Facilities Managers and Commercial Landscaping Partnership

commercial property facilities managersManaging commercial properties, whether as a facilities manager, a property manager or as a business owner, requires juggling a host of responsibilities. Keeping a commercial property and the operations under its roof running in top-form is no small feat.

Facilities management consists of both physical plant and human resources components; referred to as “hard FM” and “soft FM”, respectively. The hard aspects of facilities management spans all of the physical assets of a corporate entity including computer equipment and IT infrastructure.

For this post, we’ll focus on the hard FM aspects of facilities management as they relate to the building – interior and exterior – since that’s typically where most facilities managers spend their time. Dealing with the fickle nature of humans and computer equipment is a specialty reserved for HR professionals and IT experts.

Property management vs facilities management

When it comes to the management and oversight of commercial property and its associated assets, there are two levels of management. The purview of each role depends on scope. Commercial real estate is a complex topic but in simple terms, there is ownership of the property (land and building(s)) and ownership of the business or businesses residing on the property. Such an arrangement is your typical landlord/tenant relationship.

Most commonly, an investor or commercial real estate company owns the building and then leases office space within the building to business tenants. Larger businesses such a Fortune 500 companies will often own the properties and the buildings on them. It’s common for smaller businesses to lease their office space.

With this perspective established, in broad terms, a property manager is typically responsible for the infrastructure of the building including the HVAC system, plumbing, electrical wiring, the physical structure such as the roof and foundation and custodial and maintenance services. A property manager is also usually responsible for securing contracts for the exterior maintenance of the property such as landscaping and snow and ice removal.

These areas of responsibility are also often associated with a landlord for residential properties. A property manager of a commercial building is also usually responsible for shared interior areas such as lobbies, security and reception areas and shared restrooms and kitchen areas.

Exterior landscaping

Property managers are generally responsible for the exterior landscaping of a commercial property. The appearance of the exterior of a building is vital to attracting and retaining tenants and encompasses two key aspects: exterior landscape enhancement and exterior landscape maintenance.

For new properties, a well-designed exterior landscaping installation is vital. The selection of trees and other foliage appropriate for both the climate and the setting is an important first step. This step depends on the goals of the project along with the appropriated budget.

It’s important to understand that exterior landscape enhancements aren’t necessarily a one time, set it and forget it process. The need often arises to perform a facelift for a commercial property which can include structural changes to the façade along with expansion and/or revamping of the landscaping installation. Delegation of exterior landscaping duties is usually assigned to a commercial landscaping company. It’s rare that property management staff handles such duties unless the property is very small.

Both design, installation and exterior maintenance can be handled by the same commercial landscaping company provided they are large enough and experienced enough in all these areas. In addition, some type of commercial irrigation system is usually required to keep foliage and lawns from turning brown during the hottest months of the year. The design, installation and maintenance of such systems is a complex undertaking best left to a qualified firm.

Interior commercial landscaping services

When it comes to the interior of a commercial building most people think things begin and end with what color to paint the walls and style of office furniture to purchase. Interior enhancements such as indoor office plants, green walls and even holiday decorations are all treatments that can be added to enhance the interior of a facility.

All of these are services that can be provided by a full-service commercial landscaping firm. It’s important to keep in mind that mowing grass and putting down mulch isn’t the full extent of what a capable landscaping firm has to offer.

It should be noted that here is a bit of overlap in responsibility when if comes to managing interior landscaping services between property and facilities manages. Property managers, as mentioned previously, are responsible for the common interior spaces such as atriums and shared reception areas. Tenants are responsible for their respective leased spaces and this is typically delegated to administrative personnel such as a facility manager.

The DIY approach is certainly an option when it comes to decorating an office with plants or when it’s time to put up the seasonal holiday decorations. However, leaving this to staff often results in underwhelming results. For things that require regular attention such as the watering and care of office plants, there are vast graveyards of dead office plants in commercial facilities across the country that serve as testimony to the futility of such an approach.

A far better approach is to enlist the services of a commercial landscaping company that specializes in interior plantscaping and maintenance as well as commercial holiday décor. Such a company can provide expert designers to plan and direct the installation of indoor plantscaping or holiday decorations. Property managers and tenants are then relieved of this challenging task along with the responsibility and hassle of the purchase, storage and maintenance required for these types of installations.

Peace of mind when dealing with specialists

The pressure to watch the bottom line is certainly understandable, but attempting to go the DIY route, or perhaps even worse, going with the lowest-price provider more often than not results in disappointment and sometimes, even disaster.

Making decisions for entering into agreements with vendors and contractors is a vital function of anyone overseeing the management of commercial property. Evaluating bids, services and the track record of vendors is both time-consuming and stressful, but ow these decisions are made can break or make the career of a property or facilities manager.

Fortunately, both the stress and risk can be reduced by only considering highly-qualified commercial landscaping companies with a proven track record of delivering quality solutions. For more information please see our guide on “Ten Ten Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Maintenance Contractor.

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