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View Full Version : Brickman killing our market


LocalTouch
02-28-2004, 09:23 PM
Recieved a call from an apartment building owner. Needs price for weekly maintenance-mow, trim, edge, blow, bag clippings around pool. Partner and I walk property. Determine approximately 16 man hours of work. Excessive trimming, and edging. Submit weekly bid of $475.00. Left some room to tweak the numbers down if necessary. Owner almost flips out. Has a bid on his desk from Brickman Group, for get this-----$233/week. We obviously did not get the job. They did. I find it hard to have 2 or 3 guys at this property for a total of 16 man hours, and make any sort of profit at $233. I understand these enormous companies make this up in tremendous volume, but come on!!!! Look what that is going to do to our industry!
Even if Brickman is paying their guys about $10 an hour, after payroll for this job, they are making $73. Without any gas or other expenses.
Possiblility for additional services in non-existent. Maintenance guys do mulch, bush trimming, etc.
They are probably going to kill our Snow Removal Market too.

brucec32
02-28-2004, 09:37 PM
Funny you mention this company. When I used the term "butchers" in an earlier post, these were the guys who I was talking about who did the apartment complex I lived in.

lawnman_scott
02-28-2004, 09:50 PM
Maybe its just that it doesnt take as long as you think.

Jackman
02-28-2004, 09:55 PM
Who is Brickman are they a nation wide lawn service? There is a tan color truck and trailer rig in my area sign says Brickman nothing else no # or clue to their service but they look like a lawn service just have not seen what they do...

strickdad
02-28-2004, 10:11 PM
this is why we are a 90% residental . commercial work is nine out of 10 times always low bid. one thing for sure we are never lowest bidder. so we dont usually even bother, unless we already know someone on the inside and are specifically asked. alot of guys will tell you thats were the moneys at (commerical) but i will tell you were the profit is at...(high end residential)

J&R
02-28-2004, 10:24 PM
US Lawns lowballs and does bad work also.

Jackman
02-28-2004, 10:26 PM
Strickdad I couldnt agree more, well said. Some guys seem to like the commercial it can be impressive looking at the right place but there is a lack of loyalty that bugs me what good is an account that will be out looking for the lowest bid next season. Not worth it to me....

specialtylc
02-28-2004, 10:43 PM
If you get the right commercial accounts they will stick by you. Especially when all the previous lawn co.s gave them crap service.

ZX12R
02-28-2004, 10:59 PM
"Who is Brickman are they a nation wide lawn service? There is a tan color truck and trailer rig in my area sign says Brickman nothing else no # or clue to their service but they look like a lawn service just have not seen what they do"

I see the same thing here in nj.

Kelly's Landscaping
02-28-2004, 11:04 PM
Their web site says 22 states so they are all over the north east.

Haley Lawn Care
02-28-2004, 11:08 PM
Originally posted by ZX12R
"Who is Brickman are they a nation wide lawn service? There is a tan color truck and trailer rig in my area sign says Brickman nothing else no # or clue to their service but they look like a lawn service just have not seen what they do"

I see the same thing here in nj.

I have seen them in Charlotte NC also. I hear they are the largest LCO in America.

David :)

DUSTYCEDAR
02-28-2004, 11:18 PM
just another big player driving down the price
but they seem to be doing it to each other, brickman under bids truegreen for mowing one year then it is the other way the flowing year
i really dont care what they do to each other in the commercial acc
seems each year they drive the price down more just to stay busy

Sam-Ohio
02-28-2004, 11:22 PM
Maybe the Brickman estimator doesn't know what he's doing.

Is Brickman new to the Cleveland area ? If so, they may be coming at you with low pricing just to crack the market. You may have to put up with this for most of this year as they try to quickly establish a customer base. After they get through the original attack phase of their normal business model, they will ease off the predatory pricing and then try to make some money in your market.

The big problem that these huge multi state or nationwide companies face that you don't face is the cost of the care and feeding of masses of management personel. The local manager, and assistant manager, district manager, regional manager, Western states, Eastern states, central states administrative offices, and above this level you start to have the bevy of vice presidents, and there is office and support personel that go with each of these managers and at every level of management. And I haven't even gotten to the CFO, and CEO, and Chairman, and board members - and each of those guys wages are 5 or 10 times what your company will gross this year.

