Contacting Commercial Clients to get on "the list for RFP"S"

Discussion in 'Bidding, Estimating and Pricing' started by KCTREE, Dec 17, 2017.


    KCTREE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Long title I know lol, A little background on me first, I've been in the landscape industry for 12 years officially and I've had the pleasure of handling a lot of residential accounts in our service area (High end & large acreage is what we specialise in) I'm not looking to shift away from residential but I've also had a few apartments for our Arborist services & landscape maintenance that was through word of mouth referrals. For 2018 I'd like to get a bit more into commercial work, however, I feel like I'm missing something. I've emailed a few of the real estate companies that manage the properties and I've only been successful in getting on one RFP list. Is there another company that actually hires the contractors for doing landscape work at places like shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, etc? I've been trying to contact people involved with companies like Block real estate, Lane4 commercial, Cassidy &turley, CBRE, Collier's real estate, etc. If any companies are reading that are into hardcore commercial I'd greatly appreciate any advice. Happy Holidays!
    lstewart228 likes this.
  2. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,585

    I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but RFPs are not meant for everyone.
    They don’t necessarily want every single company submitting a bid.
    Do you know what the would be like? Combing through 160 bids?
    Not to mention they’d just cherry pick 3-4 out of the sea in the first place.
    It’s not like government bids where everyone qualified must legally be considered.

    What makes you think that THEY want a bid from you? Or that YOU want to get that work in the first place?

    If a bid collector , like a property management firm, already has 3-5 solid contractors to solicit bids from, why do they need 7 or 8 or 10?
    And if there were that many , the only way you would get that bid is you were either the lowest number or you were the only one qualified,
    Since almost all maintenance companies are carbon copies of eachother, there won’t be an rfp written that would disqualify your competition and leave you victorious.

    Rfp like that would be written something like “must have day and night managers”
    “Must have on site supervision with six years experience and four years with the same company”
    “On site site staff Must be fully fluent in English”
    Followed by a list of equipment (a large and lengthy one) that the awarded company must have possession of, and it must be no older than 3 years.

    Do RFPs like that exist?
    Yes, but they likely won’t Favor you.
    Why are they written like that? Excuses for non performance by past contractors.
    No night manager means issues while snow plowing go unaddressed
    No fluent English they use that as an excuse for misunderstanding
    No proper equipment of the right age
    Oh we couldn’t perform because our crap was broken

    All those RFPs favor large companies who have been doing this sort of thing a long time.

    Never once have I seen an rfp be “must be a one man band with a tiny fleet looking for their first big break”
    Rockchoplawn and UpNorthMowing like this.

    KCTREE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    No offense taken, I will clarify right away that I'm no one-man bad (I have a degree in landscape management & I'm an ISA Certified Arborist and a certified pesticide applicator and employee 2 others who are also ISA Certified and have degrees in horticulture and forestry respectfully) I run two trucks and have a enough equipment to run two dedicated maintenance crews (I will be adding a dedicated hardscape crew along with an individual turf manager and irrigation manager in the coming year) So if I where to kill my previous idea would joing any of the commercial real estate assocations be a way to introuduce myself at least?
  4. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,585


    If you’re isa certified you want to hunt RFPs requiring a certified arborist, why?
    Because that’s actually rare and will cut down the competition
    AND the guy soliciting bids will actually need one.

    IME the most common contracts requiring certified arborists are government and institution contracts
    That may be too big for your britches.

    Lots of companies that focus on commercial install work especially on muni jobs may need a certified arborist and the job requires (typically) a year of maintenance after install.
    You may want to get your foot in the door with an install company with little to no maintenance team who also doesn’t have an arborist.

    There are also government websites (look to your state and city websites for links) to the government work.
    Parks and rec
    Roadside projects
    Sometimes dept of ed

    This type of work will help elevate you to noteriety status and edge out commercial competition.

    But real estate company’s actually don’t want other bidders
    They have enough
    Unless they’re the cheap guys just looking for low bid, in which case you don’t want on that list.

    There’s another option, really , if your interested
    Get a real estate license, or have your significant other get one,
    Cut out the middle man and bid against the pm by going directly to the source of the work.
    Of course then you’ll have to do things like collect dues or rent and sub other services you don’t do like paint and roofing, but it’s not a bad gig if you’re already a contractor.
    whiffyspark and KCTREE like this.
  5. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,675

    Look on your state site for rfp for arborist Work.

