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Trying To Understand "lake Contract" Mowing...where's The Money?

Discussion in 'Sports Field Management' started by RECESSION PROOF MOWING, May 16, 2008.


    RECESSION PROOF MOWING LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 376

    I just had an opportunity to bid out a 85 acre government lake mowing contract but couldn't crunch the numbers in my favor. Who out there mows lake property of that magnitude? I really want to hear from you guys in the net profit department because I'm not seeing it. I got really great grades in business school and I'm not squeezing any substantial profit out of these winning government lake contract bids...but somebody is mowing that grass! The guy who's got it now wants out in the worst way because he's working sunup to sundown 5 straight days every other week for $1000 net profit every other week. That isn't worth it. You gotta have 5-60" ZTR's, 3 trimmer guys, and good weather to make that happen. Better not have any breakdowns. And no mowing on the weekends??!!! Even if the weather is bad during the week??!!! Maybe I'm missing something here but I just don't see it. Need to be educated on big-time lake government contract mowing. Class is in session...where's the teacher?
  2. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    Arent you the guy who advertised on ebay-cutting everything and anything for one low price?

    RECESSION PROOF MOWING LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 376

    Yes, that's me! I was made famous by those ebay and Craigslist ads. Filled my book of business solid throughout the summer 2008. But this questions pertains to a specific contractual assignment, not residential in nature. I do cut grass for $199/per mower/8 hr working on any type of finish mowing job. These lake contracts, though, combine finish and rough cut along with much, much lower margin of profit than even my rates will tolerate. Thus, the question I submit to those in the game. If the King of Cutrate Pricing can't see a reasonable gain, and these lake contracts are being lowbid out to someone each cycle, where is the net profit? I'm not seeing it. I was privey to inside information that the current contract holder wants out in the worst way due to skyrocketing fuel prices. Yeah, I can see that prices 4 years ago as opposed to today would make a contractor run for the hills!
  4. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    I dont quite understand the 'lake mowing' terminology, but assuming its a huge property as you describe, consider eliminating 4 units and replacing them with a WAM. Now you have 4 less guys, machines, fuel, etc. I dont know if this type of machine can be used there, but I always match the machine to the job the best I can. IMO, running 5 z'd doesn't make much sense to me unless the big guys dont fit.

    You never know what someones motivations are for pricing as low as it seems, but most oftentimes theres an angle we just can't pick up without looking at his 'big picture'. What's your angle? (Maybe I can learn something here)

    BTW, if the current contractor wants out, wait till it goes to tender again, keep a close eye on whose picking it up, call in the day before and see exactly who picked it up, and submit your price accordingly. Most guys should be busy this time of year and not entertaining new work, thats how I picked up another 100 schools at my price.
  5. genesgreen

    genesgreen LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    There isn't money. Same is said for the public schools in my area. You won't make a dime of profit for what they pay for contracts. That on top of rising fuel prices make it a job that will just burn your green.
  6. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    In most cases your right. Just yesterday I calculated an average of $77 per man hour, using ZTR's to cut schools. A two man crew is consistently doing $145-$150 per hour, day in and day out including travel time. Rare find...lets say I was at the right place at the right time on this one.
  7. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    I'm guessing it's around one of the 3 county lakes? Have you seen the guys that mow some of those? There's a reason they got the bid in the first place. They mow for nothing & then make no money doing it. Of course they want out now. You need 72" mowers to even be able to compete anymore on wide open properties like that. Even a 61" would be small in this situation. There's a 72" Ferris on Craigslist KC right now.
  8. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,692

    Back in the day when I was in commercial mowing, I ran dixie choppers, 40 hp, 72" deck 15 mph. I mowed football fields in 9 minutes.
    I averaged $85 per hour. and I undercut every body by a good deal.

    Get a ztrimmer for your zero turn rider (its a trimmer set on your deck, its electric)
    also look into apply growth regulator on areas that need trim.

    Only trim them once per month.

    Bid it like your are making the pennies of profit, using the trim guys etc.
    BUT count on using growth regulators and Z trimmers.
    And you have to have the right mowers too.
    Hustler and dixie chopper are the best ones for this kind of work.

    Fuel is an issue. I'd look into writting in a surcharge clause to your contract.
    If you cant get that well heck let some other joker loose money on it.

    Learn to say no
  9. PecoVacs

    PecoVacs Inactive
    Messages: 130

  10. howierd3866

    howierd3866 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 348

    I know theres not much infor here about this 85 acres but we can mow one of are 40 plus acres with just two "72" in about 5 hours and another 5 hours with 1 weedeatter guy. But again that every other week and that here not there. And as for the Z-trimmer I like ours

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