November 2011 — Are you getting what you pay for?
Welcome to the new “Monthly Advice” page for Larry’s Lawn Service and Snowplowing, Stump Grinding and Tree Service. We look forward to passing on the newest trends in the service as well as friendly advice to you as well as answer your generalized questions that you may have. So here we go for our first edition!
There’s an old adage – “You get what you pay for”. Another one is “Penny wise, pound foolish”. Often, these sayings are true. Most everyone like a good deal, however sometimes that can lead to foolish decisions with less than desirable results. A good deal can translate from having hundreds of dollars in pruning costs to many thousands in tree removals and replacements, property loses and property value depreciation. As a customer looking to have tree work done, just as in any other profession, there are several things to consider. While you may want “the lowest price”, it doesn’t always mean that you will get the quality or expertise that you may want or require. Consider the following tips before hiring or maintaining a contractor:
- Reputation: Is the company a reputable company and has it been around for awhile? Or, are they just passing through the neighborhood trying to make a fast buck? They should provide references upon request.
- Insurance: Is the company you are about to hire insured? Remember, if someone is working on your property and is injured, you could be liable. Additionally, any mistakes or unintended consequences should be covered by the company’s insurance policy.
- Education and Knowledge: Does the company owner or foreman have degrees or advanced education in the services they are about to provide? Do they seem particularly knowledgeable about the services they are about to provide? With a little inquisitiveness, valuable information can be garnered from the service.
- Professionalism: Does the company appear professional? That rusty old truck without a muffler may initially indicate cheaper prices but it may also indicate other unwanted attributes about the company. Do they listen and respect your wishes of the services you desire?
- Certification: If applying pesticides, the applicators must be certified. Ask to see their certification issued by the Department of Agriculture. Some plant health care professionals also have certification from other sources.
- Professional Affiliation: Is the company affiliated with a professional association such as Michigan Green Industry Association (MGIA), Association of Grand Rapids Landscape Professionals (AGRLP), Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA)? An affiliation indicates the company and its employees partake in seminars, workshops, conferences as well as subscriptions to professional journals. Many associations offer lists of members of their professional affiliates.
- Cost of Service: Because professional companies pay their employees a decent wage with ancillary benefits, carry insurance, are licensed and certified, attend professional seminars to maintain current knowledge about various practices, among other business expenses, they must charge a reasonable fee for their professional services. Often, the lowest bid is not the best bid. The fees that professionals charge will be more cost-effective in the long run.
- Educate yourself: Are you at least a little aware of what needs to be done to your property and how it should be accomplished? The web, various publications including books and extension publications, verbal inquiries (“word of mouth”) offer a plethora of information that will enable the average homeowner to be somewhat knowledgeable about the needs of the trees or landscape and the company they are about to hire. It is significant that homeowners do their own research in order to know what is needed.
This may have been a little long winded for the first advice column but it is of the utmost importance that you as a homeowner are prepared to help yourself as you help your landscape.
Look forward to further advice on landscaping, tree work, fertilization, etc. in the upcoming months. If you have questions, please forward them to us and we will do our best to get them answered and publish them here.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!!!