    I just had one sent to me $500k a year for 2 years. One truck, one 16” chipper. One foreman one ground guy and one bucket guy. 26 weeks a year 40’hours a week for all 3 workers.
  6. Credsfan03

    Credsfan03 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    Find a niche where you can get commercial work. In my area the jobs you are chasing are difficult to get and not always the best to have... I operate a small company that is growing quickly and expanding into commercial is what we are working on now. I plan to present my company to a lot of local commercial such as banks, hotels, restaurants, factories, condos, and apartments. You would be surprised that a lot of these handle maintenance contracts themselves. A big part of commercial can also be who you know. My first year full scale we picked up two government assisted low income apartments from a friend telling us they needed bids and since the apartment manager knew him well they went with us. My construction crew also just finished a remodel for a property manager who is in control of 18 apartments in our area and will be letting us bid on all of those this February. The other biggest aspect is having a web presence. Even if you don't have a really nice site make sure you set up a page on Google My Business and get some reviews from customers. Our SEO is a work in progress right now so all of the following is almost certainly coming from us showing up pretty high on Google My Business. We closed 12 high end gas stations for snow removal and landscaping (40 to 50k contract) from a management company a couple states away, closed 2 other local gas stations (5k) for landscaping through the company headquarters an hour from our location, closed a local chain restaurant (7k) for landscaping through their manager, and are working on closing a mulch bid for a HOA and a landscaping and snow removal bid for a local hotel. These are just the bids we have been able to win, there are 4 or 5 we were asked to bid on but lost. Again, more then likely they all found us through our free listing on Google My Business.
  7. Okhydro

    Okhydro LawnSite Member
    Messages: 28

    Also remember Jumping into the commercial game You will get to bill monthly and it will take 30-60 days to process. Also I would say find a niche or somehow and in with companies and negotiate work don't bid. In the end you woln't be the cheapest and don't want to be. 75% of my work is negotiated and i was the only bidder. I wouldn't chase commercial let it find you or don't do it. The waiting for money game gets old alot of times. I've messed up a time or 2 and had to wait 30 more days to submit plus my 30+ days of waiting on that.
  8. BrendonTW

    BrendonTW LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Oklahoma City
    Messages: 822

    Several weeks ago I had a guy private message me some advice on getting more commercial work. I am going to copy and paste my response to him here. It is relevant. I will offer some pre-read now: Trying to just “be a bidder” is a terrible waste of time. I don’t want to bid unless I know the customer is unhappy with something, anything, about his current selection of contractors, and I have sold them on me and our company and how we will do that one thing, and everything else, better.

    There are two types of work. Bid work, and negotiated work. Yep very different models for these two kinds of work. Government work is ALMOST always bid, new construction for national chains or by national general contractors is almost always bid, and maintenance on properties is often bid. And lots of times you will present yourself to a property manager and they will say something like “sure, give us a bid”. But this isn’t good enough to make the sale unless you are lowest priced like TP said. If you can’t grt them to want you then it’s a waste of your time turning in a bid. You’ve got to try to get to the decision maker, or at the very least get to the influencer, and turn it from a standardized bid-work type gig into a deal where they want you. I’ve got more to add but I’ve gotta run, will post more later.
  9. BrendonTW

    BrendonTW LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Oklahoma City
    Messages: 822

    Here was my response to the other guy. Keep two things in mind. His question was “how can I get more commercial work and should I go after it or wait for it to come?” and secondly, my passion is closing big deals and many people here don’t think that this is the way to do it. But it’s what I do and it’s what I’ve learned from my dad who has closed multi-million dollar healthcare purchases for his entire career.

    Yes - you absolutely should go after more work if you’re wanting to grow. Don’t wait on it to come to you. 99% of the people you want to work for have no idea you exist. If you stop in once a month and deliver donuts, business card, just to say hi and remind them of you, etc., You will be the first person they call when it’s time to get bids. Because they know who you are.

    You’ve gotta think, if you were in the facilities maintenance industry at some place and you needed a guy to supply light bulbs, you are going to google it or ask around. But if there was someone in your office who was professional and courteous every month or every week or every quarter who was eager for your business, you would call him first.

    If you are in the position yet in your company where you can focus completely on growth. Even if you’re not in that position yet. Get 5 or 25 customers who you really want to work for. Make a spreadsheet with the customers listed one after another on the rows. On the columns from left to right make each column one task you want to do every week, or every two weeks, once per monthor whatever, that will get you in front of that customer in a professional way. Check the boxes off for each customer as each week goes by. This will ensure you’re getting in front of them allconsistently. Maybe it’s sending them a LinkedInmessage. Maybe it’s writing a personal note to their office. Maybe it’s taking donuts in themorning. Maybe it’s sending them a list of things you’d like to do to their property. Who knows. Just get in front of them.

    I would strongly advise listening to these audiobooks by Grant Cardone: Sell or Be Sold, and,Closers Survival Guide
  10. Rockbridge Lawn Care LLC

    Rockbridge Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 571

    great advise from all above.

    I would add that as you "start" in commercial work look for the market niche that controls their own property...warehouses, mom-pop shops, dentist/doctor office(s) out of their house etc. That's the ticket to be in front of the decision maker and sell yourself.

    Franchises and larger organizations have a dude 500 miles away in an office who just flips through their corporate recommended 12 contractor list- and generally is price driven or "old reliable". Often these RFP's are for a property set in a 30-50 mile radius, and in truth it makes that 500 mile dude's life easier when he can make one phone call and that covers his territory which might be 100's of miles.....

    medium- HOA's are a whole different ball game

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