View Full Version : Outlet Mall Bid Suggestions

05-01-2007, 11:37 AM
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to present a bid for a large commercial project. My specialty has been residential. A typical project for me will run $5000 to $20,000 dollars. I have been in the landscape business for 8 years. This is my biggest bid so far. Potentially $55,000 to $65,000. Here is my plan so far:

1. Provide actual plants for potential customer to see on site.
2. Provide a 2D drawing of plan.
3. Show a 3D walkthrough of plan.
4. Break the bid into parts (like a menu). There are 5 main areas to the landscaping bid.

My questions are:
1. How do you dress? Does it matter. Landscaping clothes or semi-dress.
2. Is there anything specific you say to peak a customer's interest?
3. Do you mention the competition and their work?
4. Have I missed something?

Guzman Properties
05-01-2007, 01:16 PM
First thing to do is pretend you are the customer. What would you want to see or hear?

Well dressed professional? or shorts and a tee? (remember, if you get the job, you can always show off your shirts and tee) Polo shirt with company logo and name, and khakis never hurt.

Change your vocabulary from "I" to "we".

Competition, bad, good, same, better? Just let them know what you have to offer.

Always have extra business cards to hand out during the proposal process, you never know how many of there may be.

Mike Fronczak
05-01-2007, 06:09 PM
Is this new build or renovation work? If it new build, just submit a bid, the builder doesn't care as long as it done (cheap) & good enough that he gets paid. If existing (doing it for owner) probably pretty close to same. Are you doing the design work also, or working off a print, that will be your first clue.

05-02-2007, 01:36 AM
I am doing everything except the irrigation work. I will sub that out. The place has been bought out about 1 year ago and they are trying to attract new customers. Old landscape is washing out in places and most evergreens are dead. It needs a complete overhaul. If they go cheap on this it will look like it. I like to think we do higher end work, they might be thinking of only the bottom line. Do I go in and say this is the design and this is the price (with confidence and not arrogance).

Thanks for the comments so far.


05-02-2007, 07:01 PM
I would ask to see what there landscape budget is. I would try to feel them out to see if they are searching for the lowest bid... or have the funds to really set it off.

green horizons
05-02-2007, 07:49 PM
I would approach it from a budget standpoint. I wouldn't give specifics, just basics. Talk about whan can be done, what can be saved, what can be omitted in a pinch, talk about budget. What are the needs, desires, budget? Is timing negotiable or critical? Are specs. negotiable or critical? Is budget...? 55-65k is a sizable job, budget should be discussed. Sounds fun, good luck.

05-02-2007, 10:02 PM
I want to make sure we are on the same page. You guys are say NOT to develop a specific plan yet. Instead I should go back to my contact person and press for some specific budget guidlines. (I did the first time, but they wanted to see what we would come up with.) I would hate to create a sophisticated plan, then not get the bid. However, I do not want to go in and show them nothing.

My opinion through my conversations is that they are open to suggestions. No specs were given. They know they need some retaining walls to stop erosion and add class. They want me to provide the plants at cost (Not installation labor) at cost. In return I would get free advertisement in a high traffic area.

Should I shoot a ballbark figure, then design? HELP!!!

05-03-2007, 08:10 AM
You should get a contract to do the design efore you do the design. Real estate developers understand that there are a lot of people out there who look at such a project as "the big break I need to grow" and they harness that. They could go out and hire a well established design firm that has the proven experience both in designing and project managing this type of project. Instead, they are contacting smaller residental landscape companies.

Think about it. What do you as a developer gain by using such a company? Well, if you can get them so horny to get the job that they will draw a plan, draw up walk through sketches, and bring them examples of plants before they even get the job, then there might be good reason. That is a couple of thousand dollars worth of work for free, if it is a good sized outlet mall.

Clearly, they want someone who will invest more in this job more than they are willing to do. You are being used, in my opinion. They would rather get all of their design concepts done for free from people who have no experience in commercial design for free. That should tell you that they are more interested in saving money than bringing the right people in to guaranty the success of the project. It should then follow that they will do the same when it comes to the installation phase. They will take your plans, or the ideas from them and hire the cheapest guys around, or their own staff to install it. Or do you think they will all of a sudden think "let's invest in the right people" after that.

I don't want to be negative, but I've been around this long enough to know how it is.

Look how much you are going out of your way and looking to go even further. You are seeing a big budget and cutting your profit right off to get at it. It makes no sense.

05-03-2007, 11:24 AM
AGLA, thank you for your frankness.

It is true that I really would like to get this bid. However, I do not plan on compromising my standards and do a cheap job cheaply. It is true that there are many things I still don't know about the landscaping business. I would compare my design and retaining wall work with anyone. My biggest weakness is the "business" side.

The thing about this bid is that if we don't get it someone else will, whether they are a large commercial contractor or small residential outfit. I need help competing.

If you were in my shoes. Besides walking away from this project, how would you go about selling your landscaping vision without being used?


