PDA

View Full Version : bidding commercial accounts


Harris LCO
07-25-2001, 12:33 AM
I have been in the lawn care business for a couple of years, mostly residential service. My company is beginning to grow and I am starting to bid commercial accounts, My question is how do you bid commercial accounts. Can anybody tell me the price per foot for mowing, trimming and edgeing, or is there another way to bid these accounts. How much do you charge for cleaning flower beds and trimming hedges on larger accounts. :confused:

EJK2352
07-25-2001, 01:42 AM
Harris LCO,
What is so different w/ the commercials compared to your current residentials?? Why can't you use your current pricing on commercial work?? You should know how much you are going to have to charge to be profitable, since you have been in the business for a while.;) ED

Guido
07-25-2001, 01:08 PM
telling you like it is! Your price is YOUR price, not what I tell you you should charge your customers.

If I have a crew of 100 guys out there cleaning a flower bed out and it takes them an hour (its a realllly big flower bed :) ) I have to charge about $1,000 for that job.

Now, if you clean it out and its just you and another guy, it will obviously take you a lot longer and it will be a different cost for you than it was for me.

I may have a huge mower that can cut this account in 10 minutes. If I tell you $30 is good, and you use a craftsman 22" mower and take 1 hour to do the job, you should have different price.

You smell what I'm stepping in??

You need to figure out your own pricing system.

Figure out every machine, how much it costs you to run per hour over its life expectancy.

Figure out how fast you can use them

Figure out your overhead.

Once you have that down, pay yourself, add a profit and you have your price.

Its more difficult than it sounds, I know, but once you have a system down, its cake!

Hope this helps!

Fallguy
07-25-2001, 03:32 PM
How can we help you when we dont even know what kind of equipment you run....are you the owner of quality merchandice or are you one of those wanna be lawn co. that is running an el cheapo deluxo mower like a crapsman and daily has to convince himself that he belongs in the business when he cant even afford insurance ? Im not trying to be rude but it just sounds as if you havent the slightest clue as what to charge per hour which leads some people to believe that your just a potential lowballer in the making - Here is help -if you can not concievably charge between $35 - $55 per hour for work performed - you quite possibly need to search the want ads.

Harris LCO
07-25-2001, 07:01 PM
Not the friendliest guys in the world HUH. To answer your question Fallguy, I started with craftsman equipment the first year and worked my way up To Commercial equipment, I use a Cub Cadet mower, model G1436 and plan to purchase another one next year, if the business keeps growing. I guess I started out as a wanna be lawn company (DOSENT EVERYBODY) but that is not the case now. I can estimate a residential lawn based on past experience and the going rate for my area, which is $20 to $45 per service dependent on size. I generally bid $1 per minute,
I use 1 helper and occasionally hire 1 additional person when I get behind. I have very little experience with commercial accounts other than convience stores', I am planning on bidding a bank that is considerably larger than what I am use to. I am seeking information on how to bid by the foot, which is what I have been told is the way to bid this type of account. Now if you have any information on how to bid by the foot I would appreciate it if you pass it on.

Ssouth
07-25-2001, 07:28 PM
Harris, I have no info on bidding by sq. ft. for mowing or linear feet for edging. By the end of this year I will have this info for my area. Last fall I bid on a large commercial contract and got it. What I did was: figure the total mowing, trimming, edging, and cleanup work and then multiply be my hourly rate. If you have not done any larger areas this might be hard so bid on the high side. If you get it, great. But if you bid to low and get it you'll be kicking yourself for the lenth of the contract. A lot of estimating is knowing how efficient you are with your equipment. If it's a large area and your not sure, just find a large area and agree to cut it for a nominal fee just to see how long it takes. I hope this makes sence. I think what others are trying to say is that , you and only you know how much you times is worth. Whether it's commercial or residential decide on a hourly rate and stick to your guns.

Good luck in the commercial bidding.

Ssouth

LoneStarLawn
07-25-2001, 08:02 PM
You should try a search on the subject. It has been discussed alot here on lawnsite

Here are a couple of threads that have price per linear footage and acreage...

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=10841

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=8406

The search feature is highlighted in yellow at the top of each page..(under advertisements)

Again markets should be taken in effect when bidding...

