I contend that residential & commercial are...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    two totally separate industries. Not quite as separate as construction & maintenance, but still two totally separate industries.

    Take me, for example. I have three years experience in the business, all of it is residential. Not a single commercial client the whole time. I am very good at pricing residential maintenance. But put me out on a shopping center with a lot of shrubs and a lot of large lawn areas, I am totally lost as far as quoting a price is concerned.

    With commercial maintenance, generally speaking, the company who mows the lawn does everything else too. Tree pruning, color changes, irrigation programming & repair, crepe myrtle pruning, mulch for the beds, chemical apps...everything. Often times, in the North Texas area, this includes overseeding the lawn with rye in the winter and mowing it in the winter. There is work to do every month of the year. Also, these agreements are more often than not written agreements with longer term commitments from the customers.

    With residential lawn mowing, the company who mows the lawn often times does nothing else. There is usually a separate company that does the chemical apps. And the home owner often times does everything else, such as trimming the shrubs and color changes. Residential clients almost never over seed the lawn with rye, so there is no mowing to be done in the winter. By and large, residential clients have zero work for the lawn mowing company for 4 to 5 months per year. Also, with residential mowing, there is usually not a signed contract, nor is there usually a long term commitment from the customer.

    I just see these two industries as not having much in common. I would definitely classify these two industries as separate industries.

    Would you?

    DFW Area Landscaper
  2. Rhett

    Rhett LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,071

    DFW, You hit the nail on the head. I try to steer away from commercial as there are so many variables. Like dealing with one person per account. How much time am I going to budget to a commercial each week? Is there going to be a large amount of trash? How many vehicles left over from the night before. I do one bar and one night club and a constucton company. Dread the places thast sell alcohol as you never know what you will run into.
  3. EvandSeby

    EvandSeby LawnSite Member
    Messages: 151

    Just to show the differences in areas, but most of my residential customers have me overseed with ryegrass, prune smaller trees, and do the shrubs. I think that target marketing is the key. Find your specific nitch, and go for it. Mine is small to medium sized residentials in upper middle class neighborhoods. Commercial work here is almost all done by larger outfits with a lot of resources.
  4. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    It seems to me, and to the guy in Arizona, that commerical maintenance is generally done by larger companies with more resources. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but generally, it seems that way. Often times players like Trugreen are doing this maintenance. Uniformed crews are normal. Lettered trucks are normal.

    The typical residential lawn mowing company is very small and looks to be operating on a shoe string budget. Again, not always, but generally. Often times they are carrying 21" mowers in the bed of the pick up and sometimes they even stow them in the trunk of a car. The workers have no uniforms. The trucks are not lettered. Often times, the residential lawn mowing company looks like something from Sanford & Son.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  5. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,282

    I have a few commercial contracts and do 80% Residential, i definitly don't view them as different industries. DFW I can see why you would say that b/c you are servicing a Niche market.

    My residentials and commercials get all the same services, just the residential is more Ala carte if you will.

    The commercials just require more attention.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Yes many of the larger commercial jobs around here are a different ballgame from residentials. I'm talking about very large HOA and office complexes, places like that, where the LCO really has to be knowledgeable in all facets of the green industry. That leaves it pretty much to the big boys. Even if a small LCO has the knowledge he wouldn't have the manpower required to deal with these large commercials.
  7. chuck bow

    chuck bow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 701

    I agree with several posts here, On the very large commercial accounts the smaller guys dont have the manpower or resourses to get the job done right and in a timly matter ( some larger commercial accounts and hoa like the moweing ect to be all done in 1 day ) but on the smaller commercial a smaller company or a solo guy can get the job done. I have several small commercials like Dr's offices and clinics and banks that i can do the job just as well as the big guy and still turn a good profit. The down side to commercial is that they arent loyal and most go to lowest bidder unless you know the managers ( like i do ) . But then again homeowner type accounts can be a pita too wanting all the extras for a little of nothing. I guess all accounts have there good points and bad points too.
  8. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    This is what I've targeted over 17 years. Small - midsized commercial accounts where I get to know the owner / property manager on a first name basis. Each year you just stop in, say "hey, I'm mowing again this year" and they say okay. Off you go for another year.
  9. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    Residential and commercial are as similar or as different as the clients want them to be.

    A doctor's office on a 1/4 acre plot is no more complicated than any full service reidential other than they may have a preference on what day / time to be serviced.

    A 40 acre apartment complex with 20 buildings, 750 residents 1900 parking spaces 3 swimming pools, a tennis court, 600,000 sq feet of beds ...

    Sure, that is an entirely different animal. But so would a 40 Acre residential with estate gardens.

    But as someone mentioned, figure out what your good at and make money there. Or be crazy like me and set up two businesses and go after both ends of the spectrum.
  10. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    For once I agree with DFW. One of the biggest mistakes that new lcos make, imo, is going after commercial right off the bat. They make some $$ on residential at first, see the bigger properties and think more $$. But it's not more $$ if you don't know what you are doing, don't have the right equipment, employees, capacity, etc. And 90% of the time, a larger more experienced company can beat your price and your service because they are equipped for it.

    I agree with DFW that I am lost when it comes to bidding large commercial properties as well. I'm good with residentials, but the larger properties don't fit the how I normally operate and it's hard for me to bid. Although with residentials there isn't as much full service ability, there is more upselling and the possibility of creating client loyalty.

    I think $$ can be made in either, but they are two seperate ballgames and you would be wise to realize that early on.


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