Manatee County, roughly 50 miles south of Tampa Bay, hosted a free public seminar about landscaping services on April 9th.
The Bradenton Herald reports that on Thursday, the Manatee County Extension Services offered a class regarding what to look for when hiring a landscaping company. The five-hour class was open to homeowner association (HOA) board members as well as to the rest of the community, though registration was required.
Michelle Atkinson, an horticulture agent with the Manatee County Extension Services and organizer of the event, believes that homeowners often make mistakes when deciding on a landscaper. It is typical for homeowners, she claims, to pick the least expensive contractor possible. However, this can be detrimental in the long-run if key services and business methods are not met, leading to higher prices overall.
“Sometimes it can be lack of best management practices,” Atkinson said.
The seminar consisted of a panel of landscape professionals from local contractors that discussed how to find the best deals and fielded the attendees’ questions. The panelists taught the audience what “the best management practices” are and “the basics in Manatee County that you have to have as a landscape company” according to Atkinson.
Atkinson, for example, believes that homeowners should always hire a landscaping company that has worker’s compensation and general liability insurance. If a company doesn’t provide these services to their employees, any landscaping work can potentially lead to serious trouble.
“From the beginning Borsello Landscaping has focused on having clean and organized job sites. All tools and machinery are serviced and cleaned regularly and material deliveries are scheduled as needed so they aren’t creating hazardous areas on a customer’s property,” said Alisha Lowe, customer service representative at Borsello Landscaping. “At the end of each day we leave the job site spotless as if we were never there, even if the job lasts a month or more. All employees are trained and tested to insure proper and safe procedures are always followed at job sites. We would recommend all landscaping companies to follow strict safety procedure protocols.”
Atkinson claims that the county organized this class due to a considerable number of requests made by community members about how to hire a landscaping company.
“We have definitely heard the need for this type of education out there,” she said. “Hopefully it will take off. The information is definitely needed. I hear it from both sides.”
Debbie DeLeon, a neighborhood services coordinator active in the event, says the event is particularly important for HOA board members considering she is not always able to meet with them.
“Our goal is to help neighborhoods [become] a better place to live and this is a perfect opportunity,” DeLeon said. “The more you get to talk to people, the more you realize they bring something to the table so it [is] a good collaboration.”