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View Full Version : Lets talk commercial accounts


stuntmanlogan
10-04-2009, 09:25 PM
My question is how to get these commercial properties, everyone tells me i have to go to them they wont come to me. Before we get into this i would like to tell you about my business I started my lawn care business four or five years ago with about four accounts my first season and second season i got up to about ten and thats all i had for the next two seasons so for this season 2009 I advertised with signs and that got me up to about twenty five accounts give or take. So I moved up from a 21 in push mower to a 36 in commercial walk behind. So what my question is is that i would like to expand into commercial businesses in my area because is all ive been doing is residential yards threw out my business. So im wondering when to start looking for these commercial properties for next season. And how to land them. Thanks

Steve
10-04-2009, 10:43 PM
I'd say you should always be out there making contacts with commercial property managers.

Here are a bunch of article on getting commercial accounts. Let me know if any of them help.

http://lawnchat.com/?cat=39

mark123
10-05-2009, 08:51 AM
Keep in mind that many commercial accounts will require higher insurance coverages. There is one in town that won't even consider anyone that doesn't have at least 2 million per incident.

turfmaster
10-05-2009, 07:36 PM
Everyone is right you have to go after the commercial accounts. Now is a good time to bid for next year. Drive around industrial parks and strip malls. Go into the establishment and ask to talk to whoever is in charge of property maintenance contracts. Like Mark said make sure you have enough insurance.

wdcutter
10-06-2009, 08:33 AM
Like everyone said you will need to get out there and visit these places, find out who you need to talk to, the process and requirements needed to place a bid. Get all the details you can so you place an accurate bid, as some will just say send it here or there with very little details or requirements. I found this out dealing with some of the bigger retailers this past spring.

I have been doing this very same thing for the last month or so, preparing for next season. I make sure to chat with those in charge and I ask alot of questions to make sure I know just what needs to be on the bid.

Steve
10-06-2009, 03:47 PM
I ask alot of questions to make sure I know just what needs to be on the bid.

What kinds of questions do you advise others asking?

thacket3
10-08-2009, 05:06 PM
Hi-

I am a property manager of 2 million sq ft in Florida and I am toying with the idea of getting into the lawn/landscape maintenance field. I was reading this and thought I would throw in a few thoughts-

The company I work for prepares it's budgets at the end of August/begining of Sept with final revisions in October. This is a little earlier than most, but not by much. especially given today's economy, we are looking at every expense harder than ever before. One of the differences I did this year in accepting bid's/proposals was I wanted every item broken out. In the past I would ask for the total year number, number of cuts and what that number included. I put together a bid package outlining what I want, and then get the number as a whole. This year I wanted every service provided broken out. ala cart. I am tailoring the service to my budget and cutting costs where we can. I am looking at everything from irrigation maint. to fertilizor and tree trimming trying to find small amounts that can be cut to make a difference. however small. Maybe this year I will only trim the tree's once and fertilize once instead of twice like last year. Not sure, but I need options right now.

I have met a lot of reisitance from several contractor's telling me not to cut back on fertilizor or another service, but the fact of the matter is that the budget is so tight and the property incomes are so greatly reduced, every dime I can squeeze out has an impact.

Those contractors that I invited to bid this year tended to get my attention about 6 months ago. maybe once a month sending me an email or brochure after a phone call. I actually throw out the ones that got overzealous, but thats just me. I don't need a call every week. once a month is fine. I have a lot of other things going on. but again, thats just me.

Insurance is a priority. I am in large scale commercial property management and all of my contractors are required to carry 2 mil in insurance. We used to take 1 mil, but now only 2 mil is looked at.

I require terms also. Sorry, but my office, on average gets 100 invoices a day. We handle approx 10 mil sq ft, so lots of things need to be paid. It's just not possible for me to cut a check the same day or typically even a week to get someone paid. We require all contractors to be on a 30 day invoice. Obvoiusly we are good sized and a lot of smaller companies can turn invoices around faster, but if you want our work, you have to meet the terms.

lastly, and more than anything I looked at is references. I require, and call, references. Sorry, your brouchure looks great, but I don't know you from adam, so I need to talk to people that do know your work.

