Local authority cuts are "not all doom and gloom" for contractors, Quadron Services director Clive Ivil has said.
Horticultural services provider Quadron has clients across London, the Midlands and the south of England, where local authority cuts have been harsh.
Yet it has managed to keep clients happy and is growing its market share through carefully selected tendering (recently winning a £5m Cherwell District Council contract) and extending current contracts (Teignbridge District Council extension to 2020 and contract expanded to include cemeteries).
Budget cuts are inevitable and are not the client's fault, said Ivil. When budgets are being slashed it is critical for the contractor not to be a bystander but to work with the client to make cuts where they will be least detrimental to service delivery and the contractor's finances and operations, he added.
"Hard times force people to be innovative and think outside the box. Working together to find new solutions can often result in the client-contractor relationship improving."
Thinking differently can also mean diversifying. Quadron now manages sports bookings on behalf of several London clients as a "logical extension" from maintaining their sports facilities, Ivil explained.
In January Quadron contract manager Terry Burns told HW more volunteers from social enterprises and third-sector groups would get involved in grounds maintenance. Ivil said this is one of the good news stories to come out of austerity.
"In most cases we use the third sector and volunteers to add value to the contract rather than to do core specification work. We have a dedicated corporate team who have the task of working with the third sector and volunteers, and we have added the number of volunteer hours generated as a KPI across our contracts. Business-wide, this amounted to almost 34,000 hours last year.
"In the last year or so we have been approached by a number of volunteer brokers, and directly by companies, to provide task days for corporate volunteering teams. This is an area that's really taken off as companies look to address their corporate social responsibilities and something we'll be developing."
Contract condition - Reducing pesticide use
Quadron Services holds the grounds maintenance contract for Southwark Council. A pesticide-reduction strategy in the contract means scheduled use of pesticides is not permitted for routine maintenance and the contractor must find alternative weed-control methods.
In 2014 Quadron was approached by Weedingtech to trial its Foamstream heat foam weed treatment during summer. The foam can be used in any weather and is safe for use in environmentally sensitive areas. Quadron has continued using the system since the initial trial.