Bid on a shopping center. Need Help!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mwalz, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. mwalz

    mwalz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,178

    So this year will be the first year i will be going for commercial properties. I haven't really advertised and today i got a call from a guy wanting me to cut a shopping center. Way sooner than i thought i would get any big jobs. Now the issue i have is pricing it. And i only have a 36" mower.......And he said there was about 2 acres of grass. Well i drove by tonight, and my guess is it is closer to 2.5 acres. He said to give him a call back on a bid. But the problem i have is that i am unsure if my 36" can handle it. I would have a friend using the handhelds while i cut. If i can do it in no longer than 2 hours should i go for it? I really want this job but i don't want to under bid. He said that it would be cut every 10 days, 3 times a month. I'm thinking somewhere around the $100 mark for each cut? Too low? I have attached a Google map view of the property to give you an idea. Also all those little islands in the parking lot are mulched and don't have grass or any trimming to do.

    Thanks for the help!!

    Shopping center property.jpg
  2. nashlawn01

    nashlawn01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 463

    If u could so it with 2 guys in 2 hrs at $100 you would make$25 per hr each before expenses. More like $225 per mow to me. Don't under bid it
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Sprinkler Buddy

    Sprinkler Buddy LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,185

    What about the parking lot? Picking up trash, etc... That's a lot of blowing, do they have a parking lot sweeper service?

    If I only had a 36" mower with no plans to go bigger, I would pass. If you do decide to go bigger, will you have regrets if they decide to drop you next season? Their isn't much love when you get into commercial jobs. Not much in residential either but it's a lot less painful when you lose one and they are much easier to replace.
  4. mwalz

    mwalz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,178

    Well i actually plan to go bigger hopefully by next spring, with maybe a 52" mower. He didn't specify about the parking lot or any of that. Mainly he wanted to know how much it would cost to cut the grass, trim..ect.
  5. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,088

    You don't have to blow the whole parking lot, just the edges of materials resulting in the grass cutting service…. that's industry standard.

    2.5 acres with a 36" on full speed (7mph), 80% efficiency is 74 minutes.

    There isn't a lot of trim… be wary of cars… are there curb stops to keep the cars and trucks from overhanging the grass, or can they back up all the way to the curb with their tires and be all up in the grass?

    In the worse case scenario I usually say 'tough' vehicles are parked in the way, you get what you get.. I trim as much as possible without breaking a 3 mph pace.

    IF you have curb stops and no overhang, easy.

    Call it 30 minutes of trim.

    you'll have 10 minutes of transport between areas.

    10 extra minutes to move truck around

    10 minutes of travel.

    20 minutes of blow.

    So…144 minutes.

    That's 2.4 man hours

    At $100 per cut, that's a little tight at $41.66/hr
    buuuut with a 36" that's pretty fair actually.

    if you were to cut this next year with a 52"
    your cut time drops to 45 minutes

    Brining your over all time to 115 minutes
    Brining your average $ per man hour to $52/hr

    with a 60" ZTR your mowing time is now 31 minutes
    and a total of 101 minutes
    Bang…and average of 62.50 per hour…with the same $100 price.

    so…to be fair… your $100 price guestimate is RIGHT on the money….

    you can't expect to make $60/hr with a 36" mower.

    42 is slim net.
    52 is better
    but 62.50 is pretty sweet.

    If it were me, I'd put my foot in the door.
    If you get it an you only last one season in something this size…you've lost nothing..
    IF you never take the step, you'll never expand.

    Plus my times are only averages…can you do it faster with those different mowers including your 36"
    If your good?

    Faster means better $/hr.

    I say bid $100 and go for it.
  6. grassmonkey0311

    grassmonkey0311 LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD/NC
    Messages: 3,045

    Will the operator be running behind the mower??? 7mph is certainly not walking speed.

    My advice is take a pass on it until next year. Just let the guy know you'd love to bid it next go around. Get the experience first. I have passed on 2 commercial properties this year because I am not ready for them. Better safe than sorry...underbidding something like this could really screw you up.
  7. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,763

    I'd bid around the same @ 225. Don't forget about trash on the turf that can eat time picking up......
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. Landrus2

    Landrus2 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,050

    Who's going to take care of the parking lot
  9. twomancrew

    twomancrew LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 940

    Whenever some newbie suggest that simply moving to a bigger mower equates to more money per hour I laugh. Bigger mow=bigger trailer=insurance on mower=higher maintenance=stuck in the mud=fuel eating machine=where you gonna store the thing=NO YOU CANNOT USE THE SAME MATH!! DUH! It's like the blind leading the blind.

    $100 for that are you kidding?? Try $300.

    You could absolutely use a 36" on that. It would get old fast. Is there a difference between a 36" on an acre or a 60" on 2?? They both get it done. Why couldn't you?? Just be certain to price it so when you wear out your WB you have some money to get a bigger unit and cover all the additional expenses. How else do guys like me afford to run 60" mowers all day?
  10. dc33

    dc33 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 257

    What are you talking about?
    A bigger mower equates to marginal increase in expenses. In fact, with say a 72 you will not only cut it in less than half the time, under 1h thus increasing your hourly rate to 100/hr in this case, but you are also putting half the hours on the mower....thus reducing all cost.

    The easy way to look at it is mowing a residential 1/2 lot. You might be able to get 2 done in an hour with a could easily get 4 done with a 72......doubling your hourly rate
    Posted via Mobile Device

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