View Full Version : Condo Developement

Simone Lawn Service
12-21-2002, 12:53 AM
I have ran my part time lawn service by myself for four years now, using help on large storm/fall clean up jobs when I need to. And have been happy making some extra cash and the satisfaction of having my own business (even though it's small) is a nice thing. I really had no plans to expand until either I have kids and they are interested in the business or until I retire. Right now I can pretty much "pick and choose" my accounts-thats kind of nice. Yesterday I was informed that a newer villa developement in my city was unhappy with last years lawn maintenance provider and they are looking for a new lawn service (preferably a smaller lawn service). It seems the first company really took them for a ride on pricing and service. There are 31 lots as of now (all small) and a fair amount of common area to be mowed. I sub all my fert/weed control out and mulching and shrub trimming would be done on an individual basis if desired. I'm trying to decide if this would be a good thing for me. I would definitely need get at least one more large mower (I only have a 48" Great Dane and a Honda HRC 215 19") and I would also need a person to help me do this account-I'm fairly sure myself and another person could handle it in a day. An account of this size is really hard for me to bid. I talked with them today and their board meets Dec.29 th to make a decision for next season's lawn maintenance. I can work up the bid by then, but should I bid it low to make my move up (he said they would probably go with the lowest bid). I would probably also have to get a bigger trailer and drop several of my other residential accounts that are spread all over the city. This seems like it would be a nice account (snow removal next year? etc.) but you guys have all the expierience with these bigger accounts-what do you think?:confused:

12-21-2002, 01:19 AM
although i do not personally have an account this big here is how i would handle your situation...i would ask if i could mow it once to get a better idea of how long it would take...you can even do this during the non growing season...after that i would then mutiply my rate that i wanted and also add in the cost of an additional ee...do you bid a little lower----no!!!!let's say you can cut this property in approx 5hrs and charge 350 a cut...that is 35hr for two people working...how much can you and one ee bring in in 5hrs...we average right at 85-110hr for cutting residential yards that are close together...so it would not be worth underbidding your time just to get this account when you can prob make more cutting res's in the same amount of time...to make a long story short make it worth your time and do not underbid what your time is worth...

12-21-2002, 01:23 AM
Do you feel like your work is worth a lower price? If you know you do great work, then you need to be paid what its worth.

Mid way this season I had a friend remember I do lawn maintenance. She told me her small condo unit was looking for a change. So I talked to the man in charge, got the spec list and went to look. I measured everything off and made my bid. I got the job within 2 weeks of the bid, and this was supposed to be for next year. I am happy with where it is, they are happy to have it looking good, done when they want it, and be able to communicate with me (which was a problem with the other company's workers).

Long story short, one day when talking to one of the gals on the association she tells me I was actually cheaper on the cutting maintenance than the other guys. I did not take this as offensive, due to looking it over, measuring it all off and knowing the pricing structure for this area.

Go look it over, estimate a correct bid and turn it in. You just never know what may happen. Just dont bid it cheap to get the work. That is not a professional way to do business. And if you do get it you wont like it due to always telling yourself "Man I should have bid higher. It takes too long blah blah blah". Dont ever sell yourself short. If your high, you can always come down. If your low you cant always just raise it up.

12-21-2002, 01:28 AM
Well, I don't have personal experience with larger accounts like this, but when I see things like "I will have to buy more equipment, drop some current customers, and take on a helper for this account" followed up with, "they said they will probably take the lowest bid" doesn't sound like something I'd want to get into myself.

What if you do all this and the following season they take the new lowest bidder?

12-21-2002, 01:35 AM
Condos and HOA's in my area are always looking for the lowest price and that's all they care about, there's usually no loyalty.....I second the previous post. Stay away! Try to pick up 5 more high end residential account next season, you'll be better off and I will bet they won't bid you out year after year.

Tim Enix
12-21-2002, 10:00 AM
Well I can tell you what I went through this past season with a condo association. It was a nightmare everyone wanted things done different. Example cut at different lengths and so on. The politics in this subdivision was unbelievable. Needless to say I am dropping this account this next season. Good luck in what ever you decide.

