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Set Apart Lawn Care
03-08-2012, 09:15 PM
My question is how do you break into the commercial market? I bid on 4 commercial properties this year, I was told I came in to high on 3 of them, and the fourth I had a connection and the current company was doing a terrible job, I knew the existing contract price and would probably have bid to high on that one as well.

I have a small company now with 3 guys including me and we take care of about 120 yards and the one commercial property (16k annual contract).

It seems like I cant compete with the prices the other big companies have because I am just to small. If I could have 5-6 guys in one spot on a big property, of if I had 3 crews going I may be able to make more competitive bids.

I am 28, ran a commercial crew for 4 years, been on my own for 3.5 and my wife and I our having our first child in 6 months. I want the stability of commercial accounts, especially consider that here in Memphis the off season is slow even with all the leaves.

Any ideas, tips, or advice on how to get into commercial work?

I do have all the appropriate insurances, legit payroll, etc.

JB1
03-08-2012, 11:32 PM
connections connections connections

THEGOLDPRO
03-08-2012, 11:52 PM
Its alot of luck really.

highlander316
03-09-2012, 12:10 AM
^ a little bit of #1 and a little bit of #2 mostly. Or as you said, cheap cheap cheap.

MJB
03-09-2012, 03:14 AM
I don't think stability and commercial accts belong in the same sentence anymore. I'm noticing long time commercial accts are putting it up for bid each year ....taking the lowest bid. I used to get 3 to 5 yr contracts not anymore....dog eat dog. Residential are more loyal to me.

Danscaper22
03-09-2012, 04:48 AM
I do not know what your market area is like but it really helped me to just stop by property management companies and introduce myself to the managers and ask if they would put me on there RFP list.
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hoyboy
03-09-2012, 08:19 AM
I'm with MJB on this one...

Commercial accounts are over-rated. Yes, one commercial account can bring in a lot of revenue. But they are usually tightly bid, low margin jobs. And as soon as a new property manager comes on the scene, it is bid all over again, or he/she brings in some other landscaper from their prior job.

A nice portfolio of long term residential accounts, congretated in a close geographic area, is a real winner. They tend to be more loyal, and the prices aren't bid so heavily that you can't make any money. Most residential will not send out for bids every year. And if you do happen to lose one now and then, it's not a huge chunck of your business you just lost.

Good luck!

Fred B
03-09-2012, 06:34 PM
My question is how do you break into the commercial market? I bid on 4 commercial properties this year, I was told I came in to high on 3 of them, and the fourth I had a connection and the current company was doing a terrible job, I knew the existing contract price and would probably have bid to high on that one as well.

I have a small company now with 3 guys including me and we take care of about 120 yards and the one commercial property (16k annual contract).

It seems like I cant compete with the prices the other big companies have because I am just to small. If I could have 5-6 guys in one spot on a big property, of if I had 3 crews going I may be able to make more competitive bids.

I am 28, ran a commercial crew for 4 years, been on my own for 3.5 and my wife and I our having our first child in 6 months. I want the stability of commercial accounts, especially consider that here in Memphis the off season is slow even with all the leaves.

Any ideas, tips, or advice on how to get into commercial work?

I do have all the appropriate insurances, legit payroll, etc.

The difference between residential and commercial is equipment. You with 21 inch mowers or a small ride on cannot compete against me on large commercial accounts. I also cannot compete against you in residential as my large mowers would have to stay on the trailer.

Remember do what you do well so nobody can compain about quality, and make sure you do it at a level so that an other landscaper would have to quote at the same price or have to offer a less quality job for less money.
Also if you lose a couple of customers in residential, not the end of the world, in commercial it can be devistating.

White Gardens
03-09-2012, 07:24 PM
Its alot of luck really.

That ain't no joke. Amazing how that works.

The other thing that has worked for me is my business networking group I'm part of. It really helps to get the name out to not only the business owners in the group, but also the other business owners they know.

....

HPSInc
03-09-2012, 09:04 PM
I do not know what your market area is like but it really helped me to just stop by property management companies and introduce myself to the managers and ask if they would put me on there RFP list.
Posted via Mobile Device


^^^THIS

property management companies are your link to commercial work. I do more commercial than residential and i prefer it. Steady pay, less headaches IMO. Being a small company I am able to bid less than the big guys and win the bid while still making a killer profit. I have less overhead so it works in my favor. the commercial places around me are paying for it trust me on that. Residential doesnt come close to paying as well. from my experience anyways.

TheChiefsLawnCare
03-09-2012, 10:26 PM
I got insurance and an llc so I could get commercial and then just in a week i saw one dude with a freaking crapsman rider cutting one and doing a shitty job so I stopped in and asked if they was taking bids after the grass was tall and they were like no we have a company i was like OK thanks. and then i was at another location and I see these two mexicans cutting with a murry. and then i saw a dude with a cheap ass 21 and a curved shaft trimmer cutting another commercial lot. it pisses me off because i go the extent, pay more in expensive and all and i cant get a commercial account but yet some dude not even paying taxes or having insurance can pick up commercial. just crazy. imma stop the next one and ask if he has insurance and if not hows he doin a commercial yard lol see what he says

HPSInc
03-09-2012, 11:04 PM
The places I work at wouldnt touch a company without proper insurance with 10 foot pole. you need a minimum of liability and 1 mill in workers comp ins. i have a 2 mill dollar policy myself. if you get in with a property manager you will have the opporitunity to bid alot of work and make alot of money.

cajunboy
03-09-2012, 11:41 PM
National property management companies suck. The only ones making the money is the property management company. I looked at two targets yesterday for a pmc and bid it. They came back and asked me to do it for less than 7100.00 a year. 40 cuts a year, spring and fall cleanup, maintain banks of retention pond that was almost 2000 ft long that had to be done with trimmers because to steep to put mower on and holds water at bottom year round. The parking lot had 50 islands all with two trees in each. Cannot put mower on any of them. All had to be string trimmed. That comes out to 177.00 a cut for 40 cuts. And you tell me there is money to be made in commercial. My bid was like 3.5 times more than that. But some jackass will come along and do it for that price just so they can say "I cut Target" Foolishness. Oh and they wanted me to mulch it for 277.00 It had 165 tree rings, 7 beds that measured 40 x 10 and one long bed at entrance. REALLY?????

joel29m
03-09-2012, 11:52 PM
The difference between residential and commercial is equipment. You with 21 inch mowers or a small ride on cannot compete against me on large commercial accounts. I also cannot compete against you in residential as my large mowers would have to stay on the trailer.

