1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Not to worry. Check out the archived thread of the Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns, and the LawnSite community in the Franchising forum .

    Dismiss Notice

Is it a dream or nightmare?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Mar 7, 2003.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    OK I was contacted by a local bank big-wheel. He said "I've seen and like your work. I'm not sure the bank can afford your services. But anyways, I'd like to get some some full service landscape proposals from you for the 2 local banks I'm in charge of." So we scheduled a meeting.

    During the meeting I asked what he wanted included in the proposal. He said "well, even though they are far from it, I'd like to get both places in perfect condition. Type up your professional opinions & suggestions about what needs to be done for annual service to put both places in perfect condition & submit it when you are finished."

    So I went out and inspected both locations. My overall first impression was cha-ching $$$$!!!! I typed up a maintenance schedule and called him back for a meeting. We sat down and I went over all the aspects of what I put together for him. Then I told him "review all that I have put together, compare it to what is currently being done, hash it out & decide from all that what services you wanted included."

    Recently he called to notify me that he had made some decisions and had a list prepared for me. So we set a meeting for today so that I could pick up the list. I also went ahead and planned to measure the properties today so I could put together a proposal ASAP.

    When I got there I was extremely surprised. I came with clipboard in hand to take notes only to find he had typed up a 3 page document detailing all that he wanted included in the proposal. I had not scheduled time to proof read a 3 page document. So I took it kindly and went ahead with my measuring.

    Both properties were very detailed and it took quite some time to measure things off. After really getting out there all over the properties, I realized I seriously mis-judged things with my earlier quick inspections.

    Even though it's 1.3 acres, there is a lot less turf and a lot more landscaping than I 1st thought on one property. Actually the turf area is smaller than I generally accept and the landscaping area is larger than I generally take on. On the other, there is a ton more turf than I thought. There is actually a section of 12,000 sq ft that I didn't know was a part of the property. But that's good. The snag came when I got out back and around the side. I realized there is a deep valley with 2 steep sides surrounding the rear and side parking.

    To add to it, when I got back to the office with all my data and sat down to go over his document I found the following. He laid the document out in detail from start to finish. There was extreme detail about everything as I had put in my suggestions I presented to him. He took most everything I suggested for full service less only a few things like bi-weekly edging instead of weekly, less the January fert app, ect. But he also added some things to weekly and bi-weekly service that I suggested be done as needed. I'm guessing these are things he thought were particularly good ideas?

    The only bad thing is that I kind of feel like a fish out of water on this one now! I am out of my normal realm on one of the properties. Some things like leaves are in the document as a numbered visit service. I always have that part as an open ended extra service not included in the contract. I also charge regularly for "as needed" services and only actually do them when needed. I do this to cover my backside on new properties when I'm not sure just how often an "as needed" service will need to be done. This way I break even if it's often and I make a little if it's rare. Or I do not include the "as needed services" and bill for them separately as the need doing and I do them. This is one thing I do to lower my overall bid at times.

    Also he has requested that I include and supply materials in the contract. That is not a normal practice for me either. I don't include materials and supplies in annual contracts because it drives up the contract price. Plus the prices for materials and supplies fluctuate over time. I don't like eating the increases. So I bill them separately as extras.

    I Know maybe I shouldn't worry so much because I'm getting the full service 12 month deal here. But have a lot of time invested here and I'd hate to turn off someone who's sold on the annual full service with what they might think is a staggering price. Sometimes it takes a lower bid to get them, then the add-ons for the rest. Once they have the service 1 year it's much easier to see the value.

    Now I'm not so sure rather this deal is dream or a nightmare....

    (I'll come back later for help. My fingers are tired)
  2. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    Obviously this could hurt you or help you in big ways. The visability of the properties by the general public is great so your presence and work will be advertising for you.
    I don't know what to tell you as far as the detailed contract except that it may seem like its out of your comfort zone but truthfully, anything is possible. If there are problems because you werent sure of the property boarders then you have a reason to talk to the guy and explain that your initial impression of the property was different than described.
    You have to cover your expenses and I guess that is where you have to put the pencil to the paper and see if you will be profitable with the properties. Like you said after a year of service they will see the real value. Its up to you to really shine on this one. Just remember all the people that are going to walk into and drive by those banks. That exposure is great especially if you are taking some rough properties and making them look great. I wish you luck.
  3. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,183

    If you under estimated one and over estimated the other then shouldn't it work out in the long run?

