Another win for the solo op.....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LwnmwrMan22, Jul 15, 2007.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    We're seeing some major growth in different areas where I service. One is about 15 miles from my house.

    It's one of these areas where they take 100 acres, clear everything off, and then position different businesses where the city thinks they should be, with a central "park" where people are supposed to congregate or whatever, I don't know.

    Anyways, I've been doing a bank right in that area before this new development started, for about 7 years now.

    About 3 years ago, I picked up the bank on the other corner.

    Last year, the Country Inn & Suites that was just built called me, because they had gotten my number from the bank, and wanted to have me perform the service.

    Now this week, a new YMCA is getting ready to open. I had contacted the exec. director sometime last November, leaving a phone message that I'd like the opportunity to bid the property, but never heard back, so I just figured they had a "YMCA crew" that did all the properties or something along that sort.

    Anyways, got a phone call on Monday, the director was wondering if I would be interested in putting a bid in stil. I said absolutely, and would be there in 20 minutes (just happened to be finishing a property about 5 miles from there).

    Drove down, met with the director and the building engineer. It's about 65k sq ft, broken down into 3 larger areas of grass about 20k sq ft each, 6 islands about 350 sq ft each, and then rest in a 10' border around the parking lot, roughly.

    It had not been mowed yet this year, so the sod was between 5 and 10" tall.

    I figured the first mowing would take about 8 hours to bag everything, and then about 2 1/2 hours for the trimming and mowing, weekly after that, if I took my time.

    I'm trying to bump the prices up in my area, and we all know how well that works, but I bid it at $100 / hour, or $250 / mowing. For a 24 week contract, I dropped my price to $5500 for the season, or roughly a 10% discount, for a weekly price of $230.

    There's a larger company in my area, they're already doing 3 YMCAs I've since found out, and they bid it at $3800 for the season, or $159 / week. The director called me back, wondering if there was anything that I could do to lower my price, since she was hoping to use my company, since I'm already in the area.

    I said no, that my price is my price, that it would be no different than if someone went to the YMCA and said that "XXXXX fitness center only charges $600 for the year, but you charge $1000 for the year, is there anything you can do to match it??" We all have our line in the sand that we don't want to cross.

    She said okay, I'll look it over that night. Got a call at 7:30 the next morning saying that she wanted to use my company, even though we were 25% higher, because she was impressed with the way that I sold my company during the initial meeting. Turns out the other guy was over an hour late, and she never even met him, had to have an assistant grab the estimate and the guy had to leave again.

    I stress service when I meet a new customer. It's what it's all about, nothing else. If you're at the point where you can pick and choose your customers, that you're no longer trying to build your business from scratch, look for ones that'll pay for the service, not just cutting grass.
  2. ACA L&L

    ACA L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,102

    Very nice. we had the country inn and suites here for about three months. They wanted it detailed immedietly, looked like a bomb weent off! Long story short We cancelled there service for them. They were supposed to have first three months paid in full b4 service began. Lawn was growing as we waited for some 3 weeks, so we decided to at least cut it until check came, well that didnt work out very well........................We should of just waited.
  3. OMG

    OMG LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    Sounds good, I hope it works out.

    But honestly, I'm wondering if the director wasn't just trying to lowball you.

    I guess you'll know soon enough if your bid was on target. As long as you can achieve your profit goal, that's all that matters.

    Either way, I commend you for sticking with your original estimate. From what I've experienced, if you overanalyze a bid or try to be the low bid just to get the end up hating the work real quick when you realize you're getting beat on the deal.
  4. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    With the few bids I place anymore, I'd say about 50-70% of the time I get the "the other guy will do it for this" yet about 75% of those times I get it.

    I told the director on the phone when she called and said the other company was cheaper, that I've changed bids in the past (years ago) and that I end up hating the contract, or that I'm always trying to cut corners, because I ended up biding it cheap.

    I DON'T think that is what's happened here, or if it did, that I could see someone bidding the job at that rate, because I"ve got some of my accounts that are 15+ years, and they'll show me the other bids yearly that they receive. I started asking different companies (not the same ones each year) if I can see what other people are bidding, especially the ones that I've had for 8+ years, since they know my track record of price increases, so I don't see that I'm leaving $1000's of dollars on the table and the next year do a 50% rate increase.

    Like I said. For guys that charge by the acre, at 1.5 acres (roughly) $150 for the other company would be a good charge, that's $100 / acre.

    I like to take my time and estimate by the hour, there's too many variables to do a straight charge by sq ft / acre.

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