Looking to get commercial work

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by MR Services, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. MR Services

    MR Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    I know that some of you may rip on me for asking this, but please try as you may to help me out a little. For the past year I have done nothing but private residential work, but now I am looking to move up to bigger and better things. It was suggested to me that I try to get some work through a few of the local home builders. I was wandering, does anyone have any ideas as to how I should approach the builders? What questions should I ask them? What prices should I charge? ....etc. If you can help me out i would greatly appreciate it.
  2. The Good Earth

    The Good Earth LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    Why do you need commercial work? Do you have trouble getting your residential clients to pay? Are your residential clients a PITA? We were on a job today discussing this very issue. We do a pretty even amount of comercial versus residential. In the 60/40 ballpark. If it wasn't for our residential work we would be eating ketchup sandwiches for months at a time. Bottom line on commercial work is plan on getting paid 90 days out, deal with dip$hit job superintendents, halfa$$ designs, and unrealistic job time frames. The last 3 I can deal with but I am tired of carrying the bill for folks I work for. As the economy gets worse we get more and more excuses on why we aren't getting paid until the bill is 90 to 120 days out. The longest I have ever carried a residential was 28 days. Those our are standard terms, 4 weeks after invoice. This is after getting 60% up front. Ask a general contractor for 50% up front. You will get laughed straight out of the office.

    Granted, residential clients can be a little chatty, sometimes indecisive, and somewhat rude but they pay. And this ain't UNICEF. If I want to go broke I'll plant me rear on the couch and watch Springer and Oprah. I sure ain't gonna bust my hump for some dick that isn't going to pay me.

    Sorry, man, I got on a little rant. Just give it a good thought before you go committing working capital on a job that may sink you if you don't have a quick turn around.
  3. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Jay, I couldn't agree with you more. For me, high end residential is much more lucrative and easier to manage than commercial work. There are some drawbacks as you mentioned, but the pay is much faster and quality and creativity are appreciated.
  4. The Good Earth

    The Good Earth LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171


    You are dead on. From a profit standpoint we easily make 2-3 times in profit than what we pull from commercial accounts. To me, appreciation is another big factor. On a commercial gig you will hear it backwards and forwards if it is wrong. But when it is right they walk by and say nothing. I could care less about that but I feel it is important for my employees to be told that they are doing good work and making proper decision's.

    My only drawback on residential work, and it is a big one, is facilities. I know my guys like to tear open a 12 pack when they get home. And eat a burrito or 2. Come 9 AM those boys are looking like they really need a break. Got to load them in the truck and take them to a local gas and sip. You ought to see those morons fighting for the first throne. I know I really appreciate my job when we roll out of there!! Stinking mess does not even begin to describe it! :) But after recess is over they are good to go for about another 7 hours.
  5. Popper357

    Popper357 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 217

  6. michaeldan

    michaeldan LawnSite Member
    from N. TX.
    Messages: 4

    I asked this question earlier, but it has been posed much more clearly here. I am in the same position. If I thought there was enough residential work to keep me afloat I wouldn't worry about the commercial side. I have heard the horror stories of working for builders too. Maybe I'm not advertising properly. My ads in the yellow pages come out this fall. Should I expect more from those? Is it even possible to not do maintenance and only do installations? Maybe there is just too much competition in my area. Any suggestions?
  7. MR Services

    MR Services LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    So would you say not to even get any commercial work of any kind? If you are just saying, not to go through builders, what tactics would you suggest i use or approaches i take when trying to obtain commercial work?
  8. jaybird

    jaybird LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    we do all county and state work, good money no problems checks pretty much come on time. but i would love to see a cash job, real money that you can see, and hold.
  9. chefdrp

    chefdrp LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,384

    i thought it would be nice to have some commercial lawns. To me commercial sucks. I have a few and 2 of them are always calling the day i am scheduled to be there. One time it was even raining. I told the guy i don't have any other clients call me. My 500,000 - Mill dollar homes don't call. They just know i will be there. I love residential.
  10. The Good Earth

    The Good Earth LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    I wouldn't say not to get commercial work just be prepared for what you are getting into. Make sure you can afford to front the money it costs to do the job and not get any return on your investment for at least 90 days. Do your homework on builders and other commercial offerings. Generally if they are looking for someone it is because they suck and not the landscaper. Most everyone on here will agree, at least I think, that if you have a commercial client that is good to work for and pays good you do whatever is in your power to protect you interests with them. In other words, if they tell you to jump you ask how high, how soon, and how often.

    Also what scope of work do you want to explore with the commercial gigs? Install, maintenence, applications, hardscapes, irrigation? Tell us what you have in mind and lets see where it goes.

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