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How to bid?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Piedmontbrothers, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. Piedmontbrothers

    Piedmontbrothers LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    Me and my brother recently started up our own lawn business were looking to get commercial clients, but have no idea where to start. We are leaning more toward commercial just for the contract perspective. How do we go about finding businesses to bid on and how do we bid? Do we need to bid with proposal letter or contract? or both? Also does anyone know of any websites that help you make contracts and proposal letters I am lost on it all.
  2. Utah Lawn Care

    Utah Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

  3. twomancrew

    twomancrew LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 940

    Welcome aboard.
    I wanted to see what others say as much as tell you what I do. I call. I call. I call. I drive too. Call and ask for permission to bid. Some companies will have a vendor packet and some businesses will allow you to sign a vendors list. The vendors list is the easiest way because any work going to bid you will be alerted to and asked for a bid. Those are rare. 1:8 maybe have an actual vendor packet. The rest it's all up to you. When you find a manager/owner who will talk to you face to face tell them you are new, you can mow grass like a mad man, and you need help finding work. Some will embrace you and you will get work.
    Are you near an interstate highway? Those large gas stations almost always have a vendor sheet you can sign up for. Pilot and Road Ranger and Flying Js are all the same, and they use this system. Those jobs seem to go really cheap here. That's some valuable free advice for you-now get on that phone and get busy!
  4. Jobber

    Jobber Sponsor
    Posts: 338

    For bidding I have seen these guys a lot: http://goilawn.com/

    And I have seen a lot of window cleaners use this: http://responsibid.com/

    They are both websites for helping with bidding and proposals. goiLawn can help with doing the pricing as well and to me looks like its more geared toward commercial work.

    Hope those might be able to help you.
  5. Piedmontbrothers

    Piedmontbrothers LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    Thanks guys for all the advice. I will be on the phone all day tomorrow calling potential clients.
  6. twomancrew

    twomancrew LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 940

    When I spend time calling new accounts I set a goal like "I will get one OK to bid or I won't stop calling people". Then when I get the OK I go right to it before the guy who doesn't know me from Adam has a chance to forget me. Just me and my ways, I don't know sales much.
  7. KyCompass

    KyCompass LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Just starting this year and I am in need of some pricing advice. I have been a District manager of sales and service with a Nationwide security company for the last 10 years and do not have much experience in this industry, my brother has been working for a small company for the last 3 years, so I am leaning on him for tips on the mowing side of things and now I need some help on the business end. I have to make this work as I have dumped my severance into this business. The upside is I have no overhead, I already have a website www.compasslawncare.com and quite a few leads on bids and residential yards. I just don't have a starting point on pricing except minimums per residential yard (IE trimming, acreage, apartments), any help would be much appreciated. Thanks ahead of time
  8. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,670

    Well…you've been a sales and service guy before… so things like overhead, profit and revenue generation shouldn't be new to you.

    The concepts are all still valid.

    work backwards.
    How much money do you need to be valid?
    How many hours do you have to sell in a season.
    Divide big number by small number.
    this will give you a vague $/hr to start at (I can't be more specific because each operation is different.)

    As an example let's say you need to make 40,000$ a year.
    you costs are $20,000 per year.
    So you need to generate $60,000 in revenue.
    You calculate that in kentucky, you can sell 1800 hours of your time in a season.
    this basic math means you need to charge at least $34/hr to achieve that (this isn't rock solid but its basic)

    So then you need to pick your relatives brain…how long does X take with Y mower.

    10,000 sq ft lawn?
    30,000 sq ft lawn?
    one acre?

    get him to give you rounded production rates.

    Then measure your lawns.

    Length times width gives you square feet.

    If he tells you with the mower you have it will take 2 hours to mow an acre… and you have a lawn that's 50,000 square feet… you know it will be more than 2 hours, right?

    Back out the math.
    1 acre - 43560
    1 acre = 2 hrs.
    2 hrs= 120 minutes
    so 1 sqft = .0028 minutes
    multiply that factor by 50,000 sqft
    137.74 minutes
    divide by 60 minutes in an hour
    2.29 man hours
    multiply by your hourly rate
    $34 x 2.29 =$77.86
    that's what you charge for that lawn, $77.86

    thats basically how its done by real professionals… only each company, in each area with different equipment will have different production rates and different calculations for their $/hr.

    So no two companies will be exactly the same.
    Over the course of owning your business, collect data, how long different lawns take, how much you really spend on things like repairs, and fuel and insurance.

    IF you survive the first three years of business, you've either been throwing your life savings at this OR you've figured out your production numbers and costs.

    BUT the information I have given you will be enough to price the first few lawns…on a very basic rudimentary scale…until you correctly find your own production rates and properly assess your $/hr… this is best, or rather only way, to start.
  9. KyCompass

    KyCompass LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Thanks TPendegast, Just a little overwhelmed with everything but the more I read and post the better it all seems to get. I keep calling all the apartment complexes in the area and they all tell me it is to early to submit bids or for them to send out bid packets. I am pounding the streets in the neighborhoods just door to door leaving flyers and talking to potential clients. Does anyone do contracts for residential customers? A few of the guys at the local mower shop say they do year round contracts for mowing, yard clean up (Leaves, Sticks etc.) and snow removal for the driveways and they do a monthly charge instead of a single charge per service so they have year round income.
  10. Kleen Kutz

    Kleen Kutz LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ama,La
    Posts: 1,611

    I also think it's best to visit them in person rather the by phone. That way you can make eye to eye contact and they can't hide behind the phone. Once you met them in person then you can follow up with a phone call. Maybe somebody say it already in the thread I don't know, but that's my thought.

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