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View Full Version : Pricing help for Really big lawns (industrial)


TurfPro
12-25-2002, 06:30 PM
As of right now, 90% of my accounts are mid-sized commercial in nature, 4 acres or less. Most of them in the 1 acre range. I've never needed to use my measuring wheel to estimate a property so I can't tell you the exact sizes of them,but I can tell you that I always seem to get real close to my income goals.

That being said,there is a new industrial property becoming available next year and from the early rumors ,it's going to be somewhere between 50-150 acres of maintenance,,,,no details on trimming etc just yet. I've never estimated a property that large and would like some advice on price structure from anyone who does service a large property such as this one is rumored to be.

Ensminger
12-26-2002, 09:20 AM
Turf Pro - If you really want a wide area mower that will still get in the very small places - ie between signs and curbs, and between all the narrow bushes etc. I can build you one somewhat like this: Here is the cost breakdown of the entire machine as to what I now have in it - These would be list prices as to what this machine would run if you started brand new:

Present Rig
JD 455 - 60" main deck - diesel - 1100 hrs on it - New $11,000

Flex-Deck on the Trimming side to allow getting into small places - by the time it is mounted ----$1299

38" JD deck on front right corner that follows contours both lateral and fore-aft with 15HP kohler - elec start, elec fuel pump
Deck-Approx $800 - Engine - $550 - Fuel tank, Making Castor Wheel Assemblies, Mounting 1 7/8" ball hitch recievers for 10 second removal, and all the rest of the stuff - approx $1200

Total cost for 114" (9 1/2') - $13,950 - $15,500 - One operator - 100% chart says 12 acres per hr. at 10 1/2 mph - reallity would say 8 acres per hr. on most applications. - Your 150 acres would take about 19 hrs. - One operator, $15000 invested - @ $15 per acre = $2250 per mowing = $120 per hr. for you and your machine






__http://Wide Area

Ensminger
12-26-2002, 09:32 AM
Sorry about the pic not showing up - I am at my son-in laws computer in chicago and will have to wait till I get home- There is a pic of it on page 3 of " pics of your equipment thread" and on the flex-deck sponsor forum. thanks, brad

TurfPro
12-26-2002, 09:41 AM
Thanks Brad,

I appreciate the info,and it's something I'll keep in mind when things get a little closer to being completed.

At this time I'm trying to gather info on bidding jobs this large.I've always been able to guess-timate the average sized lawn right where I need it,but something in the 25+ acre range would be a nightmare to "estimate" accurately,,,,,for me anyway. You could really overbid it easily,,,or worse yet, shoot yourself in the foot in a BIG WAY!:eek:

Any thoughts/experiences would be appreciated

etwman
12-26-2002, 10:46 AM
Turfpro -

All we do is commercial sites five acres and larger with the biggest one totaling 165 acres. Your absolutlely right, it's no easy task bidding. $5 here and there will through you ten grand at the end of the bid.

Without revealing pricing here are a few tips. Most large commercial that we deal with like them cut in a day. It's more professional and they don't have to hear mowers all week long. In dealing with large scale commercial it comes down to two things. 1. Quality. 2. Efficiency. It has to look good and you can't be fooling around. Our big site has to go like clockwork. We pull in 15 minutes late and it won't happen for the day. Guys can't take coffee breaks, talk on phones, work on equipment, everything has to go perfect. Your bidding it tight to compete but you can make good money if you are efficient. We unload a Toro 580-D (16.5'cut) with 3 60" Hustlers at 6:30 in the morning. I don't see the guys on the Hustlers till noon. We eat, refuel, and out we go again in 30 minutes. I use the same guys every week on that site, they all know their responsibilities. At 4 were done. Many guys are scared of big sites like that, you just have to tame them and tame them well and you'll be in the elite. Be prepared though if done right, those big sites will lead to other big ones real quick. People will know who is capable inthe community soon.

Good luck
etwman.

