PDA

View Full Version : Advice On Bidding Large Subdvision


gravedigger5
09-15-2002, 12:31 AM
I've been cruising along here now for about 2 years as a part time LCO, thinking about going full time, kinda hoping they would lay me off at my other job forcing me to do this all the time. I'm to the point I know about what it will take money wise for my family to get by and about what amount of work it will take to generate that kind of money. Well I got a chance to bid on mowing an entire subdivision in my area. Mostly duplexes, appx 60 yards. Haven't done any measuring or walk the grounds yet but did drive by this evening. Doesn't look too complicated, and the yards are not too big. Just rough figuring in my head this would be a $6000+ a month account. I am solo now, would need to hire aleast 1 maybe 2 employees. Myself and 2 helpers should be able to knock this out in 2 days appx. The guy from the assc told me they wanted it on a per cutting basis, want to be able to call ahead of time and cancel a cutting if they think it is too dry, but some of the home owners water the lawn and some don't. And some of the owners like their lawn cut higher or shorter than others. Kind of sounds like a PITA job and if I do bid on it that will be taken into account. Sorry this post is so long, but would apprieciate some advise (neg or positive) I was also wondering is this typical when bidding whole subdivisions. Thanks Marc

Albemarle Lawn
09-15-2002, 12:46 AM
If so they will clobber your time on this job.

I had a similar situation with 34 duplexes, total about 13 acres.

We were at $500- $600/ cut for two years then were underbid.

Tell us more. $6K/month sounds high, that's $100/ mo per home, or about $35 per cut. They would have to be quite large or have a lot of common area to justify that.

Realistically, just make sure you get $15 per home ($30 per duplex) if they are under 1/3 acre each duplex, or about $25 for 1/4 acre, and the common areas are not too brutal.

By the way, the account we lost to an underbid was on nasty hillsides with many 36" gates and brutal slopes that had to be trimmed.

KB

gravedigger5
09-15-2002, 01:14 AM
Albemarle Lawn, there is around 102 units (mostly duplexes) guessing around 60 yards (buildings). they also need the road frontage maintained, appx the size of 4 of the yards there. Most the yards look to be .25 an acre or a little bigger. The terrain was nice, no hills, maybe some minor drainage, no fences that I saw, mostly decks and average landscaping. Probably can put the 62" ztr on most of it. It is a nicer, newer subdvision, but not the country club type. I was figureing about $25 a yard x 60yards x 4 cuttings a month = $6000. This is just guess work so far, the guy just called today. I will have to get with him to see exactly everything they want done. the way he made it sound on the phone, only mow trim and blow, any other maintainance would be up to the individual home owners. Thanks for your reply, and I will try to answer any other questions if I can. Marc

Shady Brook
09-15-2002, 01:31 AM
Around here, the competition is high, and the money you get is low with these associations, at least in my experience. I can make much more per yard not mowing an association. It is nice having them all together that is for sure. I would be nervous if they can tell you not to cut a week. The watered lawns could really be brutal, and you will be the big looser there. Bet 3 guys could do something like that in one long day with the right equipment, but that is just me. I think I would stipulate that you use your judgement if they call you off, ie, mow the ones that are watered and growing, or something to protect yourself.

Jay

ADLAWNCUTTERS
09-15-2002, 05:27 AM
nope i would tell them it's a flat monthly fee.you still have to pay ins.,equip, etc .every month .if you want to lower your price a little thats ok. tell them it is a fair deal for both of you. because they know how much they have to spend .so they can budget.and you know how much your making. if they don't agree on a flat monthly fee ,i would walk away . and invest your time and energy on customers that want to pay.not tire kickers.good luck

