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QualityLawnCare4u
02-18-2004, 11:42 AM
Hello, newby here with a question I need a quick answer to. Ive been doing lawns (residental) for 5 years and I have stayed just above the poverty level. I got a call this morning from a govt. agency that was taking bids of 5 properties. I went to get the specs and look at the propertys and the first one was a HUGE apartment complex. It has several hundred large srubs that would need trimming about 4 time a year and I figured the mowing and weedeting would take me at least 3 days on just this one property. Also wanted included in bid fertilizing lawn and srubs when needed and hauling off debris. The other 2 apartment complex was in a town 40 milesa away and one was 45 miles away. I have not even looked at them yet but if they are anything like the one locally there is no way Icould do them being Im a one man show.They had a lco in each one of the distant towns but wanted to combine all of them into one. I would really like to get a few good commercial accounts and dump these &^&%&&^ residental nightmares that I have now but am scared of biting off more tan I can handle. I believe they are going to have trouble getting a local LCO to drive this far for thses distant one. The one I looked at today would keep a 3 man crew busy from daylite till dark just mowing and edging, not counting the srubs. It would take me 5 days to do all the srubs by myself not counting hauling off clippings to landfill 10 miles away in my 11 mpg truck. How would you guys that have more expertise than me bid this. I really have no idea on biddibg on this and I have hurt myself badly on underbidding in the past and have never done a job of this magnitude. The worst yard I have would not even be 5% of the size of this one, not counting the other 4 I still have not looked at. I also will have to get license for the roundup and other chemicals that I dont have. Also what is the best fertilizer for shrubs? I hate to sound dumb but my expertise has been limited to mowing, weedetg, srub trimming and some fertilizig. I really hate to turn down work as broke as I am now but Im good at what I dont want to hurt my reputation but am really scared of this one. BTW where I live we are saturated with LCO and many will do a 35 yard for 15 dollars, have lost several to these folks. (Im in Waycross, Georgia). Any advice much appreciated.

Danny
Quaity Lawn Care

dkeisala
02-18-2004, 11:54 AM
Wish I could offer you more help than sympathy. You sound very dedicated and would like the fruits of your labor to start paying off. I do mainly residential and had an opportunity to bid of a 92 acre light industrial complex currently serviced by Tru-Green. At first all I could see where dollar signs but the more I looked around the place, red flags started popping up all over the place. No longer have a desire to bid on the job although the $6,000 a month would have been nice.

Just make sure this is really a project you want to take on and that you are confident in your ability to handle it otherwise you end up more miserable than you are now.

Keep up the good work. Sounds to me that your time is going to come regardless of this project becomes your or not.

QualityLawnCare4u
02-18-2004, 12:14 PM
Thanks for the input. Right now I really dont feel good about it even though it would mean a lot more money, but Im going to think/pray about it. Have to give them bid by this friay morning. I would really like to have just the 2 here locally but now the other 3 distant ones.

Gordons Landscape
02-18-2004, 01:18 PM
I do many apartment complexs and love them. Great money! Lots of work. The trick is to over bid them. If you think its going to take 20 man hours to mow then charge them like its going to take you 25. Don't be afraid to charge them for drive time, the fact its going to be harder on your equipent, etc.

Remember you don't do all this work and put up with all this crap to be broke. You do it for the money. OVER CHARGE THEM. Where your at least making $35 per man hour.

Also you might want to brake down the property to what your used to. Example: If your used to a house lawn deside how many houses you could fit on there property and bid acordingly.

Also what does LCO MEAN??????????????

Lombardi
02-18-2004, 01:56 PM
You can try to overcharge them, but since it is a gov't agency, the lowest bidder will win which most of the times means the profit margin is very low.
Also , the requirements for insurance, W/C, financial stability, employees, references, equipment, etc. will be quite stringent. But, if you are a minority owned business who has the lowest bid, you have a very good chance of getting the contract.

