The ABCs of RFPs: what CREs need to know about finding a landscape partner

If you’re a commercial property or facility professional, RFPs – Request for Proposals – will sooner or later fall within your task bucket.

As a procurement tool, RFPs can be a great leveler. But they also don’t tell the whole story; they can feel like tedious wheel reinvention for both parties, and when they’re ‘kitchen sink’ approaches – or ask for everything but, there is no room for differentiation.

We think there’s a better way.

With spring start-up season just around the corner, here’s our advice for tailoring your landscape services RFP to give you the best partner for the job.

Why RFPs can be a race to the bottom

Service companies that respond to RFPs essentially engage in a bidding way, ending up in a pool of contractors who compete on price. When landscape companies compete on price, it’s because they often look for cheaper options to deliver on apples-to-apples specs. The bad news for property and facility professionals who contract landscaping services through RFPs is that you get what you pay for – a hamster wheel of RFP-won contractors who cut corners on innovation to offer price instead of value.

We believe that value is a competitive advantage. When you eliminate value, you lose the upside value brings. In the ever-increasing, ever-complex world of collaborative service partnerships, an ill-conceived RFP can yield more problems than solutions.

How to make RFPs a win-win   

For both landscape services contracts and complex landscaping projects—those with upgrades, renovations, and performance and environmental improvements—a well-written RFP can be effective at filtering out weak players. To create a consistently good RFP and RFP process, think about shaping your RFP as an RFV – or Request for Value.

In addition to describing what you and your commercial property or facility needs and your expectations for delivery, include specs for your sustainability goals and context for what the landscaping itself will meet, such as: key site performance indicators for carbon neutral or LEED.  Include the ‘need to haves’ and the ‘nice to haves’, criteria for curb appeal and improved asset value, and communicate actual timelines with a realistic deadline for the contractor to respond.

Avoid generalities, proof-read for typos, edit for clarity, and eliminate redundant questions and contradictory requirements. If your RFP-issuing team is not clear on specs, risk mitigation, and expected outcomes, go back to the drawing board to make it better and tighter.

A cautionary note about AI-enabled technology:  When the RFP response process is automated, do the math.  While automation offers efficiencies and fills out things at a much quicker pace, the scope piece – when compared to non-automated bids – may not add up. Always double check to make sure you’re not getting apples-to-oranges.

If you’re looking to save cost, remember: low-bid doesn’t tell the whole story. The best return on investment will always be calculated by actual and perceived value, and the long-term value that comes from a strong relationship.

We do our best work when we work with people—face to face, building connections, friendships, and opportunities to gain trust.  Our advice? Use your RFP as a solid starting point. A way to open the door and start a conversation, and a way to make sure you’re getting more than a team of qualified vendors, but a strategic partnership where value is created and delivered every step of the way.

Spring is the time of renewal in nature and in the procurement office. If you’re renewing your contracts, seeking to find a new landscape partner, or interested in keeping the conversation going, give us a call.

We’re listening.

Contact President Bruce Moore Jr. (203) 316-5433.

Bruce Moore Jr. is a second-generation landscape industry leader and President of Eastern Land Management, a full-service commercial landscaping business serving the property and facility market in Fairfield County Connecticut and Westchester County New York.

Bruce is an active member of BOMA Westchester County and BOMA Southern Connecticut. He currently serves on BOMASoCt board of directors.

www.easternland.com

 

 

Landscaping is Changing the Conversation Around Green Real Estate. Top 10 things property people need to know.

January is Quality of Life month and with sustainability playing an increasingly more important role in how commercial real estate companies invest in green performance, the benefits of landscaping has emerged as an actionable priority.

From site design and infrastructure to LEED considerations to amenities and workplace wellness, new research suggests that nature will have the largest and most easily quantifiable impact on quality of life.

Here’s how:

  1. Health & wellness

The Covid pandemic flipped perceptions of workplace norms, leading to a rethink of the role air quality, natural light and quality outdoor space influences health and well-being. This has led to reconfiguring landscaped areas for outdoor conferencing and working, creating walking trails and bike paths for fitness, building out green roofs and terraces for encourage social interaction, and increasing the number of trees.

  1. Sustainability

As a philosophy and a practice, sustainability has influenced the built environment for years. But with concerns around extreme weather events, climate action planning and the need for increased environmental resilience, landscaping has become an essential key performance indicator for driving occupancy, higher rents, higher tenant retention and higher property value – all while reducing energy use, waste, and environmental impacts.

