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National Landscape Design Firm.....Look Out!!!!

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by PMG, May 2, 2006.

  1. PMG

    PMG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    Another “National Company” to look out for.

    I am new to the site, but have some not so new news.....There seems to be a “National Landscape Design Firm” out there with a little twist, "claiming to do comprehensive landscape design nationally" It is set up to appear that you are getting a good deal by doing a little (little…HA!) site work for them. Unfortunately, it seems as though it is like a pyramid scam where it will cost you money……. a lot of money, to be a part of this.

    The company sells landscape designs to homeowners and then looks for contractors to do the initial site work, they tell you, you could have first dibs (yeah right) on the install because you can start to build a relationship with the customer if you go and do the site work (measurements, pictures, etc.), the hidden fees come in after you agree and sign up to be a “preferred contractor” and provide them with all your personal company info. They have an outstanding sales pitch going on, and have had success in selling companies into doing this work. They tell you they will waive the initial fee, but what they haven't told you is that you have to spend money with them on the backside to the tune of a minimum of $2,000 and it could range in the 10’s of thousands yearly to continue to be a "preferred contractor" (where have we heard that story before).

    Preferred Contractor Requirements – (Taken from their website)

    Preferred Contractor must have current liability insurance (contractor license were applicable).
    Preferred Contractor must do a minimum of $2000 in Marketing with us per year. (Here come the backside fees)
    Preferred Contractors must have a Web Site. (more fees, if you don’t have one)
    Annual $100 fee, (watch out for this one).
    Preferred Contractors must be approved by VisionScape Management.

    They have what appears to be a professional website, which sometimes fools individuals and or companies. They post their services on Google, Service Magic and other search engines trying to appear to be honest and trustworthy. They throw around large company names such as Monrovia (a huge plant growing firm in CA), Lowe's, and Home Depot to make it appear that they are doing business with the Big Guys, unfortunately ...they are not!

    On a brighter note, and after some investigation, I didn’t join. I believe we need to band together to eliminate these companies. We as a strong entity across the USA can do it. Any company out there that offers design/build, maintenance, hardscape installation, pool installs, water features, or any other industry services. are not only being taken advantage of, but seems they are being scammed in some way by these “National Companies”.

    So....Look Out! if they call you and try to get you signed up, I would respectfully decline there offer, trust me, it will save you money in hidden fees. If you are sold by their process and do work for them, I would charge them for the services. I would also recommend you get all your money up front, make sure the check clears, and then go do any site work. It is costing us money to drive to these sites, spend our time doing all their work for them, and they are waiving the initial (note the word INITIAL) fee. With gas prices the way they are, and getting worse daily, it isn't worth it, it is not a bargain, nor are there any guarantees that we would get the work. They will try to sell you on all the other services they offer, such as: Marketing for your firm, a low cost website (lol), signage, a company logo development, etc. This is where the other fees come in. In all they provide and charge you for, they will also demand to have their name on all your signage; this will possibly take work away from us and direct it to them.

    Please share this with your friends, colleagues and any other landscape, maintenance, pool installer, or Green Industry professional out there. We as professionals need to take a stand against these companies, whether it is in the Green Industry or the Snow and Ice Industry, we are the professionals, we have invested our blood sweat and tears into our services, our customers and our professionalism, only to be mocked but to have the industry degraded by these so called “national companies” or “Landscape Design Firms” out there. They are looking out only for themselves and trying to make money by taking advantage of us.

    If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask them. My name is Peter, I am the owner of PMG (Property Maintenance & Grounds Services) located in Philadelphia, PA, both myself as owner, or our Vice President will be posting any replies to your questions....Lets put an end to being taken advantage of by all these “national companies” and keep the relationships with our current and prospective customers we have and are working so hard to develop.

    At this point, I am not able to provide the name of the company based on pending litigation I have in place, I can say they are located in New York State. If you have been approached by this firm, please feel free to shed some light on this firm’s name. I would recommend anyone be careful with your involvement, it is your money you worked so hard for, don't be forced to give it away.

    Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to discuss this serious situation, keep your eyes and ears open and be sure not to be taken by these firms.

    Property Maintenance & Grounds Services

    PS...Sorry this post is so long, I needed to get the word out. :hammerhead:
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Thanks for the warning, last year we had a slew of 'realtors' popping up around here and it also reeked of a scam because a true realtor is almost like a doctor or a lawyer (i.e.: college degree and they have to pass a BIG test too). As for these folk they appeared just like you or me, thou they were mostly harmless other than they all had stars in their eyes, suddenly a bunch of them wanted to renovate these homes and stuff... Made me nervous about getting paid but other than that it was ok.