TLS
07-25-2001, 08:10 PM
Harris,

The only thing that you should be "Bidding-by-the-foot" is sod, fertilizer, and walls and walks. You have to be able to look at a property and "estimate" how long it will take to mow it. If you cant do that on a large scale "commercial" property, break up the property into lets say 1 acre pieces. Then, add them all up. Remember that for a commercial lot you are required to have at least 1 mil. liability insurance, but since you run "commercial equipment" and aren't a "wanna-be" company, you already have this covered.....right?!

BTW, Cub Cadet only makes one style of "COMMERCIAL" equipment. That would be their "TANK" ZTR (some even question that). So, Unless its something brand new, that G1436 is just a homeowners lawn tractor.

Let the professionals have the commercials, and stick with the homeowners until you have figured out the answers to all your questions by yourself.

Harris LCO
07-26-2001, 12:06 AM
guido and Ssouth thanks for the advice, LoneStar the threads answered my questions, thanks for your help.

dixie1, My Cub Cadet has COMMERCIAL written all over it in big black and yellow letters. What could I have been thinking? I guess the dealer lied to me.;)

LAWNGODFATHER
07-26-2001, 03:20 AM
no your Cub has Lesco written all over it
if it is a TANK

it would be a Lesco Viper or in that case a MTD

they are made buy a co. for Lesco and MTD and CUB

but if it not a ZTR then it is not a comercial mower

dont get me wrong Cub's are good tractors, but key word TRACTOR

not mower

any ways you need to look at the other theads

or get an accountant sounds like you realy need one

HOMER
07-26-2001, 06:31 AM
I bid my commercial accounts by the hour. Remember that it is just an estimate and many times you will underbid because you think you can do it quicker than it actually takes. Always factor in trash detail! I didn't do this in the beginning because I didn't know any better, I do now. Look at the mowing, estimate your time, look at the amount of edging and trimming and do the same. If shrubs are included then take a stab at how long it's going to take to do them once and total the number of times you'll have to do them over the course of the contract. If weeding is included factor this in too. Here is an example:

Mowing x 35 trips @ 2.0 hrs per = 70 hrs
Edging x 35 trips @ 0.5 hrs per = 17.5 hrs
Trimming x 35 trips @ 0.5 hrs per = 17.5 hrs
Shrubs x 4 cuttings @ 3.0 hrs per = 12.0 hrs
Weeding x (?) 15 pullings? @ 1.0 hr per = 15.0 hrs
Blowing parking lots and walkways x 35 trips @ 0.5 hrs per = 17.5 hrs


And last but definately not least--------trash detail.

35 trips @ 0.5 per = another 17.5

Looks like 167total hrs spent at this location for the year
167 x $50.00 per hour (labor rate may differ) = $8350.00
$8350.00 / 12 months = $695.83 per month.
$238.57 per cut

If there are other duties involved then factor that time into the total hours as well.

I would throw away the sq.ft. idea. Time is money and that is ultimately what your selling, time to perform the service. Too many variables to try and factor in to sq. ft.

Some sites may require 1mil in liability insurance, not all. Some never even ask.

Like somebody else said. If you don't know your costs this is a shot in the dark. If you figure too low then every time you go you'll wish you were at home stuffing envelopes-----I know!

Hope this answers some of your questions.

kutnkru
07-26-2001, 07:45 AM
Originally posted by LAWNGODFATHER
no your Cub has [SIZE=3]Lesco[3/SIZE] written all over it
if it is a TANK ... but if it not a ZTR then it is not a comercial mower ... Are you truely this ignorant to have overlooked the fact that CUB has Commercial Walkbehinds above and beyond the 22" range. They in fact have Hydros that are 54" WIDE and they even have BIG motors too. :eek:

Cut 'em a break LGF because trying to read your sophmoric spelling hurts those eyes who have a semi-formal education!:angry:

Kris

AltaLawnCare
07-26-2001, 09:45 AM
I'm still new to bidding commercials, but I do exactly as Homer stated.
I itemize the services which are broken down by hour (except for mulch, fertilizer, or overseeding), get a total and then put a margin on it - this gives the sale price.
Sq footage won't work for me because the terrain varies. I'm bidding one now that has hillsides in it!
I use a "cost sheet" I made up in MS excel for my records and only turn in a yearly price on the bid. If they want it itemized I do show it in sq feet - not hours. In the description section I only show sq feet not hours also. You can't give away too much info on a bid - your competion WILL get the info.:eek:
I plug in the numbers in the excel work sheet and get the bottom dollar, doesn't matter if it's $100.00 or $100,000 dollars. That price is what I must have to do - doesn't matter what anyone else bids, the client should be looking at more than just the bottom dollar.:cool:

peewee
07-26-2001, 10:05 AM
You smell what I'm stepping in??

that is the funniest thing i have read in a long time!

