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First Contract (How Many Cuts, Con'd)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by TGCummings, Dec 29, 2000.

  1. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 773

    Hey Folks,

    Come Tuesday, I'll be placing a quote for landscape maintenance of the water district's local sites (three of 'em). I have a family friend who inherited the General Manager's position at this post and he's convinced the Board to hire out the work and save his people for their specified jobs. Could be a good account, if they meet my price.

    I've done the research here, I've listened and learned and I'm ready to draw up my first commercial contract. It'll be a great way to start the New Year if it comes through.

    However, I have a question: In my area, there is no off-season. We cut year around, either weekly or bi-weekly. Now, in drawing up my contract I want to specify the number of cuts annually, but am not sure how to approach it. The standard 30-35 cuts/year I see for most companies up here won't work out here. I saw one guy had 43, which seemed an odd number to me.

    I'm mainly focused on finding out what others here in California use as a figure for number of cuts in their contracts, and why. My initial thought was to go 44 and 22 cuts, for weekly and bi-weekly respectively. That would leave 8 weeks for rain, equipment, and family vacation issues. That seems a lot, though, and have been considering 46 or even 48 cuts for my weekly accounts. That would still leave 4-6 weeks of play, wouldn't it? Is that feasible, or am I asking for trouble with that many scheduled cuts?

    Though I'd love to hear from other Californians on this, I'm also interested in hearing the feedback from anyone with an opinion (re: Guido! Homer! Kirby!). The more perspective I get, the better picture I'll get on this, my first contract.

    As always, appreciate your help!!! :)

  2. Chuck Sinclair

    Chuck Sinclair LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    I have never seen a California contractor specify how many cut to make i know i dont i word my contract to read that after october the cuuting is on an as neeed basis detemind by ME :)

  3. tazman

    tazman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    I would agree with Sinclac. If the water district does not specify how many mows they want a year, then you do. I would say (for example)in the bid, you would mow a minimum 36 times not to exceed 52. Any mows above 36 would be on a as-need-basis determined by you. I have used this approach with no problems at all.

    Good Luck.
  4. jay

    jay LawnSite Member
    Messages: 133

    Are you just mowing the site or are you taking care of the beds and walkways? I would talk to your relative or and ask the site exactly what they want. The reason I asked you about maintence on beds and walkways is because it will probaly look more presentable weekly if theres alot of trees or trafic around. But the bid would look alot more pleasing doing it bi-monthly during the winter. I also am from C.A. and most of my commercial accounts like them weekly if it has anything to do with business, just because it looks more pleasing to the customers and staff. I started writing yearly contracts this year also with the advise from this site but I can't see it working for all of my customers because weeds keep growing, leaves keep falling, garbage builds up, and walkways become unatractive in a period of a week. The ones I can see it working for year around are the newly landscaped facilities.
  5. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    You know your seasons better than I would. I used to think I knew mine but this year has blown it all to, well anyway. I would specify in the contract the number of cuts you will perform for each month, the heavier growing months would be weekly for instance and the slower months would change to bi-weekly. I would give them a minimum # so they will have something to reference then include a phrase that lets them know you will take care of any extra cuts if needed due to weather conditions. Just let them know you will be there to take care of the property no matter what. Make sure when figuring weekly that you take into account the months that have 5 weeks, I think there are 2 in 2001. It's easy sometimes to figure 4 weeks month. I have a proposal form I could fax you that is a fill in the blank type if you need it. E-mail me and let me know.

  6. jay

    jay LawnSite Member
    Messages: 133

    Exactly Homer about the five weeks in a month alot of people don't add that in I usly times each cut by 4.25 to get my average monthly rate, because theres a average of 4.25 weeks each month.
  7. Starling Lawn

    Starling Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 170

    Your numbers sound about right for year around service.In Florida,we cut all year too.
    I would lower your bi-weekly cuts to do some more fishin`
  8. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 773

    Hey Folks,

    Thanks for all the replies. You've given me some food for thought as I prepare this proposal and contract. Let me address some specifics you've made me think about:

    Sinlac: If your # of cuts are not specified in contract, how do you personally figure up your rate? Do you base it on the general number of cuts you'll supply each year and just don't pass that on? If so, how many cuts/year do you estimate when working up your proposal? Being in California, with experience in my general climate, I'd be interested in knowing how you work up your proposal...

    Jay: I'll be walking off the properties on Tuesday, but from the general conversation it would appear that most of what is needed is the mowing, with some weeding and general care as well. All of which I can easily provide. My thinking is setting up the contract with weekly maintenance February through October (our general growing season), and bi-weekly November through January. With this, I would set my number at about 42 visits/year under normal conditions (36 weekly, 6 bi-weekly).

    Homer: I e-mailed you about that proposal. Like I said there, I think setting things up at 4 cuts/month would get stickier than setting things up at 36 cuts/9 months. Over that period, I could make up any missed cuts from weather, vacation, equipment, et. al. during those extra-week months and still hit my average. If I state unconditionally that I'll cut 4 times every month, I could get into a situation where a customer might ask for discounts if they're due late in a short month and I end up moving them to the 1st of the next due to weather. If I set it up for cuts/year I think I could avoid a lot of little problems. What do you think?

    Again, thanks to everyone for their thoughts. Your responses and insights, and this whole wonderful site, have been a godsend... :)

  9. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Messages: 3,485

    TGC, looks like Chuck, Homer and the others beat me to it. Good advice from them.

  10. Ssouth

    Ssouth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    TGCummings, See if you can find out who has been responsible for the work in the past and ask them personally how it has been done. I was awarded the contract for my local utilities company in Nov. When looking at the properties, I was to bid on, they let me borrow one of there employees for a day to ride with me. He had done all of the lawn maintenance before they decided to bid it out. Because he had done the work in the past he was very knowledgable about the specifics. This guy even brought me a list of his old routes. There were 61 sites and he knew exactly what was expected at each site. It took a whole day but without him I would have never known exactly what was to be done at each site. If there is only three sites surely they will let you borrow one of there employees who has been preforming the work for a hour or two.

    Good Luck,

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