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Bidding an Apartment complex?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by cbkc, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. cbkc

    cbkc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 119

    I'm bidding my first apartment complex and have no idea how to do it...can you guys give me an idea of how you do it? It's all pretty flat and probably has 20 buildings. I was just going to estimate how many residential lawns fit in this property and then take it times $25. Is that too low? Help!!
  2. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 458

    The way I've always done large commercials is section them up. I price by time, not size. Break it up and figure how long each "section" is going to take to mow. Then add all those times together, figure in your trimming time as well as clean up time. There's your total.

    I try to be about $1.25-$1.50 per minute on commercial work, rounded to the nearest 5 minutes or so.

    Be prepared...the big commercial world is a LOT different from the residential work it sounds like you're used to.
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    First, you can't do directly to portion with the equivalent to residentials. Anytime you have a quantity of area, the rate will go down (pro-rating), considering you are already there. Another thing you have to figure with apt. complexes, is you have to bid for a little extra money. This is to help pay you a little bit when you are bidding other places in the future. The reason FOR this, is that 1. apt. complexes are by far the lowest paying of any mowing contract category. and 2. they will sell you down the river in a New York minute to save 20 bucks a week. There are several threads on here having to do with this, including by me. One of the problems, is that they tend to get "new management" - including upper management, not just site management. When this happens, the person in the new position plays the hero to the corporation and shows how they can save money. The lawn maintenance is about the first thing to get changed. I've seen this for the 27 years I've been in this business. To this day, I can still go back to some of the places we did over the years, and they are getting less today than they did 20 years ago. Apt. complexes are a big target for lawn services, and get bid all the time by every "mow-ron" out there. But I do wish you good luck with it!
  4. Tyner Lawn Service

    Tyner Lawn Service LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 328

    Man,I agree with you on that. There are some good commercial accounts but not many.
  5. h2oskier

    h2oskier LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 601

    That has got to be the best advice for new guys getting there feet wet on the apartment side of things. Matter of fact i think this bit of advice should automatically be posted every time someone ask this question.Thumbs Up
  6. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    One thought that comes to mind, is if you don't know, maybe you should not be doing it. A landscaper asking about bidding tree pruning comes to mind.

    But if you bid on this, it may be essential to have worked doing maintenance at a similar complex to approximate how many things can't be done at the time you would like to.

    For example, if several vehicles have backed in to an area and covered lawn with vehicle overhang. Saw that in the Portland landscape scene when I did some mowing years ago for a service out here.

    I remember that if we arrived and saw some spots open for mowing, we almost ran to them with the mowers to beat the vehicles sometimes.
  7. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    Try to remember that there is going to be foot traffic/along with autos too. this will help to slow you down. and remember there will be more Trash to pick up.

    there is always the " son would you help me with cleaning out this area or that area" from the residents.

    these little items will add time to you providing service to the complex.
    and time is money.

    Best of luck to you
  8. ChevHayes

    ChevHayes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

    I agree, apartment places around me get bid often and bid by anybody who wants to start commercially( most refer to them as "stepping stones to get in the com side". I also agree with the statement about them selling you out to save $20 a week. One local apartment, dropped the guy who was doing it for the last 3 seasons over a $94 difference on a seasonal contract. What does that break down to..... $3-$4 a week???

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