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View Full Version : The ULTIMATE lowballer


AEL
04-18-2011, 05:11 PM
Hey guys,
i got asked by a local township to bid on there parks,sportsfield maintenance contracts for this year. Township consists of 105.9 acres to cut. Half of that is sportsfields which need to be cut every monday and friday.(the rest of the areas are to be mowed weekly but in the spring or rainy year it could be twice a week, and this would not be an extra in the contract) 20 acres of that is cemetaries, the rest is parkland and around firehalls,offices,boulevards etc. In the price you are suposed to include garbage cleanup,trimming,branches, and if requested bag the grass from the sportsfields. Contract is from the last week of april to the last week of october. My price was somewhere between 70-80k per year, with a 3 percent increase each year for the duration of the contract. I felt that i was pretty low and didnt really want to get the contract. Well get this the winner was 30,000 each year for four years. Next lowest was 34,000, followed by 59,000 and then my bid.

lets do some quick math here- 105.9 acres weekly, half of that sports fields.(which are mowed twice a week) so every week 158.85 acres are to be mowed. (this doesnt include all the areas that have to be mowed twice a week, in the rainy season) 158.85 acres everyweek x 21 weeks= 3335.85 acres to be mowed every year / winning bid of 30,000 =$8.99 per acre for mowing,trimming,garbage and debris cleanup.

What is this world coming too? Are people really willing to pay to work. Guess so.
Anyways good luck to everyone this year, and lets keep raising prices to keep put things where they should be and level the playing field a bit.:weightlifter:

damnfingers
04-18-2011, 05:15 PM
"...lets keep raising prices to keep put things where they should be and level the playing field a bit."

Sounds like you need to start (or join) a union.

Prices are *where they should be* when people are willing to pay them. Raising prices only prices you out of the market...as you found out.

JB1
04-18-2011, 05:23 PM
nothing surprises me anymore.

AEL
04-18-2011, 05:26 PM
"...lets keep raising prices to keep put things where they should be and level the playing field a bit."

Sounds like you need to start (or join) a union.

Prices are *where they should be* when people are willing to pay them. Raising prices only prices you out of the market...as you found out.

I guess you missed the part where i stated the work was for a township-ie lowest bidder wins. $8.99 for mowing,triming, and trash cleanup is not "where they should be"

damnfingers
04-18-2011, 05:29 PM
And where does the township get the money to pay for the mowing? Taxes. Would you rather your taxes be raised to cover the cost of the mowing or would you rather they stayed the same and covered other services?

gebby
04-18-2011, 05:54 PM
Bids are what they are. Nothing to hang your hat on. If the other guy does a good job and if he is happy and they are happy that's what the township is looking for. You have to bid what you think you can do. In this day and age everybody is looking for the best services at the best price. Thats why it is a bid. If you didn't get it move on. Theres plenty more work out there.

weeze
04-18-2011, 06:07 PM
i can't imagine even doing any work like that. that's just too much to keep up with to me. i like to keep things simple. you'd have to have guys/crews running around everywhere to keep on top of that. i guess some do that but it's just not for me.

ajslands
04-18-2011, 06:17 PM
So are you calling this guy a lowballer because he got the account? Or maybe if he has it for four years, he will raise it after that.
Chances are, he knows what he is doing. So calling another company a lowballer just shows ignorance.
Three companies were below your prices so were they lowballers too?
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Storm the Patriot
04-18-2011, 06:39 PM
Yea not to jump on the bandwagon, but i get tired of people crying about "lowballers"...Its all about capitalism.

all ferris
04-18-2011, 07:22 PM
Fuel alone will be $10,000 per year. The guy is an idiot and will quit the bid once he figures it out.

damnfingers
04-18-2011, 07:51 PM
Fuel alone will be $10,000 per year. The guy is an idiot and will quit the bid once he figures it out.


Will the other two lower bidders figure it out and quit too?

AEL
04-18-2011, 07:56 PM
No crying going on here. I have lots of work and am very happy with my growth,profits etc. And i was actually the third lowest bidder, i read the bid wrong. there was 3 bids above (but close) to my bid.
Im just looking for some enlightenment on how mowing,triming, and cleanup can be done for 8.99 an acre. 30,000 doesnt even cover fuel, and labour for one guy. Sorry to anyone who felt i was "crying" or "complaining" doing that gets you no where!
Thanks guys!