QualityLawnCare4u
02-19-2004, 12:50 AM
Thanks for the replys. I have decided to pass up this bid because I dont think I could handle the distant ones. I would be driving about 500 miles a week and and there specs were more than I could do being a one man show. I talked tonight with the biggest lawn service in our area and he had already been contacted to bid also on property.He said it took him just few seconds to say no and told the client that he would have a problem finding someone to drive that far away to do a large complex and it would be cheaper to get a local lco to do the work in each town. Something else that concerned me was when I went a looked at one property it was well landscaped. I then found out who was doing it and he had a falling out with this client. I know the lco and he does good work and if he cant please them after seeing his work, I dont know if I could. Here are the specs:
mow weedeat yard
put new straw in all flower beds and haul off old straw
put out fertilizer twice a year
pull grass out sidewalk cracks
checks sprinkler system
turn on sprinkler everday for 30 minutes on all property
plant blooming flowers in summer and fall in all beds
spray roundup where needed
trim all srubs (a LOT of srubs) and haul off debris to landfill
blow off entire parking lot
edge all sidewalks
spray for mole crickets and all diseases on grass and srubs

The person that was doing this property and one more small halfway house was getting 500 a month (250 every 2 weeks) for this. I dont think I could touch this. I estimate I could do the apartment in maybe 16 hours if I bust my taill and thats not counting the srubs and hauling off debris or anything else other than basic mowing and weedeatng. The halfway house I could do in about 1.5 hours. Anyway I just did not feel good about it.

BTW Gordon lco stands for lawn care operator or I think thats the way Ive seen it posted here.
Danny

dkeisala
02-19-2004, 02:17 AM
I think you made a VERY wise decision, let someone else lose money on this. By freeing yourself up, you are opening yourself up the the next great opportunity that is bound to come your way!!!

mowing by the hills
02-19-2004, 07:51 AM
unless you have money hiding somewhere, or have very good credit, I don't see how you can get the equipment to service these accounts

QualityLawnCare4u
02-19-2004, 11:42 AM
I have the equipment, all paid for except the commercial ztr (had to bite the bullet on that one) and I still have good credit, well for right now anyway! I just did not think I could do the far away ones without spreading myself to thin and I really did not have a good feeling about the contract.
Danny

QualityLawnCare4u
02-19-2004, 12:24 PM
Followup:
I just got off the phone with the man I had been dealing with and I told him I just could not do the ones out of town, and he told me they had to change that becausee not one lco would take the package deal either. I was told I could just bid on the 2 local ones I was told (unofficialy) that the one doing it now was getting 250. I was figuring at least 400 and am going to go look at it real good again. Im not scared of the 2 local ones but nooo way on the 3 out of town. Thanks for the replys from you folks who have a lot more years/experience than me.

Danny
Quality lawn care

CSRA Landscaping
02-19-2004, 12:40 PM
Danny,
Good luck to you and let us know how it goes. Btw, how far is Blackshear from Augusta?

QualityLawnCare4u
02-19-2004, 01:01 PM
Thanks Jeff. Im about 160 miles from Augusta, I go there several times a year being my wife is from Hephzibah.

work_it
02-19-2004, 01:09 PM
I think that guy better patch up his relations with the previous guy. At a $1000/month he was getting great service at scrub prices. My bid would be 4 times what he was paying, and that's spread out over 12 months.

You better pass on that one. If you're only planning on charging him $400/wk you're going to be the one loosing money, and that's if you can get what you're asking.

Think about it, 3 days/wk just for the mowing? You wouldn't even be clearing $100/day, and that's not even mentioning all the other services he wants. That job is nothing more than a bad joke waiting for someone to laugh.

QualityLawnCare4u
02-19-2004, 01:37 PM
Hello work-it, the guy that was doing it was getting 250 every 2 weeks or 500 a month. No I can not touch that nor will I try to. I dont mean to sound like a smart alec but where I live at the eccnomy is BAD. 99% of the working force makes less than 6 dollars a hour. I lost a yard recently that took me 2 hours to do and I was getting 35. I lost is to a scrub that would do t for 15, and the scrub is doing a good jub on it to. Our area is saturated with lco because our umemployment is so high every tom dick and harry goes to wal-mart and buys a cheap mower and goes into the lawn service to try and make a living. This is the competition I compete with every day. I dont know how things are in Kentucky but they are bad here. Im not even going to say what I made last year because some of you big buck guys would laugh me off the board. Im happy for you guys that make the big bucks but I promise it want hapen in SE Georgia! Ive read where some of you folks make 80,000 a year! Shoot, weve got doctors here that probably dont do much better than that! No joke though, it is really bad here.

