PDA

View Full Version : Getting Commercial Accounts


drsogr
09-22-2004, 06:59 PM
I am fairly new to the business, and I am wanting to get some commercial accounts. How do I go about this? Do I send out letters asking to be part of the bidding process? When would I send these out? I would be greatful for any help possible. I am looking for more inpersonal methods, as I work full-time currently and do not have the time to introduce myself personally.

Thanks,
Derek

kc2006
09-22-2004, 11:59 PM
Good question, i too have been wondering about the same thing.

jerryrwm
09-23-2004, 02:15 AM
Depending on what type of commercial work you are looking for.

If it's government type, then check the newspaper and the Builder's Exchange for current RFP/RFB (Request for proposal/bid) They are also posted in courthouses, etc.

If it is any other type of properties, you might need to make time and pound the pavement, knock some doors, and press some flesh. Property managers, maintenance directors and others in the position of authority have a tendency to like seeing a smiling face before doing business with them. A relationship of some kind has a tendency to open the door. I once had an Apartment manager that it took nearly two years of just stopping in to say hi whenever I was in the area. Usually to see my golfing buddy, but I always stopped in the Manager's office for a few minutes. One day I was asked to give a price to replace a controller, and got the job. Now do all of the irrigation work for three apartment complexes that they manage. Just have to be in their face.

If you are serious about the commercial work, you may need to take some time off from the full-time job and spend it on the part-time one.

Just my take

Jerry

LwnmwrMan22
09-23-2004, 07:31 AM
I am fairly new to the business, and I am wanting to get some commercial accounts. How do I go about this? Do I send out letters asking to be part of the bidding process? When would I send these out? I would be greatful for any help possible. I am looking for more inpersonal methods, as I work full-time currently and do not have the time to introduce myself personally.

Thanks,
Derek


If you're looking for an impersonal way to gain commercial work, just place an ad in the local newspaper and hope managers read it.

Other than that, if you just send out letters, how are you going to target places? Go through the phone book and look up the address?

Best bet would be to do as jerrym said, pound the pavement, go there during business hours and ask for a manager, property owner, etc.

When they ask you what's it about, tell them that you would like to know the arrangement that they have for the lawn / property maintenance.

When the secretary / receptionist says "Oh, we already have that taken care of", tell her that you would STILL like to talk to the manager / owner.

The secretary / receptionist USUALLY doesn't make the decisions.

drsogr
09-23-2004, 05:41 PM
Thanks for the info guys. Has anyone tried sending out letters though? I am sure the success rate would be quite a bit lower, but you could reach a much broader scope of people. Then you could go in for the "kill" with the jobs you are really hoping to get? As an individual I hate getting people coming to my door and selling stuff. I realize that this is the best way to sell, but I hate doing it, and I hate it being done to me.

MacLawnCo
09-23-2004, 11:11 PM
how are you going to grow your company if you dont plan to "wear the hat" of a salesman? get over your fears, most of which are completely unjustified. worthwhile things typically are not easily done.

on a side note, if you dont even have time to sell new accounts, how do you plan to service the ones you win?

jerryrwm
09-24-2004, 02:20 AM
Thanks for the info guys. Has anyone tried sending out letters though? I am sure the success rate would be quite a bit lower, but you could reach a much broader scope of people. Then you could go in for the "kill" with the jobs you are really hoping to get? As an individual I hate getting people coming to my door and selling stuff. I realize that this is the best way to sell, but I hate doing it, and I hate it being done to me.

As for reaching a broader scope of people, the biggest thing those letters will reach is the trashcan. Property managers get so much junk mail, that if it isn't an invoice, or payment of some kind, they don't take the time to really read anything else.

You said as an individual you hate people coming to your door selling stuff. That's not quite the same as a salesman going to a place of business to sell a product of service. It is an accepted and expected way to do business. The salesman, in this case you, introduces the service that is available, breifly explains the features and benefits, and then asks to be considered whenever it is time for contract renewal. Now you've got your foot in the door, and you can occasionally drop by and further the relationship. Keep your face in front of them. Many times the last guy out the door gets the first call on the next project. So keep making sure you are the last guy out the door if you really want the job.

