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Jimbo
01-19-2004, 03:05 PM
I lost a good account today (LOTS of extras). Heres the details.

Approximately 12K sq ft Commercial property. Half the grass is fenced (40" gate), and half is not. Side walks and curbs all around the prop (Lots of edging). I did this one in the fall and it took me 3 hours (Heavily overgrown- terrible rock hard edges).

I figure I can get it done in 2 hours once its under control.
I bid the normal Pick-up trash (lots of it), mow, edge, and blow (all other odd jobs will be bid separate). My bid $100.00 per cut.

I got a call today that I lost the bid to some company who bid $45.00 per cut. Heres a list of what they included.

1. Mow
2. Edge
3. Blow
4. Pickup trash
5. Pull weeds from all mulch beds
6. Prune trees once per year
7. Trim hedges twice per year (Approx. 20 hedges)
8. Install fresh mulch in beds twice per year.

What do you think for $1260.00 per year? I would have came in around $3500.00 min. for that much work.

When I was told the competitive price, and that I had lost the account for 04' I just started laughing and I said "Let them have it". Then I said that if I was in their shoes "I would do the same thing, however be careful because you get what you pay for and I don't think the other company will be in business long". Then they said well if they quit or do a bad job we will just call you.


THATS WHEN I SAID:angry:

If you call me after the season starts and I already filled your spot I wont be able to do it, and if I can fit you in the price is going to be alot more than $100.00 per cut!!

Now I know alot of people on hear talk about offering low prices by having lower overhead but what gives? This guy is working for free in my opinion.

Jimbo

battags
01-19-2004, 03:13 PM
I think you responded to them well and I would have done the same thing. It's tough to loose a good account, but they will see that quality has a price.

You were right in taking the "I can't blame you approach" when you got the news they were going elsewhere. Although the markets are improving and the economy is picking up, businesses, especially smaller ones, are still operating on very tight budgets.

The biggest mistake you could make is to not follow up with them. If they don't go with you this year, make sure you contact them EARLY next year.

B

dvmcmrhp52
01-19-2004, 03:25 PM
$100.00 for 1/4 acre?
Sorry,but I can understand why you lost the account.
45 may be a bit low,but as well 100 is a bit high in my opinion.

zero_turn_mowers
01-19-2004, 03:31 PM
The way I look at it is the other company knows what there work is worth your 100% right you get what you pay for, they prob. call their lawncare service "Krap-man & Sons", you did right I would have laughed and walked away to.


Tim

battags
01-19-2004, 03:34 PM
Originally posted by dvmcmrhp52
$100.00 for 1/4 acre?
Sorry,but I can understand why you lost the account.
45 may be a bit low,but as well 100 is a bit high in my opinion.

I tend to agree, but didn't mention it because I don't know what kind of market LCO's have out that way. Definately high for here, but the company hired him once, didn't they?

B

65hoss
01-19-2004, 03:37 PM
I lost a comm'l account like that a few years ago. She wanted me to meet the other guys price. I just laughed at her. I couldn't do anything else, it was just too funny. He wanted $45 to mulch the beds, and he included in that price for it to be done twice a year. You couldn't even buy the mulch once for that price. Let them go, they will find out how stupid they are later.

Jimbo
01-19-2004, 03:56 PM
My commercials require 1M liabilty insurance so I quote them at higher rates than Residentials. If I am doing a residential I shoot for min $35.00 hour. For commercial I shoot for $45 min hour. I know this account has tons of trash, and lots of toys to move so I went a bit higher ($50 hr).
Considering all this and its a commercial account I think $50 hr is fair. I know its hard to gauge prices without seeing the account, but with sidewalks all around it can take as long to weedeat, and edge as it does to mow.

The other guy is already at $22.50 an hour before he buys the mulch, and spends the time to spread it, and prune and trim hedges once or twice per year. Maybe he can do the mowing in less than 2 hours but I move pretty quick and I dont think its possible.

If I could fit my Z in the back it would be a different story.