GarPA
09-15-2002, 06:56 AM
b4 you spend anymore time on this I would find out why they want to change service providers...dig until you get an answer that you believe....that answer can often tell you if you really want to work for them...be careful....could be a headache in the making...good luck

gravedigger5
09-15-2002, 11:52 AM
ADLAWNCUTTERS nope i would tell them it's a flat monthly fee.you still have to pay ins.,equip, etc .every month .if you want to lower your price a little thats ok. I agree with you, landing one job this large (for me anyway) I would need some asurance that I am going to be able to pay my bills. Probably require me to go full time or hire someone.kitzy b4 you spend anymore time on this I would find out why they want to change service providers... The gentleman told me on the phone, that one of the homeowners knew of someone willing to do it cheaper, and mow each yard at different heights, according to the individual owners( homeowner knew of someone... 1st PITA and different heights 2nd PITA) evidently the lawn care they have now underbid to get foot in the door then subsquently really jacked up the prices over the last several seasons. Also they preferred a local LCO, these guys are over an hour away. I do agree I need to do some more investigating, and will try to talk with some of the homeowners when I go to walk off the grounds there. Thanks Marc

65hoss
09-15-2002, 12:07 PM
Originally posted by ADLAWNCUTTERS
nope i would tell them it's a flat monthly fee.you still have to pay ins.,equip, etc .every month .if you want to lower your price a little thats ok. tell them it is a fair deal for both of you. because they know how much they have to spend .so they can budget.and you know how much your making. if they don't agree on a flat monthly fee ,i would walk away . and invest your time and energy on customers that want to pay.not tire kickers.good luck

Re-read this response over and over again until it becomes imbedded into you. Then next time you talk with them you can tell them this.

I agree with the above post, can you tell? ;)

Dennis E.
09-15-2002, 04:22 PM
If the guy said he wants a price on a per cut basis so they can cancel service if it does not need it I'd be careful with this one.
The PITA factor would make me walk.
Different heights for mowing? Not a big deal I guess if you are on a ZTR where you can easily change that.
What happens if cutting too low destroys a resident's yard. Who answers to that. You will.
You'll have a lot invested in this deal if you go ahead and bid and they accept.( Help,equipment,ins.,etc.)
You need some protection too.
Contract is the only way to go.
Good luck.

Currier
09-15-2002, 04:43 PM
It seems to me that you might end up on the losing end with this "call and cancel" baloney. Remember they do not care about you, they care about holding onto the $$ as long as possible.

People will see you cutting here and associate your work with the quality they see...then the cancel for this week call comes, then maybe they want to save some more money so they have you wait again the next week...now the lawn looks sick and you don't want to be associated with it, or it grows so much that it about kills you to mow it.

In business there are two sides/relationships:
win/win (good for them and you)
lose/win (good for them but bad for you)
win/lose (good for you but bad for them)

Seems like they want to keep alot of power over you on this one.

TurfGuyTX
09-15-2002, 08:17 PM
Originally posted by kitzy
b4 you spend anymore time on this I would find out why they want to change service providers...dig until you get an answer that you believe....that answer can often tell you if you really want to work for them...be careful....could be a headache in the making...good luck

Well said. They sound like they may be kind looking for the cheapest. (Scrubs) I hope you protect yourself like the others here have mentioned. Good luck.

Green Pastures
09-15-2002, 08:31 PM
I agree with the jist of what's been said.

-First I'd pray about it. What's God think about it. He does know everything right.

-I would not do this job without it being paid on monthly basis. Same price every month rain or shine. You cut weekly, on the same day every week barring rain, need it or not. Some months you win, and some you lose. But at least you know what you have coming in.

-I would also insist on an annual or at least a seasonal contract. Especially if you cannot do it alone. You start hiring people and then lose the job, where does that leave you?

-I would also poke around till I found out why they need a new contractor to do the job, AND try and speak with the last contractor who had the job. He/she can give you insight, but remember there are two sides to every story.

-Call me inflexible if you like but I would also NOT cut different lawns at different lengths. Look, if I'm going to be ultimately responsible for the overall apperance of the finished job, I'm going to cut the grass where it's HEALTHY for the grass to be cut. Most homeowners cut their grass WAY to short. You are the professional with the experience and knowledge, not the homeowner. Do not let them dictate where and when you need to be cutting and then hold you responsible for the results!

