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why the tight lips?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by djlunchbox, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. djlunchbox

    djlunchbox LawnSite Member
    Messages: 122

    I'm curious as to all the secret voodoo and hush hush about what Commercial property owners paid LAST year for lawn care. I'm sitting at a Brickman maintained property now. Massive property. Brickman runs two teams of 3-4 guys here weekly. I happened to run into the maintenance manager while here
    (i'm at my full time job), and asked him what they spent on plowing. He did it all himself. ( thank god i didn't comment on the massive amounts of destruction he caused). I asked what they spend on mowing each year, and you would have thought that i asked to sleep with his wife. All he said was they used Brickman, and they were using them again this year. I told him i was bidding a HOA and trying to gather data from other local places to see if I was underbidding. He helped me out with the plowing price i gave him, and confirmed that i was underbidding. But when it came to what they paid for mowing last year, he was a stone wall. Do larger companies have gag orders in their contracts? it makes sense to me to do that, but we don't. I don't care to know what a business's budget is, thats none of my business.

    We are getting more into the commercial side of things than we expected to this season. And our bids have been what we feel is on the lower end of what is fair. We still have more bids to get out before April, and i'm actually worried that we may be too LOW. The last thing i want to do is drive costs down more than they are now.

    When i ask the property managers directly, 50% are open with the info, and 50% look at me like this guy did. I'd love to get more data from past years on what commercial properties are paying. Are they considering it proprietary information? Are they concerned that someone will come in with a LOWER quote? Or is it a simple confidentiality agreement? I'm thinking about adding one to this years contracts. Maybe all the tight lips are just a byproduct of loyalty, and that's fine by me. So what are you guys running into?
  2. kilgoja

    kilgoja LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 944

    yeah i really don't get it...most people on this site are the same way...they are afraid to say what they charge or whatever...who cares?...i always ask people what they paid in the past...that gives me a place to start from...most of the time the price i had in mind is cheaper than what they tell me!....sometimes it's the same as i would charge and i say i will do it for the same price and they say ok...i really don't get it...i mean everyone is so secretive about stuff...my prices are my prices...they aren't gonna change because someone else out there does it cheaper...doesn't mean i'm gonna lower my prices to their standard...i have my own standard take it or leave it is my approach

    MOHUSTLER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,376

    They do that because if they tell you a price some guys will say il do it for $10 less.

    And if they dont tell you, some sucker might bid half of what they were getting it done for.
  4. kilgoja

    kilgoja LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 944

    yeah lowballers lol...they won't stay in business long working like that...why would they want to cheat themselves out of money?...there's plenty of work for everyone out there...no need to try to outbid (underbid) people...if everyone charged the exact same price this business would be alot better and smoother...then people would only hire based on quality rather than price alone...but whatever ...it's never gonna happen...bring it on lowballers!!!...i don't need your accounts..i have my own :)
  5. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    Can't hurt to ask, but in the eyes of a good property manager....asking for that info is like saying "because I really dont know what Im doing"
  6. kilgoja

    kilgoja LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 944

    i guess or maybe they are like me and don't wanna lose a customer over $5-$10...that amount of money isn't worth losing business over..if i bid $10 too high then i would gladly come off $10 to meet the lower bid...but if it's like $25 lower then forget it lol
  7. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,269

    The nice thing is if you can get into the good side with a few property managers they will give you the bid info. Then you can decide if you want to try and get it or let it go. We bid a property last year at $550 and didn't get it. They came back this year and we bid it at $750 because it is evident that customer is not happy. He called us and said he could get us in if we could move a little down. When we lower our bids we take stuff out not just a random thing.
  8. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,345

    Better question is what is your budget for the property if you want that info. I used to ask and found myself trying to find numbers that work. Not the best plan. Now if I don't get the bid I ask if it was competitive. Normally they will say high or it was close. When it was close I didn't sell myself well enough. If I was high I either had more service than the other or the account was on the lower end of the scale.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. lotsagrass

    lotsagrass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 783

    As a general rule, companies don't tell competing vendors what price the other is charging. For example, if I were to get a bid for new phone equipment from Company A, it would be a huge no-no to tell Company B what Company A is bidding...and it may even be illegal to tell, I don't know. I do know I've been told by my management to never discuss one company's prices with another if they're competing for the business. For one thing, it's not fair to the other company to let the others know what target they need to hit. You place your best bid and hope you get the sale...that's how it is with our large company. I can see their reasoning too. We do give competing vendors a 'you're in the ballpark, but still too high' sort of direction if the other vendor asks how their bid is...but we cannot and will not just come right out and tell the anyone that asks what another company's bid price was. I could get fired for that if the vendor found out and complained to certain people at our company (HR or legal or maybe the purchasing dept)
  10. Ooomwizard

    Ooomwizard LawnSite Senior Member
    from atlanta
    Messages: 296

    It's not always a no-no to tell and many companies DO tell (and even lie) about what others bid hoping to get a lower bid. And again, many don't tell at all. It's really doesn't matter what someone elses prices are, if you know how to bid to make a reasonable profit. Underbid to get the job to win and you may regret it, even go out of business.

    That "maintenance" guy probably didn't know anything about the price of the landscaping bid. That info would be for the managers.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011

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