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Attacking the commercial side

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by jds720, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. jds720

    jds720 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 346

    I need some tactics for going after commercial accounts. Mostly small businesses.

    How is it priced vs resi price?
    Door to door on the sales pitch?

    Any other suggestions would be great!
  2. TNT LawnCare Inc.

    TNT LawnCare Inc. LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,157

    1. Mostlty all wont hire you if you dont have Insurance.

    2. Grass is grass dont think just cause its a business your gonna charge them out the Wazoo ! Price the property like any other client .

    3. Some but not all will want the complete package,mulch,hedge trimming and fertalization on top of the mowing,ECT,ECT.

    4.You need to ask for the person who handles the property maintenace bids,or find who the ground belongs to. Like the leasing Company.

    5. You will find out that some commercials are just not worth it.

    6. There are more low ballers out in the commercial market then residential.

    7. Personally i like the residential market more.Thats just me.

    8.Dont bite off more then you can handle,good luck !
  3. mississippiturf

    mississippiturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 674

    ^^^ All good advice^^^ Just an added note. Was bidding on a home owner's association last month, they told me (managmant company) that I had to have workman's comp insurance and I work solo!! Like was said, some commercials just aint worth it.
  4. Ooomwizard

    Ooomwizard LawnSite Senior Member
    from atlanta
    Posts: 296

    I perfer nothing but commercials. I find them easier to service, the contracts are year around so I get paid monthly and there is always some add-on services that come around.

    Mainly, it's the efficiencies of scale that I like. To drive around all day starting and stopping at residences is terribly time consuming. I get paid more per hour on commercial by far.

    Worst part is - commercial accounts require a lot of bid writing and it's a long sales process.
  5. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    Not always true..........

    with us there is always risk managment, mainly People, then proptery, sometimes traffic comes into play......

    We have several accounts that require working in and around the street.
    we charge more for this "high risk" areas, sometimes we have to block streets. and foot trafic is a major PITA, it takes longer to complete projects.
  6. Kennedy Landscaping

    Kennedy Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,599

    Can you legally block off a road with your trucks? Or do you have to call in the 5-0?
  7. jrush

    jrush LawnSite Member
    Posts: 215

    I still don't get whats so great about commercial, you need more insurance, ($ out of your pocket) have a greater chance of a lawsuit, and the worst part is they normally go with the lowest bidder. Yes there are a few that actually give a damn about the property and are willing to pay for what they get, but more times than not, they want it cheap, it's a tax write off and let's face it, it's not their house.
  8. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,444

    Almost all of my work is commercial. Much of it Banks and the remainder is light industrial work.

    Banks are very picky.... and even though your contract is with the home or regional office, the "customer" is really each branch manager so you're doing different things at some branches than others... nevermind the contract.

    I've been doing 32 branches of the same bank for 6 years.... I've seen probably 45 new managers.... LOL. Many never say a word but some are just plain pains in the behind with the nit picking... some can't understand that you can't do every branch on the weekends.... so if the parking lot is full of cars it isn't going to get blown off as well as when the parking lot is empty etc.

    But they pay on time everytime.... I'm not making a "killing" off of them by any means... these contracts are hard to come by and every year 10-20 other guys are trying to take it from you... I lost this contract 4 years ago because I got underbid.... halfway through the season they fired the new company and asked me to finish the year...

    I've not been "underbid" by a "qualifying bid" since.... seems the lady that lets the contracts "disqualifies" most of the bids....

    The light industrial accounts are the best.... no busy streets, rarely a parking lot issue and so long as the place looks good never a complaint. However, they all pay slow... usually 30-45 days behind. My margin is also much better on these jobs.

    Most guys love residential jobs but I try to only keep a few... If I could, I wouldn't have any. Too many narrow gates, crap left in the yards and wives who scream everytime a blade of grass gets into a flower bed. Too many fences to trim.... etc etc.

    Most of the commercial accounts let me round up the fence lines.... curbs and sidewalks can be edged with a string trimmer..... etc. In addition I always talk them into buying fully grown but slow growing shrubs so the trimming is light and seldom....

    I don't work for mortgage companies (foreclosures) or local government agencies.... they're a pita to deal with, very slow to pay and half the county is low balling them with bids....

    Granted it's MUCH easier to get residential accounts... but I'd rather be collecting from 20 customers than 200... I've had many issues with residential customers being behind on their accounts.... and with the economy in the state it's in right now that's only going to get worse.

    My best advice to a newbie residential guy is beware of older folks... they don't read the contracts and even when they do they don't understand them (and mine are all in plain english). You'll always be asked to do this and that that isn't in the contract and they don't want to pay for it....

    The best residential sales are the mow, blow and go UNLESS you have several helpers to do the weeding, hedge trimming etc. while you're cutting.

    The most successful small guys around here are the ones that have a bunch of accounts real close together on the mow, blow and go contracts.

    I spent way too much time explaining why fertilizer, weed killer, insecticide and fungus spray cost so much to single moms and old folks.... And in this area many home owners want the clippings bagged and removed.... this is very costly and by lunch time you can have a trailer full of clippings.... only 1 landfill within 30 minutes drive and they have a $20 minimum charge.

    Insurance... in this state if you have 5 or less employees you're not required to carry it (workers comp) However, ALL commercial accounts here require it anyway.... even if you're a one man show. You guys that are paying it know that it's a huge expense.. but you can't bid on a commercial job without it as they want the insurance cert. up front with the bid.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  9. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,964

    From my experience, it's who knows YOU. My business started out residential and then a 50/50 split commercial. Now it's 50 commercial 30 municipal and 20 residential. I turn residentials down.
    Keep your eyes and ears open for anything. Monitor the web and newspapers for bid potentials. Municipal work is great. It's defined and they pay very well, 15 days.
    I was forced to up my vehicle insurance to 1 mil and I also had to buy a ghost workmans comp policy.
    Thank goodness for Erie, I was able to get everything in one place.
    Workmans comp, business liability and business auto.
    By the way, my ghost policy is only $750 a year. Tony
  10. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,214

    In my neck of the woods, the lowballer's would make you puke. They bid out commercial work at $28.50/man hour. I don't know how these guys are making money. It's like they're hogging all the work, while scarcely pulling a profit - just to hold market share and spite the rest of us...

    I do about 20% commercial work. I like it. No nagging, can work way early or way late. But, as Tharrell mentioned, those accounts are mostly b/c I know people... otherwise my pricing would've been laughed at.

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