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Those who do apartment complexes....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mowerbrad, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    This is NOT a "bid this job for me" thread....

    I've mainly stuck to residential mowing for the last several years. Occasionally I will pick up a smaller commercial for a season, but nothing major.

    Well, just a couple days ago I was asked to put a bid in on an apartment complex in my town. Its a 16 building complex (about 275 tenents). Its a very nice complex, some parts of the lawn are better than others, but its a very well kept place, probably one of the higher-end/nicer apartment complexes in town.

    The property is 22 acres, about 6 of those acres are mowable. The mowing is spread out over the whole property, so there are lots of smaller areas to mow, then move on to the next part and so on. Lots of trimming involved, which is what I think will be most time consuming. I will get a helper or two for this job, hopefully run 2 mowers and 1 guy trimming. When the mowers finish, I'm figuring one can assist with trimming while the other blows off the side walks.

    I'm guessing 4 hours with 3 guys (including myself) or 5 hours with 2 guys (including myself). I already have a price worked out which would definately make this worth my while if I get it. I'm mainly thinking out loud here but I also don't want to spread myself to thin with school, fire department stuff and work. If I spread myself too thin, somethings going to give. Right now, I go to school tuesday/friday, work 4 hours on wednesday, work a full day on thursday, I have some weekend stuff for school/EMS/Fire (schedule changes frequently) and I use monday to catch up on my studying.

    I'm trying to think outloud here, see if I can get some advise from you guys. Are apartment complexes worth it or are they more trouble than they are worth? I don't want to get into this and wish that I never would have.
  2. mr.lawn works

    mr.lawn works LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 314

    I would charge anywhere from 45-60 per acre, that includes mowing, trimming, litter control, and debris removal(blowingwalks and parking lots) Do you know that you are bidding against anyone? if so go the lower end #.
  3. DuraCutter

    DuraCutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 806

    Quoting prices like that are sure to lead him to the poor house.

    There must be a way to make real money by charging more like $100/acre. After all, there are only 6 mowable acres.

    I forgot how little money mowing gets, but there must be a way to up the low ball numbers...

    just my opinion
  4. BINKY1902

    BINKY1902 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from South
    Posts: 1,123

    If you are spread that far out, I don't know if you should take it or not. what will you do if it rains for five straight days and then they want you right on it but you have fire training or something? I know what you mean, I go to school as well and I have commercial properties. I'm careful with how many commercial jobs I take, because it's much easier to keep up on residentials. Apartment complexes and motels and such have their reputation on the line with the way the property looks, so if they want you to add some mulch or something in addition to the service, you have to make sure you can get to it. I don't really know what to tell you, I was trying to go to school full time, work a full time job as an electrician, and running my business. I decided to focus on school and my business. I realized that my job was holding me back from building a bigger business. When you have that many things going, your service is not where it needs to be, or that was my case. I had customers calling me wanting some mulch in the beds cause they are having a party outside the coming weekend, and I was working 8-10 hour days for somebody else and couldn't always get there. That's when I realized it was time to go full time lawn care. Also, I realized it when I'm repairing a light or something and I have people blowing up my phone wanting lawn care. It's a little bigger deal having contracts and commercial places, as they don't care what other stuff you have going on they just want their service. It's much easier to tell a customer down the street that you have some stuff to do and will be by to see them in a couple of days. I am in a decent position because I have all online classes, so I focus on my business first and school is worked around my work. Good luck to you and I hope you get it worked out.
  5. AzLawnMan

    AzLawnMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 409

    I have never been to fond of apartment's for a few reasons. One is that you can get in with one manager and in 6 months a new one shows up and your out. Second, you may work for a property management company and everything is on the up and up until they get fired by the owners of the apartments, and of course, your out. Believe it or not, this happens alot. They only company I know that has security when it comes to this is a good friend of mine. He works for the largest property managment companies in the country. He has every property in Az and has had them for 10+ years. I am hardley ever motivated when I get a call from apartments because of what I mentioned above and also because most of the time they are just looking for bids to "scare" there current compnay doing the maintenance. If you ge the job, I would look at getting at least 4 people on the property. 2 trimmers, 1 guy blowing and another to weed-eat. When the trimmers are done they can get blowers and help. When the weed-eater guy is done he can start to mow. When they are done blowing, 2 guys pick up debris and the 3rd helps mow. 5 guys on the property is ideal but 4 will do. I think 3 is small for any type of apartment. My advice, dont take it because you think its your break into commercial apartments, they come and they will go. Good luck
  6. MikeKle