AltaLawnCare
07-26-2001, 11:05 AM
PS -
I can't wait for LGF's reply...
This may push him back to the "bottle" and he'll start in on 'em scabs again!:p -JK.

Guido
07-26-2001, 11:25 AM
Check out the post I just replied to in the Landscape section (if it hasn't moved over here yet) It may help you with some of the estimating ideas you need.

Don't worry about the A-Holes around worrying about what kind of mower you have. Just know that there are other brands that people prefer a lot more. Its your choice what type of equipment you buy, just make sure its an educated decision and you shop around and check out what all is available.

Good Luck and check out that thread! Oh, here's the link:

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=18142

TLS
07-26-2001, 11:52 AM
Harris,

Sorry to slam (if thats what you want to call it) on your mower choice. Its just that looking at the 1436, and knowing that Cub often uses its HP and Cut width in their model #'s, made me think that you had a 14hp 36" cut RIDING MOWER !! I truly wasn't aware of their offering walkbehind commercial mowers. Yours looks well built.

The main issue here is that Commercial and Residential bidding practices are just about the same. I usually make more per hour on my commercial sites, and they never complain about how often I cut. They're billed per year on a monthly payment cycle, so the more I cut it, they think they are getting a better deal!

What I meant about leaving the professionals have the commercials....etc., is that a lot of us guys that have been at this for many years, had to learn all this info ourselves. No help from lawnsite! Didn't even have computers back then!....wait....there was PONG !!!! Anyway, learning all this info that is available here may give a false sense of security that is usually gained later on down the road from experience. Some things taken too quickly may cloud your reasoning and lead you into trouble.

All commercials will require liability insurance. Some require proof at time of signing, some require it when you screw up and they sue you! Get it!

AltaLawnCare
07-26-2001, 12:02 PM
Here's the Walker article 'kru refered to in that 3 page post on measuring lawns and figuring costs:

http://www.walkermowers.com/index.htm1?section=walkertalk

LAWNGODFATHER
07-26-2001, 01:49 PM
Atlas not worth the repy

by the way I have an associates degree in auto mech. kutnkru

do you guy ever look at the time on replies

Guido
07-26-2001, 02:08 PM
Only 8 errors I see in 3 lines telling about your degree! :)

HBFOXJr
07-26-2001, 02:20 PM
Tow of the best investments in this labor intensive business are a good measuring wheel and a Timex Expedition watch with a stop watch/lap counter.

Your gotta know area and linear measurements and how long it takes to complete a task on a given quantity, area or linear dimension.

Once you know how long a task takes, and see time patterns forming for different size or complexity tasks, you can easily develop your own time/production data bank for all future bids.

The only thing that should be subjective in your bid is the customer to be dealt with and variations on complexity. Both are minimized with experience.

HOMER
07-28-2001, 01:27 AM
Is that wheel and watch gonna factor in pinecones, sticks, bottles, tall grass and tell you what week you'll need to bring in the work release crowd to help out with the trash?

Too many variables for me to base my bids on a watch and wheel. If I was estimating fert and mulch the wheel would be used.

Fallguy
07-28-2001, 04:31 PM
an acre = about 36,000 feet so $50 a acre. thats a fair price.

Eric ELM
07-28-2001, 04:53 PM
An acre is 43,560 square feet Fallguy, but you was close. ;)

HOMER
07-28-2001, 09:01 PM
That was a La. acre Eric! 36000 is land and the rest is swamp so they just figure it a little shorter than the rest of the country.:D

Jes kiddin' now, don't get offended.