Getting up to speed. What’s next?

Nature, by way of landscaping and its ability to refresh and revitalize, is an unparalleled remedy to urban stress. When implemented in a way that also protects environmental health, the benefits to human health increase exponentially.  Ten things ELM can help you do now:

  1. Implement a water conservation and irrigation management plan, combined with low-water use landscape strategies and comprehensive guidelines for erosion control and storm water management.
  2. Reduce landfill waste through recycling and composting.
  3. Increase biodiversity, habitat health and plant life through best practices.
  4. Reduce chemical use.
  5. Improve soil health through mulching and microorganisms.
  6. Improve plant and pest management with biological controls, and beneficial insects.
  7. Create a long-range strategic landscape plan that includes ongoing landscape performance improvements.
  8. Transform underutilized areas into perennial meadows.
  9. Use advanced technologies for energy-efficiency and improved resource management.
  10. Create and maintain healthy and high-performing outdoor amenity spaces for people to spend more time in nature.

To learn more about how Eastern Land Management can improve quality of life through landscaping, contact company president Bruce Moore Jr. at (203) 316-5433.

Photo: Stamford Towers, Stamford Connecticut. A commercial landscape sustainably maintained by ELM for CBRE.

 

Martin Minogue Joins ELM as Area Manager

Eastern Land Management is pleased to welcome Martin Minogue as Area Manager.  He will be based in Stamford, Connecticut, and will lead the landscape service needs of ELM’s commercial real estate clients throughout Fairfield County.

Martin is a veteran landscape professional with a reputation for property quality and commitment to turf and plant health care industries. When he isn’t advocating for improvements in green performance, he’s working to advance ELM’s mission to drive excellence in sustainability.

Born and raised in Darien, CT, Martin grew up in the green industry. He began his impressive career at his father’s side when he was 8 years old and “never looked back”. From those early years mowing lawns to academic courses at UConn, and eventually running his own landscape company, Martin’s knowledge and technical skill, and commitment to detail, is an advantage for property owners and managers keen on increasing profitability while meeting environmental and energy-efficiency goals.

“Taking a property from what it is to where it can be is my passion. Keeping up with industry trends, working to find cost effective and productive methods to create smarter approaches and manage risk—I can’t even think of anything else I’d like to do,” he says.

“ELM serves the heart of the greater NY Metro commercial real estate market, and having Martin on our team accelerates our ability to be flexible and adapt, and take the long view,” said company president, Bruce Moore, Jr. “How and why people use different types of properties are key issues playing out across our region. How we respond and position our firm to look beyond cyclical headwinds is turning out to be our competitive advantage.”

Martin holds a CT DEEP Supervisor license, and Turf & Nursery Management degrees from Ratcliff Hicks School of Agriculture and the University of Connecticut.

To learn more about ELM’s expertise and CRE service areas, contact Bruce Moore Jr at: (203) 316-5433

How to Leverage the Benefits of Scale and Gain Market Share Through Landscaping

What property and facility owners and managers need to know.

It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy commercial landscape is a big job. And although it may seem that all commercial landscape contractors do the same thing, thanks to smart technologies and automation, there is a stark difference in the way commercial landscape and grounds services are delivered and the value landscaping brings to the bottom line.

The most obvious difference is impact landscaping has on property value. Landscapes need to look good all year-round; they need to be safe for people and the environment, reduce risk and liability, and deliver higher returns all while making a lasting impression.

This is where ELM comes in to help property and facility owners and managers capitalize on the benefits of scale.

ELM is a single-source provider. This means that all landscape and grounds services are integrated and strategically delivered across all seasons, including snow and ice. A single-source provider not only simplifies the process of managing your landscape and reducing the number of companies you need to contact, it’s the best way to reap consistent cost savings through economies of scale.

If you’re looking to contract with a professional commercial landscape services firm, here are five questions to ask:

  1. How long have they been in business?
  2. What is their client retention rate?
  3. Do they offer year-round maintenance, including snow and ice services?
  4. What value-added benefits are included? Do they use low-noise equipment, electric or autonomous equipment, clean energy and options that help earn LEED credits?
  5. Will they make your landscape as technologically smart and as digitally-advanced as your building?

Here’s what you can expect from ELM in the day-to-day:

  1. Meticulous about clean and complete. No task left undone.
  2. No drama.
  3. Proactive about little things before they become big things.
  4. Make suggestions that make you look good.
  5. Willing to go above and beyond.
  6. Prepared, trained, and experienced emergency response.
  7. Highly responsive and easy to reach.