Fivestar
02-20-2004, 02:17 AM
Better to go broke sittin on the front porch sippin Ice Tea than cuttin someones grass for not enough cash!!!

upsondown
02-20-2004, 05:55 AM
Just a couple of words of advice - for what it's worth...... Read the IFB "very" carefully........ We do a huge amount of government contracts and each of them have a provision which reads "DEFAULT: In case of failure to deliver goods or services in accordance with the contract terms and conditions (the agency), after due oral or written notice, may procure them from other sources and hold the Contractor responsible for any resulting additional purchase and administrative costs. This remedy shall be in addition to any other remedies which the (agency) may have." In a nutshell - if 3 months out - you find that you are just not able to perform the work........you will be between a rock and a hard place.........if you try to walk away - they can (and will) hold you responsible for the costs involved in getting another LCO to replace you (including the cost difference between your price and theirs) - for the length of the contact. Additionally, all of our government contracts have this provision as well..... "SUBCONTRACTS. No portion of the work shall be subcontracted without prior written consent of the agency. In the event that the Contractor desires to subcontract some part of the work specified herein, the Contractor shall furnish the purchasing agency the names, qualifications and experience of their proposed contractors. The Contractor shall, however remain fully liable and responsible for the work to be done by the subcontractors". Again........if 3 months out - you find that you need help and decide that subcontracting is the way to go - keep in mind that it doesn't alleviate you from your responsibilities.

I know this sounds real negative......but it's just the real world when you do government work. We make great money and you can too when you qualify and align yourself with government agencies - but it's not all gravy, and for many these risks weed out the faint of heart.

Dave

CSRA Landscaping
02-20-2004, 09:17 AM
Danny,
Since your wife is from Hephzibah, come on over here. There's plenty of work to keep you busy, at good prices, too.

brucec32
02-21-2004, 01:41 AM
sounds flippant, but my advice would be to move to the big city and make some money. Plenty of work in Atlanta.

Usually, commercial work is so labor intensive that if you dont' have employees doing it someone who does can outbid you on it.

work_it
02-22-2004, 06:11 PM
I'm sorry to hear that your area is that depressed. You may want to consider moving to a more lucrative area. Heck, Jacksonville Fla. is only 2 hours away from where you live right now. I don't know your reasons for staying where you are right now, but I was given a piece of advice right after my little girl was born that stays with me to this day. My uncle said, "Go where the work is." So simple, but so true.

I'm not trying to be rude, or a smart alec. I've been around the block a few times, and am honestly trying to give you the best advice I possibly can. So please don't take my advice the wrong way. I wish you and your family all the best.

butler L&S
02-22-2004, 11:06 PM
I have accounts that are owned by the county HRA. They always pay on time and I never hear any complaints from them; however, they watch the bottom line closely. I had an apartment complex that I lost to another lco. His bid was $5 a cut less than mine. The person in the HRA office that I deal with told me that they would rather have me service the property but the Executive Director wanted to save a dollar. I drove through the property mid season and it looked like sh*t.

QualityLawnCare4u
02-24-2004, 07:28 AM
hello, been away for a few days. How is everyone? To work-it, I did not find your post rude at all.enjoyed all replys. I went back friday and walked over the property good. I feel like if I busted my butt I could do this property in 10-12 hours mow weedeat and edge only, nothing else. I counted the shrubs and there were 134 medium oes and 113 large ones plus a 100 yd. row of 8 foot redtips planted right on the edge of a 10 foot deep canal. Yhere were 8 large flower beds 10-12 inch deep in pine straw and the sprinkler were 24 inches out of ground in flower bed (wonder how these will do in a hard freeze!)lol. I just kept looking at it and thinking to myself there is NO WAY the lco is doing this for 250 each time, maybe the person that told me what the other lco was getting was 500 each time and not for twice a month. Even at 500 each time is stll a great deal. That scrubbey really concerned me. I just dont think I could handle this much by myself.I really think the person that gave me the info misunderstood what was being paid. 250 no way!!!!!. Anyway I did not want to sign a conract and not be able to fulfill it. And I could not touch it for at least less than 750 EACH time! They need to kiss the lco that is doing it now! Ih well that is what happens when your a one (old) man show with limited health and finances.