Fallguy
07-28-2001, 10:39 PM
there are alot of different measurements of a acre - commercial acre - international acre - and the one that will make you less money the good old U.S. survey acre - if i can convince my clients that i measure acres differently (international acres) i make more money per acre - in addition anything any lawn man can get extra money wise in louisiana he should take it - the yards down here SUCK!!! all the big yards are built on lakes - if your not carefull you could end up down a slope and in the lake. And then of course there are all the little hidden cypress tree knobs that span up onto the land about 8 feet from where the water mark is - nothing like outlining a yard and having to swich blades before your even done with the yard - yay fun.:rolleyes:

LoneStarLawn
07-28-2001, 10:48 PM
Originally posted by Fallguy
there are alot of different measurements of a acre - commercial acre - international acre - and the one that will make you less money the good old U.S. survey acre -

Ok now I think I have heard everything....

International acre???

Why does it make you less money...charge more...

by your measurements the "international acre" LOL (36,000 ft) is $50 then you should charge $60.5 for an "U.S. survey" acre

And if you told your customers that you measure "your acres" differently they may drop you right there.

I do hope your kidding...

Fallguy
07-29-2001, 10:29 PM
There are very many different measurements of an acre -3 that i'm aware of - and if im getting between 50 - 55 dollars for every 36,000 square feet then i would be getting more for your 43,560 square foot acre. For 43,560 i would charge my clients about $65 anything else brain surgeon? also i would like to add that i am not originaly from the united states. Amazing how many yards a accent will get you when your dealing with female clients.

strickdad
07-30-2001, 01:02 AM
mmmmm fallguys real name is jodi !!!:D

HBFOXJr
07-30-2001, 08:14 AM
Originally posted by HOMER
Is that wheel and watch gonna factor in pinecones, sticks, bottles, tall grass and tell you what week you'll need to bring in the work release crowd to help out with the trash?

Too many variables for me to base my bids on a watch and wheel. If I was estimating fert and mulch the wheel would be used.


Maybe the competitive pressures in your area are not as extreme as here, so bids don't need to be tightly organized.

But there is nothing like knowing how long that bus load of convicts will take to clean up a certain size area. Then when you gotta do it again someplace else you can plan your profit instead of taking what's left over if there is anything or getting out bid because you guessed too high and someone else knew how long the job would take.

HOMER
07-30-2001, 10:02 AM
The work release comment was sarcasm.

My point was and is if everything was constant, nothing ever changed, then measuring would be an effective tool. I do believe you should know what the size of the property is, nothing wrong with that, but dealing with all the changes that occur throughout the year would not allow me to take that bid and make it work somewhere else. I know the average time it takes me at all my properties..............now! I have underbid and had to suffer for it too because the site grew and grew once I got the bid. Most of the time I am pretty close to where I should be.

HBFOXJr
07-30-2001, 10:18 AM
Originally posted by HOMER
The work release comment was sarcasm.

I know the average time it takes me at all my properties..............now! I have underbid and had to suffer for it too because the site grew and grew once I got the bid. Most of the time I am pretty close to where I should be.

How did the site come to grow and grow and screw you?

LoneStarLawn
07-30-2001, 06:52 PM
Originally posted by Fallguy
There are very many different measurements of an acre -3 that i'm aware of - and if im getting between 50 - 55 dollars for every 36,000 square feet then i would be getting more for your 43,560 square foot acre. For 43,560 i would charge my clients about $65 anything else brain surgeon?

Not a brain surgeon. Just a graduate in civil engineering

<b>acre (ac or A) </b>
a unit of area used for measuring real estate in English-speaking countries. "Acre" is an Old English word meaning a field. The acre was originally defined as the area that could be plowed in a day by a yoke of oxen. It was in use in England at least as early as the eighth century, and by the end of the ninth century it was generally understood to be the area of a field one furlong (40 rods or 10 chains) long by 4 rods (or 1 chain) wide. Thus an acre is 10 square chains, 160 square rods, 43 560 square feet or 4840 square yards. There are exactly 640 acres in a square mile. In metric countries the unit corresponding to the acre is the hectare, which is 10,000 square meters (the area of a square 100 meters on each side). One acre is equal to 0.404 687 3 hectare. Among traditional European land area units, the acre is typical in being defined as a day's work but unusual in not being visualized as the area of a square.


Three different types..hmmm there is an English Acre as we mentioned, a Scots Acre, and the Irish Acre. There is also a nanoacre....which one could it be?

A Scots Acre and an Irish acre are more than an English acre.

A nanoacre is one billionth of an English acre.

Doesn't really matter how much you are getting for an area (which ever way you measure it). As long as you are getting the necessary amount per man hr to be successfull.

Just trying to clarify the actual measurement of an acre.