There’s an old saying: That which can be measured can be controlled. Many times, landscape budgets are put together based on the previous year’s numbers—and often, only that big round number at the bottom of the budget is what grabs property managers’ attention. But the details of a budget and how landscape dollars are actually spent during a year of services can shed light on how a landscape is evolving in terms of improving safety, plant health and aesthetics.
When we drill down and analyze the numbers to evaluate which landscape maintenance services the budget covered, we can provide valuable data that can inform the next budgeting process and measure the return on investment for services.
Now, you might be wondering: Which numbers should we look at more carefully in our landscape budget? How can you relate a dollar amount to progress in the landscape?
To illustrate this clearly, we developed a landscape management budget planning tool that is a value-added service our clients can elect as a way to gain a better understanding of how their landscape budget is being utilized and what results they are gaining from their investment. It’s incredibly helpful for planning the next year’s budget and determining how exactly landscape dollars should be allocated. With the landscape budget planning tool, expenses can be compared year-over-year.
How do you know if your landscape provider is properly managing the health of your landscape? One measurement is tracking the amount spent on pest and disease control. One of our clients, when we first took over their contract, had serious landscape health issues. In the first year alone they spent over $12,000 in pest and disease management. But the next year, the cost had dropped to about $9,000. And by the third year the costs had reduced to less than $5,000. Over that same three year period, the cost of replacing dead and dying plants reduced by about $10,000 because of the improved landscape health.
When you can identify exactly how you are spending landscape maintenance dollars with a budgeting tool, then you can know for certain your investments are making a positive difference and help make informed decisions about how to spend dollars in the future. You can set goals—say renovating an entryway landscape or updating an irrigation system—and then plan for how those projects can be paid for over time.
Here, we’ll provide some insight on how our landscape management budget planning tool works and why this type of information really is powerful for your business.
How The Landscape Management Budget Planning Tool Can Work For You
The budgeting tool is quite simple, yet powerful. By analyzing previous years’ expenses (and knowing your property’s needs), your account manager can provide an educated guess as to your upcoming landscape budget needs. The annual budget is broken down into monthly expense categories. The budget is itemized by recurring contract services like your landscape maintenance contract and snow services, and by recurring predictable out of contract expenses like irrigation repairs and certain types of pest control. These are fixed and predictable costs, and they also tend to be time sensitive services. There is a final category of property enhancements which can be have-to-do or want-to-do projects. These enhancements tend to be less time sensitive so they can be scheduled to best fit your budget.
The Big 3: How We Prioritize Enhancements
Klausing Group’s budgeting tool for landscape management prioritizes three specific categories: safety and compliance, landscape health, and finally aesthetics.
Safety & Compliance: Pruning trees and shrubs can remove hazards like dead branches that could fall, or remove overhanging growth in walkways and driving lanes to remove blind corners and prevent scratches and trip hazards. Pruning can also enhance safety on a property by removing hiding spots. Many properties have special needs, such as clearance to outfalls or vegetation-free rat runs to meet compliance requirements. Snow and ice management is perhaps the largest liability mitigated through proper and timely service.
Landscape Health: The health of a landscape is promoted by implementing proper landscape cultural practices. Those include the routine landscape maintenance tasks such as mowing at the correct height, applying mulch to landscape beds, routine irrigation checks and repairs, proper pruning and lawn care, disease and pest management. Promoting landscape health is the best investment for saving money long term. Routine landscape inspections by trained professionals ensures any potential problems are caught early, also saving money and preventing plant loss.
Aesthetics: Having a beautiful landscape is about more than just curb appeal. The beauty of a landscape can increase property value, improve tenant occupancy and elevate a company’s brand. Well maintained landscapes also impact employee performance and reduce absenteeism. Aesthetics includes installing annuals and new landscaping, renovating areas of the landscape and other design-oriented projects to improve the appearance of the property. Often times safety and landscape health can be improved with an enhancement project.
Measuring Success In the Landscape
The budget planning tool is about more than planning, it is about accountability. You will know month by month what your landscape expenses will be and how that money is being used. You can see clearly from year to year the investments you make and how they fluctuate over time. Is your pest control program costing more or less money than 3 years ago? Have your irrigation repair expenses increased or decreased (does it indicate that maybe it’s time for a new irrigation system installation)? On average, how many extra mows do you buy in a year? Have your plant replacement expenses gone up or down? Only through tracking can you know for certain if your landscape contractor is effectively managing your landscape and resources.
The budget tool allows for transparency and ease of communication when working with your account manager. The budget tool also provides flexibility should unexpected expenses arise, like a heavier than normal snow year or a truck driving through your lawn crushing your irrigation system. Should an unexpected expense require cutting a budget item, you can adjust the budget wisely by protecting the projects related to safety and delaying lower priority projects till the following year.
Proving The Value of Investing in Landscape Maintenance
It all goes back to the truth that you get what you pay for. When you invest in professional commercial landscape services provided by degreed horticulturists and experienced staff, you get results and you realize a return on that investment. The budget planning tool proves that value. Let’s talk more about how your landscape can do more. Call us in Lexington at 859-254-076 and Louisville at 502-264-0127. Or, fill out this simple form and request a proposal.