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Condo Developement

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Simone Lawn Service, Dec 20, 2002.

  1. Simone Lawn Service

    Simone Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Posts: 158

    I have ran my part time lawn service by myself for four years now, using help on large storm/fall clean up jobs when I need to. And have been happy making some extra cash and the satisfaction of having my own business (even though it's small) is a nice thing. I really had no plans to expand until either I have kids and they are interested in the business or until I retire. Right now I can pretty much "pick and choose" my accounts-thats kind of nice. Yesterday I was informed that a newer villa developement in my city was unhappy with last years lawn maintenance provider and they are looking for a new lawn service (preferably a smaller lawn service). It seems the first company really took them for a ride on pricing and service. There are 31 lots as of now (all small) and a fair amount of common area to be mowed. I sub all my fert/weed control out and mulching and shrub trimming would be done on an individual basis if desired. I'm trying to decide if this would be a good thing for me. I would definitely need get at least one more large mower (I only have a 48" Great Dane and a Honda HRC 215 19") and I would also need a person to help me do this account-I'm fairly sure myself and another person could handle it in a day. An account of this size is really hard for me to bid. I talked with them today and their board meets Dec.29 th to make a decision for next season's lawn maintenance. I can work up the bid by then, but should I bid it low to make my move up (he said they would probably go with the lowest bid). I would probably also have to get a bigger trailer and drop several of my other residential accounts that are spread all over the city. This seems like it would be a nice account (snow removal next year? etc.) but you guys have all the expierience with these bigger accounts-what do you think?:confused:
     
  2. stevo22

    stevo22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 344

    although i do not personally have an account this big here is how i would handle your situation...i would ask if i could mow it once to get a better idea of how long it would take...you can even do this during the non growing season...after that i would then mutiply my rate that i wanted and also add in the cost of an additional ee...do you bid a little lower----no!!!!let's say you can cut this property in approx 5hrs and charge 350 a cut...that is 35hr for two people working...how much can you and one ee bring in in 5hrs...we average right at 85-110hr for cutting residential yards that are close together...so it would not be worth underbidding your time just to get this account when you can prob make more cutting res's in the same amount of time...to make a long story short make it worth your time and do not underbid what your time is worth...
     
  3. crazygator

    crazygator LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,048

    Do you feel like your work is worth a lower price? If you know you do great work, then you need to be paid what its worth.

    Mid way this season I had a friend remember I do lawn maintenance. She told me her small condo unit was looking for a change. So I talked to the man in charge, got the spec list and went to look. I measured everything off and made my bid. I got the job within 2 weeks of the bid, and this was supposed to be for next year. I am happy with where it is, they are happy to have it looking good, done when they want it, and be able to communicate with me (which was a problem with the other company's workers).

    Long story short, one day when talking to one of the gals on the association she tells me I was actually cheaper on the cutting maintenance than the other guys. I did not take this as offensive, due to looking it over, measuring it all off and knowing the pricing structure for this area.

    Go look it over, estimate a correct bid and turn it in. You just never know what may happen. Just dont bid it cheap to get the work. That is not a professional way to do business. And if you do get it you wont like it due to always telling yourself "Man I should have bid higher. It takes too long blah blah blah". Dont ever sell yourself short. If your high, you can always come down. If your low you cant always just raise it up.
     
  4. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Posts: 3,256

    Well, I don't have personal experience with larger accounts like this, but when I see things like "I will have to buy more equipment, drop some current customers, and take on a helper for this account" followed up with, "they said they will probably take the lowest bid" doesn't sound like something I'd want to get into myself.

    What if you do all this and the following season they take the new lowest bidder?
     
  5. nlminc

    nlminc LawnSite Bronze Member
    from GA
    Posts: 1,671

    Condos and HOA's in my area are always looking for the lowest price and that's all they care about, there's usually no loyalty.....I second the previous post. Stay away! Try to pick up 5 more high end residential account next season, you'll be better off and I will bet they won't bid you out year after year.
     
  6. Tim Enix

    Tim Enix LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    Well I can tell you what I went through this past season with a condo association. It was a nightmare everyone wanted things done different. Example cut at different lengths and so on. The politics in this subdivision was unbelievable. Needless to say I am dropping this account this next season. Good luck in what ever you decide.
     
  7. Russ

    Russ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 539

    Better spend some time thinking about it.

    Will I be able to improve the service of the prior LCO and still keep my FT. job?

    Can I bid low and afford more equipment & hired help?

    They had a problem with price & service with the last LCO, will my price & service be under a microscope?

    I feel Condo's & Appt. Bldgs. are the most difficult mowing jobs you can take on, and they should be priced accordingly. Even if you do price properly they are still PITA's, and there comes a time when the money just isn't worth it. Russ


    P.S. I have heard of over priced mowing, but I have never, never, not once, actually seen anything overpriced. I have seen poor quality & service.
     
  8. Simone Lawn Service

    Simone Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Posts: 158

    After some serious thought and reading the advice and opinions you have given I've decided not to pursue next season's lawn contract for the condo complex. The "what happens next year when your not the lowest bidder" really made me think-what then? I don't think I'm ready to get "big" yet anyway.

    Thank Guys!:cool:
     
  9. little green guy

    little green guy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 955

    Condos are A PAIN IN THE REAR, the reason they are so bad is:
    1) it's not like working for one residetial customer or a
    commercial client, you are working someplace where alot
    off people live and it's IMPOSSIBLE to ever make them all
    happy. Just like residetial customers have certain
    quircks that you learn about when you service them so do
    people that live in condos but instead of 1 or 2 people in
    a residetial house there are 150 people to please
    (or however many units theere are.)
    2) Condo assosiations always want the lowest price no
    matter what they tell you. But then they always complian
    that they want better service. They don't seem to get the
    idea of LOW PRICE = POOR QUALITY
    3) loyalty :dizzy: whats that???

    I bid condos high and don't get many, and the ones that I do get I don't plan on having for more that a year or two ( or however long the contract is for) Bid high, make the money while your there then move on to the next one.
     
  10. lbmd1

    lbmd1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 462

    There's nothing much else to say except that all the advice above is right on. They all know from EXPERIENCE to shy away and not get involved with HOA's. Not to mention spending $ on new equipment and hiring help. Go with what nlminc said and pick up a few more high end residentials who will be more loyal to you. By all means listen to these guys, you won't be sorry.

    Mike
     

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