    Now I NEVER work for someone else such as being 'sub-contracted.' Anytime someone calls me and starts off with this bs about 'Yes I am in business and have a pro... CLICK!'... I just won't do it, it's not just the scammers but even if it's legit there's always a percentage fee someplace and someone has to pay this fee and I get sick and tired of fighting over it because in the end they want to get paid for the 'referral' and write me a check while the customer pays them and it's just never-ending low-balling bs trying to get a low-low-low price so they can jack it up a bit. My problem is the customer is entitled to the fairest price I can quote upfront, without add-on fees or anything else, I only deal straight with the horse itself and no jockeys or middlemen or anyone else need apply.

    But yeah, I get a few jokers from time to time, just have to be careful is all.

    p.s.: Anytime someone wants me to attend a meeting or any such bs, see ya later.
    It's real simple: You want me to do lawn care? What do you want me to do? Where? Thank you, I'll have your estimate pronto.
    Anything else that isn't standard run-of-the-mill is outta here.

    p.s.s.: If you want to eliminate the company, file a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    How to file a complaint, and how it works:

    It is difficult in most cases for the government to prove a pyramid scam is a ponzi scheme per se. Even thou doing this stuff is illegal and there exist laws against it, it is really very hard to prove that it is what they are doing, but...

    Whenever money is exchanged, a business must provide a USEFUL service or TANGIBLE product in return for said money, and this is where the ponzi boyz catch it via the FTC. Due to the fact the ponzi boyz don't give you anything for your money except maybe some fancy-looking papers, the way the FTC sees things they are thus selling 'stock' in their company.

    Now, in order for you or anyone else to sell stock, they must first be registered via the FTC and it takes some doing... I am not sure what all is involved but lets just say you need to be BIG before you can sell stock, real big and real legit (like Google or Coca Cola, so to speak). If, however, you are found to be selling stock without having registered your business with the FTC, then you are guilty of selling unregistered securities (the official name of stocks is securities, and applies also to bonds), and selling unregistered securities is a crime.
    Due to the fact the FTC is Federal, I would assume this crime to be a felony but I am not sure thou I do believe it translates to a few years in prison (5-8 or so). I know it doesn't sound like much but that is a long time and no offense but pyramid scams are a non-violent crime so hate to say it but we gotta give them a little bit of a break, after all the folks who hand over the money are just a little bit at fault themselves. But anyway...

    So, file the complaint here and I can almost guarantee that ponzi scheme will magically disappear within 3-4, 6 months at the most:

    p.s.: Although I am generally not a rat, ponzi schemes are the worst of the worst, I'd almost let you commit murder without reporting you before I let you run a pyramid scam. Pyramid scams erode communities and alienate friends and family and destroy relationships by eating at the very core of what keeps us together in the first place, pyramid schemes are the absolute worst thing not to mention it is such a big waste of time and money it is unreal.

    p.s.s.: I've been thinking of reporting this Primerica stuff but am not sure what it's all about except I want no part of it.
  4. PMG

    PMG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    Thanks so much for all the information. I don't blame you for not working with someone else, depending on the circumstances. We have been in business for however long and have spent our time developing relationships, keeping them and expanding our clientele is what being in business is all about.

    Now with regard to this company, I am not saying they are running a scam, I just said it seems as though it could be like one, based on the amount of money one needs to invest to be a "preferred contractor" As far as I am concerned, I am a preferred contractor, if for no one else then for myself and for my business and customers.

    It seems as though when one "national company" drops to the background, another one emerges with a new twist on how they are going to get money out of us. I applaud their efforts, but obviously....only the strong survive and like any other...they too will fall to the background and another will emerge.

    Thanks again for all the information, It gives me a place to start and see where it may lead.

    Peter :usflag:
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Yeah I rarely actually file a report unless I'm sure, even if it really reeks of it, so long I didn't lose any money myself, I mean I don't like it because it's kinda like stealing but it is still a non-violent crime, just money... As far as stealing, it's not even like that, it might be closer to embezzling but really it's just telling big fat lies until somebody believes it enough and most people actually hand over their moolah of their own free will... lol it's still a scam but from time to time one needs to come around to remind us not to believe in the emperor's new clothes.

    I have the info on the FTC because of my web site, every once in a blue moon one of these pyramid schemes goes spam-borne and decides to use email to advertise themselves... All it takes is my address gets involved somehow and it's all over for me until something is done, the spew of spam is unbelievable.

    Last resort, I say.
  6. Pavers Plus

    Pavers Plus LawnSite Member
    Messages: 83

    PMG.....you may want to edit your original post to take out the name of the company management listed under the last box of requirements.....

    My opinion is if you don't want to use them for your designs, nor do you want to install the projects they design than go about you business as usual. They probably want to establish a relationship with contractors and the $2000 marketing is to assist them get more designs in your market for you to install as a preferred contractor.

    Also, I think a good website is probably one of the best forms of marketing for your company and probably one of the cheapest. Also, the $100 fee is pretty cheap to receive leads. I know a certain Landscape website for leads I used when I was in business charged by the lead and I must have paid over $2000 that year in leads, but I got over $100,000 in jobs from those leads.

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