05-03-2007, 05:08 PM
AGLA is way, wicked-right, right on-the-money!

Put the shirt & tie on, bring a yellow pad and a few pens to scribble and make notes of what is said, and get to a meeting soon with ALL (not 2 out of 5) ALL Principals in their deci$ion-making process. At the meeting first smile, tell some jokes or make some friendly baseball opening season comments to get everyone thinking that you put your pants on the same way they do and are basically a decent guy. Next -show pictoral examples of your finished work over the past decade (- as you say your experience timeframe spans - or at least some full color brochures or pictures from your suppliers) and then WITHOUT SAYING ONE OTHER THING: request a 10% (APPLICABLE TO THE PROJECT) Design Fee UP FRONT prior ANY more negotiations with these saavy smartazzed individuals. LET THE SILENCE BECOME ABSOLUTELY DEAFENING!! That's Right, IF YOU SPEAK FIRST - YOU LOSE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SHUT UP - AND LET THEM ANTE-UP FIRST to your level - or else you'll NEVER be anybody in this business. It's called Professional Posture, and it's not willy-nilly or whamby-pamby. Be a Champion - eye-of-the-Tiger-look-'em-in-the-eye - because you truly ARE The Someone they've been looking for that they can depend upon to do what you say and say what you do - and MEAN IT, from the get-go!

05-04-2007, 10:24 AM
I have set up a meeting for this coming Wednesday. I will give an update after that meeting to let everyone know how it went.


P.S.-Thansk to everyone who has added their thoughts. I really appreciate straightforward advice and contrucctive criticism. I was once told if your not making mistakes you're probably not doing anything.

05-04-2007, 10:46 AM
I'm sorry, business owners such as myself have little time for meetings, here's the price, take it or leave it... This one may have already gone too far, I wouldn't show up at no meeting even if lunch is included, scheduled or not they'd never pay the $pmh for my time to sit in, or would they?

hmmm ....

05-06-2007, 12:45 AM
My questions are:
1. How do you dress? Does it matter. Landscaping clothes or semi-dress.
2. Is there anything specific you say to peak a customer's interest?
3. Do you mention the competition and their work?
4. Have I missed something?

1. Landscape, business professional (khakis, logo-ed shirt, shoes)
2. Be careful. A lot of time I want to sell my knowledge and the client already knows what they want and doesn't care what I know. Listen and respond.
3. Nothing negative about anyone ever.
4. Try to set up the presentation as a property tour. Leave the client with a proposal. Cover - picture of the property with your client company name above the picture and your company name and info below. Introductory letter. 5 tab sections for 5 basic areas including specs. and prices. Sixth tab with recommended projects. Maybe a closing page with other company info. Bound at Staples with clear cover.
5. I lose most of my bids. You may not want to listen to me.

05-06-2007, 02:15 AM
"topsites" is our beloved "lawn-boy" Lawnsite village-idiot, no longer in the business as it was said many times before upon this site. Besides - wtf can a "lawn-boy" tell you (as his advice is prolific in that category and columns) about flipn' landscaping, anyway????

the silence is broken by them laughing - they may know this tactic all too well and will try to smile you down, just have fun with it and smile back at them until 20 or more minutes passes. if they smile more or laugh - just laugh with them and/or raise least raise an eyebrow (or two). initially write up the order by asking them if they need to assign a purchase order number to the project, and the exact billing address (which may be a po box) - and best contact person throughout. set up another meeting with the contact person to obtain signature upon your primary Agreement Form (contract) copy and the check for 50% down. Always double your material costs and add at least 20% for overhead costs - along with any attendant costs for additional labor for "degree of difficulty" scenarios.
-regards at the meeting, and tell us all how it worked out to your advantage, and if you obtained a design fee initially with them.

05-10-2007, 10:25 AM
Thursday Morning Aftermath:

This is how I approached it.

1) I use Belgard wall system. In the back of my truck I assembled a 2ft. wall with capstones to show what it looked like compared to a Pavestone wall.

2) I brought a sampling of plants and explained growth habits, colors, maintenance.

3) A week before the meeting I took some pictures of the mall. I used the Drafix program (1st Time) to give an idea of what the wall scheme and plant selection would look like in some of the beds we are going to create.

Their reaction:
1) They were really impressed with our presentation. The manager said that no other company brought plants or wall out for them to look at. The others just told them what they were going to do, I showed them. They wanted some of the beds scaled back, but loved the ideas. No formal plans were created for the presentation. I am going to submit my bid next week some time.

My reaction:
1) Am I being used? Maybe

2) If I were going to buy carpet, siding, or a car I would like to see what it looked like and not just what the dealer told me it looked like. I think we have the bid if we are close on the bid pricing(I know, obvious statement). They may not be able to afford us. I think we might have sold them on some items that they were not even thinking of.

Your reactions/comments/suggestions??????????????????????

If a customer was going