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Lawn Care Solutions Available for Property Managers in 2019

Pros and Cons of Popular Lawn Care Solutions

When it comes to portfolio-wide lawn care, there are a few popular options. Each solution comes with its own list of benefits and an equally large list of inefficiencies and shortcomings.  

Here are the popular options that property managers use today and the reasons why they do not make sense financially in 2019. The following calculations are based on a 50-property portfolio.




Hiring an In-house Maintenance Team - $78,000 Annually

Finding and Recruiting Talent

    • Limited Resources. Property Managers have limited resources. Everyone does a little of everything,  there is never enough time in the day, and expense management is paramount. Managing and satisfying your own team is already a huge effort in a thriving economy. Adding another (unrelated) facet to your company does not make sense. The time spent searching, vetting, recruiting, hiring, and training lawn care professionals can quickly add up, especially if your properties are in multiple cities or states. Managing this operation allocates resources away from the profit-driving parts of your business and moves them to a never-ending cycle of maintenance coordination.

Equipment and Labor Costs 

    • Between mowers, blowers, trimmers, weedeaters, and a trailer, your startup equipment costs for a single maintenance crew can cost upwards of $5,000. That price increases significantly as you add crews. Add to this the cost of equipment repairs, maintenance, transportation, and gas. 
    • Hiring W2 employees comes with its own set of HR, admin, and management costs. This does not include insurance policies and workers comp associated with labor-intensive jobs. With the 2019 labor market being so sparse, competitive wages are required to secure quality contractors. 
    • Labor and equipment are variable costs that do not decrease with an increase in volume. Unless you are buying 500 lawnmowers at once (we hope you are not), it’s a high cost for the marginal benefit of keeping all operations in-house.

Multi-region Service Areas

    • Property Managers commonly work with properties across city and state lines. It is not realistic to have a single crew traveling to service each property, and it is almost as unrealistic to have in-house crews in every city/state with properties. Time spent on recruiting, training, and coordination alone negates the cost benefits of having an in-house crew. The opportunity cost is too high, your variable expenses spike, and the risks associated with owning expensive equipment are inflated. 

It’s easy to look at cost comparisons in terms of dollar amounts, but the time and energy spent on a company’s non-proficiencies are directly related to growth and efficiency. An in-house maintenance team can be feasible for small, local companies or companies so big that they manage portfolios virtually everywhere. The majority of SFR property managers lie somewhere in the middle. In-house crews will likely cost you more resources in the long run than other options.

Outsourcing to Existing Lawn Care Companies - $76,500 Annually

Tracking Services, Fulfillment, Invoicing, and Insurance

    • Outsourcing to existing lawn care companies is a much more feasible solution than hiring an in-house team in terms of time and resources. There is no cost for equipment, insurance, worker’s comp, or transportation, since those expenses are typically included in the cost of each service. You can opt for larger companies that span across multiple regions, but you are still likely to need more than one company for the portfolios you manage.
    • Outsourcing yard maintenance is less time consuming than managing an in-house team, but there is still a significant time requirement to track and coordinate everything appropriately. Working with multiple vendors in multiple areas gets messy fast. Keeping track of service fulfillment alone is a huge challenge unless vendors verify each service for each property. 
    • Verifying vendor insurance is another necessary but time-consuming task, and not all vendors have the type of coverage that you need to be protected. Collecting, verifying, and organizing COIs (certificates of insurance) can only be avoided by using a single vendor.
    • Receiving, tracking, and paying every invoice is an organizational nightmare for managers caring for more than 50 properties. This can require several FTEs and expensive software to run automated systems and payments.