Anyway, these big outfits have such a weight of management overhead to feed, that ten thousand Mexicans working for minimum wages can't get their costs and overhead as low as yours is.

True Green has been around for years, and I don't think they have been able to get control of any markets. Davey has been doing it for years and the same is true there. So, add Brickman to the list - I don't think they will be able to fatally hurt any decently run local LCO's either. They may upset you for a short while - but this too will pass.

broken leg
02-28-2004, 11:50 PM
I know people that work for large apartment complexes. There upper management want to work with companies that can do one stop shop in different ares of the state or in different states. That way they only deal with one landscaper. They just pass the cost off in the rent. In my area they have over built and it is hard to get 90% fill. So the blood bath has begun. They want to cut corners every were they can. Brickman has the money and the man power they are the third largest in the country.

Mark P
02-29-2004, 12:03 AM
:) I haven't seen them in southern In yet, But i do abit of sub-contract work for US Lawns' and havent had any problem with them yet, plus my bids are not the lowest, So far they really are very satisified with the work, its all commercial...Marks Mowing Service

launboy
02-29-2004, 12:32 AM
lower your cost = loer employee pay = lower work quality
let them run themselves out of buisness
stick to your guns don't let these nationwide guys ruin an industry in which some of us work our @sses off to feed our families. i have had dreams about starting a buisness that is nationwide..
but that is too much you have to watch over so much even if you hire district managers and allof thatcrap. the more you spread yourself out the quality goes down. focus on your area and milk itfor all that it is worth.

charlies
02-29-2004, 12:45 AM
brickman and us lawns can kiss my grass. nothing like slave labor, eh?

they will not be running themselves out of business anytime soon.

IndyPropertyCare
02-29-2004, 06:43 AM
Yep, they are having a real hard time keeping accounts ;) In our area that is all I hear from customers is bad news. We bid against them alot and are winning more bids than ever over them and others. Its all about customer service & your reputation from others. The O'l word of mouth rule is coming into reality for them and they are starting to pay the price for CHEAP..Shoddy effortless work ethics... you can only make it up in volume if you provide your customers with EXCELLENT service like we do. :D

Ricks Z28
02-29-2004, 07:10 AM
Brickman came into my area 2 years ago. They have cost me about 100k per year. I will tell you though that I did get back alot of the work from them as a result of the customer not being able to converse with the workers. My customer's can't speak spanish. The customer couldn't tell them what they wanted done. Another complaint is that they do sh*^^y work and you only get what you pay for, PERIOD!!!!!

mrusk
02-29-2004, 01:49 PM
I just can not understand how brickman is still in business if they lowball everything!!! I want to have a large company some day. However, i know i can only get so big before quality starts to suffer. When i get to that point i will no longer expand. I would not want to own a business that does less then quality work. Look a trugreen. Have you ever heard a customer that was happy with them? I haven't. Screw being the biggest in the nation. Bigger is not always better. I want to be the BEST in my tri county area and please my customers.

matt

mowinmoney
02-29-2004, 02:01 PM
Having control over quality is the name of the game. I would be worried if they were offering a consistent, high quality product...but you have to have workers that care about quality not just their pay...if they were built on a quality program like Dr Deming introduced to the foriegn car market I would be worried, but this wont happen due to the cost associated with implementing it. Thank goodness...

Flipperneck
02-29-2004, 02:06 PM
The same people that ***** they can't find any decent help are the same guys that can't afford to pay over 7-8 $ph. And also the same guys that pick up alot of lowball work. In my opinion if you pay a guy 15 per hour(if he's worth it) he is gonna work hard and fast. pay him half that he's gonna be in the bushes smoking a joint or playing hide and go seek. Do more quality work at moderate prices and don't worry about cheap people they are no different than anyone else they learn the hard way too. Brickman's around me too but we don't sweat them they make up a small amount of competition.

jajwrigh
02-29-2004, 02:15 PM
They cut like 20 some apartment complexes around Indianapolis. Someone needs to run them out of here because they are annoying and all of their trucks are ugly!!

dkeisala
02-29-2004, 02:30 PM
I agree with those posts regarding commercial not being the mecca of landscape maintenance. Residential can be a lucrative niche market that the large lco's don't even care to deal with. As an independant if I lose a residential customer, no big deal - lose a large commercial client and I'm screwed. I've never been interested in large commercial accounts and not really sure I ever will be.

jsr2741
02-29-2004, 02:49 PM
My fertilizer supplier told me a couple weeks ago that Brickman and the other 2 major players in our area are cutting each others throats in order to take business away from each other.

