how to sell to city managers

Discussion in 'Sports Field Maintenance' started by kyfireman2004, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. DeereHauler

    DeereHauler LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 604

    i don't know about there, but locally the schools post the bids, so every year the price goes down......usually they undercut eachother by $2 a cut. lowest man wins. its a joke. i avoid it all.

    an lco mows a huge school near my home for $85 a week. my price would be about $350, but hey, thats why i'm not cutting it.

    one more ex., another local township wanted properties mowed, some here, some there. my bid was $450/week for all. i was within $5 of every other lco my size, or anyone that i call competiton. winner got it for $200/week. once again, we all got eachothers bids mailed to us after all was said and done.

    stick with commercial and residential
  2. GroundsGuy

    GroundsGuy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 68

    Other Side Of The Coin

    I'm the supervisor of the grounds department of a school district. We contract-out our tree trimming work. I've changed our tree trimming company twice in the last few years, and this is why:

    Traditionally we had never put our tree trimming contract out for competitive bids. When I took over the department, I put it out for bid and found out that the current company was charging over twice of all the other bids. That company had been doing our tree trimming for over ten years and had become complacent in feeling that we were a forever sure thing no matter how much they charged. When I told the owner that we were going with another company, he offered to lower his prices, which confirmed what I already knew, which was that we were being over charged.

    The company I went with had good references with other local school districts and municipalities. We worked with them for a few years, but they had a turn-over in their management, and no longer came out when they said they would, and their work was no longer up to ANSI standards.

    The current company has been doing a fine job, and we will keep them as along as they continue to provide for our needs.

    Big reason why we don't contract-out all of our grounds care: Private contractors have other obligations. If a big fire (like the ones we've just had) causes damages to their properties, the the contractors will respond first to their private contracts. Also, if something comes up (soccer tournament eg.) and attention is required, the contractor can't be counted on to take care of it. In-house daily grounds care is dependable. Private contractors are not.

    A little bit about money: My budget is fixed. If my tree budget is $30,000.00, and your bid is over that, we can not use you. If your bid has a annual percentage raise, once it exceeds my budget, we can not use you. The only way my budget can increase, is if the state decides to fund education at a greater rate, which means either that taxes will go up, or other state programs will get less. Not likely to happen. If it should happen, then the local school board would need to decide that tree care is more important than teachers, books, etc. Not likely to happen. So my budget is the economic reality that contractors need to be aware of.

    Regarding bonds and insurance: Municipalities get sued. A LOT. People see us as easy deep pockets for any compensatory damages they may or may not actually sustain. We need to cover ourselves in case of any injuries that may occur. Also, it has been our experience that companies that are sufficiently bonded and insured have better safety training for their employees (often the insurance companies require it). So it is in the best interest of everybody that properly bonded and insured contractors are used.

    Regarding the acceptance of lowest bids: We are the keepers and users of "The Peoples Money." It is in everyone's best interest for us to get the best value for the service provided. So the natural inclination is to go for the lowest bid. (This is no different than your business practices. If you can obtain the same mower for $10,000.00 or $15,000.00, you would make the $10,000.00 purchase.) However, if that bid should turn out to not be satisfactory - due to poor references, insufficient insurance, etc. we are under no obligation to take it. If we should accept the lowest bid, and the service is not satisfactory, we are under no obligation to continue it.

    Now here is where I help you out. When proposing your scope of work, be aware of my budget, and break your work down into components that will fit into it. For example, set up a proposal where you will trim all the shade trees in front of the school buildings one year, the trees in playground the second year, and the conifers the third. Come in under my alloted budget, and we are locked in to a three year deal, where all of my trees are trimmed, you are making decent money, and there is a good chance of renewing the contract in three years. If your costs go up, then parse out the work more efficiently.

    Some more help:
    Guarantee quality at a competitive price.
    Have good solid references.
    Offer a service we cannot provide for ourselves.
    Stay in contact with us. If we don't accept your bid one year, drop by my office every few months or so and remind me that you are still out there doing quality work. This will definitely influence me.

    Good Luck
  3. hoskm01

    hoskm01 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,690

    Awesome post grounds guy, thanks.
  4. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    Most of the time it is going to depend on the city accountant, and who ever is over the grounds .
    Personally when I was over the grounds dept I would have never subed it out because my crew and I did all the work and knew the soil tempaments where we worked. We were always one to two men short not because I wanted it that way but because good help will not work for peanuts and that is what the bean counters wanted to pay. As a rule of thumb schools, and municipalities want the most work done for the leaste dollar spent.
    To all of those who beleive it is cheaper to sub it out for municipalities I disagree. It is very seldom cheaper. . My crew consisted of 3 other guys during the fall and winter and expaned to six in late spring through most of foot ball season. if it was out side it was our responsibility. from the fileds to the fence to the landscaping to the parking lots to the sidewalks. to any sighn or any other thing they could have us do out side. So when you are talking to cities about saving money you need to make sure of what those crews are doing. many of the times it is not cheaper for them to sub the work out.

    Now with that said if they want you to bid they will throw it out if it is high. Low bid will get the job. If you are low bid you need to do good work or the will cut you and rebid. It does not bother them they are just trying to get the work done for as little as possible.
  5. packey

    packey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    I should of read what gronds guy said first. read his post it is right on target.
  6. Armadillolawncare

    Armadillolawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 570

  7. GroundsGuy

    GroundsGuy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 68

    hoskm01, packey, Armadillolawncare,

    Thank you for your kind words.
  8. humble1

    humble1 LawnSite Silver Member
    from MA
    Messages: 2,526

    For you it would be to be to call town hall town manager, public works dept, and school SAU Dept and ask to be put on their bid list for what ever you do. Usually it is sealed bids, insurance requirements etc.
  9. GAmower

    GAmower LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    In our orginization the purchasing department are the people you want to talk to to get on a bidding list. As well when we go out for contract on work we look up members of the local Landscape and Nursury Association.
  10. Swampy

    Swampy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,433

    hate to retort with a other questions.
    1. What size contracts are you looking at? Is it cemeteries, public schools, Athletic fields, parks, water towers, or municipal buildings?

    2. Do you have the equipment? If you don't have some of the smaller equipment thats fine cause you can turn around and pick up ZTR's and WB like water. But if you got a lot of acerage your headed for deep water. We had a big school district contract a few years back. 10 Elementary schools, 5 middle schools, and 3 high schools all off them done in a 13hr day. We started with only Toro: 1 580-D, 2 300 series with 72in decks, 1 223 with a 62in, and 2 48in WB. And One small JD tractor. Well this wasn't enough. Luckily Our dealer had a Toro 455, a another 300 series, and another 223 all back from a lease with the milwaukee brewers. All that was enough to get by but if something went down then you where up crap creek with out a outboard. End rabbling, the smaller equipment can be easily found but your bigger mowers will have to be ordered from the factory and take months to build. We ran the contract for three years, so we did make the money back on the equipment purchased but we lost the contract because we tacked a extra 200 bucks for picking up trash the last year when the seniors left (they literally emptied their lockers outside the doors)

    Now years later we have a two municipal contracts (small 4 schools, and a soccer club fields) the only thing left after getting hit that hard we sold pretty much everything when the contracts left is the 580-D, a 325, a 223, a 48'' walkbehind, and the small JD tractor.

    My advise if your not equiped/staffed to deal with it don't go for it.

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