Overall Vendor Management

    • Vendor management for large portfolios requires constant contact, follow-up, and detailed accounts. Every vendor is different, and the scope of work they provide varies. Vendor turnover and changes in pricing can quickly affect your bottom line. Seasonal services, property specifications, types of service, custom tasks, poor quality, failure to complete the work, and adding/removing serviceable properties increase the likelihood of missed details that lead to costly mistakes. 
    • The biggest challenge associated with vendor management is accountability. Without having eyes on each property, vendors can report work as completed without actually doing it, they can skip scheduled services and still charge you for it, and they can stop showing up altogether. There is always a level of risk associated with remote contractors.

Time Commitment

    • Outsourcing lawn care to established yard care companies takes a lot off of your plate, but the level of detail, communication, and tracking it demands can keep several FTEs busy. Each vendor requires separate and organized property lists, services, schedules, scopes of work, specifics on certain properties, invoices, payment schedules, and some form of service accountability. If you only service your vacant properties, this group of details is changing constantly and requires near-perfect communication with every vendor in order to turn your properties faster.

Outsourcing lawn maintenance in various regions demands a high level of discipline from your staff, which you can have a hand in, and almost as much discipline from your vendors, which is more difficult to control. The constant switching of properties, services, and scopes of work can create feelings of ‘burn out’ for both internal staff and vendors - and there is not a lot that can be done to fix that. Overall, the necessary level of detail to manage these operations quickly eats up your human capital that could be better utilized in the profit-driving operations of your business.

Requiring Tenant Lawn Care - $100,925 Annually

Tenant Neglect - They Just Won’t Do It

    • Property Managers and owners often exclude lawn care in their lease agreements, leaving it up to the tenants. Tenants have a few options when it comes to lawn care. They can buy a mower and do it themselves, hire someone else (usually to do the bare minimum), or ignore it. Doing it themselves and ignoring it are the more likely situations, and it comes at a cost. Tenants are not as invested in your properties as you are, so what may be unacceptable to you as a Property Manager may not even be noticed by a tenant. They are only living there short-term and have no real stakes in the condition of your property, aside from their rental deposit. The grass may get cut every once in a while, but the general aesthetic and condition of your property will decline. 

Cheaper to Upkeep Throughout Lease Terms

    • With tenants presumably doing the bare minimum, the cost to upkeep your properties (between tenants) increases. Not only will you be maintaining the condition of your properties, you will be doing a much larger scope of work than if you had cared for the property during your tenant’s lease. Trees get overgrown and grow against the foundation of your home, weeds take over the garden beds, dead/brown patches pop up, mulch is not refreshed, the lawn is not fertilized, and the general appearance of your property is getting worse. The property is neglected, and restoring it back to a healthy state will cost more time and effort than whatever money you may save by requiring lawn care in your lease. Ordering annual rehab services for your property can run close to $4,000 per property per year, which is almost double the cost of paying for regular services. Maintaining your occupied properties keeps tenants happier and keeps you in control of the state of your property - plus, you can always bump the price of rent to include lawn maintenance services.

Problems Go Unnoticed/Ignored. 

    • Home maintenance know-how from renters is not something you should rely on. There is more risk to your properties when your tenants do not know when or where to look for problems on the property. Having a vendor consistently servicing your property is a good way to get eyes on your property, and they know what to look for. Renters are not generally in the mindset of finding things that need to be fixed - especially if it does not affect their day-to-day living, like broken sprinkler heads, sagging foundation, mold, or outdoor pest problems.

 

Asking for tenant lawn care has a lot of the same shortcomings as the previous options. There is not a good way to verify the condition of the property without actually being there. If a tenant fails to properly care for the yard, that creates more work in terms of communication with tenants, charging fees, and maintaining positive relationships with your tenants. Minimizing points of contention is a simple way to increase tenant retention. Leaving tenants out of the picture when it comes to property maintenance will save you time, stress, and money.  

