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.

Georgia M. Vlanis Joins ELM as Controller

Georgia M. Vlanis has joined Eastern Land Management as Controller, with oversight of ELM’s central accounting functions, including reporting systems, budgets, and cash management.

Georgia has more than 20 years progressive financial and administrative management and business experience in banking and law. Prior to joining ELM, Georgia was the controller and financial manager for a legal firm in Manhattan.

“Our growth requires increasingly more complex strategic support, said Bruce Moore Jr., ELM’s president. “Georgia’s expertise from her tenure at private and public organizations gives us the knowledge we need as we continue to expand.”  He adds, “Georgia has the perfect background; she brings experience and professionalism, coupled with a keen interest in learning about our industry, and a hands-on management style that has quickly integrated her as a key leader.”

Georgia was born in Brooklyn, NY and spent her childhood in Athens, Greece. She attended Adelphi Academy in New York, and graduated from St. John’s University in Queens, NY, with a bachelor of science in Psychology. She and her husband reside in Connecticut with their corgi-boxer mix.

Georgia is fluent in Greek, and is an avid league bowler who says she also finds time to indulge her love for music and football. “I am relatively new to the landscape industry, but I love the Eastern Land family. They have welcomed me with open arms and I feel like I have been here all along. I am super excited for what the future holds and look forward to growing with ELM, and working alongside some of the finest people I have ever met,” she says.

Please join us in welcoming Georgia to the ELM team.

Eastern Land Management Wins Award for Urban Renewal

From the Fairfield County Business Journal, September 17, 2022

by Edward Arriaza

Eastern Land Management (ELM) has recently been awarded the Silver Award of Excellence by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) for its renovation of Kiwanis Park, a placemaking and urban renewal project of Downtown Stamford’s Special Services District. In addition to Kiwanis Park, ELM was honored for developing a streetscape design in the heart of the downtown business district that included 250 hanging baskets, foliage containers and refurbished annual beds.

Founded in 1976 by Bruce Moore Sr., the Stamford-based company provides full-service landscaping and snow removal services and has 120 seasonal employees who work as landscape gardeners, landscape crew leaders, heavy equipment mechanics and plant health care technicians. According to Bruce Moore Jr., the son of the founder and ELM’s president, the company began “with a vision to maintain commercial properties in Westchester and Fairfield County” and later added New Haven County to its service area.

Moore knew he wanted to join the business when he was young, and immediately went to work for the company in 2005 upon graduating college.

“Growing up in the business, I really grew a liking to working with all the different people and working with horticulture and seeing what goes into the maintenance and snow removal of all these properties,” Moore said. “It was something that I always was passionate about.”

As a full-service land management company, ELM is able to act as a single-source provider for its clients, offering landscape management, water management and snow removal all in one.

“All those services are provided by our own personnel,” Moore said. “The customer has a single point of contact to use for pretty much the entire exterior of their facility.”

Among the services ELM provides for landscape management are turf fertilization, lawn mowing, tree and shrub pruning and integrated pest management. For water management, ELM provides troubleshooting and repairs, scheduled maintenance programs and system design and installation, among other services.

Moore believed that ELM’s award-winning work brought life to the underutilized Kiwanis Park, making it a “more welcoming, cleaner space.”

“What was originally just a cut through from lower Summer Street to Atlantic Street now is more of a place for people to sit, relax, hang out or have a conversation with friends, have a bite to eat and just in general socialize and mingle with people,” Moore said.

Though ELM has received accolades for its quality of work, it has still experienced its share of difficulties — the sharp increase in fuel and wages due to inflation has been felt acutely by Moore and the daily price fluctuations of material has required ELM to reach out to its vendors constantly in order to have up-to-date prices.

“We are working pretty hard every day to try our best to not pass off a lot of those increased costs to our customers,” Moore said. “We’re trying to manage it to the best of our ability, but we have had to make some adjustments over the last year to accommodate for all of the inflation on material prices.”

ELM has also dealt with labor shortages, facing some difficulties in recruiting people for its production teams. However, it had no issues in maintaining its workers the past couple of years and has even brought on board an employee relations coordinator to amplify employees’ voices. As a result, ELM has increased wages and implemented recruiting bonuses.

“We’ve made a big adjustment to ensure that we’re working really hard to become an employer of choice, and to make sure that we’re retaining our people,” Moore said.

Moore added that ELM will continue to keep its eyes on the changing weather and preparing for the first storm of the season.

“Right now, we’re working to allocate equipment and ensure that we have everything in place and prepared to go for the upcoming winter season,” he said.

Original can be found at Westfaironline.com: https://westfaironline.com/real-estate/eastern-land-management-wins-an-award-for-its-urban-renewal-work/

Photo: © PJ Kennedy

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

ELM Expands into Westchester County NY, Opens Third Branch in Armonk

Eastern Land Management is pleased to announce the opening of a new service facility in Armonk, New York.

The facility will serve as a hub to more effectively allocate resources for landscape and snow services across Westchester County’s commercial sectors, including office, retail, industrial hospitality, health care, and education. “By continually evolving our business and transforming how we engage with our commercial real estate clients, we’re creating opportunities to significantly improve how we create value in the decades ahead,” said Bruce Moore Jr., ELM president.

“Landscape firms have a huge role to play in improving the environment. We understand that with the growing demand to be more climate-positive, we need to work with business leaders who are  also looking for ways to translate sustainability into action. This means working together to find better ways to reduce risk, improve water conservation, and use technology to achieve greener outcomes.” ~ Bruce Moore Jr., President

ELM was founded in Stamford, Connecticut and has helped maximize portfolio value for the property and facility community of Connecticut and the greater New York metro area, including Manhattan and Westchester County, since 1976.

ELM is an active member of the Westchester County BOMA, Southern Connecticut BOMA, Bridgeport Regional Economic Development Task Force, and in 2019, received a ChangeMaker Award from Fairfield County for its efforts in conservation.

Bruce Moore Jr. is a recognized impact partner in his community and active on boards and non-profits. ELM received an Industry Leadership Award from Lawn & Landscape magazine in 2018, and multiple awards over the years from the National Association of Landscape Professionals for its excellence in commercial landscaping.

To learn more, contact Bruce Moore, Jr. at (203) 316-5433.