A commercial nightmare?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by bartlc, Dec 4, 2004.

  1. bartlc

    bartlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Today I gave an esimate on my first commercial lawn. Actually the first lawn outside the neighborhood. Sudden luck. Unfourtunatly, I hadn't the slightest idea how to price the job. The owner walked me around and said what do you think? I stood there for about 20 seconds (not knowing what to say) and then I said how long does it take the other guy to mow it? He said about 2 1/2 hrs. So I told him I wouldn't start it for less than $100 a visit. Figuring an hourly rate according to how long it takes the other guy. After I told him the price he said "by the way, I hope you have a crew coming in, the other guy had a four man crew." I almost xxxx myself!!! :cry:

    Can anyone tell me how to bid, price, or get my name to the commercial customers? I live in the middle of town so they would be in my neighberhood. Well, one block. For real.
  2. eXtreme Lawns XLS

    eXtreme Lawns XLS Banned
    Messages: 17

    Depends on your equipment cost and location .no one can tell you YOUR price if we did we would all have each others job ........small equipment ..........$35.00 -$45.per man hr with $30.00 min..............up to 65-70 per man hr $ 50min ..
    check out adcad.com for free download .......if you will figure by 1000sqft........we do and it works for us mabey not for others .................depending on your market try $.90 to $1 per min........

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Don't make the mistake of letting a potential customer pressure you into giving an on the spot price. If you need time to think about it, tell them you're gonna walk the property, check it out some more, and "go back and write up the proposal". That line always works for me. Sometimes you have to look at the place a few times, break it down into smaller chunks to get a better feel for it. By doing this you'll keep yourself from throwing out a price that might be way too low.
  4. Premo Services

    Premo Services LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,516

    The first step is to get more experience at mowing smaller properties. Sure, the larger commerecial properties are appealing, but if you do not know your costs and amount of time it will take you can get realy messed up. Plus, another thing to consider is that commerecial properties are not always reliable. They will go to a low bidder and leave you with nothing. And the real mess is if you are the low bidder.....
    Mabey you should do more cutting on residential properties until you get more experience to be able to bid larger properties.
    NEVER rely on a potential customer to be honest about the price of the job or how long it took last guy to do it. It does not matter how long it took them, it matters how long you think it will take you though, you have different equipment, may not have employees,etc,etc,etc.
  5. Tvov

    Tvov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,157

    Remember to go over exactly what he wants. Many commercial jobs are simple "mow and go" jobs, just quick mowing with minimal trimming and cleanup. These are actually kind of nice.

    Some places are going to want your "premium" service, every single inch of beds edged each time (hopefully with just the string trimmers) and extensive cleanup with blowers. Make sure you charge enough for this.
  6. bartlc

    bartlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    I really appreciate you guys telling me these things I need to know. But what is the best way to go about getting a commercial customer, say a resturaunt, store, A BANK.....hey I live 5 houses away from a bank. It kills me to know that I could be mowing it! It's the normal size lawn around the building, but they have an extra piece of lot...maybe an acre behind them that meets my back yard! This would be my first choice right?

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    bart- Those smaller commercials like you mentioned are a good way to get your feet wet. Just go in personally and talk to the manager of the place, find out who is in charge of those decisions. Be persistent, if you have to leave a business card with an underling, follow up a short time later with another visit or phone call. Sometimes just being persistent will get you far.
  8. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Messages: 1,796

    Ok not a good first experience. Should have had a measuring wheel with you and measured it off. You know approxiamtely how long it takes to do smaller jobs so you can guestimate how long this one should take.Also should have told the guy"I'll get back to you" and typed up everything you'd include in the service and so forth. Any slopes or anything? If it's straight cutting and a large property and if you can affoard it this is what I'd do, get a Flex deck and also a wing mower for your mower and get it doing the work of two mowers to double your time and use growth regulator to slow down the grass a bit.
  9. bartlc

    bartlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Thank you guys, I appreciate you all.

    Can you give me an example of small equipment vs. large equipment? Do you mean I should charge $35- $45 per hr. if I use a push mower? And $65- $70 per hr. if I use like a tractor or ztr? Or are we talking any lawn equip. vs. like landscaping equip.....frontend loaders, backhoes and such? That all....thanks.

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