    MikeKle LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,253

    i wouldnt bother with doing lower end apt complexes, but mid to higher end might be worth it. In the lower end complexes, you will constantly have problems, trash all over, kids all over the place when you are trying to mow, beer bottles and other glass and god knows what else all over, i.e trash, etc. I do a few 4 family units on residential streets, but I would never even bid on a complex unless it was really high end, and had rules about kids playing outside. That is just an accident waiting to happen, and parents eager to sue anyone they can. Not worth the hassle!
  7. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    The apartment complex has its own maintenance staff on site, they handle alot of the landscaping, they have rock instead of bark, so that is nice. All they are looking for is mowing/trimming/blowing once each week, I made sure of that because I really don't have time to do those side jobs unless really needed.

    This will be the first time that I will have to run 2 full size mowers on a property, usually its just me by myself with only one mower and maybe a 21". So this is a big thing for me, I feel ready to do the job and can justify the use (purchase) of another mower, I do have enough other jobs that I could use the second mower on them as well. I'm thinking if I have 2 mowers going on most jobs, I really should be able to speed things up and have a little more time.

    Price wise, I am playing between number right now. I know $45-$60/acre came up in a previous post, those numbers would be okay if this was a very open property with minimal trimming. However, since this involves a good amount of trimming spread out over a large area, $60/acre isn't going to cut it. At $100/acre, there is no way I'd get the account. I was looking at somewhere between those numbers, probably in the ball park of $80-$90/acre, which would be about $480-$540 per week. I am not going to cut my prices just to get the job. Afterall, I'm now paying for 2 helpers, 2 mowers, multiple trimmers and blowers and all the associated costs that come with that stuff. So if I could get $500/week, that'd be roughly $125/hour if it does take me 4 hours with 3 guys. I'd be able to make some money on this job.

    But like I said, its quite a time commitment...if it rains I will be very backed up. So I'd be now looking at a fairly full day both wednesday and thursday. Hopefully if I can keep one guy with me all the time, I will be able to really cut down my work load and not have such a time commitment. It really stresses me out thinking about this because part of me says "you can handle it, just go for it" but yet the other part of me says "what will you do when you have training or something during a day I'd have to work". I try not to work weekends anymore unless I have to.

    Its a tough decision.
  8. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    With this property, I would be dealing with the owner of the property not a management company, which is nice. They already fired the last company who was mowing for them, and now the maintenance guys are trying to mow it which isn't going so well from what I've been told and what I've seen.

    I was thinking of mounting a trimmer holder on the quik-trak (stand on mower) that I would add to my "fleet". That way the guy on this mower could do one area, stop, trim the area and continue on to the next area to mow. It'd save a ton of walking and I would assume some time as well.

    I don't want to take the job to get into the commercial mowing side of the business, it'd just be a nice account to fill some time that I have. Though, I don't know if I want to fill this much time. I've picked up about 3 extra residential accounts in the last week, so I've been pretty busy.

    This is a mid or high end apartment complex. Its actually only 4 years old I believe, so still pretty new. Everything is always looking good and there isn't a bunch of toys laying around either.

    I did a POS apartment a couple years ago and never will I do a low end one again. Beer bottles all over, a bunch of crap spread out all over the lawn...it was a PITA. And the guy who owned it didn't like to pay his bills on time.
  9. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    Here's what it looks like....


    The arial picture is a couple years old when some of it was still under construction. There is more grass now and a couple more buildings constructed. I would have to mow around the woods (there is a fence around the woods). Everything else would pretty much have to be mowed and trimmed, except for the very back of the property where there is just dirt and the very front of the property, which actually isn't part of the apartment complex.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  10. LuxuryLawnCare

    LuxuryLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 150

    600 per mow 260 everytime its line edged i have a complex about the same size ,but with commercial you have to make sure is done right corprate will not like seeing it be made a mess of not one time they will get someone else before this happens i have 2 complexs 60 miles away that want me to drive all that way to mow because the guys doing it suck .

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