Automated Lawn Care - $62,100 Annually

It’s Automated 

    • Automated lawn care includes; seasonality based schedules, automatic invoicing and quality control, complete vendor management, and optimized service frequencies. TaskEasy specializes in automating the entire lawn care process. There are custom service schedules for each region in the United States, so you do not have to worry about your vendor starting too early or stopping too late in the season. Service frequency changes with the seasons, so as the cold rolls in, services are less frequent. Each service performed is checked for quality using time/geo-stamped photos that are reviewed and inspected by our Quality Control team. If the weather prevents a service from happening, you are not charged until the service is actually performed and accepted by our Quality Control team.

It’s Less Expensive

    • Because service schedules are optimized based on region and climate, you only pay for the services that your properties need. The peak of summertime often merits weekly grass cutting, but the shoulder seasons need every other week or every three weeks. TaskEasy takes that into account so you do not have to pay for services you do not need. 
    • TaskEasy comes with an online portal that tracks and manages your entire portfolio. You can turn property services on or off at any time, view before-and-after photos for any service, and look at itemized invoices. Vendor management is completely removed from you and your team, so you do not have to spend hours tracking down vendors who skipped out on a job or charged you too much. We do that for you. All of the resources you used for vendor management, invoicing, and quality control can now be reallocated to the parts of your business where they can be more effective and drive profit. 

It’s Smarter

    • TaskEasy was designed for Property Managers by Property Managers. The platform lets you manage everything in one place with full visibility of each service and property. The best part about TaskEasy is that the cost of vendor management, automated billing and scheduling, and optimized services is included in the price of each service. There are no monthly fees or subscriptions. You just pay for the services you order. That’s it. 

Multi-Region lawn care is a big, complicated problem that every Property Manager deals with. TaskEasy is the best, most efficient, and cost-effective way to do what needs to be done. Leveraging technology in a historically manual industry has changed the way we think about and manage work. TaskEasy itself leverages different tech every day to improve efficiency and do more with less. Technology can work for everyone. do not work harder than you have to, just look for the right solutions for your industry, even if it is as niche as Nationwide Single Family Rental Lawn Maintenance.

TaskEasy allows you to pay less and free up resources that are critical to the success of your business. Upgrade your maintenance process and cut costs and the same time. 

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Pros and Cons of Popular Lawn Care Solutions

When it comes to portfolio-wide lawn care, there are a few popular options. Each solution comes with its own list of benefits and an equally large list of inefficiencies and shortcomings.  

Here are the popular options that property managers use today and the reasons why they do not make sense financially in 2019. The following calculations are based on a 50-property portfolio.




Hiring an In-house Maintenance Team - $78,000 Annually

Finding and Recruiting Talent

    • Limited Resources. Property Managers have limited resources. Everyone does a little of everything,  there is never enough time in the day, and expense management is paramount. Managing and satisfying your own team is already a huge effort in a thriving economy. Adding another (unrelated) facet to your company does not make sense. The time spent searching, vetting, recruiting, hiring, and training lawn care professionals can quickly add up, especially if your properties are in multiple cities or states. Managing this operation allocates resources away from the profit-driving parts of your business and moves them to a never-ending cycle of maintenance coordination.

Equipment and Labor Costs 

    • Between mowers, blowers, trimmers, weedeaters, and a trailer, your startup equipment costs for a single maintenance crew can cost upwards of $5,000. That price increases significantly as you add crews. Add to this the cost of equipment repairs, maintenance, transportation, and gas. 
    • Hiring W2 employees comes with its own set of HR, admin, and management costs. This does not include insurance policies and workers comp associated with labor-intensive jobs. With the 2019 labor market being so sparse, competitive wages are required to secure quality contractors. 
    • Labor and equipment are variable costs that do not decrease with an increase in volume. Unless you are buying 500 lawnmowers at once (we hope you are not), it’s a high cost for the marginal benefit of keeping all operations in-house.

Multi-region Service Areas

    • Property Managers commonly work with properties across city and state lines. It is not realistic to have a single crew traveling to service each property, and it is almost as unrealistic to have in-house crews in every city/state with properties. Time spent on recruiting, training, and coordination alone negates the cost benefits of having an in-house crew. The opportunity cost is too high, your variable expenses spike, and the risks associated with owning expensive equipment are inflated. 

