Noted as the market leader for interior landscaping in Detroit, Planterra has quietly built a portfolio of national accounts throughout the United States and Canada by partnering with local contractors. In this Q&A with Shane Pliska, president of Planterra, we learn more about how this works and why Planterra is a solution for corporations and institutions with a national footprint.
Q: What is a national account?
A: This is a client that has multiple locations across a wide geographic area. These clients are dedicated to the cohesiveness of their brand and take every detail of their physical locations very seriously. Planterra’s national account program works with clients to establish a design standard for plants and flowers that is reflective of that brand. We then create budgets, procure the materials and manage the quality and maintenance for the business over a multi-year contract.
Q: Is this a cost competitive solution?
A: The national account is the most cost competitive for three client-types with multiple locations: Building tenants, retail tenants and hotels. Cost savings increase with scale through efficiencies and good management.
Plants are generally a low-cost amenity. Since the cost of a floral or plant program can vary widely based on the design, one must focus on the design results.
- Does the design deliver on the branding and image objectives?
- Do the plants and flowers contribute to a more welcoming and better work environment?
- Do clients, visitors and employees appreciate the plants? If the plants don’t deliver on your objectives, its time to go back to the drawing board.
Matching a design to the client’s objectives, is where we start at Planterra. We then implement a standard for plants and flowers that are efficient and cost effective for every location.
There are obvious sources of savings from volume purchases and consolidated billing. But true to most things that are well planned, it’s the organization delivers the biggest bang for the buck.
Too often plants are an afterthought and the expense incurred by local managers to get plants quick is not well documented in budgets. It gets buried on an AMEX bill or may be seen as a splurge on plants for a grand opening to be allocated to an event budget.
What’s more, it’s expensive and time consuming to send staff to a local retailer to buy plants, real or artificial, only to be a temporary fix and not reflective of the organization’s overall brand image. The same is true when a local manager is burdened with the task of vetting plant contractors. They are essentially blind without proper specifications or parameters on variety, color, texture, site access and light requirements for the plant installations to be successful.
When taking these practical elements into consideration, you can see how establishing a national account with Planterra saves time, money and even frustration.
Q: Does Planterra charge a premium to manage a national account?
A: Once a national account is established, the on-going horticulture maintenance rate is competitive to each local market, which includes Planterra fees.
When establishing a new account, we charge a one-time design fee depending on the complexity and scope of work. We don’t charge for assisting designers or potential clients with budgets or purchase options.
Q: What about incorporating a regional or local influence into the design?
A: Designs can be unique per region or location to add a local flair. At Planterra we like to incorporate local influences into the colors, container styles and accents. When it comes to plants however, the plants that are the most sustainable for interiors are universal nationally and globally. Therefore, the plant palette for interior landscaping is similar from coast to coast.
Q: How is Planterra different?
A: Most interior landscape companies are maintenance companies, not design organizations. And most design companies have limited knowledge on interior landscape maintenance. Planterra has a department devoted to design led by Sarah Stalker our creative director. While all designs are informed by maintenance considerations, design objectives are what drive us in assisting our customers to make smart decisions. Our design philosophy coupled with our hospitality-style customer service methods differentiates Planterra from any other business in the industry.
Q: What’s Planterra edge with local contractors?
A: Integrity, reliability and continuity are the words that come to mind. When we call a contractor anywhere from Boston to Honolulu, we know them, and they know us. We have mutual expectations that are understood, which ensures our customers receive the very best service. This familiarity results in fair pricing, deadlines met and ongoing quality control. We partner with more than 100 owner-operator contractors monthly in North America and 80 percent of our contractors are minority or female-owned enterprises.
Shane Pliska is president of Planterra, a nationally-known interior landscaping business that provides and maintains office plants for corporate spaces. He also serves as president of Planterra Conservatory, an award-winning botanical garden wedding and event venue in West Bloomfield, Michigan.