21 condos for $165 ,are you kidding?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Smitty58, Jul 23, 2006.

  1. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 531

    Got a call to bid a condo association for mowing, snowplowing, and pruning. The place had 21 units layed out on 4 streets. Each unit is approx. 4-5000 sq ft of grass ,has 6 shrubs, and a single drive to plow plus a 20 ft sidewalk to shovel. The road to plow is approx 1/4 mile total.
    So I check it out to prepare a bid and figure each unit at $20 for mowing
    ($420) ,$75 each for pruning ($1575) ,and $350 for snowplowing. The president ( a nice elderly man ) says to me ,you are way over our other bids. We continue to discuss the job and he pulls out his binder with all the bids. He proceeds to show me the bids, for grass they reanged from $129 to $200 with the guy that is doing it now at $165. The shrub bids were an avg of $200, and the snow was an avg of $195.
    How in the world can anyone mow these for $8 per unit, prune for $10 per unit and so on? If this is where the industry is headed we are all in trouble.
    I mow the retirement center next door which has about the same sq ft of grass but is more wide open. I takes us 2 1/2 hours with 2 men and we get $310. So how can someone do the condo which are more chopped up than this for almost half. One more thing, the pres tells me that they want a small mower to be used around the patios and furniture. What?
  2. MowerMoney

    MowerMoney LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 281

    I know. Scary, isn't it?
    Can you find out if the same guys have been doing it for several years. Or are they changing service providers every year? Are they happy with the service that they are getting for that price?
    I got a small condo this year. My price was higher than the guys last year but they weren't doing all the work promised. I guess they found they bid too low and just did less work.
  3. Howie's Lawn Care

    Howie's Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    :hammerhead: That's insane in the membrain. Where the other bids put in by any of the larger companyies in your area. There isn't much I can say, it just blows my mind. My mind is in a lot of pain now! I actually just have a headache. I'm not even mad at you for pooping in the refrigerator, I just can't believe you ate the whole ball of chees.
  4. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 531

    The same guy has been doing it for 6 yrs and they are happy with him ,but he has vanished. They can't find him and he won't answer the phone. He even told me they owe him money that he has not even billed them for. So after trying for 3 weeks to find him, they are looking for a new sucker I mean company. I made a point of telling him my guys are covered by workers comp and we are insured yada yada yada. He says, so is our guy, so how can you be legit and work for peanuts? I can't and won't.

    REALSLOW LawnSite Senior Member
    from FLORIDA
    Messages: 668

    I use to do lawn sevice in Pinellas county FL, Rumor was the city issued more lawn service licenses per square mile their than any other place in the country. I beleive it in 1987 I was 21 and so stupid even more so than I am now. I was cutting and bagging a 260 unit double wide mobile home park with huge common area for 9.50$ a month a mobile home. I was dumb and did it for a year before I figured out how dumb I was then quit and you know what I was easily replaced for the same price. I cut off all my crap accounts went underground and just did residentials there after. I moved to another area of FL in a growing market and it is alot better. I love the work but the standard of living in this business is going to be going down. As people lose their descent paying jobs because of outsoucing and global competition more people will try lawn service and keep beating the prices into the ground.

    If you want to earn a good living in the future your best bet is to go to School and get drilled with the state communist propaganda put out by the public fool system. It may not be right but the state controls this country and in order to earn a living the way things are going you need a good license and the state is where you go to get it.
  6. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    I know of a NJ operation that cuts a condo place for $7.50/unit every 10 days. Granted there are about 1,000 of them. They bag it for that price too. I don't know how in the world you can make money doing that. They have a fleet of walkers with the high dumps and have a F650 lowboy dump truck they dump into.
  7. jpp

    jpp LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,131

    Anybody check the morgue? Or county jail?

  8. DLCS

    DLCS LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,382

    Who cares how many condos there are, real question is how many total acres. The way I figure it, under 2.5 acres, and very little trimming, that would be a 2 man hr job, using a 60" or 72" ztr. Likely they are all together, being condos. How much trimming, are their any fences that would be the kicker.
  9. Tinkerer

    Tinkerer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 620

    I once was a pushover for cheapos, tightwads etc, etc. About 10 years ago, I once drove 15 miles for some kindof long grass in rough terrain around small pine trees. Told the guy $15 per hour, which is really cheap. I have raised my rates a bunch since then. He said I'll give you $13 per hour. I said my rate is $15 per hour and he pushed. I got on the mower and mowed for about 5 minutes with the deck on my little Wheel Horse hanging up on big bumps several times. I drove the mower back to my truck and told the guy to forget it and find someone else. That was a learning experience for me.
    Now my response to people like that is a little sharper.....Nicely I tell them well if I did it for your price I would be running a charity and not a business. And whoever did it for that price last time must not have had business insurance, health insurance and probably had trouble paying his bills or buying food for himself.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    If you are not a large Lco with many employees and trucks and trailerssss at your disposal, I would urge you to never fool with association owned commercial properties. The president is really a nobody because he owns nothing, he was elected by the rest of the association via votes, and the president this year could be another person the next year, I don't think they even get paid for the position and they most certainly don't own the place, thou it does make them feel important.

    The association is usually made up of tenants and renters, none of whom have a clue as to what running a real business is all about.

    To explain the difference between an association and a solo owned business:
    With an association:
    When the property incurrs an expense, nobody pays for it out of pocket. If the building is falling apart and it costs 50 thousand dollars to fix it and the president himself saw it coming years ago and did nothing to prevent it, it still doesn't come out of his pocket.
    With a solo owner-operator:
    When your truck's transmission fails, who pays for it? Who's pocket does the money come out of? Even if it's not your fault, right?

    Thus, anybody who has never operated a solo business can not be expected to comprehend the vast implications of what I just explained, and you can usually expect a slew of heartache and headache.

    Last but not least, at least here in Virginia, any Landscape business providing services on contracts over 1,000 dollars must have a minimum Class C Contractor's license (read: take a test and pay 200-odd dollars). In addition, you will likely need General Business Liability insurance as per the association, even thou the law does not require it (fork out another 800). Who pays for this?
    This is why I don't do contracts, the money I save on this more than makes up the minor difference, minus the headaches.

    I hope this explains why it is a bad idea to fool with an association as a solo.
    Now if you're a large Lco who can afford to send a truck + trailer with 2 employees out there once a week and a secretary to handle their calls, then by all means knock yourself out. Oh by the way, such a company can likely bid work like that at $30 pmh.

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