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Help with big estimate/consultation

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by TNLC owners, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. TNLC owners

    TNLC owners LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    Hello everyone,

    I have an appointment in the morning with my local library director to discuss a lawn care estimate. This is my first time dealing with an account of this size or importance. I was wondering what kind of advice some of you who have more experience with this than I do could give me. Currently, they have switched lawn services three times this summer and as of right now, the lawn hasn't been mowed in two weeks. I was thinking that a good way of doing this estimate would be to offer the first mowing "free" in order to give them an idea of the quality work I do and it would also help me out on determining the correct price to charge. Of course this "free" mowing would actually be figured into the final price I give them so I'm actually not loosing anything on it as long as I get the account. The library is literally just down the street from my house and in a neighborhood that I service regularly. I would really like to get this account and am just looking for any and all advice that is out there. Thanks for your help!
  2. jwscroll

    jwscroll LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    Don't do anything for free when it comes to a county contract, county officials tend to take advantage of that.
  3. TurfProSTL

    TurfProSTL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 693

    Handle it like any other estimate. Figure what you need to do the job and price it.....
  4. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    If you do it for free, you're looking at turning them into a PITA customer. They'll want "other" stuff for free down the road. If you're confident in your quality of work, there is no need to prove how well you do, it will show after you're done.

    If it is too tall, charge them 50-100% on top of what you normally would for the first cut.
  5. all ferris

    all ferris LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,309

    You're just starting and you're already giving stuff away for free???:hammerhead:
  6. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Charge them an hourly rate for a clean up, that is fair for both parties. Give them a estimate before you do the first cut. I usually guarantee my estimates to be within 20%

    All my ongoing contracts have a adjustment clause that allows for an adjustment in the price at 6-8 weeks if I had made a mistake in my bid. They don't expect you to be god so don't present yourself as such. Everyone makes mistakes no matter how long you have been doing this.

    If that does not work for them, Keep Walking. It has to be a win win for both parties.
  7. TNLC owners

    TNLC owners LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    Thanks for the replies guys. Most of you will be happy to hear that I didn't offer the free first cut. I am working on the bid right now. The property in question is approximately 16,400 sq ft. Most of this (75%) is in two large open, flat areas while the remaining 25% is in islands in the parking lot. What I would like your input on now is about how long you think it would take to mow this. I will be working alone with a 52"ztr and a 36"non-hydro wb. The ztr can be used for everything except the islands where the wb will be used. I would consider this property to have a small amount of trimming (light ploes, ditches, signs, trees etc.) I think that I would have a large amount of edging to do around the sidewalks, islands, and landscape beds(one all the way around the building). With this information in mind, I would like some ideas on what you think is a reasonable length of time for this job. By the way, I like the idea about a 20% guarantee and plan on including that in my proposal. Thanks for all the help!

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    You are #4 this year-- Why. I hope you asked what it was that caused them to let the other companies go. Explain that knowing this will help you provide the service that they expect.
    You will get 1 of two answers-
    All 3 other companies did not show up , did bad work , charged too much- Do we really think that all 3 others were bad????
    or this answer "I am not sure what happened, but they just stopped showing up" If that is the answer you get I would believe that the customer is the problem.

    Another point I see in your 1st post--"This is my first time dealing with an account of this size or importance"
    What makes this job more important than any other. I always looked at each job as very important, and requiring equal care. Do not work cheap on this job
  9. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,569

    I think you answered your own question, esp if you have been in business for 3 years, you should know how long it takes you to cut properties, esp really small ones like this. 16K SF is only a tad over a 1/3 of an acre of turf and you said you can cut all of it but a very small amount with the Z so you should be looking at 15 minutes to cut. You also said very little trimming so even with a "large" amount of edging given that the turf is only 1/3 of an acre you should still be done with edging and trimming in a max of 45 mins. No reason in the world why you should be there any longer than one hour max.

    Also three other things though:

    1) You mentioned nothing about landscape maintenance? For that not to also be in a commercial contract would be strange.

    2) Is this library not a government owned property? Either city or county? If so they will go with whoever is low bid, no matter what.....which leads to the next thing.

    3) If they have had 3 LCO's already this summer then that means they are going through each one in less than every 30 days....which means, either you have a ton of slack LCOs.....or.... once the LCO is on the job the library is requiring more work than they stated in their bid request and are paying for....or....the library is simply a huge PITA.

    In any event I'd know the answers to the above before I bid and either my lack of bidding it or my price would reflect it.
  10. stumpjumper

    stumpjumper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    I went through the same thing 2 weeks ago. The manager of an apartment complex asked the manager of a K.F.C who was doing their work. She then called me and wanted an estimate. I visited the property on a Saturday because i wanted to walk it without the manager. I quickly realized that i had no idea how to bid it as a whole. I spent 4 hrs. measuring and breaking it down into sections. Then added everything together for a total. Returned on Sunday to confirm what i had. Met with the manager on Monday and her complaint with the current lco was pretty obvious to me while i was there, missed trimming, terrible scalped areas, air con. units blown full of clippings. I told her there was no way i could take on an account this size this year, but would love to bid on it next year. I ran my estimate by her, turns out mine was $125.00 higher per visit than the other guy. The account is apparently mine March 1-07, won't bank on it till the papers are signed.

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