ELM commercial landscape maintenance services include expertise in the following:

  • Commercial property and facility landscape and grounds services
  • Landscape maintenance and horticultural services
  • Enhancements and renovations
  • Irrigation and water management
  • Hardscape projects, corporate terraces, plazas and patios
  • Parking lot and median maintenance
  • Snow and ice control, and winter management
  • Site safety
  • Spring plantings
  • Fall clean-up

If you’re a commercial property and facility manager seeking quality, excellence and cost-efficient contracting services for your landscape and grounds, working toward LEED accreditation and greater sustainability, ELM is your partner of choice.

ELM is a proud member of BOMA Southern Connecticut and BOMA Westchester County, and actively supports the greater multi-sector commercial real estate community in Connecticut and New York.

Roberto Chuquiano Named Enhancement Project Manager

Roberto Chuquiano, a recent recipient of ELM’s Branch Impact Award, has been promoted to Enhancement Project Manager, reporting to Scott DiStasio, Stamford, Connecticut branch manager.

“Roberto’s experience is second-to-none,” said company president, Bruce Moore Jr. “Not only is his promotion well-deserved, but it speaks to our commitment to grow career opportunities within our organization and build a clear path for advancement. Roberto’s a role model – his passion for the job, his knowledge and integrity, and the high-trust he has with our clients, is an inspiration to the whole team.”

A native of Peru, Roberto joined ELM in 2006. He holds multiple certifications in landscape, arboriculture, equipment operations, and snow/ice.

When he’s not creating harmony in the landscape, he pursues his passion for music. An avid collector of vinyl, Roberto DJs on weekends to bring people together, and says that music and outdoor spaces both have the power to make people happy.

Roberto says his best advice for customers is not to give up on plants. The cycle of life – whether in a home garden or in a commercial landscape – is about renewal and patience, and respect for the opportunities each season brings.

Please join us in congratulating Roberto on his leadership and next chapter at ELM.

Eastern Land Management Receives National Award of Excellence

Eastern Land Management (ELM), has been awarded a Silver Award of Excellence by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

The award recognizes ELM for revitalizing Kiwanis Park, a placemaking and urban renewal project of Downtown Stamford’s Special Services District. In addition to Kiwanis Park, ELM developed a streetscape design in the heart of the downtown business district that included 250 hanging baskets, foliage containers, and refurbished annual beds.

“Stamford’s my home. And working with people I’ve grown up with, gone to school with, and with whom I share deep affection for this great community, made this effort personal to me and my project team,” said ELM President, Bruce Moore, Jr. “Streetscape improvements have a tremendous positive impact, stimulating economic growth and transforming our community into a vibrant urban hub, full of art, food and events for locals and tourists alike. Meeting media event deadlines and complex logistics and delivery in the middle of summer in a high-traffic business corridor was a remarkable feat. and I’m so proud of our team.”

The Awards will be presented at ELEVATE, the National Association of Landscape Professionals conference in Orlando, September 18-21.

About ELM

Founded in 1976 by Bruce Moore Sr, ELM provides commercial landscape and snow/ice services throughout Fairfield County, Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. To learn more, contact Bruce Moore Jr. at ‭(203) 316-5433‬.

About National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) & The Awards of Excellence, click here.

Meet ELM’s Silent Weapon in Climate-Positive Noise Reduction

Silence is fueling a new era in operations at Eastern Land Management.

With the introduction of Gravely Pro-Turn® EV mowers, ELM will be rolling out electric mowers and battery-powered equipment to accelerate a long-term goal towards greater efficiency.

For JLL, a global leader in commercial real estate and property services, ELM will have 10-acres of turf on one of its properties in Westport, CT maintained by 50% electric by October 1, 2022.

ELM’s launch of EV is a continued expansion of a autonomous mower program that ELM began in trial phase several years ago, but has grown in impact and importance as ELM clients seek more clean energy options

Having more choices in electric, battery and alternative eco-power offer several advantages: they’re markedly more quiet and lighter in weight, and odor free. “We’re proud to align with leaders like JLL, not only to shape their ESG and sustainability strategy but to develop an action plan that helps us deliver on their green energy objectives,” said company president, Bruce Moore, Jr.

To learn more about how innovation can down the noise on your property, contact Bruce Moore Jr. at 203-316-5433.

 

ELM’s green infrastructure program is tackling urban stormwater.