He said the real funny part of it is they always come to buy supplies from him and are always complaining about the other one low balling the other and how they can't understand how the other stays in business.

I know I'm all broken up about it.

PROCUT1
02-29-2004, 05:21 PM
Originally posted by Flipperneck
The same people that ***** they can't find any decent help are the same guys that can't afford to pay over 7-8 $ph. And also the same guys that pick up alot of lowball work. In my opinion if you pay a guy 15 per hour(if he's worth it) he is gonna work hard and fast. pay him half that he's gonna be in the bushes smoking a joint or playing hide and go seek. Do more quality work at moderate prices and don't worry about cheap people they are no different than anyone else they learn the hard way too. Brickman's around me too but we don't sweat them they make up a small amount of competition.

I completely agree.......Another point to my arguement of why I cant find good American help.... Their point of view is " Id work harder if you paid me more"....I beleive in " You work harder and then Ill gladly pay you more".. No wonder why not one of my American guys makes nearly as much as some of my Spanish guys.. And they wonder why the Spanish guys are their bosses that report to me...They earn it..

Flipperneck
02-29-2004, 05:56 PM
" Id work harder if you paid me more"....I beleive in " You work harder and then Ill gladly pay you more"..

Thats an open debate that could go on forever. The simple fact is the work is hard and the pay is low. I've seen alot of guys that were very productive and quality oriented people leave the industry because health insurance, pay, benefits... And so on... The ones left are Latinos and 40+ years old toothless people that still live at home. Anyone decent leaves the industry or starts out on their own. These lowballers are the reason that barely anyone can offer benefits.

Ricks Z28
02-29-2004, 05:57 PM
I have to agree with Matt. I am a 1 man band and I wouldn't have it any other way. Bigger is NOT better. I will compare my BOTTOM LINE against any big outfit. My costs are alot lower and my stress is even lower yet. I personally think than Brickman comes into an area and low balls just to get the work. After several years they bump up the prices. I also heard that some employers are paying their ( Foreign ) help in cash at the end of the day. How can an honest Co. compete with that kind of activity? I will just continue to do " Quality " work and it will all work out.

gusbuster
02-29-2004, 10:52 PM
In our commercial acct side of business, we compete against brickman head to head. They don't make money by giving low ball prices. They give low ball prices, because that's what the property mgr wants. What Brickman is counting on is the same mistake that any business does is not watching their numbers. It has been pointed out many times to us on acct that we have taken that overall we end up cheaper for the year were if you take the month to month cost, we're much more expensive. They make their money off these accts by nickel and diming everything from fert apps to sprinkler repairs. Brickman has been around since I was a little kid and before my dad, uncle and myself got to servicing commercial accts. They make there money. Yes they do have some good people working for them, but sometimes the quality slips and that's how the smaller company gets their foot in the door. Brickman has been around since the 50's but like everybody else, have been combining operations(takeover)operations of other companies. They are a cash cow. Look in some of the help wanted adds in the trade mags. You'll see them there.

MacLawnCo
02-29-2004, 11:56 PM
Im really excited to see them in my market. Ive been seeing alot more of them each year. I dont play the commercial game, so Ill gladly let them take out some of the other local commercial players.

Ricks Z28
03-01-2004, 07:36 AM
Maclawnco,

You might be glad to see them in your area now , but wait til they start affecting your income and we'll see how you sing then. As far as making up money somewhere else like sprinkler repair or other work performed on the property, we don't have alot of other work like sprinkler work around here. I quess we get enough rain. I still think that they low ball just to get the job and raise the price later.

Mdirrigation
03-01-2004, 08:28 AM
It is common for a company with large pockets to come in and bid low , their pockets are deep enough that they can. Look at the best example Walmart. Loss leaders get them in the door. Or better yet locks you outside . Its a very common business practice that works. If you cant afford to play their game , you change how the game is played. or dont play at all. Study your competition, know their strengths and weaknesses, Know your own . Know your customer . Pick the battles you know you will win . Let the cheap bidder have the cheap customer, they are made for each other. They deserve each other.

You will lose jobs to a low bidder , its the nature of the business . But its not always a loss, its an opportunity to fill that same slot with a better paying client.