These are just some questions to consider as you create defined goals for your future landscape provider. Go in with a plan in mind. Set expectations for landscape maintenance. For example, do mature trees on-site need attention? Is your irrigation system aging, and will it need more repairs or updates to continue working efficiently and cost-effectively?
Walk Your Industrial Site
As you consider your goals, it’s a good idea to walk around your property and make a list of your landscape assets. We’re talking about plant beds, trees, irrigation systems, lighting, hardscape, turf areas—everything landscape.
What is the condition of these landscape features? What are your priorities for maintenance? And, what are the nice-to-haves that you hope to budget for in the future? (Think: improving the entrance landscape, creating an outdoor employee space, etc.)
Write down your goals, separating the “wants” from the “needs,”—which brings us to the importance of understanding site-specific requirements.
Understand Site-Specific Needs
Industrial properties are quite different than other types of commercial sites. Your landscaping needs vary greatly from those of a retail center, corporate park, or condo association. Your landscape provider should have experience serving industrial properties and truly understand what is required to maintain your grounds.
Managing A Scattered Industrial Property Portfolio
For one, industrial properties are often part of a portfolio, and buildings might be located all over the GTA. This presents a challenge for managers who oversee the entire portfolio because they might hire different landscape providers for properties depending on location.
Also, industrial property owners recognize they can only be in one place at a time. So the quality of landscaping on sites can deteriorate because they are spread too thin to oversee quality properly.
For these reasons, you want to hire a landscape provider that can serve all of your industrial properties, provide consistency of service and constant communication. You’ll gain single-source accountability when you work with one landscape firm.
Addressing Landscape Continuity
Industrial buildings are typically long, box-like facilities, so the landscaping significantly enhances the “front door” appeal and overall appearance of the property. Often, landscape enhancements are done in chunks. So, one industrial site area might have flowerbeds while surrounding areas have no plants at all. We see this often. One part of a building might include seasonal color while the other side is barren.
Continuity improves the industrial property’s value and appeal, mainly if the building is for lease or sale. An experienced landscape provider will guide you toward enhancements that will get your property the second look it deserves. Does the landscape provider have a history of renovating industrial properties? Ask for examples of the company’s work.
Creating A Safe Environment
Industrial properties usually include loading docks and machinery running on-site and likely crossing through parking lots. The property can field a lot of freighter traffic and house hundreds of vehicles in large parking lots. People must be able to walk the property and enter the building safely. As a side note, productivity is paramount in industrial properties. Landscaping activities must keep this in mind when providing services.
A landscape company must understand and work on the maintenance and enhancement plan.
Understanding Retention / Detention Ponds
Many industrial, manufacturing, and distribution sites have retention or detention ponds on the property. There are specific codes that must be followed to ensure that retention/detention ponds are compliant. It’s a good idea for grounds management firms to conduct an annual audit to identify areas of the retention pond that require extra maintenance or need repairs.
Be sure that the landscape provider includes the maintenance of retention/detention ponds in the contract. Otherwise, you could incur fees not allotted for in the budget. Look for a grounds management firm that has experience managing retention and detention ponds.
Addressing Business Interruption
Uptime is critical for industrial, manufacturing, and distribution site properties. The cost of transportation delays or closing even for a couple of hours to clear grounds of snow and ice can impact an industrial property’s bottom line. That’s why a zero-tolerance approach to snow and ice management is essential. A grounds management provider should be on call with the personnel, equipment, and deicing materials to keep the property clear and safe.
Find out if the landscape provider has an in-house snow and ice removal service with a fleet of plows and experienced professionals on staff. You want a winter storm management plan to avoid plant shutdowns due to weather.
Considering Industrial Property Regulations
Industrial parks often have landscape regulations that property owners must abide by. Sometimes, fees can be assessed for non-compliance. These requirements might be enforced to varying degrees depending on the park. Here are some common rules you’ll find in industrial park settings that a landscape provider should understand.
Minimum Landscape Standards
Industrial parks want to appeal to building tenants and potential buyers, and they also have a community obligation to maintain a neat, healthy, attractive property. Because of the sheer acreage of industrial properties and parks, a neglected site can negatively impact the city’s environment in a significant way. That is why some industrial parks put in place minimum landscape requirements. These rules can be as specific as the number of trees required. Regulations can include preserving green spaces.
Your landscape provider should have a good handle on landscape standards for your industrial park so your properties will comply.
Sustainability and Environmental Compliance
Some communities and industrial parks are putting more emphasis on the environmental impact of industrial buildings/businesses. There’s an increased focus on sustainability measures that include minimizing stormwater runoff and reducing the urban heat island effect from large parking lots. Not to mention, plants can help clean our air and mitigate the impact of pollutants. Meanwhile, there’s a concerted effort on some industrial properties to install native plantings that are low-water use. You’ll benefit from lower-maintenance landscaping that can reduce the cost of watering.
Your landscape provider should fully understand environmental compliance requirements and come to the table with ideas for reducing your footprint.