Jimbo

jlewis
01-19-2004, 04:13 PM
Not sure what area it was in, but north of Balto Jimbo sounds right. I charged my sister $50 to mow/blow/edge her old yard (1 acre in Glyndon) and that was using her mower and gas!!

I might see cutting it for under 100, but not weeding,pruning and mulch.

Joe

NCSULandscaper
01-19-2004, 04:14 PM
As far as the mulch situation, alot of companies use the free stuff offered by their local recycling programs, total crap and just use that istead of quality because its free and they figure they can get more work because they can charge less.

stainedrug
01-19-2004, 04:49 PM
Originally posted by jlewis
Not sure what area it was in, but north of Balto Jimbo sounds right. I charged my sister $50 to mow/blow/edge her old yard (1 acre in Glyndon) and that was using her mower and gas!!

I might see cutting it for under 100, but not weeding,pruning and mulch.

Joe


You charged your sister...now thats a biz man!

LawnScapers of Dayton
01-19-2004, 05:51 PM
My parents pay me back with child care.....helps out alot when the season gets busy.....

There aren't any taxes when you barder....

Derek

promower
01-19-2004, 06:09 PM
Chances are the mulch they use will be free but theres still labor involved for hauling and spreading it. I would say you got lowballed, I could see $45 for just mow and go but all that extra stuff they included, they will be lucky to break even.

BOTURF
01-19-2004, 06:24 PM
Iam with promower... 45 might get the mow blow and go but there is now way in he$% he can make any money with mulch and trimming of shrubbery and trees included theres just no way.I have a commercial thats a little smaller maybe 10,000 square ft of turf and lots of shrubbery and mulch beds ect . I get 35.00 just for a mow blow and go . Shrubbery is a extra 400.00 dollars to trim 3 X a year plus mulch is extra then we have to install 20 flats of annuals for a extra 700.00 bucks so as you can see anything extra besides mow and blow is billable

pcnservices
01-19-2004, 07:22 PM
Originally posted by Jimbo
Approximately 12K sq ft Commercial property. My bid $100.00 per cut.
I got a call today that I lost the bid to some company who bid $45.00 per cut. Heres a list of what they included.

1. Mow
2. Edge
3. Blow
4. Pickup trash
5. Pull weeds from all mulch beds
6. Prune trees once per year
7. Trim hedges twice per year (Approx. 20 hedges)
8. Install fresh mulch in beds twice per year.

What do you think for $1260.00 per year? I would have came in around $3500.00 min. for that much work.

Jimbo, I dont think this company is lowballing you or that he is a scrub just because he outbidded you. They just did'nt give the client all the details or maybe they did, you just have'nt seen their bid.

What your bid should've looked like is something like this:
1) Mow, trim, blow 12 000 sqft = $ 45 per cut
2) Edging (power edge) once every 4 weeks = $ x per linear feet
3) Mulching = $x per cubic yard
4) Hedge trim = $x per trim or $x per hour
5) Yard work = $ 25 per hour (incl pickup trash, pull weeds, etc.)

$100 per cut for a 12000 sqft lawn is a bit outrages IMO. What are you mowing it with if it is going to take you 2 hours to do the job?
Why do you want to handpull the weeds? Get a spray can and spray the mulch beds with Round Up.

Remember there are two ways of outbidding yourself - either too low or too high.

Good luck
PC

dvmcmrhp52
01-19-2004, 07:59 PM
I guess that was my point,How can it take two hours to do a 1/4 acre lot? What am I missing?
Oh,by the way,unless you've seen the proposal from the other company............... I doubt they are doing all the rest for $45 a week.That is probably just a mow blow and go. Don't believe everything you hear unless you've seen.

BB36
01-19-2004, 08:31 PM
Jimbo, I think your price sounds about right.If one is to consider overhead ,salaries ,profit margin etc.etc. $50.00 per hr. sounds about right.
I even charge a little more per hr..
Lets face it we all have gotten lowballed by somebody who didn't know what they needed to do to make money.
A friend in the business for 15 plus years once told me most lcos don't make money they just handle it. How true.

