Bidding help!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by LawnboysInc, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. LawnboysInc

    LawnboysInc LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Posts: 6

    We've been mowing for about 3 years now, plowing for 5. We've been trying to grow and get some large businesses. Well we just can't get our prices right or something, our flyers and bid forms and such are great. We've had compliments on the quality, so it's not our presentation. Here's the big one, an apartment complex, about 200 acres total with 50-60 bldgs. Lots of trimming, sidewalks roads etc. edging. We've bid on it the last 2 years. We figure it cost about $30 ph to operate. What would you charge? I've tried to get what they paid before, I'm not sure they're telling the truth cause we STILL didn't get it. We've went higher and lower.

  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I think it's a bit of a numbers game, I might recommend starting with something smaller, more in the range of 2-4 acres and 3-4 buildings and 100-200 offices / apartments / etc...

    I mean, unless you regularly bid these x-large props... Doesn't have to be teenie tiny, but start SMALLER lol.

    I dunno, it's just weird, but it's not price alone, that much I've learned.
  3. LawnboysInc

    LawnboysInc LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Posts: 6

    We've been doing smaller lots, but they aren't paying the bills. We are going full fledge full time in the Spring and have to make it pay the bills. We are only part time now, with a full time job elsewhere. We have the equiptment to do it, we just need to jobs. Seems every year we bid tons and get a few. Can't figure out how to break into the market better. We took over our small town for plowing, but are trying to move into a new town for mowing, than eventually plowing as well.
  4. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    Welcome to the lucrative world of "lawn mowing". Lesson #1...Stay away from apartment complexes I don't know what the draw is, but this is the category of commercial work that gets the absolute most bidding traffic. This is why there is no loyalty in apts., either. You can work your tail-end off for 2 or 3 years for a complex, and they will drop you like a bad habit to save 20 bucks a month. Where abouts in Mich. are you?
  5. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,563

    you seem to have it in your mind that the large properties are more lucrative???

    the larger the property the thinner the margins. stay with smaller properties if you can. We do a lot of large properties, but they are very high end contracts that this company has maintained for 15 or more years.

    getting into these types of contracts for large properties can only be done by you having good verifyable experience with this type of property
  6. LawnboysInc

    LawnboysInc LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Posts: 6

    I don't think you make more off the large places, it's just less driving, loading, unloading etc. and it evens out. Maybe we need to rethink our strategy. Several small places in one day is better than one large one. We do alot of cold contacts with them to get our foot in the door, than bug them till they say no. Well not everyday, LOL.. But we follow up, and keep in touch. We've had good luck with the plowing like that. We work as a team and give it all we've got

    We are in the Lansing area.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    I also believe the smaller properties can produce a better per hour return, you said it your self. $30 per hour, so most will bid out at 35 to 40, I was around 40 for the big stuff and up closer to 55 for the smaller lots.
    much easier to get $35 for a 1/2 hour job than $1600 for a 40 hour one, at least in my experience

    And than the big problem-- mess up the bid and it can hurt really bad!!
  8. ACutAbovesiny

    ACutAbovesiny LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 590

    I agree with you PM. If you make a mistake with those big bids it can kill you. We bid on a condo complex this year (didnt get it) and after the other bid was accepted I realized I made a HUGE mistake that if we got the job we would have lost about $1,200 for the year. I was pretty happy that we lost that one after I caught my mistake.
  9. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812

    like joe said plus if you do lose it for what ever reason and you bought extra equipment it can sink you. You lose a small one you still eat.
  10. LawnboysInc

    LawnboysInc LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Posts: 6

    Well that makes me feel better, we aren't necessarily doing something "wrong" just focusing on the wrong ones. That helps ALOT! Thanks

    So another question, how persistant should we be about a particular job? I personally like calling people up, tell them I'm just following up, wondered if they made a decision yet. Not pushy or anything, just letting them know we're still here and waiting. How important and effective is having a website? And where do you suggest I look to get one. I think I can run it if I have a host, still a little confused on the whole website thing. I have a few on MSN for family but not a business one.

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