Runner
12-26-2002, 12:33 PM
THe one thing with large industrials, unfortunately what we've found, is that they end up only averaging around $20 per acre. If you're able to do it with a WAM, you're in pretty good shape, but many times, running multiple Z's is going to be costlier. Now, with etwman's case, he's doing both, so obviously he's designating his cutting power to the areas that are most proficient. Make sure you figure in ALL your trimming time. It is so easy on real large sites to underestimate this as the trimming is so widespread that it doesn't LOOK like that much - but it adds up. Good luck with it!

MPhillips
12-26-2002, 01:46 PM
The textbook method is to figure out what your costs are per a unit of measure...like how long does it cost you to cut an acre? edge 100 feet?...and multiply these #'s by the size of the property you're bidding....If this is really a big jump for you you should consider the size of your current mower, is it big enough for the property? Will you need a bigger one to get mowing times down to be competitive? There is "travel time" on the large sites that you'll need to consider, for example, it'll take you awhile to push a mower across a parking lot that's an eighth of a mile long, and blowing clippings requires greater effort if not a new approach/equipment. You'll need a crew probably to help so if you don't already have one...

I know this sounds terrible but I know pretty successful contractors that walk out on a large site and look it over and make an estimated guess at how long a property will take to do in a visit with a crew and use that # as a "gut check" or a starting point for the bid...

Once you get your first large commercial you'll never look at small stuff again...good luck

TurfPro
12-26-2002, 04:06 PM
Thanks guys,,,this is the kind of info I was looking for. I doubt it will be a huge issue if not completed in 1 day,,,none of the other industrial sites in our area are.


All we do is commercial sites five acres and larger with the biggest one totaling 165 acres. Your absolutlely right, it's no easy task bidding. $5 here and there will through you ten grand at the end of the bid.

Yea,I can see how w/o accurate measurements you could do some serious damage to your business,,especially the bigger they are.

I've always had trouble trusting cold hard numbers when it comes to estimating jobs. For example: Lawn #1 is approx. 1 acre(maybe a lil less) and I do it for $60.00 ,,, it's all completely flat ,well drained,wide open,,,,the "dream lawn" when it comes to
being easy.
Lawn #2 is approx 24,800 sq ft-25,000 sqft but just from looking at it I knew it was a headache,,,I do it for $120.00 a pop.The catch is it takes almost twice as long to do,and I have to be very carefull when it comes to clippings etc.

My point is: I could tell this just by looking at the respective yards and I've came out well on both.... but if I had went strictly by the sqft I would have had my lunch ate on Lawn #2. That being the case, I still know that if I try to "eyeball it" on these 25+ acre places ,I could be waaaay out of the ball park.

So in short , Thanks for the info so far!

I know if I do get the bid on ANY account this large I'm not equipped to handle it with my current setup. (52" Lazer HP & one part time helper).
How did any of you "step into" (equip yourself w/o killing your profit margin)your 1st large account like this? I'm sure most people have to land the account then go and purchase all the specialized equipment???Did you try to bid enough to pay your equipment off the 1st year? 2nd year?

etwman
12-26-2002, 06:26 PM
turfpro-

2 suggestions.

1. Get a minimum of a two year contract on this scale work. We won't touch large scale for less than a three year deal.

2. We put together packages that are all inclusive to their property and divide it out by 12 equal installments for the year. Mowing, weed control/fert, mulching, pruning, etc. This payment plan gives us start up $$ to buy equipment before the season starts. Don't expect to pay off that equipment in the first year. It will cut into your profit, but if priced right it will bring you out of the red your second year and open up doors to other work. IF your profit is right you'll need that interest expense from equipment loans to counteract paying big taxes.

When we started into large scale commercial we dumped $60,000 into a Toro 580-D and it did pay for itself in the second year. We expect to get 5 good years out of it until it needs replaced. So your initial investment in equipment will need to be backed by multiple year contracts. The bank will want to see this for sure.

etwman.

TurfPro
12-26-2002, 07:28 PM
Excellent! Thanks for the input.