DennisF
01-19-2004, 09:21 PM
Here in central Florida mow, trim and edge for 12,000 SF is $25-$30. I can do a 12k lot in about 30 minutes (solo). There is no way I can get $100 for 30 minutes of work in this area of Florida. There are lowball LCO's in this area that are doing 1/4 acre lots for $90 per month (4 cuts). My hat's off to ya, if you can get that much!

gogetter
01-20-2004, 12:36 PM
I have a couple 12K sq.ft. properties that take about 35-40 minutes by myself.

I get $30 for these. But that's just for the weekly mowing. Anything else is extra.

If I had to pick up a lot of trash and move toys as Jimbo mentioned, it might take an additional 10-15 minutes tops. So that might bring it to $40 per cut.

2 hours for that size lot doesn't sound right. Sure the numbers are right?

Anyway, I certainly wouldn't include all the hedge trimming, weed pulling and mulching for that price.

sildoc
01-20-2004, 12:55 PM
Originally posted by Jimbo
I lost a good account today (LOTS of extras).
$100.00 per cut.

I got a call today that I lost the bid to some company who bid $45.00 per cut. Heres a list of what they included.

1. Mow
2. Edge
3. Blow
4. Pickup trash
5. Pull weeds from all mulch beds
6. Prune trees once per year
7. Trim hedges twice per year (Approx. 20 hedges)
8. Install fresh mulch in beds twice per year.

Jimbo

Ok My guess is that the guy only quoted 45 for the mow, trim and blow.
The owner in there wittiness probably thought that he/she could get more if they just put out a white lie that they could get 4-8 above done.
I have had a couple of these and found out later that that particular lco is only doing the mowing. I went in later an resubmitted my bid for the rest and no mowing.
In the end I came out better since it filled small gaps that I had here and there. as for the garbage they had there workers out every morning to do that.
There are always 2 sides to the story.

Jimbo
01-20-2004, 01:32 PM
I understand where some of you guys are coming from. I am starting to think I was a bit high but like I said I serviced this prop, and it took me 3 hours. Of course the grass hadnt been cut in 3 weeks, I picked up 3 months worth of trash, moved the toys, and the edges were a nightmare, so I knocked off an hours time, and bid for two hours. The edges will get better with time and the trash will slightly, but the toys wont. This is a daycare center so when I say lots of toys I mean LOTS!.

On the inside playgrounds I have a total of 3 locked gates which I have to go through. Stopping to lock and unlock; this stuff takes time. Someone said an extra 15 minutes for all this stuff but I bet its closer to 45+ minutes.

BTW- I see I put 12K Commercial property. I should have wrote 12K of grass on a commercial property. If you include the parking lot and interior sidewalks (which need blown off every week) its more like 3/4 acre not including the buildings footprint. The interior sidewalks are covered in woodchips and they take some extra time to blow off.

Yes, I saw the other bid and everything stated was included except for blowing off the interior sidewalks (I dont think they included that in their bid).

I am calling my insurance company today to make sure they send an updated copy of my insurance info to this client....maybe that will make them think.

If you saw the run on sentences in the competitive bid you would realize these people are not too professional. I doubt they have insurance....I will know in a few days.

Jimbo

Jimbo
01-20-2004, 02:55 PM
I didnt mention the chainlink surrounding the building. A few hundred feet of chainlink takes time to trim properly as well.

craigs lawncare
01-20-2004, 04:17 PM
Jimbo, I agree with what was said earlier about breaking down your prices.
Set a price per cut, then charge them over and above for extra's like weeding, hedge trimming, pruning, etc... etc.
Also, you were right on the mark about showing them your liability insurance. Liability insurance is my secret weapon when selling my services. As a matter of fact, I have obtained a few of my customers just because I have it. In a world of my lawyer is better than your lawyer, it's simply a must. Showing your customers your proof of insurance when ever you get it re-newed or at the beginning of every year sets you above the crowd and shows them you are responsible, not just some fly-by-night lawn jockey.
Being that they are a day-care, they probably understand and appreciate the importance of liability insurance.
I will say this, it seems like you were high on your bid. All the proof of liability insurance in the world wont get the lawn back either. I guess, we need to see pic's of the yard, but 2 hours? And that sounded like after you had mowed it a couple of times. Ouch!