    Sounds like you have an opportunity to really promote your services and make a statement about your quality of work. I wouldn't pass on it so quickly. It always seems that if your doing a business like that then there are one or two more that work inside that are using the same guy...........could lead to more profitable work.

    Have you priced it yet?

    Can't beat a 12 month contract even if it's close to your usual and customary pricing.

    Why fert in Jan.?
  4. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    It sounds to me like the problem you have with this deal is an inability to add on extras as you go.

    They want to know exactly how much it is going to cost them.

    It would be impossible for them to set an accurate budget if they don't know what the service contract will cost if you can add to it later. If you knew anything about corporate types you would know that they hate not knowing what something will cost.

    You are fortunate enough to have someone (the manager) who is noticing what you have missed in your bid and is pointing it out. These specifics would no doubt have been included in the contract.
  5. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Yes, visibility and high quality immaculate work is my method of advertising. That's how I got the "invitation" to bid these properties in the first place. That's how it has been for me since I got my first account in a high traffic area. I went after that particular account at that time because I knew my work would stand out from the crowd and speak for itself. I haven't had to ask opportunities to bid since. They seek me out.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    Sounds like a nightmare to me. You're already finding surprises and haven't even got the job yet. No offense, but if you think you're in over your head, you probably are.
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    No I haven't priced the job yet.

    On the first account I under estimated the amount of landscaping and over estimated the amount of turf. I gave both properties the quick once over to check the general condition and make suggestions for what I thought should be included in an annual contract to bring them up to my standards. So I was paying more attention to condition than volume really. But I did draw false conclusions. That's why I always measure before pricing.

    I can't see how some folks just shoot from the hip on pricing and come out. But I guess I'm no good at that because I have always measured everything right down to the last sq ft, eliminating the need for guesstimating. I guess I'd be better at it if I did it that way and really bit it a few times.

    I have no intentions of passing on the work. Quite the contrary. I want to do everything in my power to get these 2 accounts. I have too much invested in consulting the guy not to get the work. In addition, I actually have more pressure on me now to make sure I do land them.

    This banker recommended me to another area banker who is also in charge of 2 banks for another local chain. He called out of the blue today. I'm scheduled to meet with him and take measurements for those two bids on Monday. One of his locations is very high profile. The building is the most modern comeporary designed buliding in the area. It looks like a mini sky-scraper which is very high profile for this hick town.

    I don't mind the 12 month contract at all. In this case I welcome it very much becuase it breaks the price up more and will take more of the bite out of the bid. It's out of my comfort zone for other reasons.

    I do the January fert because it's part of my annual fert schedule. Ideally for healthy, dense fescue turf, I apply ferts in March, September, November and January. I think of the March app as the last chance time to make an app before the grass gets active and the temps increase slowly to the summer heat. Then I refrain from Nitrogen ferts until it begins to cool down in September. The September app I think of as a make up and recovery app. The November app is the winterizer and the most important app of the season. The January app I think of as a dormant root feeding. Even though the turf may not be acitively growing, the root system is still active. So the January app is important for root support and health. But it is less important that the November app for that.

    So in my opinion, if an app were going to be skipped, I would normally rather it be the January one than any of the others. To me, my last chance, recovery and winterizer apps are more important.

    I hope you understood my babbling and I hope that answers you question sufficiently.
  8. o-so-n-so

    o-so-n-so LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 1,218

    Your good, and he knows it. Hope he don't take your professional opinions and suggestions to the low baller for a reference on what to do to get his BANKS ($$$$) in perfect condition at the low ball price.
  9. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    You do realize he's going to take your specifications and measurements and call other guys to beat your price, don't you? This of course happens in lots of trades.

    Alarm bells would go off if someone called me up and wanted such a high degree of specifications for two measley banks. Just doesn't seem typical to me. There's the "$300 a month for your property" type quotes that are too sparse, but I'm getting the impression he's wanting to nail down every tiny detail in advance, and is more than willing to nail you for every little thing that comes up and making you eat the expense. The problem with trying to bid in for contingencies is that it makes your bid higher, which means you will probably be underbid by someone inexperienced who forgets these items and comes in with a lower bid, but will take the hit later.

    Your system of considering these things as extras to be paid for as needed is a wise one, I think.

    All these meetings and work for 1.3 acres....it's not like it's the Pentagon contract.
  10. mowngrow

    mowngrow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 275

    sounds like a dream come true to me. if you over estimated on one and under estimated the other prop. then as long as you get them both it will work out just fine. as far as the price increases, i would pre-pay my mulch in bulk, that way if the prices do go up in say six months you still get it for what you paid six months ago.

Share This Page