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  #241  
Old 12-29-2011, 06:15 PM
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idealscape idealscape is offline
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Location: Holly Springs, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawnpropm View Post
Thanks ill have to check that out! When you said you will bid on jobs that are feasible what do you mean exactly? I remember you said you guys do travel some? Is that the factor distance? Or the contractor? On the jobs you do bid what would you say your win ratio would be to the number of jobs you bid?
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Feasible as in will they fit into our already busy schedule. Also, we are fortunate enough to have a minimum sized project that we will take on. We really try and focus on jobs that are large enough that other contractors will not either want or be able to bid.

Our Installation division will travel as far as needed, but sometimes if the job is large enough we will rent a facility and set up a remote location until the completion of the project. We also try and hire local employees when those jobs come around as well. We have a job on Fort Bragg coming up, we are hoping to hire some off duty military guys to help with it.

Most of our large projects take several years to complete. They are installed in phases and require us to pull of site for weeks at a time while other contractors are completing their part of a project. Our largest residential style installation (neighborhood entrance with 3 mile parkway) took 1.5 years to complete the first phase of grading, irrigation (6 miles of potable and 11 miles of reclaimed...thats where the big trencher came in handy) followed by another 9 months of plant and turf material. Novartis our largest project to date was started in 2008 and we are still working on new phases of it as we speak. They own 137 acres and have only developed 33 of them. We hold the master service agreement for that property...basically if they need anything from a new parking lot, to removing pallets from the loading dock, dumpsters for another sub contractor or a tent for a party...we handle it.

Recently we have had a pretty high "win" ratio on the Installation projects. We bid 11 this year and won 7 of them. 3 have been for a contractor that is building new schools for the school system. The schools are built off of a master plan around here, so once you build one you get your P&L down to a science and have a pretty good idea of what you need to bid the next one for. We will be doing (2) next year, both are a full landscape and athletic fields with irrigation. One has a 6 acre retention pond that the entire site drains to. I will say that the #'s on that pond alone are the majority of our install price.
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  #242  
Old 12-29-2011, 10:38 PM
jmacd jmacd is offline
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Location: Upstate New York
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What great read. Really enjoyed your story. We do not have many large landscape companies here but do have large GC's and site work companies.

Do you self perform all your site work? I see you own a dozer but site work involves so much more. Dump trucks, larger excavators, rollers etc especially when installing large retention ponds. You could use a good excavation company to team up with for those projects.

A few posts back you answered a question on how to bid larger install projects. You said you work with GC's on a bid basis.

We belong to the local builders exchange here and they post all the new projects up for bid across the state daily. We can also access on line plans to do our take offs and on line spec books. You can also order plans from them that they mail us the next day. We also can access all the project information about bidding the project to include bonding, engineers,owners, who's bidding etc.

The service is one the smartest things to belong to and couldn't do with out it. I highly recommend it.

When I started out I contacted every GC in my area and made a appointment to introduce myself to them. Ask if they would put me on the bid list. I also informed them of the size of my company and what size projects I would be comfortable doing. I did not over sell my company so we didn't get asked to bid projects we could never do because of size. The commercial work takes at least 60 days to get your first check so your own cash flow is a must.

After some time working with GC's we could bid projects on our own as long as you could get the bonding needed.

The money flows much quicker but you are the GC to the owner eliminating a step in the payment process.

Sorry for the long post but this could help to explain to someone not familiar on how to get started doing commercial bid work.
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  #243  
Old 12-30-2011, 12:27 AM
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calvinslawnservices calvinslawnservices is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Grand Rapids MI
Posts: 513
Ideal,

That is a lot better, The general public wouldn't have taking the time to look for the link. Also there is a site that you can install on your page and you can then see where people are clicking. I will try and find it for you.
Another member posted above asking if you had attended college and what degree you received. I was wondering the same thing.

Calvin
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Toro Grandstand 60"
(2) Husky Backpack Blower BT150
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  #244  
Old 12-30-2011, 02:42 AM
Cloud9Landscapes Cloud9Landscapes is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Ca
Posts: 542
:)

I just read this entire thread, and you sir are truly an inspiration to me. I too was expecting another "Here's my fall leaf cleanup rig" thread.

I really like what you have to say about building a relationship with a client, I will try to remember the importance of this as my business continues to grow. You obviously handle every manner in a orderly, business-like fashion and that has gone a long way for you.
This thread has really made me consider a lot of things in which I could improve on.

"Never "half-ass" something because you took a job too big for your britches"
That right there is a really valuable piece of information. Wish I had known that in the beginning!