TMlawncare
04-18-2011, 09:26 PM
I guess you missed the part where i stated the work was for a township-ie lowest bidder wins. $8.99 for mowing,triming, and trash cleanup is not "where they should be"

Funny. At $8.99/acre is less then my overhead. Hmm "prices are where they should be." Lmaof.

daveyo
04-18-2011, 09:35 PM
You weren't crying at all, maybe a bit disappointed but not complaining. He won't make money because he doesn't know his costs. As far as tax dollars go your talking nothing any taxpayer will actually feel, not for that amount. Guys who bid on these larger projects only see 30,000 and nothing else, thats a fact.

topsites
04-18-2011, 09:43 PM
Way I see things in as much as I have some difficulty foreseeing the 30 grand bid you're apparently as far off the other end too,
this is that typical one guy says $100 the other guy said $14 thing and there's no way these two will ever come to an agreement,
if 30 grand is way out of the ballpark then I would think so is 75g, these figures aren't even close to make a valid comparison and
the fact there is such grand disparity in the bidding process is bothersome, troubling.

It should never be this way, if I go get 3 estimates on fixing my car I would expect them to be close and son of a gun if there's
such a wild disparity in the bids then someone's in the wrong line of work, now I will lay off because I can't say for sure who
exactly is way off on the bid and while it is possible that you are actually on target, from the customer's perspective he (or she)
probably doesn't know whom to believe and so they just take the cheapest and done.

Sorry if that was harsh

ALC-GregH
04-18-2011, 09:54 PM
You weren't crying at all, maybe a bit disappointed but not complaining. He won't make money because he doesn't know his costs. As far as tax dollars go your talking nothing any taxpayer will actually feel, not for that amount. Guys who bid on these larger projects only see 30,000 and nothing else, thats a fact.

Amen to that Dave.

Way I see things in as much as I have some difficulty foreseeing the 30 grand bid you're apparently as far off the other end too,
this is that typical one guy says $100 the other guy said $14 thing and there's no way these two will ever come to an agreement,
if 30 grand is way out of the ballpark then I would think so is 75g, these figures aren't even close to make a valid comparison and
the fact there is such grand disparity in the bidding process is bothersome, troubling.

It should never be this way, if I go get 3 estimates on fixing my car I would expect them to be close and son of a gun if there's
such a wild disparity in the bids then someone's in the wrong line of work, now I will lay off because I can't say for sure who
exactly is way off on the bid and while it is possible that you are actually on target, from the customer's perspective he (or she)
probably doesn't know whom to believe and so they just take the cheapest and done.

Sorry if that was harsh

Would YOU mow that much grass for 8.99 an acre? Most if not ALL lawn service companies have a greater over head then 8.99 Ain't no way that guy will make money. It will cost him money to mow all that grass. Factor in labor, worker comp, insurance, FUEL, broken parts, blades, trash bags, trimmer line and a ton of other stuff that is a direct out of pocket expense and the guy will go broke mowing all that grass. The OP's bid was probably close to what it's worth to even mess with it.

P.Services
04-18-2011, 09:56 PM
TSS, were these the jobs you were going to buy the deere's for? i thought you all ready got them for sure?

Mickhippy
04-18-2011, 09:59 PM
The going rate here for city work, ie parks, nature strips etc is Au $0.0125/m2
So, 3335 acres = 13500313m2 x $0.0125m2= Au $168754
Sounds a lot but 5 or 6 trimmers guys, 4 or 5 turf tigers and operators, break downs, wet days and catch up, transport vehicles, warehouse or shop plus mechanic and tools etc etc, these guys dont make a lot of profit!

Now take into account that everything is about half the cost over there ie fuel, mowers, wages etc...
$168754 / 2= $84377

$30000 is nonsense no matter what country your in!

Greyst1
04-19-2011, 01:16 AM
How the "F" can you make money @ 8.99 per acre. Let him have it, but check back in in july.

Yarden Of Eden
04-19-2011, 01:31 AM
I just bid on my hometowns parks and city buildings mowing trimming and blowing only, 30 acres, for about 27 weeks of mowing, city decides frequency of mowing depending on turf growth, may be 2 times per week, may be every 14 days. I calculated this out and bid it at 60k. The city is not picking lowest bid, they are looking for best fit. Find out soon how itwent. Kinda feel like I went a bit high now! Lol
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Mickhippy
04-19-2011, 01:42 AM
I just bid on my hometowns parks and city buildings mowing trimming and blowing only, 30 acres, for about 27 weeks of mowing, city decides frequency of mowing depending on turf growth, may be 2 times per week, may be every 14 days. I calculated this out and bid it at 60k. The city is not picking lowest bid, they are looking for best fit. Find out soon how itwent. Kinda feel like I went a bit high now! Lol
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How did you quote / figure that out? Way to many variables there.
Then, how do you manage that? Keep a day or 2/week free "incase" they want it cut?
I dont get it!
Serious question, how did you work it out?