Stormwater runoff is a leading cause of urban water pollution. When rain, snow, sleet fall on impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, roads, rooftops and other hard surfaces, the water washes off and carries sediment and pollutants on its way into streets and storm drains, and subsequently into rivers and lakes and watershed.

“Green infrastructure – both hardscape and natural systems, such as bioswales, rain gardens and other vegetated biofilters – is a functional, attractive, environmentally-friendly and effective way to reduce the volume and flow of runoff,” said Bobby Papotto, ELM’s enhancement manager, who is overseeing a large-scale stormwater project in Westchester County NY.

“After Hurricane Ida came through last year, there was massive flooding, roadway erosion and safety issues due to collapsed shoring and insufficient filtration systems.  We began the project as a storm response effort, working with local engineering teams and the town’s permitting department to build a new retaining wall and a complex swale filtration system using a mix of sand, gravel, and soil amendments.”

“The design of this project went far beyond repairing storm damage. It has effectively provided a mechanism to reduce the volume and velocity of runoff, reclaimed water and created an important environmental asset that serves multiple functions,” added Bobby.

Green infrastructure offers an integrated solution to stormwater management, solving problems and providing benefits at the same time. This includes reducing pollutants and localized flooding, conserving water, and increasing property and economic value through improved site aesthetics and performance.

To learn more about ELM’s green infrastructure program, or ways to address water usage by reducing demands for supplemental irrigation through smart water management, contact Bruce Moore Jr. at 203.315.5433

Wildflowers Are Transforming Former Corporate Plazas.

Corporate America has jumped on the perennial bandwagon, says Josh Thermer, area manager for Eastern Land Management. A former golf course superintendent from Lake Preston, CT, who joined ELM in September 2021, he now leads ELM’s turf-to-meadow conversion program, in addition to overseeing procurement for all plant material and turf and ornamental products out of ELM’s Monroe office.

To Josh, there is no irony in promoting meadows during April’s Lawn Care month, as lawns and turf grass, like all plant material, are in a constant state of renewal.

“Landscapes are naturally transformative,” says Josh. “From converting worn-out concrete plazas to an expanse of wildflowers to replacing underperforming turf with native grasses to swapping out thirsty plants for drought tolerant perennials, it’s all about doing what’s best for the aesthetics of the site, the needs of the client, and the health and performance of the environment overall.”

Perennials are a trend worth keeping, especially given the challenges Connecticut has faced with drought. Meadows, prairie-plantings, naturalistic landscapes, and eco-lawns are all versions of an ecological revolution that improves soil health and groundwater, and reduces the need for toxic chemicals. When the soil is healthy, it sequesters carbon, which, in turn, is climate-positive—a win-win for companies seeking to improve their sustainability, ESG and LEED metrics.

“Improving the way we conserve water, and the way we improve the way people experience the outdoors is what we do. But we’re also improving the quality of corporate life and view meadows as a tenant amenity. Sitting in a gazebo and watching pollinators and birds is more relaxing than sitting on a bench and looking at a lawn devoid of wildlife because nothing’s blooming,” Josh adds.

Currently Josh is on point for several major corporate projects and landscape transformations deferred by Covid. An expert in sports and performance turf, he says he looks forward to working with college and university athletic directors looking to up their game.

For questions on lawn care turf conversions, meadows or athletic fields, contact Josh at 203-316-5433.

 

 

 

Christopher Koenig Joins ELM as Area Manager

West Haven, Connecticut native Chris Koenig says the green industry is a perfect fit for him because he’s loved the outdoors since he was a kid.

With passions ranging from ice hockey to ice fishing, Chris is well-positioned to lead Eastern Land Management’s cold weather crews on ice and snow management, in addition to his role advancing service delivery to ELM clients throughout Fairfield County.

Chris’s journey to area manager began at the ground level, as a gardener. “The cutting edge of what we do as landscapers starts with the soil. Getting our hands dirty, nurturing and improving plant health, dealing with insects and the weather, and making sure all the dots connect on everybody’s needs. Front line ‘boots-on-the-ground’ work is a tough assignment. But it’s great on-the-job training,” said Chris.

Chris has held several landscaping positions over a dozen years, from field operations to production and customer service.  “Chris’ experience is inspiring,” said company president, Bruce Moore Jr. “When people work their way up, they can be phenomenal leaders. Chris’ crews respect his understanding of their jobs and customers value his impressive impact as a problem-solver.”

Please join us in welcoming Chris to ELM.