So, suck it up, put on a clean shirt and pants, comb your hair, and go talk to them. Because they sure won't come to you first. And remember the hardest part of any sales call is getting out of your truck and actually walking through the door. After that it's all downhill. And what's the worst that they can do? They can't eat you and they ain't gonna kill you.

Givem hell Tiger.

Jerry

Green-Pro
09-24-2004, 12:10 PM
So, suck it up, put on a clean shirt and pants, comb your hair, and go talk to them. Because they sure won't come to you first. And remember the hardest part of any sales call is getting out of your truck and actually walking through the door. After that it's all downhill. And what's the worst that they can do? They can't eat you and they ain't gonna kill you.

Givem hell Tiger.

Although I am not starting my actual business until after the first of the year, I am actively planning now, writing business plan, talking to CPA, checking liability and health insurance, license requirements, etc. etc. etc. Point is it seems to me the more time and preperation you put into it the more you will benefit, even with a lot of planning there will still be unseen variables. Think of it as building a house , wall , or some other such structure, and lay down a solid foundation on which to build upon.

At least thats how I am approaching it and I will leave nothing to chance, so I will advertise and I will knock on the doors of commercial properties and will continue to do so if for no other reason than to just get them to know who I am and what benefits I believe my service can provide for them.

Like I said I'm not actively operating yet but next spring when I am I want to be in the best possible shape hitting the ground that I can be in.

Green-Pro

GreenMonster
09-24-2004, 12:16 PM
Jayhawk,

I'm not a salesman either, but as many have said, it is a necessary "evil" if you're going to promote your own business.

Another option for letters is to join your local Chamber of Commerce, and they can often supply you with a mailing list of all members, typically in spreadsheet format. Obviously, almost all of the members in the chamber are local business, read commercial. You can then easily create mailing labels and send out your letters, introducing yourself and explaining your desire to bid or provide proposal for maintenance and/or landscape services.

HTH, Good luck.

Team Gopher
09-24-2004, 02:43 PM
Hi drsogr,

Here is an older post with a lot of helpful information.

Getting Commercial Accounts (http://server2.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=74266)

drsogr
09-24-2004, 09:20 PM
Well thanks for all of the info guys. I am going to try both methods, and see how each one works. Its not that I am afraid of getting out there and pounding the pavement, I just don't like the principal of it. I don't like "bothering" people. I can sell pretty well, I just don't like bothering people who don't want to be bothered. I figure if people need my service they will come to me. I guess I am probably going to have to change my attitude, or plan on having a small business.

LwnmwrMan22
09-25-2004, 05:22 PM
Well thanks for all of the info guys. I am going to try both methods, and see how each one works. Its not that I am afraid of getting out there and pounding the pavement, I just don't like the principal of it. I don't like "bothering" people. I can sell pretty well, I just don't like bothering people who don't want to be bothered. I figure if people need my service they will come to me. I guess I am probably going to have to change my attitude, or plan on having a small business.



How will they know you're out there to come to if you don't go out there first?

drsogr
09-25-2004, 09:59 PM
Well I guess that is where great advertising comes in. Kind of like Wal-mart, Sears, or even the place where you get your blades sharpened. Did they come to your door and personally ask you to use their services? They send you fliers, but up big signs, and you hear about them through word of mouth. I understand what you guys are saying, but I am trying to figure out a better way to reach a broader scope of people in a more effecient manner. Isn't that every businesses dream, to reach and sell to the most amount of people? I am not against doing whatever it takes to reach the customer.

jerryrwm
09-26-2004, 02:44 AM
Well, it seems to me that you have it set in your mind that you are not going to go knock on the doors.

Sure Sears sends out flyers and catalogs etc. But they had to start somewhere, and if you go back into their history, I think they might have had to do a little street pounding. Plus they had a product on their shelf that people were able to see and touch. Same with Walmart,Home Depot and all the other retail outlets. The mower shop has a place of business because that is where the actual service takes place.