Craig

Jimbo
01-20-2004, 05:58 PM
Nope, mowed only once and it had been neglected.

It doesn't matter to me how long it should take to mow a certain size lot. I have some large open props which I can get done in unbelievable times and a few which seem to take longer. I bid based on how long I thought it would take not how long it should take in theory.

So none of you guys have those accounts which take longer than you would like?

I don't think the time is extreme considering what I have described needs done. If I counted the footsteps it took to walk around this prop picking up trash, edging, weed-eating, blowing, etc. I bet you would be amazed.

IMO- I think the other guy is going to have a rude awakening!

craigs lawncare
01-20-2004, 06:39 PM
Originally posted by Jimbo
Nope, mowed only once and it had been neglected.

It doesn't matter to me how long it should take to mow a certain size lot. I have some large open props which I can get done in unbelievable times and a few which seem to take longer. I bid based on how long I thought it would take not how long it should take in theory.

So none of you guys have those accounts which take longer than you would like?

I don't think the time is extreme considering what I have described needs done. If I counted the footsteps it took to walk around this prop picking up trash, edging, weed-eating, blowing, etc. I bet you would be amazed.

IMO- I think the other guy is going to have a rude awakening!

You say it doesn't matter how long it takes you to mow the yard.
Actually, unless your not looking to make a decent profit, nothing could be further from the truth. If nothing else, underbidding a job would get mighty frustrating as the mowing season wears on. As an example, you mentioned the other gentleman who low-balled you. As the summer wears on, he is going to realize that he is mowing for about $22.50 per hour, before expenses. Thats assuming it takes him two hours as it has you. That is gas, wear and tear on equipment, liability insurance (if he has any).
Actually jimbo, you might as well wipe your hands of the account, because now that your customer has had a taste of getting his yard maintained for half of your price, he will never accept anywhere near your $100 expectations.

Craig

BOTURF
01-20-2004, 07:00 PM
Jimbo Knows what it takes to mow the property ,Every property is different and we dont know what hes up against let alone having to cut it when no kids are present . I dont care what most say but there are hardly any 2 property alike and all have different obsticules ( sp ) to go around no counting picking up toys . dont feel bad jimbo you know what you have to have to make money on this property . I bet they will be looking for another lawn company real soon .

Johnny
01-20-2004, 10:16 PM
Originally posted by Jimbo

THATS WHEN I SAID:angry:

If you call me after the season starts and I already filled your spot I wont be able to do it, and if I can fit you in the price is going to be alot more than $100.00 per cut!!

Jimbo [/B]


I'm sorry Jimbo...wrong answer!! Why be angry? Why say, if you want me in the future it will be more $'s? Do you think they will call you ever again? I think not. Burn those bridges!! You know the other guy isn't going to last. Why not keep your options open. Who is the customer here?

If you handled it correctly, as a true professional, you would have said, "Thanks for your business. If there is anything I can do for you in the future, please don't hesitate to call". This way, if something happens to the other lco (which you know it will), and they call, you have options. If you don't have an opening then "I'm sorry I am booked". If you do have an opening, then you can increase prices, if you want to (I wouldn't).

bastalker
01-20-2004, 10:32 PM
Johnny said it pretty good. So what if ya lost it.

I wouldn't consider the lco that was awarded the contract a low baller, cause I could do the whole prop in probably 45 mins.

Trash, why pick it up? Just suck it up with the uv while yer cuttin. Have 2 guys trimmin the walks etc....

I would have bid $40 a cut...Thats just me.

I can assure you, if someone came in cheaper, Owell thats biz. No problem, just move on. Not worth gettin pissed.

David Haggerty
01-21-2004, 06:36 AM
So, last year the place was a mess, and it looks like this year they'll be repeating the process. You're better off without them.

I don't think your price was out of line. I'd charge $100 for a daycare like that in Ohio. I couldn't imagine getting only $100 for 2 hours work on the east coast. I can understand it taking 2 hours. Daycares' are a mess! BTW I mow a daycare.