Remember do what you do well so nobody can compain about quality, and make sure you do it at a level so that an other landscaper would have to quote at the same price or have to offer a less quality job for less money.
Also if you lose a couple of customers in residential, not the end of the world, in commercial it can be devistating.

i like how you explained this, makes since.

TheChiefsLawnCare
03-10-2012, 12:19 AM
all you can control is what you do. see somebody that you think is a lowballer or doing illegal ****, f em and do what you gotta do to get that job or get another one. it will eventually catch up to them or when they have that one yard all year and are losing money thell quit and you can get it you know. cant control what other people do, can only control yourself and make urself business.

CircleC
03-10-2012, 02:44 AM
You gotta use your connections, if your mowing 120 resi and 1 commercial you should be able to turn something. Talk with your customers, where they work, insurance guy, who does their location, commercial accout, talk with prop manager. Commercial work is all about relationships and of course luck. When you work relationships, people at times are willing to pay a bit more for your work. Sometimes they give hits at budgets. You have to work your angles, build relationships, and have some luck.
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guitarman2420
03-10-2012, 12:25 PM
I don't even talk to the "out-sourcers" like QSI, etc. They want everything cheap and they pay at the best, 45 days. I try and have relationships with a few key property managers who know that my niche is small - medium size townhouse, residential communities and businesses. If they need a low-ball bid they don't even call. They call if they are looking for good quality at a decent price. I try and have a 60/40 split (60 is the commercial %). My residential business promotes a lot of our landscape design and install work.

We've had a big problem with several large scale builders pulling out of townhouse or residential communities before the neighborhood is finished. That leaves the HOA in a "pinch". One community was planned for 200 homes and the builder pulled out after 40 were built. The HOA then tries to cancel the agreement or negotiate a better or less costly deal. Your really don't have much of a choice. If you stick to your guns and tell them you hold them to the original deal, they may go bankrupt (the HOA). I've tried to negotiate agreements with less cuts, etc. and bring down their costs.

Wright48
03-10-2012, 01:22 PM
You wana break in to commercial remember two words that youll hear HOW MUCH commercial properties are cheap they take multiple bids and go with the best deal unless you know the guy that is taking the bids then your in like flint. I have a few commercial propeties and there always asking about prices two of them i have are who you know deals and i can pretty much charge what i want and theyll pay it ahah

MTenterprises
03-10-2012, 01:35 PM
You gotta use your connections, if your mowing 120 resi and 1 commercial you should be able to turn something. Talk with your customers, where they work, insurance guy, who does their location, commercial accout, talk with prop manager. Commercial work is all about relationships and of course luck. When you work relationships, people at times are willing to pay a bit more for your work. Sometimes they give hits at budgets. You have to work your angles, build relationships, and have some luck.
Posted via Mobile Device

BINGO. I've been in corporate sales for 10 years and it's all about who you know and how you present yourself. The reason I do well in the lawn business is I know how to get an appointment, present a proposal, and CLOSE. The avg lawn guy doesn't know how to approach commercial contacts (the right people), or they are just intimidated. Dress sharp, look and sound professional and things will fall in place.

MTenterprises
03-10-2012, 01:36 PM
You wana break in to commercial remember two words that youll hear HOW MUCH commercial properties are cheap they take multiple bids and go with the best deal unless you know the guy that is taking the bids then your in like flint. I have a few commercial propeties and there always asking about prices two of them i have are who you know deals and i can pretty much charge what i want and theyll pay it ahah

Very true.

edensgate7
03-11-2012, 09:33 PM
ask your residentials where they work and if they work at a commercial property you want then ask them to get you the info on who takes the bids and makes the decision on who gets the job and that's how you break into commercial without talking to allot of people who will just send you down the line.

grassmasterswilson
03-11-2012, 09:57 PM
The thing about commercial jobs is that there is no loyalty. Most I've done or bidded on are bidded every year. So it only takes one loose lip to tell what the current guy is doing it for(If I was a business owner I may tell also, so that I could get it done cheaper). Its a high revenue job that will give you the money to expand, advertise, replace equipment, etc. I don't turn down the chance to bid on a commercial. I give it enough thought to be competitive, but I can't count on it. All this for 10-15% margins.

I prefer to take as many residentials as I can. You can get 30-50% margins depending on the job. Plus you get the loyalty of doing a good job and they stick with you. You can upsale and many times they take your word because they care about what it looks like. It may take 10 residentials to equal 1 commercial, but you can count on those 10 for the next few years if not longer.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
03-11-2012, 10:20 PM
I don't think stability and commercial accts belong in the same sentence anymore. I'm noticing long time commercial accts are putting it up for bid each year ....taking the lowest bid. I used to get 3 to 5 yr contracts not anymore....dog eat dog. Residential are more loyal to me.

I hate say it but you are right
That has started happen around here last 4 yrs
I keep pushing companies to put the bids up in the fall so Lawn Companies can plan what they need for the fallowing yr I like buying my Lawn stuff before end of yr better deals then