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smallstripesnc
01-14-2013, 02:06 PM
I have been contacted by a church to cut their property weekly or bi-weekly depending on the price. They have 4 acres which includes the church, cemetary, and parsonage. I have NO clue where to start when it comes to bidding this property.

I am a solo operation and the biggest mower I have is a Gravely 52in ztr.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

jones68
01-14-2013, 02:16 PM
when i worked for another lco we serviced 4 cemeteries. they had a TON of trimming every stone needs done every time. The money for them is good if you have the time. me mostly solo sometimes a part time guy with me i could not take on a cemetery due to the time it would take me. the larger guys can come in with a bigger crew and bang the trimming out.

hi_speedreed
01-14-2013, 02:50 PM
Here are some questions that will help narrow down your answer. How many headstones? Are you responsible for removing flowers and other memorial items people leave? How neat is the placement of the stones? Are they just place wherever the family decided to place them or are they neat and in straight rows?

4 acres with the 52 you should be able to bust that out in well under 2 hours, depending on obstacles and the lay of the land maybe down around 1hr15min but that is pretty much topping out productivity with the mower and averaging around 9mph.

Trimming is where you are going to run into your biggest time killer. Like I said previously, w/o seeing the property and knowing how many stones, how they are laid out, trees, other obstacles, fences, sidewalks, beds anything else that really kills the ability to knock it out fast it is hard to estimate. I would venture to say you are looking at minimum an hour of trimming and maybe up to 3 so that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 to 5 hrs for this job.

If this is a 4 acre cemetery, packed to the hilt with stones and the church and the parsonage have no real yard to speak of then I think your time is going to be way different than what I am imagining this setup to look like.

mowerman90
01-14-2013, 10:49 PM
Speaking as someone who has mowed a large church for over 3 years solo I would advise you to not bid it unless you have no other avenues of income. Why? Because sooner or later the church will fall on hard times and ask you to lower your rate, all while assuring you that this will pave your way into heaven. Or, the more likely occurrence will be that someone in the congregation will fall on hard times or get laid off and there kids will be starving and some do gooder at the church will recommend him to do all the mowing till he gets back on his feet. Simple rule of thumb to follow: never work for doctors, lawyers, or clergy!

smallstripesnc
01-14-2013, 11:02 PM
Thanks for all the input! Up to this point I've only done residential properties and I'm scared that if I take 3+ hours out of my day and could be cutting residential properties that IF the church didn't work out then I'd be out three hours of work until I got more accounts to fill the time.

MOturkey
01-14-2013, 11:46 PM
You really never want to take on an account assuming it won't work out. Find out exactly what is required per mowing, and bid it just like any other job you have. As others have mentioned, the size of the cemetery portion and the placement of the stones will have a lot to do with the time required. I've only mowed one cemetery, helping a friend of mine before I started my own business, but it was an old one (has one Revolutionary War soldier buried there), and the stones are scattered helter skelter. Figure it will take you twice as long to mow as it would to do open ground of the same area, then figure up to a minute for each stone for trimming. Good luck.

Roger
01-15-2013, 09:07 AM
... Up to this point I've only done residential properties and I'm scared that if I take 3+ hours out of my day and could be cutting residential properties that IF the church didn't work out then I'd be out three hours of work until I got more accounts to fill the time.

I also work solo, an have passed on opportunities that others say I'm foolish for not wanting to work. These are jobs just like you are considering, in terms of the time allotment.

I had a great job opportunity last Spring, a job that I knew was going to take about three hours, maybe a little longer. While it is tempting to remain at one place for all morning, or all afternoon, nothing having to load and drive, I turned down the opportunity. I don't want these large blocks of time in my schedule when interruptions happen. Yes, it would be great to have a large source of income from one stream, but trying to work around these large time allocations when rain comes, or running out of daylight, is a problem. I don't want to leave a job partially finished, and have to return. The efficiency of the large job is quickly lost.

P.S. I will work for lawyers, doctors, clergy, ... does not matter. Learn to work with them, not ignore them. Everybody's money is green.

I would rather have two 1.5 hour jobs, than one 3.0 hour job, so that I can shuffle schedules when necessary. If every work day was perfect, and I could work from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day, without interruptions, I would seek after these jobs. But, until that time arrives ...

I have no experience with cemetery work, but have lots of threads over the years about how to work them. I will leave comments on this part of your opportunity to others. But, from the time allocation view, I would pass. But, you know how you work, and how you schedule jobs, so maybe it fits with your ways of working.

P.S. I will work with lawyers, doctors, clergy, ... does not matter. Learn to work with everybody, not ignore those of certain careers. Everybody's money is green.

orangemower
01-15-2013, 09:25 AM
You should decline the job. You're not ready to deal with a cemetery. Here is why I feel this way.

You wrote, "I have NO clue where to start when it comes to bidding this property." which tells me you should not even try to bid on it. You're still a greenhorn in a lot of the categories to run a business. No need to make matters worse and get in over your head.

jsslawncare
01-15-2013, 09:25 AM
2 things you said that scare me- depending on the price, meaning they more then likely can't afford you and cemetary. I think cemetary's and solo's don't make a good match.

herler
01-15-2013, 01:34 PM
I am glad to see folks are starting to look before jumping into frigid waters, I'm guessing that means we've all learned a few lessons the hard way... It sure beats jumping in head first, it's not so much about trepidating around while barely sticking the big toe in to see if the water's cold knowing full well you'll never jump in at that rate, but it is about being a little bit cautious and checking out the various angles before jumping in head first where there could be a big rock hiding right underneath the surface...