You on the other hand are trying to provide a service to a customer that can only be purchased at their place of business. They are not going to go to your office to purchase service for their property.

If you really believe that the letters and flyers are going to have them knocking down your door and burning up the phone line, then that's the way you should go. But remember, you asked for suggestions and the concensus seems to be to go where the business is. Otherwise you might just be like that Maytag repairman, waiting for the phone to ring.

I hope it all works out for you.

LwnmwrMan22
09-26-2004, 07:38 AM
Well, it seems to me that you have it set in your mind that you are not going to go knock on the doors.

Sure Sears sends out flyers and catalogs etc. But they had to start somewhere, and if you go back into their history, I think they might have had to do a little street pounding. Plus they had a product on their shelf that people were able to see and touch. Same with Walmart,Home Depot and all the other retail outlets. The mower shop has a place of business because that is where the actual service takes place.

You on the other hand are trying to provide a service to a customer that can only be purchased at their place of business. They are not going to go to your office to purchase service for their property.

If you really believe that the letters and flyers are going to have them knocking down your door and burning up the phone line, then that's the way you should go. But remember, you asked for suggestions and the concensus seems to be to go where the business is. Otherwise you might just be like that Maytag repairman, waiting for the phone to ring.

I hope it all works out for you.

Yep, agree here.

My advertising budget = zero.

If I get new accounts, it's because of word of mouth.

However, it's taken me 16 years to get in this position.

Before, it was drive up and down areas of industrial parks, commercial areas, spending 2-3 weeks / time in the late winter, only to find out most already were lined up for the next year already.

Had to do it all again the following year.

drsogr
09-26-2004, 04:40 PM
Well, it seems to me that you have it set in your mind that you are not going to go knock on the doors.

Sure Sears sends out flyers and catalogs etc. But they had to start somewhere, and if you go back into their history, I think they might have had to do a little street pounding. Plus they had a product on their shelf that people were able to see and touch. Same with Walmart,Home Depot and all the other retail outlets. The mower shop has a place of business because that is where the actual service takes place.

You on the other hand are trying to provide a service to a customer that can only be purchased at their place of business. They are not going to go to your office to purchase service for their property.

If you really believe that the letters and flyers are going to have them knocking down your door and burning up the phone line, then that's the way you should go. But remember, you asked for suggestions and the concensus seems to be to go where the business is. Otherwise you might just be like that Maytag repairman, waiting for the phone to ring.

I hope it all works out for you.

I never said that I wouldn't go door to door. I just said that I didn't like the idea. I was trying to figure out different ways to get business. Everyone on here is saying go door to door. Am I to understand that this is the only method that work? It seems so. I appreciate all of your advice, and I plan to use it, otherwise I wouldn't have asked for it.

precisioncut
09-26-2004, 06:45 PM
I have noticed since I put my display ad in the yellow pages that I get calls to place bids. I figure they must be just going through and looking for the cheapest, like most others.

LwnmwrMan22
09-26-2004, 11:05 PM
I have noticed since I put my display ad in the yellow pages that I get calls to place bids. I figure they must be just going through and looking for the cheapest, like most others.

Exact reason I don't put ads out.

Most of the time you're returning phone calls for a bid, and when you pull up to the curb, you've got another LCO pulling away from the curb.

You walk the property, tell the owner you'll do it for $xx.xx and the owner says the guy that was just here was $5-10 cheaper, and if you'll do it for that, you've got the job, or he's gonna call the other guy back.

He'll end up calling the other guy back.

You'll have to advertise some to get started, but once you've got your business up and running, pay attention to the properties right around you.

Once you figure out which ones are hired up, hit them up, give them a price, don't be ashamed or nervous, or whatever.