Snyder's Lawn Inc
04-19-2011, 01:59 AM
These day ppl want to see the low price
Apples for Apples probly not the same you might bid on 21 mowings and other guy might bid on 18 per yr
Some may think you are a highballer
When you mow you might make like your own lawn That looks good
Other guy mowing just make look good he'll mow fields twice week all rest every 2 weeks and probly trim every 2 weeks
He gets by doing this He might be making some good money

Just wait till mid spring check on his work and talk to city see what they are thinking

in 80s-90s I made good money now on same job might be making half then I did in 80s-90s

Yarden Of Eden
04-19-2011, 02:01 AM
I figured on mowing an average of 1 time per week, especially because most of these sites don't have irrigation and are shady. I have not come across any rain watered lawns that ever needed twice per week cutting. Its usually the other extreme her especially in july. I looked at all 17 sites, ranging from .1 acre to 6.75 acres. Estimated my time on each site per visit, and bid at 60 per hour per mower and 30 per hour per weed whipper. These are the numbers I feel I need to make to cover costs, labor, fuel, insurance, maintenance and the tax man, and make a decent profit. This was by far the largest account I have ever bid, and I didn't want to F myself. If I get it I need to hire a guy or 2 to get it done with all my other work each week.
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Snyder's Lawn Inc
04-19-2011, 02:08 AM
I just bid on my hometowns parks and city buildings mowing trimming and blowing only, 30 acres, for about 27 weeks of mowing, city decides frequency of mowing depending on turf growth, may be 2 times per week, may be every 14 days. I calculated this out and bid it at 60k. The city is not picking lowest bid, they are looking for best fit. Find out soon how itwent. Kinda feel like I went a bit high now! Lol
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dang you got it for $74 per acre Wow I need to move to your area

Mickhippy
04-19-2011, 02:10 AM
I figured on mowing an average of 1 time per week, especially because most of these sites don't have irrigation and are shady. I have not come across any rain watered lawns that ever needed twice per week cutting. Its usually the other extreme her especially in july. I looked at all 17 sites, ranging from .1 acre to 6.75 acres. Estimated my time on each site per visit, and bid at 60 per hour per mower and 30 per hour per weed whipper. These are the numbers I feel I need to make to cover costs, labor, fuel, insurance, maintenance and the tax man, and make a decent profit. This was by far the largest account I have ever bid, and I didn't want to F myself. If I get it I need to hire a guy or 2 to get it done with all my other work each week.
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Thanks for the explanation mate!
I suppose going off weekly cuts is ok as it may average out over the season however, if you get rain anything like we have here the last 2 seasons, you'll be scrambling!
What I would also be concerned with is that they could just tell you they want it done twice a week for, say a month. Thats 4 extra cuts.

Anyway, hope it works out for you! :drinkup:

Yarden Of Eden
04-19-2011, 02:20 AM
dang you got it for $74 per acre Wow I need to move to your area

I didn't get it yet. Should find out tomorrow I hope. Like I said, I have never bid anything this big before and I didn't want to F myself!
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Snyder's Lawn Inc
04-19-2011, 02:27 AM
I didn't get it yet. Should find out tomorrow I hope. Like I said, I have never bid anything this big before and I didn't want to F myself!
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Hope you get it, but dont count your chickens before they hatch
Probly the bid wins will be in the 30-40 per acre range but Im not from your area
You might be at right price

Yarden Of Eden
04-19-2011, 02:28 AM
Thanks for the explanation mate!
I suppose going off weekly cuts is ok as it may average out over the season however, if you get rain anything like we have here the last 2 seasons, you'll be scrambling!
What I would also be concerned with is that they could just tell you they want it done twice a week for, say a month. Thats 4 extra cuts.

Anyway, hope it works out for you! :drinkup:

I don't think they will require the twice per week cutting on every site if they do ask for it, most likely just a ball field and maybe the couple of city buildings that are irrigated, which have small lawns. I live in a small farm town, and they are not looking for a picture prfect image.

That being said, I do still plan to do a top notch job and make them appreciate their decision to bid this out K it has been done by city workers till now) it can be renewed up to 3 times without being re bid. My neighbor is on the city council, and asked me to bid. I mow this neighbors lawn and do a damn good job. He said he would push very hard for me to get it, and attest to my work quality, but would pull himself from the final vote to avaoid any conflict of interest issues.