It’s easy to look at cost comparisons in terms of dollar amounts, but the time and energy spent on a company’s non-proficiencies are directly related to growth and efficiency. An in-house maintenance team can be feasible for small, local companies or companies so big that they manage portfolios virtually everywhere. The majority of SFR property managers lie somewhere in the middle. In-house crews will likely cost you more resources in the long run than other options.

Outsourcing to Existing Lawn Care Companies - $76,500 Annually

Tracking Services, Fulfillment, Invoicing, and Insurance

    • Outsourcing to existing lawn care companies is a much more feasible solution than hiring an in-house team in terms of time and resources. There is no cost for equipment, insurance, worker’s comp, or transportation, since those expenses are typically included in the cost of each service. You can opt for larger companies that span across multiple regions, but you are still likely to need more than one company for the portfolios you manage.
    • Outsourcing yard maintenance is less time consuming than managing an in-house team, but there is still a significant time requirement to track and coordinate everything appropriately. Working with multiple vendors in multiple areas gets messy fast. Keeping track of service fulfillment alone is a huge challenge unless vendors verify each service for each property. 
    • Verifying vendor insurance is another necessary but time-consuming task, and not all vendors have the type of coverage that you need to be protected. Collecting, verifying, and organizing COIs (certificates of insurance) can only be avoided by using a single vendor.
    • Receiving, tracking, and paying every invoice is an organizational nightmare for managers caring for more than 50 properties. This can require several FTEs and expensive software to run automated systems and payments.

Overall Vendor Management

    • Vendor management for large portfolios requires constant contact, follow-up, and detailed accounts. Every vendor is different, and the scope of work they provide varies. Vendor turnover and changes in pricing can quickly affect your bottom line. Seasonal services, property specifications, types of service, custom tasks, poor quality, failure to complete the work, and adding/removing serviceable properties increase the likelihood of missed details that lead to costly mistakes. 
    • The biggest challenge associated with vendor management is accountability. Without having eyes on each property, vendors can report work as completed without actually doing it, they can skip scheduled services and still charge you for it, and they can stop showing up altogether. There is always a level of risk associated with remote contractors.

Time Commitment

    • Outsourcing lawn care to established yard care companies takes a lot off of your plate, but the level of detail, communication, and tracking it demands can keep several FTEs busy. Each vendor requires separate and organized property lists, services, schedules, scopes of work, specifics on certain properties, invoices, payment schedules, and some form of service accountability. If you only service your vacant properties, this group of details is changing constantly and requires near-perfect communication with every vendor in order to turn your properties faster.

Outsourcing lawn maintenance in various regions demands a high level of discipline from your staff, which you can have a hand in, and almost as much discipline from your vendors, which is more difficult to control. The constant switching of properties, services, and scopes of work can create feelings of ‘burn out’ for both internal staff and vendors - and there is not a lot that can be done to fix that. Overall, the necessary level of detail to manage these operations quickly eats up your human capital that could be better utilized in the profit-driving operations of your business.

Requiring Tenant Lawn Care - $100,925 Annually

Tenant Neglect - They Just Won’t Do It

    • Property Managers and owners often exclude lawn care in their lease agreements, leaving it up to the tenants. Tenants have a few options when it comes to lawn care. They can buy a mower and do it themselves, hire someone else (usually to do the bare minimum), or ignore it. Doing it themselves and ignoring it are the more likely situations, and it comes at a cost. Tenants are not as invested in your properties as you are, so what may be unacceptable to you as a Property Manager may not even be noticed by a tenant. They are only living there short-term and have no real stakes in the condition of your property, aside from their rental deposit. The grass may get cut every once in a while, but the general aesthetic and condition of your property will decline. 

