Bidding on Apartment job?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lasher66, Nov 13, 2002.

  1. lasher66

    lasher66 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 395

    Hi,
    Currently I do about 50 residential by myself. Next year I plan on hiring 2 guys and taking on about 120 customers. Recently I have a buddy of mine whose wife is a lease agent at a Apartment complex ask me if I would be interested in giving a bid on it because the recent LCO contract is up. She told me the recent LCO was doing it for about $400 a cut and they were doing it twice a week for most the summer. First of all, would I be considered a lowballer since I will probably bid a little bit lower now that I know what they are paying? Second of all, these apartments are about 5 or 6 huge building that are scattered around the property and their is grass to me mowed all over the place. How would I even begin to bid on something like this without seeing how long it is going to take me first? Does anyone here mow apartments? How do you go about charging them and what do you tell them in the contract? I just didnt know if I should tell them I will mow it as needed or tell them I will cut it once a week all summer or twice a week the first half and then once a week the second half of summer. What do you guys do with commercial properties when it gets to that time of the year when the grass can go 3 or 4 weeks before they actually need cut? Do you treat commercial differently then residential? Sorry for so many questions , but I am so used to doing residential I just dont know how to going about being professional about taking on a commercial job like this. Thanks for any help given.

    Thanks
    Lasher
     
  2. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    When I first started cutting .... it seemed I always was trying to find out how much they got then bid a little lower than that ..... I'm NOT saying that is not OK ....because it was OK ...it got me work ....filled my weekly schedule

    Later as I fiqured out how much it cost me per hour (that includes the cost even when I was not working or lost time .....direct-indirect- overhead based on a 40 hour work week) ...than I started to bid according to MY cost of time .... next was to accually figure (estimate) how much time a job would take ....this will come with experience

    What I do is break jobs down into sections or areas that a task may be performed by one person in one hour ....than go from there ....thru time one can just look at a section of turf n know about the time it will take ..... look at the edging (measure at first so you have something to base experience on).....or the blowing or the hedging ....this all comes from my own on hands experience .....after doing these task day in n day out ....one get's a real good idea of how long it should take .... granted not all employees are "ideal"

    Later after performing the jobs ....keep notes of time ...so the next job you have something to look back on .... time is what this business is about not size of turf

    We do it different down here ....it's monthly billing 42 cut a year ....but I suspect ALL commercial no matter where in the country is based on Monthly billing .....Your contract have a "per cut price" than billing out invoices based on the number of cuts monthly or any extra time spent on the job site that month

    Good Luck ;->
     
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    It won't matter. Someone will STILL come in under you and you'll ba out in the cold in a year or so even if GET the job. Apartments are losing situations. They are about the only thing I know that the prices actually go DOWN in time. Even if it's a friend or something that is th leasing agent, eventually there will be a nephew of a manager's friend's second cousin that will bid the property. Like I said, a losing propostion.
     
  4. Alan Bechard

    Alan Bechard LawnSite Member
    Posts: 175

    My only suggestion is to insure that you add in a substantial PITA factor when doing your quote. The boss has done some Apartments / condo's and everytime swears she won't do it again. You are then dealing with a gazillion folks that leave stuff laying, put out dog chains, often there are a bunch of cars around you, more kids playing in the area that you are trying to mow, never fear, there will be someone working second or third shift trying to sleep when you come in to mow and he will have the ground floor apartment right where you park your truck and fire up the mowers LOL,

    While not trying to discourage you from bidding, just trying to say be aware, there are several additional hassel's involved with this type of mowing. Some of the risks are higher, just make sure that the pay that you recieve compensates you for the additional risk, liablilty and hassel.

    As to the price, try and forget about it, go look at the property and see the condition it is in, talk with the property manager to make certain you know most if not all the special conditions like you cannot mow on veterans day on the full moon with jupiter in the east, and what they do and do not like about their current service. Prepare your bid, then compare it to your inside knowledege of the current contract. Determine from there if you want to flex your price, sell a higher price for better service or such, or maybe just let it pass. You may also find that the current LCO is about to double his price because he bid it too low last time and honored his contract.

    Al B
     
  5. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    The one I've heard sooo many times is "my friends son just started a lawn service so we decided to give it to him" .... no matter how good a job your doing .... there is ALWAYS this back of the head worry or "when do I get fired"

    It's never good to but too much into one job ... so never become "dependent" on one jobs income
     
  6. LAWnENFORCER

    LAWnENFORCER LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    When I am asked to give an estimate on a large commercial prop, I ask them if they are willing to let me do the job so I can see how much time it will take and they can see my work. I usually give them a ball park $ figure.

    After you finish w/ the job give them your proposal and then have them sign the contract. If for some reason they don't take your bid then you still made something.

    This works well w/ people you know and I doubt it would work where there are several lco's trying to get the account.

    I think this approach is a win-win situation.

    Good luck

    Kevin
     
  7. Just Cut

    Just Cut LawnSite Member
    Posts: 158

    I agree with Runner apartments suck, They are always looking for someone to take advantage of
     
  8. One good way to get commercial properties if you know the manager is to simply give the manager a cut of the contract. This way not only are you going to get the work but at the highest amount that the manager can swing for you. If the manager can build in a extra few bucks for himself off the contrat them it is a win-win deal. Just make sure you chop up the money fairly if you want to get refferals.
     

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