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Turf Tiger
06-10-2008, 08:08 PM
I have been mowing residential yards for the past year and like it but I dont get the money out of it I want. I really want to get into commercial mowing, but I dont know that much about the bidding process. I guess it would be little late this year to get started in commercial mowing. Would it be wise to go ahead and start hitting businesses for next year? Or when should I start? I want to get ahead of everyone else. Any words of advice or help would be great.

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
06-10-2008, 08:16 PM
For me commercial work isn't all that great. Everyone wants them so you have to bid low to even have a chance. Low bid almost always wins. We make much more per hour doing residential work.

TPendagast
06-10-2008, 09:01 PM
Turf Tiger,

IF you dont have expereince you can run yourself out of business quick.

Forget abot "getting ahead of everyone else" you are going to, they have the lawns you want.

You will also need much more insurance than most residential guys have (if they have insurance at all)

If have doen commercial bidding for TruGreen, Brickman and Teufel
(some of the largest commercial companies in the US)

I can help you but I need to know your specific questions rather than run a seminar via email

Tell me the sqaure footages, and I can tell you what machine you should be using how many guys on your crew and how much yo should charge.

MOST municipal contracts (cities,athletic fields etc) are public knowledge what a contract went for, so another good idea is to find out what "X park is getting mowed for" and then compare it to a similar commercial job you are bidding and go with a similar number.

That's how Ed LaFlamme got started.

A couple of books you could look into reading:
Seven Super Simple Secrets to Entrepenurial(sp) Success by Marty Grunder
and anything Written by Ed LaFlamme.

do a search on Amazon.com you will wind them

They are both uber succesful commercial landscape maintenance contractors and reasonably good friends of mine.

Turf Tiger
06-10-2008, 09:32 PM
Here are some of my questions and hopefully you can help. When do businesses start taking bids and if there is not a set time of the year how do I know and find out about when? If I am completly wrong on how this goes try to explain it to me? This is what I really want to do for a living so I will do what it takes. What is the best way to win bids and still make good money? How much insurance should I carry as a mower of commercial property?

Some of the commercial property I am going to try to get is a brand new hospital. It wll be from 2 to 3 acres of mowing and trimming of the bushes and taking care of property. Another one is the church I go to it is 3 acres of mowing and will be taking care of the bushes. There are many other businesses I am going to try to get but I am wondering when the right time to approach the business and how to handle it.

bohiaa
06-10-2008, 09:46 PM
There's a ton in Commerical mowing. Dont listen to those guys.....

you need at least 1 million you should be carring this anyway, Forget Walmart they want 2 mill, no biggie but every contract for walmart had already been awarded,,,,, everyone is just subs......

Break down the areas as if they were houses, and look at them like that, except souble your price, MOST places have a contract already written for you, they will give it to ya.

If you wjould like I have one from a managment co. that I do some of there appartments.

we have one that's about 3 acers and there paying me 73,000.00 per year.
were in Texas so it may be diffrent where your at... BUT we give 42 cuts a YEAR,

I will have to dig out that contract and scan it, Email me and I will sent it to ya. It's a GREAT way to start your self one, it outlines What when and WHERE.... AND STICK TO IT.

Most places around here accept bids in January and there only 1 year, NEVER SGIN A 2 or 3 year contract..... " ya never know waht the future holds.....

Start looking around RIGHT NOW at some places that you want, Notice what other co's are doing wrong and document it, it's GREAT ammo,

AND NO the low bidder does NOT always get the bid,,,,,
People who tell ya that simply are misinformed, of have given up on life.....

Good LUCK

Turf Tiger
06-10-2008, 10:02 PM
Would I be out of place to go ahead and talk to the businesses I want for next year to let them know I am interested and let them know what I can offer that you other people arent doing. I figured that would catch their interest and show that I am more professonial than everyone else

bohiaa
06-10-2008, 10:10 PM
This is NOT True,,,,,,,,

Like I stated earlyer, watch the proptery, and document things, walk right in and ask when do you accept bids for lawn mateance, and who do I send it too

Turf Tiger
06-10-2008, 10:11 PM
You where very helpful. I couldnt find your email address and If you would send that to me. I would really like to see the contract that you have. Thanks alot

Turf Tiger
06-10-2008, 10:18 PM
Also what is the cheapest but the best for the money full size mower. I have been looking at Scags. And they can kinda get very expensive.

TPendagast
06-10-2008, 10:24 PM
Here are some of my questions and hopefully you can help. When do businesses start taking bids and if there is not a set time of the year how do I know and find out about when? If I am completly wrong on how this goes try to explain it to me? This is what I really want to do for a living so I will do what it takes. What is the best way to win bids and still make good money? How much insurance should I carry as a mower of commercial property?

