Am I on the righ track with my commercial bidding?

USMC1153

LawnSite Member
Location
Hebron, Indiana
Hello everyone,
I'm new to Lawnsite, and this is my first post, and I want to thank everyone in advance for taking time to read this and leave me a comment.

I started my company a year ago and have only been exclusively snow plowing (because I'm in college and those months I had off).
All my accounts are commercial, and 2 of them are church buildings.
I was contacted by the management of this church today and he likes my work ethic and everything with snow plowing that he has asked me if I would take on lawn-care services too, bringing me anywhere from 5-8 accounts.

So here is the info I have,
And I do apologize, because I don't have the proposal yet, its coming Monday to my email, so I unfortunately can't give dimensions of lawn or things, but he asked me to do the following:
He wants me to come up with 1 bid per building for the entire season, factor it for 28 weeks then divide that number by 28 for a weekly billable amount. And they generally open bidding once a year, and he's offered me a 3 year contract, no penalty if either party cancels, but he felt it would be easier for him to know someone has these accounts all year round for 3 years.

The general services he wants are:
1.weekly lawn mowing, Edging and trimming when needed, blowing the parking lot and side walks
2. factor in a spring clean up and fall cleanup
3.perform fertilization and weed killer with liquid chemicals (I don't know how often he wants it yet) and yes I know I have to have the license to use these chemicals so I'd have to get the license from the state and pay a few hundred bucks, and do some two day training.....but thats another story.
4. Weed the flower beds as needed
5. replace 2 inches of mulch in the beds also
and I think thas it.

I have to purchase a mower, most of the other tools and things I have or would rent as needed, but the mower purchase will wait til I have the official number of buildings, IF I get all accounts then I am 99% sure on a Scag 61" turf tiger with the Kawasiki motor. (I've used them about 6 yrs ago and loved it when I helped my uncle do his accounts)

I am an accounting major, so I have already roughly estimated all my fixed costs, and variable costs. and plugged some numbers in for total billable hours in the season and for me to make the targeted profit I want, my magic hourly rate is $37.00 per hour. It's just me, now i realize I will need 2-3 employees to tackle this, and thats already in process....and then my hourly rate will go up. I wanted to use these figures to find my break-even and so forth, but I also wanted to confirm that with doing all those tasks mentioned on a strickly per hour charge should still cost more than $37 per hour right?

So my second question is if anyone had any tips as to approaching a larger bid like this?
I know everyone does pricing different, and its all depends on how much we need to break even and then add what we want for profit. But my thoughts on approaching the bid on a lump sum basis is that I feel most of these services seem to be based on labor hours and what its worth to my comany. and coming up with X dollars and then adding prices of supplies needed, and finally adding in a pre-determined mowing, trimming, blowing rate to give the per week charge. Or did I miss something or should I consider an alternative way to price it? I know when I have the actual proposal and go visit the sites I can get more accurate info, amd measurements but I just want to be proactive and do some initial research to get at least a general idea if I am in the right direction or way out in left field :)

Sorry for the lengthy post, just wanted to give as much info as I could.
I do hope that no one is rude and says some negative comment like ..you're in over your head, work for someone first pay your dues then get the idea....I dislike that a lot because I am more advanced as a beginner with many areas of running a business than a lot of others that I feel are lost in the sauce.

Also, the areas that I am weaker in as far as not feeling 100% confident on how to do a specialty landscape project. I have a gentleman that retired from a big landscaping firm 5 years ago and I offered to pay him a consultation fee to navigate me where I need it. So the work will be done as professional as it gets...I pay extreme attention to detail.....
And lastly, I know the Scag is very expensive, but I do believe you get what you pay for, and its personal preference. I will have to finance about 40% of it, so to me thats not bad. no other start up debt, or anything. I did want to know if anyone has used the Tiger striper attachment? I am seriously considering that, or is there something better out theree or worse, is that just a waste of time and money?

I welcome any comments on how you think I am doing. I hope you all have success in your businesses to. Thanks in advance for any info you have, I do take all opinions under careful consideration.

-Mark
 

32vld

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Long Island, NY
How about using your uncle for info?

Thing is you need to walk the properties and measure the SF, size of the beds, essentially the size of everything.

Size of lawn to figure time.
Size of lawn to figure lime, weed and feed labor and material costs.
Size of beds for time, mulch needed.
Size up the shrubs to figure the time.
You may want to sub out the spraying. Lowers your start up costs. Less to learn about when you have so much other stuff to grasp.


 

Dr.NewEarth

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Vancouver Canada
Take a clipboard and walk the property. Measure your paces and the time it takes to walk a cutting row. This is easiest to apply to a 21 inch or walk behind mower. Then transfer that info to your ride-on mowers estimated speed and cutting time and by how many rows there are to cut. The manufacturer will have mower speeds listed.

Measure all lawn areas and get an approximation of how much fertilizer you will need. Then go to a supplier, select the type of fertilizer you would use and read the directions to see how much area a bag will cover. Take a note pad.

You need to calculate how long it will take to empty your mower bag at your truck.
Time and expense to go to the dump...

Take lots and lots of notes and measurements of every-thing and then ponder each scenario at your desk.

Mulch- a cubic yard will cover an area 10 feet by 10 feet three inches deep. You need to time how long will it take you to wheel barrow a load from the drop off area to the gardens and back to the drop off?
 
Last edited:
OP
U

USMC1153

LawnSite Member
Location
Hebron, Indiana
How about using your uncle for info?

Thing is you need to walk the properties and measure the SF, size of the beds, essentially the size of everything.

Size of lawn to figure time.
Size of lawn to figure lime, weed and feed labor and material costs.
Size of beds for time, mulch needed.
Size up the shrubs to figure the time.
You may want to sub out the spraying. Lowers your start up costs. Less to learn about when you have so much other stuff to grasp.


32VID,
Thanks for your input. Actually, I have talked with him a couple times about this, and he was thinking as far as the fertilization that it would be better to sub it out that way someone who has experience can lay it evenly, and all that.

I talked with him about rates too, but I couldn't get a good solid way to go, some things he just figured a per labor hour charge. When he had his turf tiger, he told me he charged $1.00 a minute for the mowing. When the proposal comes tomorrow, I'll have a lot of measurements to make for mulch beds and things.
Thanks again.
Mark
 
OP
U

USMC1153

LawnSite Member
Location
Hebron, Indiana
Take a clipboard and walk the property. Measure your paces and the time it takes to walk a cutting row. This is easiest to apply to a 21 inch or walk behind mower. Then transfer that info to your ride-on mowers estimated speed and cutting time and by how many rows there are to cut. The manufacturer will have mower speeds listed.

Measure all lawn areas and get an approximation of how much fertilizer you will need. Then go to a supplier, select the type of fertilizer you would use and read the directions to see how much area a bag will cover. Take a note pad.

You need to calculate how long it will take to empty your mower bag at your truck.
Time and expense to go to the dump...

Take lots and lots of notes and measurements of every-thing and then ponder each scenario at your desk.

Mulch- a cubic yard will cover an area 10 feet by 10 feet three inches deep. You need to time how long will it take you to wheel barrow a load from the drop off area to the gardens and back to the drop off?
Dr.
Thank you for your input. I printed your advice out so that I can keep it with me. I do plan to draw simple diagrams of the buildings so that when I'm back at home I can still have an idea of what is where, and things like that. I like the input of walking a cutting row and calculating it for your mower speed. I have not heard of that before. I'll keep in touch with you this week if I can have one of the proposals done for the first location. Thanks also for the coverage areas of mulch. I am trying to find a local wholesaler with the best price.

Thanks again,
Mark
 

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