I disagree with Johnny too. I think you should show customers a little "attitude" when they say or do something incredibly stupid. How else are they going to learn?
It's like John Wayne said in a movie once: "Never pull a gun on a man while you're smiling. Let him know you mean to kill him"

Business as usual? I don't think so! Let them know they were out of line. You sure don't want them calling you in the middle of next summer offering $46.

But what I really wanted to comment on, was that you're negotiating in January! I'd love to do that! Talk to customers while there's some free time. I can't even get them to return my phone calls in the winter. But April 1st they won't leave me alone.

Or maybe it's my "attitude". :rolleyes: Hey! I don't browbeat them much! Just when they really need it.:D

Dave

Jimbo
01-21-2004, 12:22 PM
Thanks David!
Thanks BOTURF!

Craig- I dont know what you are trying to say. I do know my costs and thats why I am bidding based on how long I know it will take and not how long both I and many of you think it should take according to turf sq. footage. Yes, I could be making decent money at $90.00, and yes I want the extras at this account but the extras are not guaranteed and my mowing that property every week is. I am not taking on a loss, because I am the type of person who will honor my commitments! I wont up and leave like all the others that have low-balled this account in the past.

Johnny- I am normally a calm person and even in this case I dont think I was harsh (burning bridges maybe) but who wants an account where they are always looking for Mr. Cheapo, and they have the nerve to like my work but think I am going to drop by to clean-up their mess every time some fool goes and underbids himself.
At first I was kind by telling them I would do the same thing that they did (take the low bid), but then I mentioned insurance and that I thought it couldn't be done correctly for that price and they came back and said "Well we can always hire you back when the guy quits or gets fired". So I told them that I would be booked and if I could get them in the price would go up. If my route is full and I have to drop someone to let them in they are going to have to pay more for that. Higher paying "good customers" come first! Weed out the bad ones right? Isn't that the plan?

Bastalker- I really shouldn't even comment on your reply but I will since I use to appreciate what you wrote. I am glad you have the ability to bid accounts sight unseen. I think thats what the other guy did.

UPDATE: I got a call this morning....they want to talk. It seems the other guy has insurance for construction work but not lawn care. And to top it off when they called his office number his kid answered the phone :)
Obviously he can update his policy pretty quick, but I think the whole package is turning them off.
I inquired about the previous service (knowing it didn't get mowed for several weeks last fall). The previous guy was charging $55.00, and he quit with no warning.

I will know more later today.

Jimbo

bastalker
01-21-2004, 03:49 PM
Originally posted by Jimbo
Bastalker- I really shouldn't even comment on your reply but I will since I use to appreciate what you wrote. I am glad you have the ability to bid accounts sight unseen. I think thats what the other guy did.

Hey Jimbo, I meant no disrespect to u at all...That $40 bid that i posted was probably way off, it just struck a nerve with me with all the trash an toys...I feel pickin up toys is thier responsibility, and the trash thing I just hate. One of my biggest pet peeves!!

I had 3 dunkin donut accounts. I was always askin the owner to please have the help go out once a day an pick up the trash. It would take all of 10 minutes. They refused to do it, and the owner did not want to pay me extra for doin it either. Needless to say I hated suckin all the trash up. Plus the fact that it looked bad on me when people drove by and seen me mowin that mess. Told him we were all done, an to find another lco.

I personally wont bid on a property that is constantly gettin trash thrown all over the place.

Again Jimbo, sorry if i offended u, it was not intensional...

Jimbo
01-21-2004, 04:44 PM
bastalker- Thanks, I wasn't really offended, but it may seem that way because I care enough about what I write to take the time and back it up. I have no problems with you.

I feel the same way about the toys. There is one daycare I currently do which is always a mess with toys (they all are). Well, we had that big hurricane coming last year and they put all the toys inside the day before I cut. Oh man I bet I was in/out in 45 minutes when that one normally takes me 1.25 hrs.

Hows the grand kid doing? Haven't heard much lately.

