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Looking for opinions


LawnSite Member
Gettysburg ,PA
I presented 2 bids on the same commercial property last week.One was for
mulching 4500sq ft of basically open shrub beds and around 47 tree rings that
have about a 4' radius to them.I also included in the bid (per request) cleaning out and weeding all beds and tree rings and replacing 12 dead Spirea
little princess bushes. My bid for all that came out to be 4200 and some odd cents. My second bid was for weekly mow, trim, blow and bi-weekly edging.
This came out to be 266.00 per week for 30 weeks.Around 7900.00 for the season.This property is about 4 acres and has a retention pond with some real nasty slopes and
a real high bank (slope) about 25 feet high with a very steep grade around two sides of the building.Not to mention the 47 trees and about 20 more trees with no mulch around them.I presented my bid to the maintenance manager and he seemed to be impressed and said he would take it right to his boss for approval. I had a real good feeling about it and it was looking good. Today I
hear back from him and he tells me that another local (large) LCO came in to look at it and submitted a bid that was half of what mine was.This company has multiple rigs and takes care of most of the local businesses. Was I really
that far off with my bid?? Or can he afford to lowball me just to get the property under his contract?? I thought my price was reasonable if not too low. Comments and/or criticism is welcome.Trying to learn from this situation.


LawnSite Member
Springfield, MO
My guess your looking for more work (thats just my guess) when you submit a bid always expect to lose it to a lowballer. Nothing wrong with your pricing thats what it takes for you to make it work. Now for the large LCO I can't say how they can come it half the price to make it work I never understood with more overhead more emeplyees and their price is cheaper (this coming from a solo operator) Now on landscaping I have two other guys that work for me but my price is high enough to pay everyone good I get jobs and I don't get jobs. the jobs I don't get it kinda make me happy cause I know I won't be losing any money over it by underbidding someone else (thats just me) I have lost bids to bigger LCO's and their price was alot cheaper than mine I guess I haven't had the balls to ask them how they do it...my advise keep your pricing the same you will land jobs and you won't aslong as you know you will make a profit then its all good.. hope this helped


LawnSite Fanatic
Beaverton, OR
Well, what you are describing is exactly why I don't do commercial anymore. I used to get stuff like that all the time when I was giving commercial bids. It's annoying as all he11.

How do they do it? I have no idea. Maybe they're paying guys under the table. Maybe the companies are sole proprietorships (like John Smith Landscaping) and they have the companies make the checks out to their name (John Smith) and then just go cash the checks. Then they don't have to report all their income and pay taxes. Maybe they just hurry through and do crappy work. I don't know.

But this I do know, there is always a market for quality. And if you aren't competitive on price, you have to change your entire marketing and bidding strategy. Do some research. As you do more commercial bids, go back and inquire as to why you're not winning the ones you lose. If you are consistently hearing that you are much higher than the others, then you need to re-eveluate your marketing and bidding tactics.

I have a friend in another part of the country who owns a nursery and landscaping business. They are the most expensive landscaping company in the area - by far. And because they know that, they have adopted a totally different approach to giving bids. First, when they get a phone call request for a bid, the receptionist goes over a questionnaire over the phone. They ask questions like, "Are you just looking for the lowest bid?" and if they answer yes or something close to yes, then she just replies, "Well, I don't want to waste your time. Because we won't be competitively priced." and they don't take that lead. There are a dozen or more questions they ask to "qualify" each lead that comes in. Other questions are like, "What is the size of the property?", "Have you ever hired a professional landscaping company before?", "Are you a previous customer of ours?", "Do you have a budget in mind?" etc. The receptionist writes all of these responses down on a lead form and tells the prospective client that someone will call them back.

Then the owner reviews these "leads" that came in and rejects some and accepts others. He's looking for leads that fit his criteria. And if the responses he sees on the form clue him into something that doesn't look promising he doesn't waste his time. Or he'll put them off and tell the customer they are very busy right now and the landscaping company will contact them back in a few weeks. This is a test. If the customer calls back in 2-3 weeks, still interested, then they will consider going to give a bid.

So with the leads he gets that he likes, he sets up an appointment and at the appointment he sells them on the "quality" of their service, their reliability, their knowledge, their satisfaction guarantee, their experience, etc.

He lands 98% of the bids he gives.

We do the same thing to a lesser degree. I don't screen my leads like that. But I know for a fact we're not the cheapest lawn care company or landscaping company in town. So me and my estimators always sell our customers on our quality, experience, warranty, list of references (which is quite impressive), etc.

I don't land anywhere close to 98% of the bids I give. But the clients we do land understand they get what they pay for. We get clients who are more interested in those other things (experience, quality, timeliness, etc.) than they are about dollars. And those are the kind of clients I want.

One thing this friend of mine taught me that I love is this question; "Do you believe you get what you pay for?" (most people will say yes.) That question will make them think. Next time you have someone tell you you're bid was more expensive, just ask them that question. But it only works if you've already sold them on all the things I've explained above. If you've already done a good job of selling how your company excels in all those areas, then this question just reminds them that they aren't going to get as good service with the other person as they are with you. It also exudes confidence in yourself. You're basically telling them, "Yep. I am not surprised that I am more expensive. I told you from the beginning that we wouldn't be able to compete based solely on price."

One final tip - sell the customer on VALUE, not price. Tell them you can't be beat on value. But if price is all they are looking at, you will be beat every time.