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Foulball from left field

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by B2E, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. B2E

    B2E LawnSite Member
    from VA.
    Posts: 18

    Well it happened to me the first time today. I got hammered, and not from just a schmuck on the street with a wheelbarrow and shovel trying to make a dollar, but from a local mulch dealer.:mad:
    I bid the job at right at $3450.00. There is a little over 6,000 sq. ft. of bed space, mulch is running around $28.00 yd. I figured it to need 56 yds, for 3” coverage, that comes out to $61.50 yd delivered and installed.
    Long story short, when I arrived to deliver my bid, the owner requested some changes, additional coverage in some areas, and none in other areas, and added 250' of edging. Ran the #’s it came out real close to a push, so I let the bid stand. Less edging, which I figured at $150.00.
    Got the call today, the other bid was in $1650.00. I was amazed, the customer did provide me with some detail on the bid. The other company figured 30 “scoops”? Did not mention coverage depth. Now most around here have 1 ¼ yard buckets, that makes 37.5 yds. Hmmm, with 2” coverage over 6,000 sq. ft. equals 37 yds. Now, at $28.00 yd (which is what this dealer sells for) x 37 yds that’s $1036.00
    Could someone explain to me how you stay in business or make a profit if you are willing to haul and install for $16.00 yd? The edging is another matter I guess. And you really cant count the fact they get it at wholesale price and can pass it along, because that would have to be subtracted from what he could have sold it for on the market and never have to touch it.
    To make things even more interesting, I was going to by the mulch for this job from this dealer, as they are the nearest to the job site.
    There was supposable another bid that was even lower, I did not even inquire about that one. Just thanked them for the opportunity, wished them the best and chalked it up. I guess I will have to get used to this huh? I doubt it will be the last time.
  2. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    welcome to the business, there is always going to be someone who will do it for 50% less than you no matter what. I explain a few things about why my price is my price and if they understand they get more for there money with me I do the job. If they are dense and think that they can save themselves some money by having it done half-assed then I walk away
  3. 29 Palms Property Management

    29 Palms Property Management LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 347

    Yeah, you didn't get the job......good! Now hold your head up high knowing that you didn't do it for nothing, like the other one who got the bid. Screw that. You stuck to your guns, be proud of that. You will have many more like this in your lifetime.
  4. B2E

    B2E LawnSite Member
    from VA.
    Posts: 18

    Thats exactly what I did. Was very careful to answer all questions fully, and explain what I could and could not do. When I think about it, I guess I should have known something was strange when they were more interested in how many scoops it would take to make that many yards.

  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    You know this used to happen to me all the time, too.

    However, I can cover 6k with 30 cubes easy, at 45 / cube of standard that comes to 1,350.00
    My cost, 12.60 / cube and yes, it's about 1.25 yards / bucket from my guys too, usually but not always.
    If they want premium mulch, 1,650.00 ... LOL isn't that the other guy's bid?

    But by now they might as well go with designer mulch and a 60-day NO fade guarantee: 1,800.00
    With designer mulch it will last really almost a year before it fades at all (yes, I mean the color and yes, I can get it brown).
    That's 1-2 inches thick (or thin), you can barely do this with a rake, any thinner has to be done by hand or with a blower.

    For that amount, the edging is free... Yeah because I'm getting 25 / cube to spread plus 25 dollars per trip (30 cubes would take at least 6 trips).

    Learn to spread thin, best thing I ever learned to do.
    Yes, I know, but it's what they want... I've been selling thinly spread mulch for many years now.
  6. B2E

    B2E LawnSite Member
    from VA.
    Posts: 18

    Advice taken, lesson learned.

    One additional question, if you get it at $12.60 per yd. What is the standard rate down that way? I am going to be in Short Pump next week and several other times this summer. I'll bring my big trailer and stock up.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Ok, if you're going to Short Pump, check out Yard Works' Broad Street location, that's right in your corner.
    I get most of mine from their Powhatan location thou they also got a station in Amelia, Yard Works is where I get all my mulches, sands, rocks, gravels (they have a nice selection, prices are decent and so is the quality). They load you pretty decent, they don't usually skimp the bucket so you get a little over a yard per bucket and they're very consistent, too.

    What you do is get 'Nature's Choice' which is a Double-shredded fiber, that's the only mulch they have at 12.60 / cube and that's with a Landscaper's discount (10 percent), otherwise it's a little closer to 14 dollars. The double-shredded premium hardwood is closer to 20 / cube but quality-wise, Nature's Choice is a leeettle bit worse off but it's so much cheaper, it's worth it all the way around (to customers, too). If, by the time someone wants premium hardwood, you might as well have the customer spend the extra 5 dollars or so (per cube) and get Chestnut brown designer mulch, which is a REALLY nice dark brown looking mulch that does not fade, it stays that color for really at least 6 months, thou I give a 60-day no fade guarantee, it's really nice thou.

    The thing about Nature's Choice (double-shredded fiber), much like yourself I tore my hair out for some time with this low-balling crap but then I stopped getting mad and now I get even - It's a decent enough mulch, doesn't cost you an arm and a leg, and you make a profit while the customer gets what they wanted (a cheap price). You will find some customers willing to pay the higher amounts and I would hook them up with the good stuff, but other than that, Nature's Choice it is.

    Anyway, it's 105 Broad Street Road, 4 miles west of Short Pump on the left,
    here's a map:

    And here's the rest of their Web site with phone numbers and pics:
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Oh shoot, the discount is more than 10 percent...

    You can do it online, here: (You have to print and fax, not sure how that works exactly but it's worth it)

    You might can call them for this but if you go there, mention that you do this for a living, hopefully they can set you up so you can get the discount as a company but bring whatever proof of business you have (such as your Business License) with you.

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