What % Of Commercial Accounts Typically Require Full Service?

Discussion in 'Bidding, Estimating and Pricing' started by The Swamp Fox, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. The Swamp Fox

    The Swamp Fox LawnSite Member
    Messages: 77

    Hello everyone! I'm a soon-to-be new LCO considering targeting a fair number of mid-sized (1.5–4 acre) commercial properties for landscape maintenance services. Some of my reasons for so doing are listed in detail in this thread, so I won't get into them here.

    One aspect on which I am unclear and would appreciate feedback on is what percentage of commercial accounts possessing a decent-sized lawn/landscape typically require "full service" of their LCO, versus being willing to contract with separate providers for services such as aeration, fertilization / herbicide application, irrigation service, and snow removal (if applicable).

    Out of the gate, I plan to offer the following services:
    1. Mowing
    2. String Trimming
    3. Edging
    4. Blowing
    5. Hedge Trimming
    6. Tree Pruning
    7. Landscape Bed Maintenance / Weeding
    8. Seasonal Mulch Applications
    9. Spring / Fall Leaf Cleanups
    10. Trash Pickup & Removal
    Services I am NOT currently planning on offering out of the gate are as follows:
    1. Aeration — The decision to not offer aeration at time of start-up has more to do with not wanting to over-extend myself with too many service offerings or equipment needs out of the gate. If this proved to be a make-it-or-break-it requirement for landing a substantial account, I could likely arrange to rent an aerator, so this point is flexible.

    2. Fertilization — This again mostly has to do with not wanting to branch out into too many things all at once. Dry fertilizer applications have no licensing requirements in my state, so again, if this proved to be a deal-breaker for a substantial account, I could likely provide this service after taking the time to educate myself on the topic.

    3. Herbicide / Pesticide — This is definitely out of my comfort zone at this point in time. While I have plenty of experience with wildlife food plot soil prep and herbicide treatment thanks to my bow-hunting hobby, I have no direct experience with weed treatments on residential lawns. And while I can meet Michigan's business licensing requirement — possessing at least a two-year degree — there is an additional applicator license requirement involving two years of experience which poses a severe barrier to entry.

    4. Irrigation Inspection / Repair — Same story as the above services. Having grown up on and now living on my own homestead in the country, I have no personal experience with irrigation. Haven't yet researched licensing requirements. Have plenty of experience with plumbing my own house projects and believe I could probably perform this service in future, but would prefer to not attempt to do so out of the gate.

    5. Snow Removal — This has everything to do with trying to keep my equipment needs consolidated at start-up as well as giving myself significant time off over the holidays and winter. I may branch into this eventually if work-life balance allows, but have no plans to offer it immediately.
    What has been your experience when bidding mid-sized (1.5–4 acre) commercial properties? Do they typically require a "full service" LCO provider, or are they willing to contract with other turf specialists and snow removal contractors for the five services I've listed which I would prefer not to provide?

    I realize that sub-contracting could be a possible avenue for working around not having to provide the aforementioned five services myself, and am interested to hear if other LCO's with similar service offerings have gone this route.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  2. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Gold Member
    from WV
    Messages: 3,161

    100% of our commercial accounts are full service. I would be willing to say most commercial do not consider aeration a necessity. Other than that we provide everything you listed. I'm talking about 30+ commercial/industrial accounts too.

    Just like with our residential accounts more and more places/people are looking for a end all be all solution. It's easier on the home office/corporate/whatever along with the property managers.
  3. OP
    The Swamp Fox

    The Swamp Fox LawnSite Member
    Messages: 77

    I appreciate you sharing your experience, including the tip about aeration — good to know. It only makes sense that folks would want a one-stop-shop for all landscape maintenance needs.

    The particular properties I'm considering targeting are located in an industrial park on the outskirts of city limits. From what I can tell, most do not have irrigation systems installed, nor treat for weeds / pests. If I had to guess, the biggest sticking point in my case if they require true full service is likely seasonal snow removal.

    In your experience, if a given commercial/industrial client's maintenance is handled by a property management company, does that at all impact the requirement for a "full service" LCO? Are property management companies more willing to subcontract various elements of service to different LCO's?
  4. Andrew H

    Andrew H LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,986

    I know this isn’t the answer you’re looking for, being in Michigan, why should a company hire you if you don’t offer snow and ice mgmt?

    Many commercial entities want a seasonal price or all inclusive
    Which include 30 ish mowings, 5-7 fert apps, plowing/ removal /ice mgmt as needed.

    Since you won’t be offering these services, you’ll need to subcontract it out and upcharge a bit.

    Now my company comes along and offers all of the services you mentioned plus the snow and ice mgmt, I can offer a more attractive price to the customer thus giving me potentially a better chance.

    Another thing, around here (Michigan)
    The money is in snow, lawn maintenance sucks, but it keeps the business afloat and kills time waiting for winter. So it would be advantageous to offer these services.

    Lastly, many commercial entities require references so to get your foot in the door, I’d target the small mom and pop brick and mortar shops and then go bigger (crawl walk run)
    Mudly, gcbailey and The Swamp Fox like this.
  5. OP
    The Swamp Fox

    The Swamp Fox LawnSite Member
    Messages: 77

    This is exactly the type of information I was looking for. Straight and to the point — many thanks!

    I appreciate the heads up. I'm still working to try to get a handle on market pricing for lawn maintenance in my area, so what you're saying could well be true. Then again, time spent outdoors getting exercise in the sun is a big part of why I'm considering getting into lawn care, with income being only a back-of-mind consideration.

    This info directly addresses the question I posed in an earlier thread — namely, whether an inexperienced but professionally operated, branded, and marketed LCO has any shot of landing commercial accounts when new to the game and lacking in references. That is one of the main questions I have regarding the accounts I have in mind, and I appreciate your input.
  6. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Gold Member
    from WV
    Messages: 3,161

    We have several commercial sites that only want certain areas (appearance sections) treated (herb/fert), that customer's/clients/public/etc.... see. The 5 acre lot behind the building just needs mowed not treated type thing.

    We don't deal with property management companies. If we can't deal with the business itself, it's not worth it. So we don't handle the Walmart/Lowe's/HD type nationals. We deal with local/regional companies along with a couple national chains that have their own property management departments and I will say they are great to deal with.

    From what experience I know of guys in my area that are subs for property management companies those companies want a one stop shop also because that's how the contract is written or they are just too lazy to look around to sub out individual components.
    The Swamp Fox likes this.
  7. Jeff@diyokc

    Jeff@diyokc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 179

    My commercial folks require all the items in your “will do” list, done weekly! All of them have come from word of mouth referrals, (@20 at this time).

    They look to me to change out color at appropriate times of the season, and to fertilize and apply pre/post emergent as necessary!

    Unlike a homeowner, mine do not tell me when I should do it, I’m the professional, I do it when as I see it! I meet with the managers yearly to discuss budgets for the year and cost increases! I see them occasionally throughout the season, mostly to discuss what problems they are having with their own lawns at home!! Be a solution seeker for them!
    hort101 and The Swamp Fox like this.
  8. lawnmanppark

    lawnmanppark LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    every commercial account is different when bidding commercial ask exactly what services they want commercial sales is competitive your bid needs to have what services they want subcomtracting is easier but make sure there work quality is with yours because I learned my lesson when the customer is complaining and your subcontractor isn't doing anything which makes you look bad and maybe loose business
    The Swamp Fox and Jeff@diyokc like this.

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