Cheaper to Upkeep Throughout Lease Terms

    • With tenants presumably doing the bare minimum, the cost to upkeep your properties (between tenants) increases. Not only will you be maintaining the condition of your properties, you will be doing a much larger scope of work than if you had cared for the property during your tenant’s lease. Trees get overgrown and grow against the foundation of your home, weeds take over the garden beds, dead/brown patches pop up, mulch is not refreshed, the lawn is not fertilized, and the general appearance of your property is getting worse. The property is neglected, and restoring it back to a healthy state will cost more time and effort than whatever money you may save by requiring lawn care in your lease. Ordering annual rehab services for your property can run close to $4,000 per property per year, which is almost double the cost of paying for regular services. Maintaining your occupied properties keeps tenants happier and keeps you in control of the state of your property - plus, you can always bump the price of rent to include lawn maintenance services.

Problems Go Unnoticed/Ignored. 

    • Home maintenance know-how from renters is not something you should rely on. There is more risk to your properties when your tenants do not know when or where to look for problems on the property. Having a vendor consistently servicing your property is a good way to get eyes on your property, and they know what to look for. Renters are not generally in the mindset of finding things that need to be fixed - especially if it does not affect their day-to-day living, like broken sprinkler heads, sagging foundation, mold, or outdoor pest problems.

 

Asking for tenant lawn care has a lot of the same shortcomings as the previous options. There is not a good way to verify the condition of the property without actually being there. If a tenant fails to properly care for the yard, that creates more work in terms of communication with tenants, charging fees, and maintaining positive relationships with your tenants. Minimizing points of contention is a simple way to increase tenant retention. Leaving tenants out of the picture when it comes to property maintenance will save you time, stress, and money.  

Automated Lawn Care - $62,100 Annually

It’s Automated 

    • Automated lawn care includes; seasonality based schedules, automatic invoicing and quality control, complete vendor management, and optimized service frequencies. TaskEasy specializes in automating the entire lawn care process. There are custom service schedules for each region in the United States, so you do not have to worry about your vendor starting too early or stopping too late in the season. Service frequency changes with the seasons, so as the cold rolls in, services are less frequent. Each service performed is checked for quality using time/geo-stamped photos that are reviewed and inspected by our Quality Control team. If the weather prevents a service from happening, you are not charged until the service is actually performed and accepted by our Quality Control team.

It’s Less Expensive

    • Because service schedules are optimized based on region and climate, you only pay for the services that your properties need. The peak of summertime often merits weekly grass cutting, but the shoulder seasons need every other week or every three weeks. TaskEasy takes that into account so you do not have to pay for services you do not need. 
    • TaskEasy comes with an online portal that tracks and manages your entire portfolio. You can turn property services on or off at any time, view before-and-after photos for any service, and look at itemized invoices. Vendor management is completely removed from you and your team, so you do not have to spend hours tracking down vendors who skipped out on a job or charged you too much. We do that for you. All of the resources you used for vendor management, invoicing, and quality control can now be reallocated to the parts of your business where they can be more effective and drive profit. 

It’s Smarter

    • TaskEasy was designed for Property Managers by Property Managers. The platform lets you manage everything in one place with full visibility of each service and property. The best part about TaskEasy is that the cost of vendor management, automated billing and scheduling, and optimized services is included in the price of each service. There are no monthly fees or subscriptions. You just pay for the services you order. That’s it. 

Multi-Region lawn care is a big, complicated problem that every Property Manager deals with. TaskEasy is the best, most efficient, and cost-effective way to do what needs to be done. Leveraging technology in a historically manual industry has changed the way we think about and manage work. TaskEasy itself leverages different tech every day to improve efficiency and do more with less. Technology can work for everyone. do not work harder than you have to, just look for the right solutions for your industry, even if it is as niche as Nationwide Single Family Rental Lawn Maintenance.

TaskEasy allows you to pay less and free up resources that are critical to the success of your business. Upgrade your maintenance process and cut costs and the same time. 

---