What did you do before starting Ideal landscapes?
What exactly did you start out with?
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  #245  
Old 12-30-2011, 07:01 AM
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idealscape idealscape is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Holly Springs, NC
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I think if you'll look back I answered the college question. The only degree here is an associates for our VP. Other than that, we all attended college, but nobody finished a degree.

Before Ideal Landscaping? Hard to remember back then...basically working for other landscape companies in my younger years. This has always been a passion for not only me but everyone here, we really have a committed group of guys in our upper management and it spills over to the guys in the field.

Started out with picks, shovels, rakes about 3 day laborers and an '86 Ford Dump truck.
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  #246  
Old 12-31-2011, 02:13 AM
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calvinslawnservices calvinslawnservices is offline
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Location: Grand Rapids MI
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Ideal,
Do you feel that not having finished college has helped or hindered your business? I am currently attending college for a bachelors in business management, but I feel that It is truly a waste of my money. I am learning a lot of business techniques and problem solving from lawn site and other business books. Sorry if the question is too personal, I am striving to grow my business to the size of yours or a local company http://www.djslandscape.com/ that is similar in size to yours.

Thanks for your advice and wisdom on this site.
Calvin
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2008 Ford F-250
7*12 Single axle trailer
Toro Grandstand 60"
(2) Husky Backpack Blower BT150
Stihl Handhelds
and American Muscle

www.Platinumlandscapemanagement.com
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  #247  
Old 12-31-2011, 10:26 AM
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idealscape idealscape is offline
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Location: Holly Springs, NC
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I would say that with the world the way it is now, if you don't have much more to complete the degree go ahead and finish. I know my children are and will get degrees. I wouldn't put any of our companies success on the shoulders of getting or not getting an education. We we're in the right place at the right time. I do have a strong belief that years of skilled experience far outweigh a piece of paper, but then again many others don't. You never know what's going to happen, always give yourself a safety net. If you can finish, do it. You'll be happy you did.
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  #248  
Old 12-31-2011, 10:39 AM
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idealscape idealscape is offline
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Location: Holly Springs, NC
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Anybody can grow a company to the size of ours or others. You just have to have patience, the ability to learn and adapt, the understanding that your employees are just as important as you are to the company but most importantly the understanding that it isn't always easy. This is a pretty crappy economy that we are in right now. A lot of people think they can buy a truck, a lawn mower, a stingtrimmer and blower, and shortly after be making their first million. It doesn't happen that way. It takes YEARS and more years to do that. You have to have the mind set that you are going to succede no matter what and that you will provide the client with the best service possible. The only way to do that is to grow at a pace that prohibits you from ever upsetting a client. Don't forget about your first clients, never put anyone on the backburner because you were too busy working on a project that was too big for you.

I could go on and on, and I will, I promise. I get into situations every now and then where I learn or realize something. I need to start writing them down so I can share them with everyone on here. For right now though it's almost 70* here in NC so I am going to spend the day with the family around the farm.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2012 brings you all the success you can handle.
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  #249  
Old 12-31-2011, 01:57 PM
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calvinslawnservices calvinslawnservices is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Grand Rapids MI
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I have the same belief that skilled experience highly out ways any piece of paper any day of the week. I have seen several examples of this in my short working career. I also have the belief that I will succeed and to achieve that I need to take the advice of people in the place that I would like to be in.

To be honest, I will continue to read what you write and try to apply it to my own business and I'm sure many people will do the same. These are the people that will help raise the lawn care business to a great professional career.

Calvin
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2008 Ford F-250
7*12 Single axle trailer
Toro Grandstand 60"
(2) Husky Backpack Blower BT150
Stihl Handhelds
and American Muscle

www.Platinumlandscapemanagement.com
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  #250  
Old 12-31-2011, 01:58 PM
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Turfdude Turfdude is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idealscape View Post
Everything stays on the truck, this picture was taken after we had some equipment stolen and started leaving all the handhelds in the shop while upgrading security system. Nothing is taken off trucks at night.

But yes, to answer your question, each truck is color coded, if you look closely you will see that the blowers have different paint marks on them. This is to ensure nobody is moving equipment from truck to truck. It keeps the guys honest.
We began doing this years ago & is a great idea for several reasons. Crews take better care of "their" equipment. You can see which if any crews abuse equipment. If 6 trimmers go out & 1 is short at the end of the day, you know who was responsible!! Hopefully at end of day, they top-off all equip, fill w/ trimmer line, new edger blades, stuff lubed, sharpened, etc. Before we did this I noticed some guys would grab stuff that they new was serviced the night befor & ready to go (which would tick off the crew who took the time to do this the night before, and then had to do it again the following morning).
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