Help bidding church/cemetary

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by smallstripesnc, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    I have been contacted by a church to cut their property weekly or bi-weekly depending on the price. They have 4 acres which includes the church, cemetary, and parsonage. I have NO clue where to start when it comes to bidding this property.

    I am a solo operation and the biggest mower I have is a Gravely 52in ztr.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  2. jones68

    jones68 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    when i worked for another lco we serviced 4 cemeteries. they had a TON of trimming every stone needs done every time. The money for them is good if you have the time. me mostly solo sometimes a part time guy with me i could not take on a cemetery due to the time it would take me. the larger guys can come in with a bigger crew and bang the trimming out.
  3. hi_speedreed

    hi_speedreed LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 534

    Here are some questions that will help narrow down your answer. How many headstones? Are you responsible for removing flowers and other memorial items people leave? How neat is the placement of the stones? Are they just place wherever the family decided to place them or are they neat and in straight rows?

    4 acres with the 52 you should be able to bust that out in well under 2 hours, depending on obstacles and the lay of the land maybe down around 1hr15min but that is pretty much topping out productivity with the mower and averaging around 9mph.

    Trimming is where you are going to run into your biggest time killer. Like I said previously, w/o seeing the property and knowing how many stones, how they are laid out, trees, other obstacles, fences, sidewalks, beds anything else that really kills the ability to knock it out fast it is hard to estimate. I would venture to say you are looking at minimum an hour of trimming and maybe up to 3 so that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 to 5 hrs for this job.

    If this is a 4 acre cemetery, packed to the hilt with stones and the church and the parsonage have no real yard to speak of then I think your time is going to be way different than what I am imagining this setup to look like.
  4. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    Speaking as someone who has mowed a large church for over 3 years solo I would advise you to not bid it unless you have no other avenues of income. Why? Because sooner or later the church will fall on hard times and ask you to lower your rate, all while assuring you that this will pave your way into heaven. Or, the more likely occurrence will be that someone in the congregation will fall on hard times or get laid off and there kids will be starving and some do gooder at the church will recommend him to do all the mowing till he gets back on his feet. Simple rule of thumb to follow: never work for doctors, lawyers, or clergy!
  5. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    Thanks for all the input! Up to this point I've only done residential properties and I'm scared that if I take 3+ hours out of my day and could be cutting residential properties that IF the church didn't work out then I'd be out three hours of work until I got more accounts to fill the time.
  6. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    You really never want to take on an account assuming it won't work out. Find out exactly what is required per mowing, and bid it just like any other job you have. As others have mentioned, the size of the cemetery portion and the placement of the stones will have a lot to do with the time required. I've only mowed one cemetery, helping a friend of mine before I started my own business, but it was an old one (has one Revolutionary War soldier buried there), and the stones are scattered helter skelter. Figure it will take you twice as long to mow as it would to do open ground of the same area, then figure up to a minute for each stone for trimming. Good luck.
  7. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I also work solo, an have passed on opportunities that others say I'm foolish for not wanting to work. These are jobs just like you are considering, in terms of the time allotment.

    I had a great job opportunity last Spring, a job that I knew was going to take about three hours, maybe a little longer. While it is tempting to remain at one place for all morning, or all afternoon, nothing having to load and drive, I turned down the opportunity. I don't want these large blocks of time in my schedule when interruptions happen. Yes, it would be great to have a large source of income from one stream, but trying to work around these large time allocations when rain comes, or running out of daylight, is a problem. I don't want to leave a job partially finished, and have to return. The efficiency of the large job is quickly lost.

    P.S. I will work for lawyers, doctors, clergy, ... does not matter. Learn to work with them, not ignore them. Everybody's money is green.

    I would rather have two 1.5 hour jobs, than one 3.0 hour job, so that I can shuffle schedules when necessary. If every work day was perfect, and I could work from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day, without interruptions, I would seek after these jobs. But, until that time arrives ...

    I have no experience with cemetery work, but have lots of threads over the years about how to work them. I will leave comments on this part of your opportunity to others. But, from the time allocation view, I would pass. But, you know how you work, and how you schedule jobs, so maybe it fits with your ways of working.

    P.S. I will work with lawyers, doctors, clergy, ... does not matter. Learn to work with everybody, not ignore those of certain careers. Everybody's money is green.
  8. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    You should decline the job. You're not ready to deal with a cemetery. Here is why I feel this way.

    You wrote, "I have NO clue where to start when it comes to bidding this property." which tells me you should not even try to bid on it. You're still a greenhorn in a lot of the categories to run a business. No need to make matters worse and get in over your head.
  9. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    2 things you said that scare me- depending on the price, meaning they more then likely can't afford you and cemetary. I think cemetary's and solo's don't make a good match.
  10. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    I am glad to see folks are starting to look before jumping into frigid waters, I'm guessing that means we've all learned a few lessons the hard way... It sure beats jumping in head first, it's not so much about trepidating around while barely sticking the big toe in to see if the water's cold knowing full well you'll never jump in at that rate, but it is about being a little bit cautious and checking out the various angles before jumping in head first where there could be a big rock hiding right underneath the surface...

    You see...

    I think churches and cemeteries have their place in this Industry, keeping in mind we all have to start somewhere this would be the type of job I would take only if I was interested in doing more of the same and needed the experience... That means I will lose some money, but it also paves the road for future endeavors of this kind, turning it down now likely means more of the same as well, granted you can still change your mind later but you have to decide which way to go on this here crossroads.

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