I set all my commercial accounts on a 1 year contract,but they only need your "basic" lawn care equipment so I can see where spending the extra money on 60K mower would nesesitate<sp> at least a 2 yr contract.
I also use the all inclusive maintenance package where applicable...most legit commercial props like that "no hassle" lawn care.:)

Do you have a start-up fee ,,or down payment ,,you chargeat the begining of the contract?

Thanks

etwman
12-26-2002, 08:51 PM
turfpro -

I usually don't require a deposit or startup fee. My installments start in January for the upcoming season. When you're dealing with a 100+ acre site those installements can range from $8,000-$10,000++ an installment easily. So we will more or less bank 2-3 installments before we roll the first truck onto that site. That's our deposit and start up funds. Whether we use that on equipment or go buy materials depends on the situation.

If you go this route, consider this. Your sitting on a lot of $$ in the winter from installments. I go to Lesco or my mulch supplier in the dead of winter and say "Cash deal" what will you do for me? They are sitting on alot of inventory then and will work with you more than you'd believe. Same thing with equipment. Remeber Cash is King, now your a player in the game. Borrowing money on credit, now your a bystander at the game table. The money you save is above and beyond your anticipated profit from that contract...right into your pocket. But you have to discipline yourself on spending. Like every other company out there then, we all have idle minds in winter, and will spend easily.

It is difficult to sell a commercial account on installments but once you do consider it your personal site. You can come and go as you please, do what you want, when you want, and its all included in their package price. But you had better exceed their expectations and trustworthyness, or your out and probably will never return.

One final thing. Measure out everything! Take the time with a good measuring wheel. Run with it on the side of a Z, it goes quick. Especially the turf, large scale can be very decieving when it comes to size. You may look at a tract from the window of the truck and think 5 acres, measure it out and its 15.

hope this helps.

etwman.

cantoo
12-26-2002, 09:13 PM
I don't do big properties but I am in the building business so I have a few things that might help you. Most Companies have a blueprint of their entire operation for planning purposes, taxes, legal reasons etc. It can be very detailed sometimes right down to showing small trees and flower beds. There will be dimensions and sizes on the prints. The few commercials that I have done I asked up front if they had this print. It saves a lot of legwork and is extremely accurate. Sometimes drainage plans will also have this info in them. Ask them first it might be well worth it.

TurfPro
12-26-2002, 10:44 PM
Good info.

I forgot about the bid spec sheets that usually accompany a bid such as this...I guess it's been a busy season! :D I'd still feel the need to actually "walk" the prop to get a feel for it...but the spec sheet would be a good place to start.

etwman, That sounds like a good plan,but I'm not sure when this site will be complete,so it might be one of those mid-season start-up deals....that would throw a wrench in the "accumilated money over the winter" theory...... but it would be nice if it would work out that way.

65hoss
12-27-2002, 06:00 AM
Originally posted by etwman
"Cash deal" what will you do for me? They are sitting on alot of inventory then and will work with you more than you'd believe. Same thing with equipment. Remeber Cash is King, now your a player in the game. Borrowing money on credit, now your a bystander at the game table.

etwman.
Very good statement. Thought I would highlight it for everyone to read again!!:)

etwman
12-27-2002, 10:35 AM
Thanks Hoss-

It's a tough one to follow, but if you can do it your always one step ahead. Our initial investment from the banks for the business was $80,000. From there on out I said no more borrowing. If we can't buy it with cash, we're not buying it. What we have seen is our equipment inventory expand with only the necessities and our liabilities drastically reduced.

Thanks,

Jarod

LAWNGODFATHER
12-27-2002, 04:42 PM
Originally posted by etwman
Measure out everything! Take the time with a good measuring wheel. Run with it on the side of a Z, it goes quick. Especially the turf, large scale can be very decieving when it comes to size. You may look at a tract from the window of the truck and think 5 acres, measure it out and its 15.

If you offer application you must know and show the treatment area.

NC Big Daddy
12-27-2002, 07:07 PM
Great posts ETWMAN!.....Well done indeed.

Flex-Deck
12-28-2002, 06:20 PM
TurfPro - I made it home - here is the wide area mowerhttp://Wide Deck