HOOLIE
09-27-2004, 12:57 AM
I discovered that the county government center keeps a list of all the HOA's in the county, complete with contact names and addresses. Now a lot of the contacts have changed, but they usually use a PO Box, so you can send out a generic letter like "We'd be interested in submitting a maintenance bid if your contract is up for bid this season". We did this at my old job and got quite a few calls, and a few contracts. Only cost $5 for the list.

drsogr
09-27-2004, 05:39 PM
I discovered that the county government center keeps a list of all the HOA's in the county, complete with contact names and addresses. Now a lot of the contacts have changed, but they usually use a PO Box, so you can send out a generic letter like "We'd be interested in submitting a maintenance bid if your contract is up for bid this season". We did this at my old job and got quite a few calls, and a few contracts. Only cost $5 for the list.

Hey thanks for the heads up! I will look into that.

SCAG POWER
09-27-2004, 05:46 PM
Making cold calls is only half the battle. The other half starts when the manager comes up too talk with you. Lest say they do not as most will fall into this type of transaction. Then get their business card with this you can look them up in the property records and send additional information too the home they live at, some times it works and some times it don't.How ever you have made good try at contacting them. Then phone follow up ask them for a meeting. :help:

LwnmwrMan22
09-27-2004, 09:50 PM
Making cold calls is only half the battle. The other half starts when the manager comes up too talk with you. Lest say they do not as most will fall into this type of transaction. Then get their business card with this you can look them up in the property records and send additional information too the home they live at, some times it works and some times it don't.How ever you have made good try at contacting them. Then phone follow up ask them for a meeting. :help:


Personally, I would NEVER send info at their home address, unless they specifically asked for it. Almost seems like you're stalking the person.

Mower63
09-28-2004, 12:24 PM
My wife belongs to business networking groups. The goal is for all members to help each other grow their respective businesses. This seems to have worked much better for her than Chamber of Commerce (she does personal training). The 2 groups to which she belongs have a landscaper/lawn biz so I'm looking for one to join. BTW they only have one biz per type allowed so there is not competition within the group. Check your local paper business section (usually Mondays they list this info for meetings).

Cold calling is difficult but remember every 'no' is one more closer to a 'yes'. Commercial accounts are price focused but remember that a doctor or lawyer who is paying big lease $$ will complain to the PM if the grounds don't look good...check out the properties where the grounds look like the attention to detail is low...maybe they are cheap but maybe they're interested in talking to someone that can do a better job.

Check the government web sites for your area...school board, county departments, etc. They ALL use out side contractors for work. They will post RFQ's and schedules...additionally since this is public information you can usually get the prior contract bid summary and award information so you can check your pricing against previous bids for the same work!!! A word of caution though....you must understand the bid process clearly and have all the requisite documentation to provide proof of liability insurance, workman's comp, bond (if required), proof of comparable experience (they don't want to award work to someone who doesn't have the equipment or ability to service the requirement), etc. They also EXPECT you will reply in a format in which they are used to working with...no exceptions...and you will likely have to post a bid deposit along with your submittal. In the event you are not honest with the Government AND they find out you were not...they will have the right to fire you AND collect money from your company to reimburse them for the cost of finding another provider. Bottom line...you need to understand the responsibilities you are signing up for before you bid, otherwise you could find yourself in hot water.

In some larger cities there are services that specialize in working with your company to bid the government work (usually for a percentage of the total contract award, payable monthly) AND they will make sure all the i's and t's are dotted and crossed.

Sorry for the long post but my background is bidding government work so I know it can be a complicated process....however it will get easier with each one you bid.

cheers,

:cool:

CrownScapes
12-30-2011, 12:37 PM
Realize this thread is a bit old but what the heck, here is my 2 cents. Over the last 2 years it seems about 98 % of the bids given are a waste of time.

Last one given was earlier this year and wanted to ask for gas money for driving to meet him. The property owner wanted somebody who would show up weekly, do the work quoted, prune as needed etc. The company he was using and turns out is still using hadn't put down any straw yet and it was already June, had not returned phones calls and so on and so on.

The property was a total of 3 buildings - doctor, dental offices. So you can get an idea of all the edging, trimming with 3 acres of mowable grass with an extra 1/2 he wanted added.

Anyways, I gave my quote and he said no way I'm paying $75 more per month for service.

Honestly, I have found the most money is in the Residential market and stick with them mostly now.