If my 74 per acre is too high, what do you all charge per acre on work like this?
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Mickhippy
04-19-2011, 02:51 AM
I dont do any "city" building but I do do nature strips for a developer and have done parks before.
Just so happen to have some prices handy, from 2008.
17280m2 Nature strips/foot paths were $0.65/m2 (square edged then trimmed)
10540m2 Park was $0.03/m2 if done weekly. $0.05 if done fortnightly. (square edged and trimmed)

All that took 9hrs on my own.
There are a few pics of the park on my site if you care to look. "Park" is what there named... http://www.gclmow.com.au/Ground_Control_Lawn_Mowing/Examples.html

watatrp
04-19-2011, 06:51 AM
You should look at this with a positive spin. There is one less lowballer to compete against because the guy is going to be busy all summer.

KrayzKajun
04-19-2011, 07:49 AM
You should look at this with a positive spin. There is one less lowballer to compete against because the guy is going to be busy all summer.

Bingo! He will be burnt out come July
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Golfpro21
04-19-2011, 09:12 AM
Way I see things in as much as I have some difficulty foreseeing the 30 grand bid you're apparently as far off the other end too,
this is that typical one guy says $100 the other guy said $14 thing and there's no way these two will ever come to an agreement,
if 30 grand is way out of the ballpark then I would think so is 75g, these figures aren't even close to make a valid comparison and
the fact there is such grand disparity in the bidding process is bothersome, troubling.

It should never be this way, if I go get 3 estimates on fixing my car I would expect them to be close and son of a gun if there's
such a wild disparity in the bids then someone's in the wrong line of work, now I will lay off because I can't say for sure who
exactly is way off on the bid and while it is possible that you are actually on target, from the customer's perspective he (or she)
probably doesn't know whom to believe and so they just take the cheapest and done.

Sorry if that was harsh

It should never be this way, if I go get 3 estimates on fixing my car I would expect them to be close and son of a gun if there's

TOP SITES....thanks for the mention

grasscutter24
04-19-2011, 02:50 PM
I feel your pain. $8.99/ acre is ridiculous. I just lost a customer today who called and said that she found someone else to cut their 4 acre estate for $70 dollars and could I match it? In my head I am thinking you have got to be kidding me. I would have had to drop my price more than half. Some people are STUPID. It's ashame because they are going to ruin the whole lawn cutting industry.

Southern Pride
04-19-2011, 04:13 PM
I always have heard in years past that the commercial game is "where it's at", but to me it seems like the last thing I would want to get into. Yeah it's the equivalent of many many yards but when you average it out the prices are sooo low it's not even funny. Just seems like waayyy more of a headache than it would be worth to cover 100+ acres (2) times a week! I'd rather get as many residentials as possible where quality is king, and prices are more realistic and fair. Also there is wayy less to concentrate on, thus less headaches. Also the commercial game is cut throat. Yeah you may win a bid working for peanuts but the next crazy company's going to come in and outbid you by a nickel and get it, where as my customers and I have grown very close. So, "job security" is a lot better than commercial. Just never saw the big bold reason why commercial is "where it's at?"

Not winning that bid is definitely nothing to be upset about. I also hate to jump on the bandwagon but since there were 2-3 other companys in the 30k range maybe you were a good bit high?

Groomer
04-19-2011, 04:31 PM
Everyone should remember that commercial and municipal are 2 different games, each with their inherent problems. The one thing they generally have in common are they both (usually) want the low dollar guy.

daveyo
04-19-2011, 10:44 PM
I feel your pain. $8.99/ acre is ridiculous. I just lost a customer today who called and said that she found someone else to cut their 4 acre estate for $70 dollars and could I match it? In my head I am thinking you have got to be kidding me. I would have had to drop my price more than half. Some people are STUPID. It's ashame because they are going to ruin the whole lawn cutting industry.

You know I disagree on these guys ruining the lawn care industry, absolutely no disrespect. First off the country is going to hell in a hand bucket, as hard as it is to believe consumer confidence will gain little by little and people will be willing to spend a little more for less headache. For example nicer work, answering the phone, billing on time, problem solving efficiently and overall just listening to the customer.

Secondly no way is someone bidding like that and realizing their expenses, just obviously isn't happening and sooner than later they go bye bye's I literally see it every single year. Case in point the new guy in town pulling a trailer in an Escalade lettered up :dizzy: I do wish him the best though. Of course there are those customers, commercial, residential, HOA's, townships who no matter what want bottom dollar I say no thanks. For me they are pretty few in between and I personally don't have any. So I just keep bidding on jobs that make my business healthy, yes profits are slightly lower to accommodate the economy (I mean earlier profits just aren't there) but when things turn around I'll be in line and my prices will not be jumping significantly hence a healthy business, God bless.