Sub Contracting Commercial Lawn Maintenance

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by FreshCutsLAWN, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. FreshCutsLAWN

    FreshCutsLAWN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    This is my first time posting here and fairly new to lawn site forums but not new to the lawn care business. I have been during lawn care going into my 4th year as full time and have been around it for quite longer than that. But im new to sub contracting commercial lawn maintenance. My question is what do you guys estimate when bidding commercial sub contract work, by the man hour or by acreage. i have the opportunity to bid on right at 10 big properties that need servicing weekly and just trying to make sure im doing it right. Thanks for your feedback and God Bless!
  2. jc1

    jc1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,417

    Truthfully bidding by the acre or hourly are pretty much the same thing. You start by using data you already know since you say you have been doing this for awhile. You know you need to make X per hour to cover expenses and make a profit. You know it takes Y time to cut a certain amount of turf. Therefore you know it takes you 2 hours to cut 10 acres. Or you can cut 10 acres in 2 hours. So you can charge $50 per hour for 2 hours =$100 or you can charge $10 per acre 10 acres =$100. either way you will work 2 hours and make $100.
    These numbers are just for discussion and not bidding with.
  3. ArTurf

    ArTurf LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Ark
    Messages: 5,782

    To me while I consider the total area it is not near as important as how much time and effort I'll spend at the location. For instance; a location might be total 1 hour but is it 30 min. trimming vs. 10 min. Another location might be twice the area but may be wide open mowing and actually take less time and effort than a location half the area.

    To sum it up time and how hard I have to work matters to me most.
  4. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,167

    What do you mean sub contracting?

    Are you the sub?
    Or are you trying to get someone eksecto sub it for you?

    If you’re bidding it to the owner/decision maker, then you’re just the contractor.
  5. FreshCutsLAWN

    FreshCutsLAWN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Thanks for your reply, im the sub, my cousin who does only commercial lawn maintenance and tree work is the contractor, he is wanting to sub some of the contracts out and gave me first bids on it. Im asking whats the best way to bid on big properties as a sub contractor per man hourly or by the acre, im just trying to get my feet wet on commercial properties and think its a great opportunity for me to earn some good money and experience.
  6. FreshCutsLAWN

    FreshCutsLAWN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    thanks for the reply and thats true, some of the properties will take longer that other because it will be more trimming and edging than mowing, im just looking for insight, that's all.
  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,167

    Makes more sense.

    So when yout cousin got the contract in the first place, there’s some sort of dollar figure attached to that work already.
    Just like any ordinary lawn you do already.

    So as a sub you’re asked to do it because he’s too busy, doesn’t have the equipment, whatever the reason.
    If the fact is he already knows what fixed price he’s getting paid for that work.
    So you should ask for a fixed price as well.

    Usually, PRIOR to being awarded a contract, the general or prime contractor knows he will sub some portion of the work (in this case mowing) and get a price from the sub, add some percent to it (5-20% depending) and then add that to his other numbers.

    In this case it sounds as if he’s already got the work, typically in these situations when you have an existing relationship with the prime contractor, either you e worked with him before or he’s your cousin, they say to you “hey bob , I’ve got this job I need done, can you do it for X?”
    Because they already know the number.

    But in other situations like snow plowing , the sun contesctor can be hourly , because the amount of Work there will be at the time of actual service is unclear at the time of estimation.
    Ie there could be 6”, there could be 2”.

    So for lawn mowing, fixed price is customary, especially if it’s weekly
    And for something like snow plowing , an hourly rate is common.

    For mowing, an hourly rate may be appropriate if the request is on call cutting , and there’s no way to know when they call you if there will be one weeks of growth or four, or if it had just rained or there’s been a drought for two months.

    In this case I feel your cousin already knows the price and you shouldn’t need to fumble around in the dark to come to an agreement.

    I frequently as prime/generals what their budget is, don’t be shy, cousin or not.
    If he foolishly bid it for $50 and it’s really $90 and he’s hoping you will accidentally flub the bid too, just be like “ummm no”
    Casually explain the nuances of why the price is the price.
    Frequently a contractor has either more room in another line item (like tree work or golden door knobs) to make up the difference in the mowing OR they flubbed their own bid (forgot to include the price of material in the golden door knobs) and is looking to shave your line item (lawn mowing) to save their margin.

    Otherwise the prime contractor is pretty open with their needs and budget because they just want to work done and really have no interest in it otherwise.

    That’s more or less the cat and mouse of subbing
    If the prime contractor is tight lipped about the budget for the landscaping, be cautious -there’s a reason why.
    Cousin or no
    Business is business
    JFGLN likes this.

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