View Full Version : Going commercial in Idaho

02-18-2009, 03:10 PM
Hello out there. I took over a small residential business last season, (08) consisting of about 12 accounts. I was using older 21" mowers out of the back of my truck and getting the job done. I was doing this part time, about 1/2 day on mon and 3/4 day on fridays as I have a sudo decent day job. I was approached and given the opportunity to bid 5 or 6 good sized commercial sites, office complexes and grocery stores and I am currently putting these bids together. It should be a good opportunity but I am somewhat starting from scratch. I am already planning on upgrading to commmercial mowers, a 32 or 36 inch and a 48" to start with and a decent trailer even if I just keep the resindential and get a few more. So the mower situation I have somewhat figured out. (I wouldnt mind advice on best brands of mowers though.) These commercial bids I am preparing will include fertilizer and maintenance weed control and shrub areas ect. I am basing my labor hours on about 35 dollars a man hour. Are there any guidelines out there other than just eyeballing a place that would help me figure out square feet per man hour on mowing , linear feet on trimming, square feet on fertilizer costs and weed spraying costs? I think I am coming close but I havent done jobs this large and choppy and I am worried I may be over/under bidding this stuff. Any and all help and advice would be greatly appreciated

02-18-2009, 06:55 PM
My best advice is to read, read, and than read some more. This site has so much info on it and you can learn a lot. I prefer Toro and Exmark for mowers and Redmax for handhelds. Be sure you have the proper licenses for fertilization and pesticides as it's a pretty hefty fine if you don't. Either way, hope this helped a little. Good luck and welcome to Lawnsite.

02-19-2009, 12:22 PM
thanks for the input.

02-19-2009, 02:33 PM
hey there, i have been doing this for 5 years so i am not a pro but i know a bit. i remember being so scared to loss the bid so i was always trying to lower my cost but it did no good. if its hard down there like here in mi people are try to get the job for bucks and not a far price and non of us win because they make no money and they go under or what ever and now the customer thinks he can get it for that cheap again and the bigger far priced company's loss all together. your time is worth money dont short your self. i use all toro and sithl products because i like them because my dealer sells both and they have had little problems for me. but it matters how close the dealer is and what you like. up here i know most of us try to get 60 to 75 an hour to mow trim blow. and 50 60 for hedge trimming. 35 for weeding. dont fertilize unless you have the correct licenses it will hurt if you dont good luck hope i could help.

02-19-2009, 03:22 PM
thank you, I am going to check around on the pricing. I know I was doing fine on the residential at around 35/hr but it does stand to reason that the commercials should be a bit more. I also need to check into the hedge/shrub trimming closer as two of these complexes have about 150 or more shrubs on the property. Do you bid these out as a spring and fall only thing or do you throw a trim in throught the year as well? I was goint to bid the mow trim blow seperate, then the shrub and perrenial areas as a spring fall thing with maybe a clean-up trim mid-year, then they want a sprinkler monitoring adjustment program monthly, which would be bid seperately, and then fertilizer/ weed control seperately. I need to check into the licensing. I have a proffessional applicators license for herbiced through work I am currently doing through my present job, but I dont know if I can just add personal insurnace onto the card to cover this or what I would have to do. I will do some more research. If anyone is familiar with Idaho laws I appreciate all advice and info.
Thanks again

02-24-2009, 01:25 AM
If you have a Idaho Professional Pesticide License through your work, then yeah all you need is your own for your own business..Its not cheap but not too bad. A guy I work with does some spraying on the side and has his own insurance. Ill check who he goes through..You dont need a license to fertilize. As for mowers, whats the best kind? How much coin you want to and can afford plays a bid role in that. Commercial mowers arent cheap but they last. Try to go with diesel if you can..Cant beat a grasshopper or a Jacobson either..Trimmers Shindaiwa T272 almost indestructable

02-24-2009, 08:55 AM
Thanks for the reply. Your the first person Ive seen on here from Idaho. I actually contaced the licensing guru at ISDA and made sure on the licensing issues and your exactly right. I checked on the insurance and have a policy ready to put into place. I am waitning on an email on some fert, pre-em and post em so I can finish these bids. It seems Ive got most of the office stuff in line, I just need the work now. I have been asking around here locally and I think I have come up with a decent fert and weed control program. I was hoping I could get some input from anyone/someone.
Fert late march with 24-2-9 with Dimension 20%PCSCU
Possibly a granular post emerg in may after things pop-up a bit?
Fert june 24-2-9
Fert Aug 24-2-9
Winterizer in Nov 21-2-5
Our cutting/growing season here is April1 to Oct 31 on average
spot spray shrub areas as needed round-up
spot spray turf areas as needed 2-4D
I would like to keep to granular this first year if possible
Do any of you have suggestions for fertilizer for shrubs and trees?
Thanks for all the help everyone

Kemper Landscape and Property maintenance

02-24-2009, 10:34 AM
Go to the Kansas State University website/ Research and Extension...They just put up a really good lawn care calender for cool season turf..If you cant find it let me know and ill scan it to you. Your plan looks pretty sound.. Remember the grub control, you can find a rain guage cheap almost anywhere to see how much water your sites are actually putting down which helps. Removing thatch is still a questionable practice (up to you and your clients) but aeration incorporated is essential when you can get the equipment. Ill ask the urban forester today about a good all around tree and shrub fert.....

02-24-2009, 12:48 PM
Thanks again for the help, I will check the web-site. Do you put down grub control on all properties as part of your program or only on turf areas with signs of a problem? Does this include bill/bug control? Does the water gauge help with signs of grub possibilities or just in general to know how mch water is going down? Is the aeration essential even on new turf areas?

02-25-2009, 08:12 PM
Well grub control I would leave up to the homeowner..People dont like to be sold things they dont need and that adds to your reputation, but always inquire. Some people see ferts like Scotts in home depot with grub control and insist on it. Some wait until there is a problem and then blame it on you. First case do whatever they want, second case recommend a preventative approach so they dont necessarily lead to a problem in the future. Imidicloprid will deal with both you asked about. Maybe an every other year treatment would b fine for those folks. Just make sure they know its a middle of the road approach and not a guarantee. The water guage is just the water from their sprinkler system if they have one. Correct water of 1 to 2 inches per week on KB eases a lot of stress. The lower when its cool and humid, higher when its hot and dry or excessively windy (imagine that here). Aeration never hurts..You never know who developed the site unless you did..Lots of contractors use rollers..Compaction is a root killer

02-25-2009, 08:18 PM
Oh and never do aeration of any kind before you put down a pre-emergent. It basically breaks the chemical "barrier" and your application sucks..lol never core in the heat of the summer either, just knives.

02-25-2009, 08:24 PM
On new stands make sure the turf is well established and i didnt c my last post so ill do it again NEVER aerate before pre-emergent application NEVER core aerate in the heat of summer, only use knives..

02-26-2009, 03:06 PM
I am going to leave aeration out of the bid that Im working on right now. this guy wants a simple bid and I think he'll be alright for this year. Are there specific signs that aeration is a must? Since you are from Idaho and know the climate here, I thought you might take a look at another thread I have going and see if the imput I am receiving is applicable in our climate. Ive noticed alot of imput from the east. Im sure they know what theyre doing I just thought you might like to see it. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=263078
It is under the pesticide and fert and herbicide section as please review my program if that link doesnt get you there.
I was thinking along the same lines as you as far as the grub/bug control. I dont like the idea of putting down more pesticide than is truly neccessary. Are there any good early signs of infestations though? It seems that by the time you have them, its too late? Am I wrong on that?
Thanks again