You see...

I think churches and cemeteries have their place in this Industry, keeping in mind we all have to start somewhere this would be the type of job I would take only if I was interested in doing more of the same and needed the experience... That means I will lose some money, but it also paves the road for future endeavors of this kind, turning it down now likely means more of the same as well, granted you can still change your mind later but you have to decide which way to go on this here crossroads.

jrs.landscaping
01-15-2013, 03:06 PM
We do a lot of cemetaries. As someone mentioned, the specifics of the services in the contract will help you with pricing. My advice, if the cemetary is older than the 1930's at its inception walk away. The oldest cemetary we do is from the 1730's and some of the stones are just rocks scattered around, and we are responsible for damages to the stones. The newer ones are well aligned and make mowing/trimming A LOT easier. Good luck.

ztman
01-15-2013, 03:25 PM
Smallstipes
Why did the church contact you? What happened to the prior lco

smallstripesnc
01-16-2013, 09:40 AM
Smallstipes
Why did the church contact you? What happened to the prior lco

I rode by to check it out and the head stones are all over the place and it looks like a lot of trimming and theres some wooded areas around the church that didnt have much grass. Im not sure what happened but I can tell he was hoping for a good price so maybe hes trying to.find someone cheaper.
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THORNTON SERVICES LLC
01-16-2013, 09:54 AM
If you need the work bid it as if it will take you all day , the price may be high but we have some cemeteries that pay big money because they simply can not find some one else to do it , that way you do not have to turn down the offer but you may get lucky and land a huge contract. Question for you guys that do alot of cemeteries , any advice on speeding up the trimming?

jrs.landscaping
01-17-2013, 11:01 AM
Every cemetery is different. We tell our guys to break the cemetery into blocks (usually from access road to acces road.) Some are faster to trim the rows, others it is faster to start at one end of the block and trim as you go. The best way to improve time is repetition, have the guys trimming start at the same spot and do it the same way every time. This way they know which stone needs to be done next, this also help to eliminate missing stones while trimming.

THORNTON SERVICES LLC
01-17-2013, 11:20 AM
Every cemetery is different. We tell our guys to break the cemetery into blocks (usually from access road to acces road.) Some are faster to trim the rows, others it is faster to start at one end of the block and trim as you go. The best way to improve time is repetition, have the guys trimming start at the same spot and do it the same way every time. This way they know which stone needs to be done next, this also help to eliminate missing stones while trimming. cool will give it a try this summer , i think now they mainly go by the rows , but they do miss stones and sections especially if I am not there , I was curious if you know any one that uses those z trimmer things that goes on a mower , one of my guys has been lobying for one , they are not to bad as far as price but maybe im old school but im not shure they would work for cemeteries , do you guys use anything like that. Thanks Again for the advice.

jrs.landscaping
01-17-2013, 11:29 AM
Do you have a link for the trimmer? I've never used one, but then again a lot of our cemeteries are too small for our Z's.

THORNTON SERVICES LLC
01-17-2013, 11:37 AM
Do you have a link for the trimmer? I've never used one, but then again a lot of our cemeteries are too small for our Z's. no link but peco sells it online its called a z trimmer , my guy first saw it on a you tube video , he tend to think it will cut down on the trimming they have to do and all I can picture is them spending hours on the zero turns trying to trim with those things and causing damage to the head stones and stuff , i was curious if anyone is using them? seems like a decent idea for fence lines though. Thanks

jrs.landscaping
01-17-2013, 12:04 PM
Just watched one of the youtube videos, no way would I use that in a cemetery, or around trees. The only use for it I see is vert trimming along sidewalks, or like you said a long fenceline.

Will P.C.
01-17-2013, 05:59 PM
I rode by to check it out and the head stones are all over the place and it looks like a lot of trimming and theres some wooded areas around the church that didnt have much grass. Im not sure what happened but I can tell he was hoping for a good price so maybe hes trying to.find someone cheaper.
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Since you are a member of the church, he probably thinks you are going to give him a special rate or even do it for free.

Geronimo
01-17-2013, 06:25 PM
I've maintained a cemetery for many years and it seems to be you are fretting too much about the work needing to be done. Establish and hourly rate, give them a ballpark estimate. Do the work, fine tune your price and stick to it. Work is work, doesn't matter if it is a cemetery, church, whatever. I would not let them lowball you, if they don't want to pay then walk away. Simple as that. I'd jump on the job if I were you! Do a good job and you'll pick up more business from the church goers who see what a good job you do!

ReddensLawnCare
01-17-2013, 08:39 PM
Keith, if you want me to come look at it with you i will. Just give me a call and if you think it is to much ill bid on it
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weaver
01-17-2013, 10:25 PM
I have been contacted by a church to cut their property weekly or bi-weekly depending on the price. They have 4 acres which includes the church, cemetary, and parsonage. I have NO clue where to start when it comes to bidding this property.

I am a solo operation and the biggest mower I have is a Gravely 52in ztr.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

It would be cool if you could use Google maps for the property and then post the pics for people to see..