Getting Homeowner Association Contracts

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by Love the Green Biz, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. Love the Green Biz

    Love the Green Biz LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,294

    I just recently took a very interesting course at the NJ Irrigation Assoc. Winter Tech Education event in Monroe NJ call "Navigating the HOA Maze".

    Even though I have several large HOAs in my portfolio it still gave me some great ideas about how to go about getting higher end work in this large market which up to this point I hadn't tried before.

    If anyone can share their experiences with irrigation maintenance at these places and any pointers on how to get in please do. I always look for new ideas to try and I'm sure many members here would be interested as well-especially those trying to break into this market.
     
    hort101 and Outlawn like this.
  2. SoCalLandscapeMgmt

    SoCalLandscapeMgmt LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,364

    Out here in CA the key to the HOA market is the management companies. There are several large companies in my area who are in the $10mil to $30mil a year size who do nothing but HOA landscape maintenance services. Many years ago I thought I wanted to do HOA work and we had several contracts but we've all but abandoned them. The problem I have with them is that every year or two you get a new board of directors with a new agenda and a new axe to grind. We would spend years building a relationship only to have it all change instantly with the installation of a new board of directors. This is why I don't chase that work anymore. As far as getting the work it's really about building the relationships with the property management firms. They are the ones who take the work out to bid when they associations are looking to change. You might look at joining CAI (The Community Association Institute). You can join as a vendor and that gets you in their directory. The CAI also holds industry trade shows for all of the property management firms. Vendors can buy booths and basically market their services and company directly to the property managers. Another trick that a lot of the guys out here do is to reach out to property management firms and offer to host a "Lunch and Learn". This is a pricey option (a couple of hundred dollars) but you can get all of the property managers in the room, feed them lunch and give a talk on something that might be relevant to the needs of the communities that the manage. If a Lunch and Learn is out of the budget I know several sales people for the larger landscape companies who will stop by the management companies and drop off a box of donuts or pastries or something tasty with their business card taped to the box. The other game is to drop off pens, notepads, calculators and various items with your company name and logo on them. I've walked into several management company offices over the years and seen notepads and pens with my competitors name on it sitting on the property managers desk. There is a fine line between getting your name in front of the property managers and trying to bribe your way in but I know of at least one company in my area who spends an obscene amount of money marketing to property management companies. It's all in how much time and money you want to commit. Once you get in with them (which is the hardest part) I find that as long as you respond promptly, take care of issues immediately and generally make the property managers life easy, they will do whatever they can to get you on all of the properties that they manage.
     
    Love the Green Biz and hort101 like this.
  3. Dawson

    Dawson LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,306

    The best way to get commercial work is a personal connection with the person who's in charge of hiring for the commercial job (or with the owners of course), rather it's an HOA or any other type of business. The few commercial jobs I've had that didn't come as a result of a personal connection with someone in charge of hiring didn't last long because they're always looking for someone cheaper.... And they can always find someone cheaper.
     
  4. Love the Green Biz

    Love the Green Biz LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,294

    Ain't that the truth!
     
    SoCalLandscapeMgmt likes this.
  5. TX Easymoney

    TX Easymoney LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,268

    They can always find someone cheaper that is offering less or cutting corners and after all the proud talk about how a board member saved money, rarely do they follow up or have the expertise to see what they actually bought.
     
    hort101 and SoCalLandscapeMgmt like this.
  6. TX Easymoney

    TX Easymoney LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,268

    The other BIG issue with HOA properties is that constant education is necessary--especially with irrigation maintenance. Many new board members view it as their 'crusade' to cut costs simply because they saw the budgeted numbers and cant fathom why an HOA is spending as much as it does on irrigation maintenance/repair. The typical refrain is: 'my own system never breaks, so why is all this money being wasted on repair?'
    Until they see firsthand a break which requires digging 3-5 feet down or a lateral which has been enveloped in roots do they understand that its a lot more complicated than slapping in the cheapest head as quickly as possible.

    Repairs aside, then there is pitching upgrades...folks know little about adequate coverage, let along uniformity and think that if one head is somewhat sprinkling water onto an area, its plenty.
    ...I had one HOA (that we were bidding) told me that their current guy does an excellent job at repair...'when we see an issue, we report it and he comes out and repairs the system-he's great'. I then ask if he regularly goes through the entire system for a more comprehensive, proactive approach...the answer was: 'why do we need to do that and why would we need to pay for that?'
     
    hort101 likes this.
  7. SoCalLandscapeMgmt

    SoCalLandscapeMgmt LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,364

    One of the last HOA's that we maintained has the exact same attitude. The property was about 20 years old, the irrigation system was a crap install to begin with but the association treasurer was just convinced that they were spending too much on irrigation repair. He called me up and demanded that when my tech arrived on site to do the weekly inspection that he be notified so that he could come out and shadow our guy because he just didn't believe that there was that much broken stuff each week. The funny part was that this guy was all torqued up over $50 to $60 per week in repairs. The only thing we maintained at this HOA were two pool areas, a tennis court and some parkway landscape. Our biggest issues were with the kids who lived there playing in the bushes and snapping off the risers and heads. We parted ways shortly after this demand was made of us. I knew for a fact that they had over $500K in their reserve account but they wouldn't spend any of it on anything. I just got tired of being nickel and dimed to death on everything. This was the same HOA where the treasurer asked me why I didn't buy the annual color that we installed there from Home Depot. "You charge $25 a flat for color, Home Depot sells it for $9 a flat". I just looked at the guy and said, "well, that color isn't going to deliver itself and plant itself". He still didn't get it. That was my first clue that it was time to part ways with them.
     
  8. Love the Green Biz

    Love the Green Biz LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,294

    You have obviously paid your "HOA" dues over the years. Everything you said I have experienced.

    When the board changes there is always one mucker in the works who can't fathom why what we do costs what it does. I told one new guy to go ahead and find the cheap guys but be prepared to pay me double if you want me back. He wanted a second on his motion to look for cheaper irrigation services. There was no second so it never came to be.
     
  9. Love the Green Biz

    Love the Green Biz LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,294


    I had one of those also. Had everyone on the crew soak this schmuck at every turn. A short time in he "got it" and went away.
     
    Steve and SoCalLandscapeMgmt like this.

Share This Page