View Full Version : what and when to do's

02-15-2003, 08:12 PM
Did my first plant installs last year, gave my clients a 1 year guarantee on plant material. when would be a good time to follow up on the plants living condition I am sure there will be acouple that are in rough shape, My red prince weigela are under 5 and 1/2 feet of snow that was plowed on top of them. And also would plant food be a good idea in the spring or should I have done that in the fall before frost?

02-17-2003, 03:53 PM
For starters, giving a guarantee on any plant is a risky way to do business; I would scratch the idea all together. You’re better off offering the first year pruning at a discount or even free. Usually there isn't much if any pruning to do in the first year anyways but sounds really nice to the customer. I wouldn't use that as a selling point, rather as a Thank you tool.

Weigela, no problem,, if they are really damaged from the snow, just prune them back to different heights. They are like a weed they will be back in no time. Your customers may get a heart attack but you can assure them they will be back to full in about 2 summers if you cut them all the way to the ground. It is important to cut them at different heights so they don't turn out looking unnatural. The limbs tend to grow at the same speed and this will definitely help.
Good luck.

02-17-2003, 04:22 PM
It's standard practice here (one year warranties) On our public works jobs it's written in to the contract. so don't be so quick about warranties

02-17-2003, 04:35 PM
What about a triple 12 fertilizer in the spring?

02-17-2003, 05:41 PM
Just talking from experience.
It is also common practice for the public works agencies to take advantage of agreements that were created by “past” inexperienced landscape companies that were trying to make their bids look better. Now, everyone is suffering for it. Of course most public agencies are paying top dollar for the work and plants anyways, which takes care of any problems that most likely will occur.
Do greenhouses that sell the plants offer a warranty? Some may. I can understand if you are proven you made a mistake when you planted but there are so many variables that may not be in your fault or even the fault of your source. We do have a contactors fault policy in Germany that states, if the contractor can be proven at fault in any form then the contractor must correct the problem. I can also understand you want to offer the best customer service as possible, and so you should. I'm just saying it is very risky to offer a guaranty on plants and can add up to more loss than profit. It is very nice of you to offer this guaranty though and if you don’t run into a problem with that $1200 Acer palmatum ‘Oskazuki’ being destroyed by something so simple as it being urinated on repeatedly by the neighbors straying dog. Although the likelihood isn’t very high, I do believe you can run into more natural disastrous situation, like snow, ice, heavy winds, etc…

I don’t knock the guaranty; I just cringe at the idea of you taking a loss for uncontrollable natural disasters. Also, It just doesn’t seem fare for you to have to pay out of pocket. You shouldn’t be responsible for the snow on the plants unless you were doing the plowing but that’s another issue all together.

Although it's not necessary to fertilize Weigela, it couldn't hurt. We are more old school back home and don't necessarily support all the chemical fertilizers. We use fertilizers like horn and huff and the ever-fun horse manure. I suppose there are some really good chemical based fertilizers available. You should probably wait until one of the Chemists reply for that answer.


02-18-2003, 01:27 AM
In the US, public works must legally accept the low-bid so they are not paying top dollar. It is customary here for landscape businesses to provide a warranty regardless of having a warranty from a supplier. There are a few suppliers that do offer a warranty on wholesale plants, but not many. In the DC area, one of the largest landscape companies (32 crews working each day during the season) offers a 'Lifetime' warranty on the plants they install. Most warranties have exclusions which rule out some of the obvious causes of demise due to poor care and insects from being covered. Most residential customers ask if you offer a warranty. It is a cost of doing business that is factored into the final price. Often it is a percentage of the plant price---so we plan for the risk and cover the cost. This can also be linked to providing on-going maintenance services so that plant health can be monitored by the warranty provider.

02-18-2003, 09:17 AM
We use a warranty. We offer a different price to the customer. With & without warranty. It does however spell out that the dog or acts of nature or vandalism are not covered by the warranty.
As for fert. use a 14-14-14 once a year. Its also best to see what the particular plant needs. Such as a Camelia or an Azalea need specialty ferts.

02-18-2003, 11:15 PM
Thanks for the recomendation lawn doc..,

Lanelle I dont know what type of public works you are saying is legally obligated to accept low bid...In the municipal sector it is not law, even when you are dealing with public or state of michigan funds eg. State of Mich revenue sharing money. we have had projects be awarded to a bidder that has not been the lowest bidder because of the contractors past poor performance record working with our engineering firms or many call backs or even not being able to finish the project in a timely fashion.

02-18-2003, 11:21 PM
Thank you however for your post and I feel a whole lot better about offering a warranty on my installs. A mentor of mine recommended the 1 year warranty , he has been in the biz 30 years. Please check my next post, its going to rattle some cages.

02-19-2003, 12:09 AM
Thats the reason they have sealed bids :) low bidder gets the work unless they have a problem with their past history. Of course you have to bond the work with a performance bond and payment bond. Here just to bid the job you have to have a bid bond of 10%-15%.

02-19-2003, 12:31 AM
Originally posted by Kirk
Just talking from experience.

created by “past” inexperienced landscape companies that were trying to make their bids look better.

Do greenhouses that sell the plants offer a warranty? Some may. I Kirk

Been around this industry for a few years myself and have never seen a reputable company not offer a warranty.

And yes our Greenhouse (retail) offers not one but two year guarantee.

Landscaping division offers one ...sometimes more if maintenance agreement is signed.

02-19-2003, 09:53 AM
Offering a guarantee is prevalent enough in the industry that to not have one would put you at a competitive disadvantage with your competitors.

Everyone expects a guarantee these days. It's usually the first question out of a potential client's mouth after 'How much will this cost?'

02-19-2003, 08:11 PM
i thought and was led to believe that by law a 1 year warranty was required......am i wrong?


02-19-2003, 11:18 PM
warranties in my opinion show total professionalism in your business. i have gave warranties from day one .an honestly till this day i have never lost a plant . i have planted a few trees in the past that the customers were alittle dissatisfied about ,so i planted a different variety. an with the fertilizer hit it with triple 10 spring an fall works well ..

02-20-2003, 02:13 AM
Andy, I'm about 30-40 miles north of you, and there's no law by me about guarantees. So I don't think you have one there, either.

02-20-2003, 01:03 PM
I offer a price with a 1 yr. guarantee and a lower price without. I am honest with the customer and tell them that the chances of losing a plant is very slim compared to the savings they get from not taking the guarantee. 99% of my customers last year chose to not take the guarantee and saved money. I only replaced two plants last year and I did this for customers that did not have the guarantee. In order to show good customer service and professionalism I did not charge the customers for their replacements or labor.

02-20-2003, 06:22 PM
Wow, I didn't mean to start a rant on Guaranties, but it is obvious this is an interesting topic.

I think the idea of price adjusting is interesting. Offering a better deal on non-guarantied plants holds a little more water.

I also agree that if a plant dies, it is generally a good idea to replace the plant at no additional cost to the customer. That is just good business practice. Every happy customer is a return customer and the customers always right within means.

The workmanship is always guarantied. Of course with the exception of the corner cutting customers that wants to pinch a little too much out of cost. Tell me that's never happened to you.