-I also think $6000 per month is about twice to three times what you can expect them to pay. Think of it this way....homeowners association fees are probably in the neighborhood of $80.00-$150.00 per month depending on the size of the home and what is included in the fee. Pool, tennis, gym, water, trash, sewer, landscaping, security the list goes on. You have to think of what is covered by the monthly dues, and what they have left when all is said and done. Your price sounds high to me and I live in a high rent district, maybe you're in a higher rent district :)

Do not take a job just to get money rolling in especially, if before you even start it already looks to be a PITB. I can tell you from experience small pains in the butt become larger and larger as you start to get to know the property and its day to day requirements.

I'd get EVERYTHING in writing and never do any work without a signed contract in advance. I've said it a hundred times here before and I'll say it again, CONTRACT, CONTRACT, CONTRACT.

Scott

TurfGuyTX
09-15-2002, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by Green Pastures
I agree with the jist of what's been said.

-First I'd pray about it. What's God think about it.
-I would also insist on an annual or at least a seasonal contract.

-Call me inflexible if you like but I would also NOT cut different lawns at different lengths. Look, if I'm going to be ultimately responsible for the overall apperance of the finished job, I'm going to cut the grass where it's HEALTHY for the grass to be cut. Most homeowners cut their grass WAY to short. You are the professional with the experience and knowledge, not the homeowner. Do not let them dictate where and when you need to be cutting and then hold you responsible for the results!

I'd get EVERYTHING in writing and never do any work without a signed contract in advance. I've said it a hundred times here before and I'll say it again, CONTRACT, CONTRACT, CONTRACT.

Scott

Like it's been said, you should know what's best for the lawns, not necessarily the homeowner. Stick to your guns. And....CONTRACT, CONTRACT, CONTRACT.

Green Pastures
09-15-2002, 08:48 PM
Thanx Bryan :D

Scott

Bill Davis
09-15-2002, 09:29 PM
Definetly go with the monthly flat rate. What are you going to do if there are only 15 yards that need to be cut and the neighborhood calls and says to not come this week. In the end those fifteen people that actually care what their yards look like will get mad at you. If you have to drive over there just to do yards like this every week then that isn't worth hiring your employees. When you get a neighboorhood like this on a pay per cute basis they are going to wait as long as possible between cuts to have you come out. The different heights thing is understandable but would definetly be a pain in the @$$. You cant be expected to check before you cut every single yard to see what each of them like. Get it on a monthly contract and you should be fine.

gravedigger5
09-15-2002, 10:07 PM
thanks for all the imput.:) I'm definently going to have to think this one through. And you guys have given me some good points to think about. I will probably go and talk with this guy and tell him what I think and hopefully get some better answers. the guy did seem honest, he even told me he thought the mowing of different heights would be a big PITA. Probably will get the chance to bid some other larger jobs this fall, so if I turn them down it won't be a big deal, just hate to pass up opportunities that could turn into a good account. BTW my wife has been p****d all weekend, think she can't believe I'd even consider a job this size.(She also didn't think I could handle more than 2 or 3 yards when I started either) Thanks again everybody, Marc

tim cooper
09-15-2002, 10:57 PM
Contract, Contract, Contract......... Dont get suckered into per cut basis, as I have this my first year. Gonna do things MUCH different next season.... Always something to do around the yards, especially the duplexes, even if lawn doesnt need mowing.

Just my 2 cents worth....:D

Randy Scott
09-16-2002, 12:07 AM
Just remember, you bid this work wrong and get stuck all summer with it, it could break you also. Secondly, your going to have 60 people critiqueing your work and your helpers work. I hope they are up to the task as they may cause you some headaches if their skills are limited and until you teach them the do's and dont's of quality lawn work. Good help is hard to find and a facility this large will not leave you with much time to go behind and check their work. I think I would pass, you don't sound qualified to bid and handle something like this. No offense intended, heck, I know I am not capable of these types of properties yet myself and I really don't feel like experimenting until I know more about bidding larger facilities like this. There is other work out there.