Last thing I would throw out there for thought- this year has been bad for commercial real estate and the forcast is for 2010 to be much much worse. I would caution you that there are a lot of real estate companies out there on the verge of closing and are having a hard time paying their bills, and for that reason may be making a fast switch because the place needs to be maintained, but they didn't have enough cash to pay the last guy. Just be wairy of anyone making the "fast switch" right now. I am also seeing a lot of companies stretch those 30 day payment terms into 45-60 days.

Again, we are pretty good sized and I'm sure that'snto what everyone here had in mind about commercial, but just thought as a lerker, I would try to contribute.

I enjoy reading the posts. thanks for all the info.

Tim

Steve
10-08-2009, 07:21 PM
Tim,

That was a great post.

I do wonder as you reflect back on your dealings with lawn care companies. Did any specific things some of them did really help them stand out and win you over? Or did it all just come down to who could do the job at the lowest dollar value?

Also, what kinds of things have lawn care business owners done that were an absolute waste of their time when they were trying to get your attention and market to you?

Could you also share with us the steps a lawn care business should take from how to initially contact the property management company to ultimately winning the bid? I am sure many readers would love to know how this works from your perspective.

TeamDynamic
10-08-2009, 10:18 PM
The best thing to do is get out and talk to managers/owners face to face. Spark up a conversation and ask if they are accepting any new bids for their lawn care and landscaping services. You will be amazed at how many business owners/managers are unhappy with their current lawn care company. Most businesses already have a lawn care company, so be prepared to not get a lot of commercial accounts the first year you go after them. If the business is not happy with their current lawn care company, they will usually be more than happy to let you know when their contract is up. Take some notes: What they expect, what the are unhappy about, and WHEN THE CURRENT CONTRACT ENDS.

Keep in contact with the people in charge (stop in and say hi/send a card around the major holidays) and submit a bid a couple weeks before the contract is about to end. Also have your act together: Company shirts, professional letterheads business cards etc., clean cut apperance (present yourself as a business owner, not just a guy that cuts lawns), and have your insurance in order. Hope this helps

Remember a business wants to hire a professional company, not a guy in a truck with no insurance that doesn't pay taxes

thacket3
10-13-2009, 03:41 PM
Sorry, I have been tied up for the past couple days, but read your questions and wanted to respond.

First off, I don't think of myself as a price only customer. I am more than willing to spend the cash if the service is needed and worthwhile. That being said, we are looking at the bottom line more than ever trying to figure out where we can save a few cents per sq ft. One of the reasons we are more "ala cart" this year is perhaps there are some duplications in services I am receiving from vendors. For instance, our current landscape maintenance company picks up all the misc trash around the property when they service the area. I love that, but I pay another company to do that three times a week, so is it possible for me to save a little if I ask you to cut that out? Thats really where my effort has been in trying to cut costs. As long as your price is reasonable, I am good with it. I know that sounds like I'm trying to cut corners but right now I am trying to compete with other landlords who are also trying to drop their costs to pass the savings along and get the few prospective new tenant's out there attracted to my property. Maybe this year I will plant annuals instead of every quarter replacing the entrance flowers etc. Those are the price issues I am addressing.

I've tried to think of some things that have/have not worked in getting my attention, but honestly, I have to say consistency, professionalism, (as the other post said, definatley need to show professionalism. no jeans and t-shirts) and follow up. Being consistent in your calls to me, or your follow up email is important. A lot of it, sorry to say, is right time and place, and if you are consistent about reaching out to me, you will be there at the right time.

I'll also throw out one of the best things I have had a landscape company do for me. After every service call to my property, I get a check list showing what was done, what needs to be done (along with costs) and when the next service call will be. That helps give me a picture of whats going on, so if I am asked any questions, I have the answers already and don't need to make a call to find out.

Hope that helps, and sorry for the delay.

Tim

Steve
10-16-2009, 10:20 AM
Tim,

Could you show us an example or two of some older bids? I think a lot of members would like to be able to see an overhead shot of a property and what a previous winning bid included.

You can take out any specific company information. If this could be done it would make for a great lesson for all of us.