Some of the commercial property I am going to try to get is a brand new hospital. It wll be from 2 to 3 acres of mowing and trimming of the bushes and taking care of property. Another one is the church I go to it is 3 acres of mowing and will be taking care of the bushes. There are many other businesses I am going to try to get but I am wondering when the right time to approach the business and how to handle it.
Ok here we go;
The "time of year" commercial contracts go down is "typically" february through march, for mowing and landscape maintenanc, be aware that commercial jobs want a whole package they dont hire one guy to cut grass, and someone else to fertilize an another to trim the shrubs ou need to do it all.
Figure your time on a commercial property at .000048 per square foot. This will give you how long it will take to mow and trim a property, then guess at how much time to add for blowing off walks and such.
Now try to fit on the LARGEST mower you can.
You are NOT going to do commerical lawns with a 48" belt drive.
3 acres of lawn @ 43,560 sq ft per acre will take you 6 hours with that belt drive I mentioned above.
Now there are guys that "THINK" they can charge $40 an acre and "make" money. So you WILL get under bid. The key is supplying your customer with a "qualified bid".
At 6 hours for $50 per hour you cut that grass and trim it for $300 (yep that's 100 per acre).
NOW if you can afford it , get yourself a 61" turf tiger or dixie chopper or whatever it is you like. does that mean you charge less money?
NOOOOOooo thats the mistake all these guys make!
"I can do it faster so I charge less money, so i get more accounts!"
sounds too good to be true because it is.
IF you are going to start out with a big machine you definately need jobs, so give your clients a 20% discount ($240 for those three acres).
But with that big machine (assuming it will fit everywhere) you are cutting and trimming those three acres is half the time, which means $240 divided by three is $80 per hour.
Remember to figure in your blowing walks time as well, but DON't try to get $80 per hour for a guy with a blower, this is what will price you out of the market so figure your blowing separate and bill it out at say $36 per hour.

They key is to charge your customer the nominal $40 per hour for the walk behind mower and then INVEST in equipment that will let you do the work faster & better.

In 2001-2004 I was averaging $85 per hour from lawn cutting, I ran dixie choppers that went 15mph and I cut football fields in 9 minutes.
It took me longer to unload and reload the machine on the trailer than it did the cut the grass.
DO NOT go buy those TORO groundsmasters not matter what people say the WAM (wide area mowers) go too slow, turn too slow and down manuver well enough to compensate for the wide decks. 60 and 72 inch zero turn will out perform them and fit on the widest variety of properties.

Next step get the contract.
#1 DO not advertise, wasted money, commercial contracts dont look in the yellow pages or newspaper to call people for work. YOU go to them
#2 have 1million in insurance (most commercials require this minimum)
#3ask commerical property owners/managers to get on the "preferred bidders list" this way everytime thy send ou a bid you get an invite.
#4 as you are starting late in the season look for jobs that are being maintained irregularly (i.e. not gettign cut at the same time every week) and look bad (it's likely they are susceptible to a new comer giving them a price).
#5 alot of commerical properties will tell you "we have a contract with someone" most commerical contracts have a 30 day opt out clause meaning either party can end the contract within 30days with prior written notice, if you can save them money, heck why not? All you are doing is giving them a price.
#6 If you get alot of resistance from theperson you are talking to ask if your are talking to the decision maker (i.e. "do you sign the contracts?") most of the time the answer is going to be no, you are likely just talking to an administrator. You want to talk to the jabba the hutt not the guy with the tentacles on his head and the nasty grill.
#7 who needs premission to make a contract? Go ahead, measure the property, do the calculations write a proposal and walk in ready to get it signed! IT's only your time!
No one can ask you not to measure the lawn at the hospital, it's a public building!
#8 always submit your impromptu contract with a list (prefferably with dated picutres) outlining the deficencies of the property currently under the care of the competition and state how these things will be addressed under your care (i.e. snap a few shots of the clumps in the lawn, the wheelie marks where the guy turned to hard and the areas they missed with trimmers)

and last but not least, never underestimate the value of growth regulator, apply it once every two months and trim your property once a month but charge for it every time, and bang! you made even more money.
Always remember you are NOT charging for your time, your are charging for a finished product (a beautifully manicured lawn) HOW you get it done (and how long it takes) is your BUSINESS!! literally.

Turf Tiger
06-10-2008, 10:38 PM
Thank you so much for your help I will keep looking over what you wrote so I get it right. I love this site because I have friends that mow but they dont like to share info because of all the people that mow, and now I have somewhere to turn for help.

TPendagast
06-10-2008, 10:50 PM
I don't commercially mow anymore, Went and got a degree in landscape architecture. But I used to be a big player in the biz. I helped on work shops for the developement of the Wright series of Mowers and the Dixie Chopper.
The seat on the Wright sentar was made larger and wider because I was too big for their tiny bicycle seat (Im 6'4" and 250lb).

But I don't have any problem telling someone else how to do it.

I used to make MAD money doing it (more than i make now) I just got bored.

as for mowers, the PRICE is measured in two factors. #1 upfront cost (price from the dealership) and #2 total cost of ownership (reapirs, maintenance and down time)

In commercial mowing down time will KILL you, buy something with greaseless spindles if you can (the big mowers are hard to get at with grease anyway and operators will always neglect the grease points if not properly supervised)

Bonus to scag, built like a tank, little down time, long lasting, retains value when used.
Draw back, high up front cost.