12-21-2002, 10:11 AM
Better spend some time thinking about it.

Will I be able to improve the service of the prior LCO and still keep my FT. job?

Can I bid low and afford more equipment & hired help?

They had a problem with price & service with the last LCO, will my price & service be under a microscope?

I feel Condo's & Appt. Bldgs. are the most difficult mowing jobs you can take on, and they should be priced accordingly. Even if you do price properly they are still PITA's, and there comes a time when the money just isn't worth it. Russ

P.S. I have heard of over priced mowing, but I have never, never, not once, actually seen anything overpriced. I have seen poor quality & service.

Simone Lawn Service
12-22-2002, 02:31 AM
After some serious thought and reading the advice and opinions you have given I've decided not to pursue next season's lawn contract for the condo complex. The "what happens next year when your not the lowest bidder" really made me think-what then? I don't think I'm ready to get "big" yet anyway.

Thank Guys!:cool:

little green guy
12-22-2002, 03:09 AM
Condos are A PAIN IN THE REAR, the reason they are so bad is:
1) it's not like working for one residetial customer or a
commercial client, you are working someplace where alot
off people live and it's IMPOSSIBLE to ever make them all
happy. Just like residetial customers have certain
quircks that you learn about when you service them so do
people that live in condos but instead of 1 or 2 people in
a residetial house there are 150 people to please
(or however many units theere are.)
2) Condo assosiations always want the lowest price no
matter what they tell you. But then they always complian
that they want better service. They don't seem to get the
3) loyalty :dizzy: whats that???

I bid condos high and don't get many, and the ones that I do get I don't plan on having for more that a year or two ( or however long the contract is for) Bid high, make the money while your there then move on to the next one.

12-22-2002, 08:35 AM
There's nothing much else to say except that all the advice above is right on. They all know from EXPERIENCE to shy away and not get involved with HOA's. Not to mention spending $ on new equipment and hiring help. Go with what nlminc said and pick up a few more high end residentials who will be more loyal to you. By all means listen to these guys, you won't be sorry.


12-22-2002, 10:48 AM
Originally posted by Simone Lawn Service
After some serious thought and reading the advice and opinions you have given I've decided not to pursue next season's lawn contract for the condo complex. The "what happens next year when your not the lowest bidder" really made me think-what then? I don't think I'm ready to get "big" yet anyway.

Thank Guys!:cool:

Good for you..... having said that, POA's & HOA's can be profitable, if you know how to pick them. Having said that, (your situation, as discribed) would have likely ended up in a disaster. Prepare for the day that it "will come". And start with aquiring equipment that will allow you to grow, not to get by for now. With regards... devildog

12-22-2002, 11:26 AM
I have one I am talking with now. They want full service including snow, which I do not do now but am looking into it.

They are unhapppy with the current service and they said they are looking to save some $. I told them that those two things generally dont go hand in hand. "You get what you pay for"

I am looking for a two year contract to make sure it is worth my while. In the contract if my work is not up to standard they need to notify me and if I do not fix those problems they can terminate the contract. This puts them at ease knowing they have a way out if we do not perform the work properly.

As Devildog said they can be profitable you just have to feel them out. Do they accept bids everyyear or is it yours as long as you do the job properly.
I have an apartment complex which said the job is mine as long as we perform up to their standards. The tree service that I use is in good with a condo assn right next door to my apartments and they put it up for bidding everyyear. Those are the people I would rather not work for.

12-22-2002, 11:52 AM
LOL. HOAs ,LOL! My one experience was with a developer, maintaining the common areas to look good while he sold lots. He hired me to make the entrances look good, to draw interest to his development. Told me all the time how people complained about my fees, but he was paying the lion's share of my billings. When he sold rest of lots to another developer (1st and 2nd stages almost full), and turned the maintenance over to the HOA, I did not even communicate with them about continued maintenance. Just walked away, with sanity intact. Who'd want to replace one boss with 120 bosses? LOL. And get paid less for the job? LOL.

