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Commercial Bids

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by hi_speedreed, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. hi_speedreed

    hi_speedreed LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 534

    Recently there have been more than a couple threads started concerning commercial properties. Either wanting help with pricing or help in breaking into this side of the business.

    I was recently invited to bid on a housing authority. There are around 200 properties which are divided into 10 zones. The lowest price of each zone will be awarded the bid.

    There are 2 pages of spec sheets attached and after reading the specs, I don't know why anyone would want this work. If I were to post a residential customer being this obtuse everyone would tell me to drop them like a bad habit.

    First, they dictate the mowing season of April 1 - October 31 instead of allowing the weather to dictate it. Last year I started around the middle of March. Next mandate is every property will only be mowed bi-weekly and you must leave a neat appearance free from clumps. So that means you either are double cutting each property or bagging and I have never seen a bagger on a mower around here. It is also listed in the spec sheet it is the bid winner's responsibility to pick up and dispose of all debris including but not limited to paper, bottles, cans, leaves, limbs, and storm debris.

    I bet the winner will lose in the end by failing to take all the unknown variables into account when setting his price. I did work for a restaurant once and it was the biggest pain because the employees would hang out after closing and drink in the parking lot throwing all trash into the grass. The owner wanted it cleaned up w/o an increase in price. I gave notice he needed to find someone else. These are mostly low income houses and apartments and the people who live there feel the yard is their trash can.

    It just seems with that many properties you are putting a lot of eggs in one basket, and having a suit in an office who has never used a mower dictate to you how to do your job is a recipe for disaster.

    I know at this point it is not for my business. I know my limitations. So why do you that chase this work want it? The only thing I can think of is to use it to make payroll while really making your money on other jobs or you are big enough to operate at very low margins and make it up in volume.

    A small company wouldn't make it if they bid low enough to win. If you can refute my points I am open to learning where my thinking is wrong.
  2. canes2win

    canes2win LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 12

    Lot of things to touch base on with everything you stated. But some commercial places are just too much baggage. Not only do you deal with who hired you... Probably a board. But everyone that lives there has an opinion. I always hated people that live in these type of places want you to do extra things that take more time. They never understand.
  3. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    I only have one commercial property, but what I did was walk the property with the person who was "in charge" of the hiring. I first listened to what they wanted done... ie: bi weekly, bagged, trimming hedges only at first and last cut. I then began to question him on why he wanted this and he said that those things should bring the price down. I explained to him that the property wil not look as well, and will be almost the exact same price as I charge 1.5x for biweekly. I submitted a bid for both what he wanted, and what I suggested, and thy went with what I had suggested even though it was and extra $175 a month. I know this may not be possible for you guys, but it worked out well for me.
  4. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    It does sound a bit like one of those "the winner is also the loser" bids.

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