Prices aren’t what they used to be — except for maybe with gas. Who saw that coming?
It seems everything is on the rise, from the coffee you drink to metro fares. And in Washington DC, there’s very little you would call “cheap” — except for maybe some tasty hot wings from Boundary Stone.
In DC, groceries, health care, housing, utilities and transportation all cost more than the national averages, according to Sperling’s Best Places.
Inflation and other factors are hiking up costs, including ones you’ll definitely notice as a property manager. Whether you manage a housing complex or shopping center, one of the top expenses found in your budget is probably landscape maintenance.
Like several other services and products, commercial property maintenance costs are also increasing across the board. You want to make sure you’re spending money wisely on the property, so it’s important to understand what’s causing the increases.
Here are five reasons commercial property maintenance costs are on the rise in Washington DC.
Providing Qualified Employees You Actually Want on Your Site
Paying team members is easily the top expense for commercial landscaping companies.
Finding (and keeping) the best team members is vital, and one part of that is offering them a fair salary. The more experienced the worker, the more they should be paid — and don’t you want the most qualified team handling your property?
It can be difficult for maintenance companies to find hardworking employees who are passionate about the work. So to attract people like that, the companies need to offer higher salaries, along with intangibles like a good working environment and opportunities for promotions.
To ensure you have the best people maintaining your commercial property, you will probably have to pay a little more for it. But, that’s still cheaper than hiring a low-ball bidder and then later needing to bring in the real professionals to fix what they did to your site.
Rising Cost of Insurance for Businesses
There’s more to employee costs than just their salaries, however. To truly attract the best candidates, the company needs to offer competitive benefits, including health insurance. And that can be costly.
Local businesses are increasing their service prices to help balance employees’ insurance costs.
Here are some numbers to show you the increases, according to the Los Angeles Times:
- On average, businesses pay more than $5,000 for single plans.
- They pay more than $12,500 for family plans for their employees.
- The cost to employees is increasing at even higher rates, with the average deductible surging nearly 9 percent in 2015 to $1,000.
Offering insurance plans for employees isn’t an option for professional landscaping companies — at least to ones that value their team — so that cost has to be absorbed somewhere. And there are only so many internal cuts that can be made, as I’m sure you understand all too well come budget time.
To help balance the cost of insurance (along with all of the other inflation factors), commercial property maintenance companies have had to increase their service prices gradually.
Washington DC’s Population is Growing
If you’ve lived in the area for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve noticed things are getting busier and more crowded. Not convinced? Just think about your morning commute.
DC has added nearly 77,000 residents since 2005, according to Greater Greater Washington. But, the number of mid-range housing units isn’t growing at the same rate — creating more demand and hiking up rental costs.
As the cost of living increases, you’ll start to see other products and services follow suit. They are all connected, including the landscape maintenance sector.
With tenants paying more, they expect the property to be pristine year round, from pruned trees to annual color. Incorporating common areas, visible signage and stunning foliage can really set your site apart and add value.
Your occupants also want the landscape to be safe, secure and welcoming, meaning you need maintained landscape lighting and a well-designed space — services that can be included in your maintenance contract.
Housing costs aren’t predicted to go down anytime soon in DC, so that factor is going to continue to affect landscaping prices.
Landscaping Materials and Equipment Affect Property Maintenance Costs
Other important factors that can affect the cost of services are plants and materials.
Some plants, like mature trees and shrubs, have gone up in price and can be a little more difficult to track down, if you want a specific variety. Many nurseries slowed down on growing plants during the recession — since demand drastically dropped — meaning there aren’t as many mature ones currently. The price for some turf seed has also increased recently.
It’s important to have an open line of communication with your commercial landscaping company so you can discuss your plant material options — and if there are ones that would better fit in your budget.
Along with plants, part of what you’re paying for maintenance services also covers the company’s equipment. You’ll want a company that uses commercial-grade mowers, edgers, blowers and other equipment to ensure the machines can handle your property at a high level.
The price for landscaping equipment continues to go up as new technology and energy-efficient options hit the marketplace, so maintenance companies are having to increase the price for their services to counteract that.
Economy is Making a Comeback
The landscaping industry took a hit during the recession. People were cutting back on services and expecting prices to decrease with the economy.
But now that the economy is rebounding, the demand for and cost of commercial maintenance services is also rising. So, landscapers are upgrading their equipment to provide a higher quality of work and adding new team members.
These are all positives for you as a customer, but it does come with a higher cost. But as the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.”
There will always be companies with low bids that seem too good to be true — and that’s because they are most of the time. An experienced, profitable company will make sure their bid covers the costs.
Start Making Cost-Efficient Landscape Decisions
Prices may be going up throughout DC, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be smart with your money.
Even with higher maintenance contract amounts, you can save money with some plans in the long run. For example, the longer the contract time period you choose, the more you’ll be able to save during that time for services.
Regular property maintenance will also help prevent larger, more costly issues from appearing — such as erosion, turf diseases, broken irrigation systems and out-of-code retention ponds. These are all problems your maintenance company should catch and remedy before they progress further.
At Level Green Landscaping, we will work with your budget to create a commercial maintenance plan that fits your landscape’s needs.
We focus on commercial property maintenance for offices, mixed-use sites, retail spaces, HOAs/condominiums, distribution centers, municipalities and institutions. Our service areas include Washington DC, Maryland and parts of Virginia.
In addition to maintenance, our experienced team also provides landscape enhancements, snow and ice management, construction, design and irrigation management.
We are open about the costs and what all they include and would love to discuss them with you. Our dedication to customer service is just one of the reasons our commercial landscaping team is so trusted throughout the DC area.