In general, leave the HOAs to the big production companies. It's rare, very rare, for an HOA to remain loyal to a small, quality operator, when someone else comes along with a cheaper price. They'll switch and moan about the lesser quality, but won't want to open pocketbooks for a quality price.

12-22-2002, 12:00 PM
We don't even bid on these, even though we are constantly requested to respond.

HOA's are a disaster waiting to happen. There is always going to be someone on the Board who is not happy with your work or your price.

You will be requested to meet with the Board or with the Commons committee. They take a lot of time and our experience has been that it is wasted time.

If you can get your price for a season or two, for a smaller contractor it might be worth it. Just don't count on keeping the account for very long. Take a short term approach and you would be okay.

Randy Scott
12-22-2002, 12:44 PM
Originally posted by Simone Lawn Service
After some serious thought and reading the advice and opinions you have given I've decided not to pursue next season's lawn contract for the condo complex. The "what happens next year when your not the lowest bidder" really made me think-what then? I don't think I'm ready to get "big" yet anyway.

Thank Guys!:cool:

Wise choice.

12-22-2002, 12:53 PM
In my time I worked for a few small HOAs. And most of what is said here is so true. PITA and no loyalty. At the same time there is money to made if you can put up with he constant whining for a season.
Here are some pointers to any one that may want to take on a HOA, or larger prop of any kind.

1. Do not add larger equipment or employees on the basis of "I MIGHT get the bid."

2. When dealing with Condos or HOAs stress to the board/commitee that you want ONE person you can contact and that they can deal with the other owners of the prop. Other wise you will have 20 or more people trying to tell you how to do it. It helps with the communication issues that can and will arise.

Not all HOAs are such a pain that they aren't worth it, but many are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

12-22-2002, 04:12 PM
That is pretty wierd that you guys have nothing good to say. Well i guess that is why i am posting this.....I got a nice account last season that needed a ton of work. The company that did the initial instalation did the poorest job that i have ever seen. I will never tell a potential client they got took or tell them that i am a better company. I have taken so much work from this place it is unbeliveable....I have been mulching, fixing erosion problems, installing paver patios, replacing bushes, it is like a dream come true and i know that they will never go lower because of the quality of work i do. At the end of this season i met with the regional manager and took on two more complexes that the company took over in managing. THere this season i have already cut down trees, brush removal and started making my list fort next years do's. All i have to do is call the regional and tell him my concerns and he says fax me a hardcopy. They are the best clients i have. I am sorry for all your guys bad luck. i do not want to offend anyone by saying this and i probably will but services sells and good service comes with a high price. all i did was be honest with them and explain to them thoroughly what i wanted to do, how i was gonna do it, and what it was gonna cost...and guess what I am a partner with my mom, yes my mother. You can handle those condo's if you know you can. I always live by these words:

"You can do anything in the world as long as you put your mind to it."

Started this company with nothing and now i have a beautiful set up and looking to expand into retail and supply. Just be honest and informative.

Happy Cuttings and Happy Holidays

12-22-2002, 04:58 PM
I must join in on this one. 80% of our revenue comes from condominium maint, 20% from high end res. We have never been concerned with loyalty or being the lowest bidder. We have had some of our condo contracts for 22 yrs., and I know for a fact, that we were not the lowest bidder, not even close. Most by - laws state that they have to go out to bid at the end of the current contract. We never sell on price, but on quality, value for the money, and being professional. If you are organized, know your number's and your production rates and have good communication skills you can make a good profit margin on condominium work. Every area is different, but in CT., it works for us.


Happy Holidays to all !!!!

Randy Scott
12-22-2002, 11:22 PM
There's no doubt they are profitable. They do lean to the side of having no loyalty as well. I agree that even if you get them for one year it's better than not at all. I just think we all agree that Simone would be best to let this one go at this time. :)

Simone Lawn Service
12-23-2002, 01:47 AM
Sorry for the learning curve guys, but what does HOA stand for?:confused:

12-23-2002, 01:55 AM
Don't feel bad, I had to ask too.

H ome
O wners
A ssociation

12-23-2002, 01:59 AM
Home Owners Association