Thanks for great replys
Danny
ps Jeff Im sure my mother in law would like us to move to Augusta but ehhh uhhh dont want to have todo that yet! lol!

upsondown
02-24-2004, 07:41 AM
sometimes the wisest answer will be "no thanks". I think you were wise in your decision.
Dave

QualityLawnCare4u
02-24-2004, 10:07 AM
Thanks Dave. I have never been scared or backed down from any job but after being dianozized last year with some heart problems do not want to be married to a conract. I know it is good to know that is check that will be there every month but like you said, if I cant fulfill the conract is bad news for me.

Danny

betterlawns
02-24-2004, 02:02 PM
I think you have made an excellent choice to pass it up.
Govt or city contracts are always money losers, they simply award the lowest bidder. For the amount of money and time necessary to do the work, you are better off doing lawns at $15 like everyone else and you would still be more profitable.
Why dont you include some extras to keep most of your residential clients you have now. Why dont you include weeding out beds, keeping shrubs trimmed, tree trunks clear of new growth up to 10ft high..Anything that can give you an edge over the other many LCO's.

Hope this helps,,,
Al

QualityLawnCare4u
02-25-2004, 12:39 AM
Hey Al. thanks. Im already doing everything you suggested plus more. I have 2 customers that I wash and vacum their cars. yesterday put down 8 new fence post for an elderly gent that was having a hard time doing it himself.last week moved furniture for one single mom, and for no extra money either. Im an expert on changing diapers too being I have twins but am NOT going to offer that servcice! LOL I probably do more for ppl than I should do but Im a nice guy snd nice guys do finish last.

terracare
02-25-2004, 12:41 AM
call some commercial accounts in your area that look underserviced and ask if they are accepting bids. This is the time of year to get it done.

Todd

upsondown
02-25-2004, 06:25 AM
Originally posted by betterlawns
I think you have made an excellent choice to pass it up.
Govt or city contracts are always money losers, they simply award the lowest bidder. For the amount of money and time necessary to do the work, you are better off doing lawns at $15 like everyone else and you would still be more profitable.
Why dont you include some extras to keep most of your residential clients you have now. Why dont you include weeding out beds, keeping shrubs trimmed, tree trunks clear of new growth up to 10ft high..Anything that can give you an edge over the other many LCO's.

Hope this helps,,,
Al


I have to respond to this post as I totally disagree with its content that "Govt or city contracts are always money losers". In order to be an effective bidder for government contracts - whether federal, state or local - you must be savvy in business and know how to sharpen your pencil when in the bidding process, but to say that they are always money losers is simply not true. 90% of my building maintenance firm is government contract based and they have always been extremely profitable for us over the past 16 years. The scope of service on MANY of our accounts simply weeds out the less able contractors and of what is left - there is not a cut-throat attitude - but rather a very aggressive - bidding to get and retain the contracts.
Dave

Lombardi
02-25-2004, 09:54 AM
It is a fact that gov't/city contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder. Ask anyone that works in procurement with these agencies and they will tell you the same. I agree that they are not all money losers, but you can count on your profit margin being much lower than normal. If it is a large enough contract there is nothing wrong with lowering your price some to get the contract.

upsondown
02-25-2004, 11:09 AM
You are correct that they are awarded to the lowest bid in almost all cases - but the critical point that is so often overlooked is the phrase "lowest - qualified" bidder. Here's a real example on a recent bid that we did. The bid was for service at 18 locations. There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 interested bidders who had asked to be put on the bidders list and in turn were mailed the IFB's. Of those - there were 24 that submitted bids. (My own feeling is - it was either the scope of service itself - or perhaps the default clause that scared off the other 156 prospective bidders). Of those that bid ours fell in 3rd from being the highest bidder - meaning there were some 21 cheaper bids than ours. Now the fun part starts..............as a procurement manager - it is her/his duty to determine if the bidder conforms to the standards required as a "qualified" bidder. All 21 were found to have something that was a problem - ranging from falsified insurance documentation, excessive workman's comp. claims, lack of adequate insurance coverages, or insufficient - or poor references from other large commercial accounts, lack of criminal background checks on employees who would be working on the premises, among a range of other disqualifying factors........... I was present during the bid opening - heard and recorded the numbers - kept my mouth shut and went on my way afterward........awaiting the decision. I got an email at 4:39 pm yesterday - informing me that we had been awarded the contract and to call to arrange a day/time for signing of the contract. So the premise that all contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder was certainly blown out of the water. I have seen this happen many times.
Dave