Something of Value

Departments - Editor's Insight

Just like their residential counterparts, commercial customers are cutting services to trim expenses in today’s economy.

September 23, 2009
Nicole Wisniewski

Nicole Wisniewski, EditorJust like their residential counterparts, commercial customers are cutting services to trim expenses in today’s economy. One of the services many contractors report as being an easy cut for property managers is tree trimming and pruning.

Randy Newhard of San Diego’s New Way Landscape and Tree Services reports a 30 to 40 percent decline in this area.

Kent Miller, vice president of sales and development for The Groundskeeper in Tucson, Ariz., also sees discretionary spending on tree care not being approved. “Scheduled annual tree work that isn’t absolutely necessary just isn’t getting done – because of this we’re experiencing revenue reductions in the neighborhood of 30 percent,” he says. “In my mind, this type of work needs to be done, but property managers are letting it wait another year.”

At the same time property managers at facilities like retail centers, hospitals and office parks that are full of people coming and going day in and day out need to keep properties safe. A recent Building Owners and Managers Association report – “Strategies for Creating Asset Value in a Down Economy” – says “good management practices will drive asset values. Property management will take on new importance, and property managers will be challenged to find creative ways to increase net operating income.”

One of the ways the association suggests property managers do this is to maintain secure and safe environments by eliminating hiding places created by landscaping. Skipping pruning services and leaving trees to grow unwieldy will only aggravate this problem, cluttering walkways, impeding power lines and posing risks during storms when weak, dead or diseased branches are left hanging irresponsibly.

In this recession, as many experts and commercial contractors point out in our cover story “The Commercial Challenge,”  property managers will spend their money where their critical pain points lie. While basic maintenance to keep things looking good is important, so are things that link to insurance, and compliance and regulatory issues. Tree care work, irrigation and snow removal are a few services under the landscape category that can alleviate potential problems that can occur in these areas.

Tree care work, just like some other ancillary services, shouldn’t be viewed as an “extra” by property managers. For commercial buildings, it needs to be marketed as an asset to promote building safety and security, not to mention enhance property value, which trees do when they are well maintained.

Since there is so much less noise out there right now as some contractors cut their marketing to save money, this is a good opportunity for companies to promote their knowledge of tree care and other commercial work that can increase property value, decrease vacancies and limit negative economic impacts.

What are you doing on your commercial properties to raise value and retain clients? Are you succeeding at growing enhancement services? We’d love to hear your strategies. You can reach me at or 330-523-5382.