Landscaped Visual Barriers
Depending on the location of your industrial property, there might be requirements for a “green” visual barrier in the form of trees or a planted berm positioned along with street ways.
Some cities and industrial parks require foundation plantings alongside buildings to reduce the scale of the building. Plantings soften the look of rigid, sterile industrial facilities and create a more appealing environment for employees and anyone driving by the facility.
Your landscape provider should offer insight on ways to enhance your landscaping with the budget in mind.
Vetting Industrial Landscape Maintenance Providers
Just because a landscape company has experience maintaining commercial sites does not mean that the provider has the knowledge to care for your industrial building or portfolio of industrial properties. Before you sign a contract with a landscape firm, ask these questions.
- What industrial properties do you currently maintain?
- How long have you provided services on those industrial sites? (Tip: Look at properties the landscaper has managed for several years to see where they stand today.)
- What is your service area? Is your team capable of maintaining properties located all over the GTA?
- Do you understand our industrial park landscape regulations/codes?
- How do you deal with landscape code violations? Do you have experience with bringing industrial properties back into compliance?
- What is your experience with environmental compliance requirements? Can you share how you manage those situations?
Employees / Company:
- Tell me about your team—how do you train your employees?
- Do you conduct background checks on employees, including drug screening?
- Who will be my point of contact? How will this account manager communicate with me, and how often will they check in with landscape maintenance updates?
- What insurances do you hold?
- How often will you provide service on our industrial property?
- Do you provide all of your services in-house, or will you use subcontractors? (If so, who are those subcontractors?)
- How do you measure quality, and how do you handle complaints?
- What ideas do you have to improve the appearance and functionality of this industrial property?
- Will you suggest enhancements that fit into our budget?
Creating A Landscape RFP For Your Industrial Property
Selecting the right landscape provider for your industrial property involves initiating a request for proposal (RFP) process, an invitation to bid. You’ll invite landscape firms to submit proposals based on property specifications and the scope of work. It’s a good idea to begin with your industrial property site map. (Also, provide this to landscape companies that submit proposals.) Take the time to seriously assess what maintenance considerations your property needs before outlining qualifications for an RFP. Go back to Setting Goals and Understanding Site-Specific Needs sections of this guide.
After identifying these qualifications, you will invite landscape companies to bid and ask them to submit proposals. Share your goals with landscape providers who are interested in maintaining your grounds. Ultimately, you want the landscape firm to be that extra set of eyes and ears on your industrial sites. If they see a safety hazard unrelated to the landscape, you hope they’ll alert you of the issue. Explain their role as true partners.
Now, here is a breakdown of how an RFP should be structured and what key landscape elements to include in the document:
Invitation to Bid: You invite landscape firms to submit a proposal following the specifications. Identify the date of solicitation, name the project, the address, and include a list of proposal contacts should a landscape company wish to ask questions during the proposal process.
Submission Requirements: Set rules for submitting a proposal, including where to send the proposal, how long the proposal must be in effect (such as 30 days following submission), and other details, such as allowing bidders to take a tour of the project/property before bidding.
General Conditions: Now, you’ll review the scope of work and goals for the property. Include the duration of the contract and guidelines for meeting contract expectations, including regular quality control audits of the contractor’s work. An RFP might also include sections detailing worker qualifications (must wear a uniform, hold specific certifications, etc.), insurance requirements (workers’ compensation, general liability, auto liability, etc.), and payments.
Landscape Maintenance Services: Now, we dig into the “green” details of the RFP, where landscape elements are clearly described, including the frequency of service. Here is a hit list of landscape elements you should consider in an RFP.
- Fertilization and weed control
- Removing trash and debris
- Addressing maintenance in the back of the property
- Keeping loading dock areas clear and safe
- Leaf cleanup
- Tree and shrub maintenance
- Maintaining landscape beds
- Providing irrigation services
- Planting annuals / seasonal color (if applicable)
Comparing Landscape Providers
When collecting landscape bids for your industrial property or portfolio, you’ll see the same basic services listed. But carefully review specifications. Require landscape maintenance companies to spell out exactly what is included with each service. (Tell them to show you the numbers!) You need to know the service and frequency.
Once specifications for every service are outlined, you can compare proposals apples-to-apples. There is always a reason if one landscape company’s bid is much lower than another provider’s. (How many mowings is Company A specifying vs. what Company B’s proposal includes?)
Another differentiator among landscape firms is professional certification. Does the company belong to industry local or national trade associations? Ask about credentials and find out whether there are specialists on staff for tasks like irrigation maintenance and repair, and tree care.
Quality landscape maintenance will elevate the integrity of your industrial property, increase its value, help attract tenants/buyers and ensure that you are adhering to regulations. Whether you manage an independent industrial building or a portfolio, Garden Grove understands the site-specific needs of your grounds and will guide you toward cost-effective solutions with a mind toward safety, plant health care, and overall appearance.
There are many opportunities to improve the quality of your industrial landscape. Let’s talk more about what you should expect of a landscape provider and how to hire a partner who will look out for your best interests.