Jimbo

mtdman
01-21-2004, 04:52 PM
Jimbo knows how much he has to charge for this account, and if he says $100 a pop, then that's it. I've never seen the property, he's worked a couple times, I'll defer to his judgement. If the other guy is going to work for $22.50 an hour, that's his mistake.

As far as them calling back, I have mixed feelings. People have raised good points on Lawnsite recently about not letting your ego get in the way of your ability to make money. Don't burn the bridges to working for them again. But what happens when they call in a couple months, you take the gig again, and they bail on you, again? If they are shopping for the best price now, chances are in the future they will be shopping for the best price as well. It's up to Jimbo as to what he does. I think I would be pretty upset as well.

Jimbo
01-21-2004, 06:01 PM
Originally posted by mtdmaster- "If they are shopping for the best price now, chances are in the future they will be shopping for the best price as well."

You hit that nail on the head!

bastalker
01-21-2004, 06:19 PM
Originally posted by Jimbo
bastalker- Thanks, I wasn't really offended, but it may seem that way because I care enough about what I write to take the time and back it up. I have no problems with you.

I feel the same way about the toys. There is one daycare I currently do which is always a mess with toys (they all are). Well, we had that big hurricane coming last year and they put all the toys inside the day before I cut. Oh man I bet I was in/out in 45 minutes when that one normally takes me 1.25 hrs.

Hows the grand kid doing? Haven't heard much lately.

Jimbo

Expert Lawns
01-21-2004, 06:40 PM
that kid is adorable

Jimbo
01-22-2004, 10:34 AM
I have a grin from ear to ear! Wow they do get big quickly!


Jimbo

bastalker
01-22-2004, 02:33 PM
Originally posted by Jimbo
I have a grin from ear to ear! Wow they do get big quickly!


Jimbo

So do I Jimbo, so do I!!!:D

Johnny
01-22-2004, 03:05 PM
Jimbo,

No disrespect. I was only commenting on how you handled the situation. I was visualizing a confrontation. Sometimes it is hard to interpret things on a public forum. And, in turn, it is hard to explain a situation or conversation.

I have never been a believer in the "let's make a deal" way of bidding jobs. It seems once you start doing this, it is hard to stop. And you eventually get a reputation of a company that will lower prices. This is my price, if you chose to shop elswhere, that's ok. If you want a lower price with me, these are the things we can do (in your situation, it may be, client cleans the area of all toys and garbage). This is how they could probably get your services at a lower price.

Flex-Deck
01-22-2004, 04:31 PM
Jimbo - you are right on - I do our church yard and cemetary, and it is only 1 acre (285 stones) and it has a chain link fence only on the south side, and those chain link fences eat up more string than anything on the planet. It is a square acre, so the chain link fence is what? - about 77 yards.

Thanks Brad

Turf Dancer
01-22-2004, 05:55 PM
The lawn itself would be $30 to $35 per week here , the rest depending on # of trees and amount of hedges would vary. We don't have a lot of mulch beds here, we have flower beds and those are a pain , we pre emerge them now. I would have to say that on a 12 month contract we would be at $1860 to $2700 ($155 to $225 per month depending on amount of beds and hedges!

Jimbo
03-31-2004, 11:09 AM
I know its been awhile but I thought I would update everyone about this account I had wrote about over the winter.
I drive by this account (Daycare) every day and I had noticed that the grass was getting tall, and the beds/trees had not been mulched.

Well last night I had a message on my machine asking me to please call them. I called this morning and asked what I could do for them? They said that they really need mulch and the grass needs cut but the guy they hired hasn't returned their phone calls.
Then they asked if I would give them an estimate for one time mulch and also for weekly maintenance.

I told them I will definately give them an estimate on one time mulching but my mowing schedule is now full (which it is). I also told them that I will let them know as soon as possible if I can squeeze them in or if someone cancels service.

They are desperate at the moment but I feel that if I fit them in and get the place in order they will be searching around. What would you do?

Jimbo

promower
03-31-2004, 11:15 AM
depending on how long it takes you can always squeeze one more in. Plus you'll be the hero and hopefully they wont go looking for someone else in the future.