Less expnsive models....well tell me what your local choices are.
DO NOT go out of town for a mower if you can help it, you want an in town dealer who is going to give your service and warranty support, hopefully there is someone who has loaner machines incase you are down.
Vendor loyalty is extremely important to your reputation

On another note, i forgot to tell you:

You want to shcedule your mowing for 4 days a week, 10 hours a day.
Why?
Less travel, loaing an unlaoing at the end of the day ( 4 days per week instead of 5) AND it gives you that extra unscheduled day of time to still get the cuts in that week IN CASE of down time and/or rain out.

You start missing cuts you start bleeding money.

bohiaa
06-10-2008, 10:51 PM
PM me with your email address

bigclawnman
06-10-2008, 11:45 PM
Very informative stuff. I really got a lot of good ideas myself.

calandscaper
06-11-2008, 11:58 AM
Bohiaa & Pendagast,

That was informative, thanks to both!

Bohiaa, would you mind if I checked out that example contract as well?

Appreciate it!

srqlawn
06-11-2008, 12:01 PM
same here.....i would like to see the contract too......

GrassMastersKS
06-11-2008, 06:26 PM
This has been the most informative thread I have read on this site. Bohiaa, please email me an example of that contract. Here commercial accounts are renewed in june sometimes, so I would like to get a foot up. Thank you very much.

JohnnyRoyale
06-12-2008, 12:04 PM
I will agree with previous posts that the job typically goes to the lowest bidder. Especially when dealing with property management firms, or municipalities. However, property managers are people too, and most enjoy small tokens of appreciation, ie:baseball tickets, kickbacks etc... I'm not suggesting you start comping guys to get jobs, but many do, and make sure you remeber them during the holidays. This racket has alot to do with who you know, and how good you BL**. (For lack of a better phrase).

Keep it simple, and get as aggressive as you feel is right to get the job. Most base contracts lead to juicy 'extra' work, and it should all come to you. Don't get frustrated if you didn't get a job and they tell you were expensive. This may be true on occasion, but reality is every company has different motivations for basing their pricing by. My only motivation is net money, and it has done me no wrong in 15 years.

Get the best equipment, backed by a good local dealer for the job-you cannot afford down time. Dont base your decision entirely on upfront cost. My dealer is more expensive than most, but when I have a problem, it gets done right away, and if it cant, he gives the boys a loaner and off they go. Whats that worth?

Be patient, it takes some time to penetrate into this type of work. Latch onto a few good (and they do exist) owners, or property managers, and expand with them. In my experiences, PITA's have been condo and townhouse environments, or anywhere a board of directors exists, I steer clear from these. Industrial work is easy, less picky (in most cases), and good payers. Commercial shopping centres are very picky, excellant payers, and have their own unique set of hurdles.

Remember that good help is hard to find, and it will be very difficult to keep a high profile type place looking mint, without the properly skilled manpower. Keep it close geographically and expand outwards. Mix it up a bit, and dont put all your eggs in a basket.

Man, theres just so much, but thats it for Now-lunchtime!!

TPendagast
06-12-2008, 09:20 PM
Business ethics 101:

Kick backs and baseball tickets are both illegal (in most states I know of) and morally and ethically wrong.

chirstmas cards and the like are fine.

TPendagast
06-12-2008, 10:00 PM
when i can. I'm bogged down in alot of stuff right now, but we I get the disk in and dig through the achives Ill find them

bohiaa
06-12-2008, 10:27 PM
Ok I think I got everyone.....

Remember MOST larger co's will have a contract, they do this Quite offten, and NO the contAs far as kickbacks and such, dont do that and dont even offer, and most of all dont even say the word....

I have taken several clients out for a GREAT time, expensive restrunts, ask co workers what there into, I sent 200.00 Rod and reel to a Gentleman from R. R. Donley....

these are NOT kickbacks, these are gifts.....

Good Luck everyone

JohnnyRoyale
06-13-2008, 05:59 AM
these are NOT kickbacks, these are gifts.....



No different in my opinion my friend.

JohnnyRoyale
06-13-2008, 06:03 AM
Business ethics 101:

Kick backs and baseball tickets are both illegal (in most states I know of) and morally and ethically wrong.

chirstmas cards and the like are fine.

I'm not suggesting you kick back or start gifting everyone or make a public announcement of the matter...but it is quite common in this industry, and all others for that matter. Unfortunately, these fringe benefits are often expected. You would be suprised how many actually ask for them. Morally and ethically wrong...I agree, but its reality, like it or not.

Maxwell12
04-15-2011, 07:56 PM
Hi, i was reading your replys and i was wondering i do i draw up commerical contracts can you help me.

mooseg
04-16-2011, 08:09 AM
If someone could post a copy of a contract it would be a great help to all of us new guys !

Torchwood
11-10-2011, 11:20 AM
Subscribed
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willretire@40
11-10-2011, 12:03 PM
Ok have often thought about getting into commercial work. My dad has a company that does a different type of work. He works at different apartment complexes everyday for the last 20 years and he is a people person. Therefore I know I can get work no problem. I just don't know how to get into it and like residential work. I would like a copy of that sample contract to please.
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