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View Full Version : What does "Estate Care" Mean to you/how do you do it?


forestfireguy
06-14-2011, 10:31 AM
We have an emerging market locally, well really more for us as a company. There are several larger properties in extrememly affluent areas locally which demand the very highest level of personal service. We are a full service company, running 8 maintenance cres and about 15 landscape construction crews daily. The company was built and is still primarily driven by high end design build work, lots of natural stone and large plantings. Anyway, we have been focusing on growing the maintenance side of the business and as a result we are finding oppurtunity in caring for the larger, high end properties. For those who do this kind of work already can you offer any advice? Pricing sturcture? Schedules, traits to look for in employees to service these clients. We are feeling our way through it now and thought I'd ask for advice here......We are finding it challenging to shift from a very efficiency minded production operation, to slowing down and giving that hand holding kind of service, it's also challenging to price this work without making it all T&M, which isn't all bad, but sometimes you get pushed to a set price and still have to meet certain demands, change orders aren't really practical for these.

Will P.C.
06-14-2011, 02:42 PM
Estate care is such a loaded term. It could mean anything from scooping dog poop, to liquidating a home at an auction.

I assume you would like to be focused on 'landscape' type things.
Garden Design, Irrigation, Fert/squirt, Power Washing, Pest Control, Landscape Lighting, Overseeding, etc

Florida Gardener
06-14-2011, 05:20 PM
It means you need to spend extra time at the property to make sure all ducks are in a row, manage pest and fungus issues and do whatever needs to be done to make sure the place looks perfect. If you are a mow and go operation, you will have a hard time adjusting.
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Will P.C.
06-14-2011, 06:42 PM
You need to be hitting homes well over a million dollars. Anyone lower will not have the money

Florida Gardener
06-14-2011, 07:12 PM
Good point from above. You really need to advertise to homes that have a lot invested in their landscape and they view it as high priority. There are cheapos here that live in 1M+ homes that have crappy landscapes and they look for cheap service.
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vencops
06-14-2011, 08:03 PM
it's also challenging to price this work without making it all T&M

Then don't.

Let me give you a rundown of my afternoon. I have a property like you're describing that I service, weekly.

I serviced the property, like usual. But, last week...a large tree fell on the rear fence, during a storm. I scheduled the fence co. to get there about the time I was finishing. We spent 45min. going over the damages. Then, the tree guy got there to give the homeowner an estimate. I spent 30min. with him, also. I then did some "extra" spot spraying in the rear of the property (I spot-spray Glyphos. as part of my regular, weekly service...in and around the house and grounds). I set up both appointments (tree & fence guy), and I'm having them send ME the estimates. I'll forward them to the homeowner, in one email. If I think I can make money removing the tree (based on the other estimate), I'll provide an estimate to him for that, also.

I have a set weekly service amount and scope of work. When I do something outside that, I bill for it. He knows my hourly rate....and I don't have to ask if it's OK if I do the work. We're on those terms. I wouldn't work in a situation like this if I had to ask if it was OK if I did something "extra". I figure that's why I'm their property manager. When something needs taken care of....I do it.

If it helps....this is a $2.2M home that the homeowners live in, part-time.

Florida Gardener
06-14-2011, 08:28 PM
Then don't.

Let me give you a rundown of my afternoon. I have a property like you're describing that I service, weekly.

I serviced the property, like usual. But, last week...a large tree fell on the rear fence, during a storm. I scheduled the fence co. to get there about the time I was finishing. We spent 45min. going over the damages. Then, the tree guy got there to give the homeowner an estimate. I spent 30min. with him, also. I then did some "extra" spot spraying in the rear of the property (I spot-spray Glyphos. as part of my regular, weekly service...in and around the house and grounds). I set up both appointments (tree & fence guy), and I'm having them send ME the estimates. I'll forward them to the homeowner, in one email. If I think I can make money removing the tree (based on the other estimate), I'll provide an estimate to him for that, also.

I have a set weekly service amount and scope of work. When I do something outside that, I bill for it. He knows my hourly rate....and I don't have to ask if it's OK if I do the work. We're on those terms. I wouldn't work in a situation like this if I had to ask if it was OK if I did something "extra". I figure that's why I'm their property manager. When something needs taken care of....I do it.

If it helps....this is a $2.2M home that the homeowners live in, part-time.

Maybe your not posting all of the logistics, but what you described didn't seem like anything special.....Spot spraying roundup is common practice at most of my properties and they are all(minus 2) average homes....
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vencops
06-14-2011, 08:38 PM
I sprayed at the rear of the 3+ac. property, today (outside my normal scope of work), because it looked like it needed it (when we were examining the fence).

I spent close to 2 hours with repair companies. Nothing special?

Is setting up the repair estimates (and the repair companies) and deciphering them, special? It's something ELSE the homeowner doesn't have to worry about.

The bottom line is, I do these things so they don't have to. And, they pay me for my time.

To the OP....

You're gonna need to find the right folks for this type arrangement. That's nothing you didn't already know. Good luck.

Florida Gardener
06-14-2011, 08:42 PM
I sprayed at the rear of the 3+ac. property, today (outside my normal scope of work), because it looked like it needed it (when we were examining the fence).

I spent close to 2 hours with repair companies. Nothing special?

Is setting up the repair estimates (and the repair companies) and deciphering them, special? It's something ELSE the homeowner doesn't have to worry about.

The bottom line is, I do these things so they don't have to. And, they pay me for my time.

To the OP....

You're gonna need to find the right folks for this type arrangement. That's nothing you didn't already know. Good luck.

Sorry I didn't clarify. Yes, what you did was good and that is what these people want. I was referring to actual landscape stuff...trust me I am not knocking you by any means.
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vencops
06-14-2011, 08:49 PM
The key to the "Landscape stuff" (or, ANYTHING THEY WANT) is diversity. THIS is why I market myself as a property management company. I can handle ANYTHING my clients need.

And, if I can't.....I sub. it out. Either way, I'm a one-stop-shop for my homeowners. With this type of client, that's huge.

Again, good luck.