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Hedgemaster
03-30-2011, 01:15 PM
As a business noob, still working with mostly "smaller" properties, I had my first "intimidating" bid a few days ago. A spring clean-up and possible mulch job for a $500,000 + home in a more wealthy part of town.

This turned out to be a pretty interesting experience. It was a lead from a guy I know in the business. He's basically throwing leads my way for "project work" (clean-ups, hedge cutting, non-recurring type stuff) for a percentage of what I bid it. Since I'm not established yet, this works for me, as it (a) gets some much needed money in my pocket, (b) gives me experience in dealing with the bidding process, and (c) has the potential to grab regular work from any one of them or perhaps someone they refer to me.

This "big" job was somewhat scary to go and bid, as I've never dealt with a property of that value before, but I just said "screw it, what's the worst that can happen - they can say "no"?

They said "yes". :)

Heh. Then I started thinking I may have bit off more than I can chew. The property isn't huge, but the amount of work needed, coupled with things like the distance from my home, the time that the debris collection place closes, my lack of a backpack blower, and my lack of experience on a job of this scale had me a bit concerned that I could complete it within the timeframe I have to work with in a given day. If I need to make two trips, this job becomes much less profitable due to distance. I spoke to the other guy, and we may work out a trade where he helps me with that job (and lends me one of his backpack blowers), and I help him with one of his jobs. Cool.




I also got the "OK" from two out of three other people I did bids for this week, with the third one not quite agreeing to the clean-up bid, but asking by email if I am interested in doing "regularly scheduled yard work" for them. Not sure how to read that one yet - either they haven't decided on the price for the cleanup, or they want to see if I want to set up a maintenance schedule before they give me the clean-up job too. Either way, it's more "positive" than negative at this point.

Almost 4 for 4... either I'm better with people than I thought I was, or I'm still not charging enough. ;)


All four of these were for spring cleanups.
The "big" one may lead to a mulch job in a month and two of the others may lead to regular work for the season.

I also went to give an estimate for a customer I worked for last year. This is one of those ones I don't even have to worry about "getting", as they want ME to do the work.


Even if I hadn't gotten the "OK" on any of them, speaking with people and bidding their jobs was a god learning experience.
My wife will often comment on "how I did" with what I say to people I am talking to on the phone with. This is also helpful, as we sometimes do not realize that we use certain words (such as "yeah" instead of "yes"), and can fine-tune our manner of speaking to potential clients.
She also gave me a "that sounds VERY professional" in response to an email reply I sent to the person noted above about the "regular schedule".
Maybe I'll post the email exchange later so folks can critique it and maybe if it's as good as my wife says, perhaps someone here will find it helpful.

SpokaneSRC
03-30-2011, 03:23 PM
My wife will often comment on "how I did" with what I say to people I am talking to on the phone with. This is also helpful, as we sometimes do not realize that we use certain words (such as "yeah" instead of "yes"), and can fine-tune our manner of speaking to potential clients.
Very true. Even when you try to be more aware of yourself (myself) it helps to have someone else give you feedback.

Sounds like you're off to a good business start this year.
Go Penguins!!

Steve
03-31-2011, 11:46 AM
Maybe I'll post the email exchange later so folks can critique it and maybe if it's as good as my wife says, perhaps someone here will find it helpful.

I'd love to see it.

It will also be very interesting to get your review of that first big job when all is said and done. Comparing how long you thought the job would take to how long it actually took and where the differences were.

Also, how you mentioned the drive time. What the total drive time is will be interesting to hear as well because it is a silent killer most don't factor in to their bid.

Keep us posted.

Congratulations on all your success!

Hedgemaster
03-31-2011, 05:19 PM
Here's my email exchange regarding one of the bids:

Dear Client,

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss clean up work at 1234 Your Street.

Spring clean-up to include raking/blowing of leaves/debris from all beds around the home, and along both sides of the wooden fence. Removal of dead plant material from beds. Light coating of leaves on grass to be removed by blowing/raking, or by bagging by use of mower with bagger. Price to include removal of debris for disposal at nearby "Agrecycle" recycling center.

Total: $250.00

Thank you for your interest and I look forward to speaking with you.
Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

My Name
Business Name
412-555-1212

Client's reply:

Hi Kirk -

Thank you for sending this. Would you be interested in getting on a regular schedule, possibly every 3-weeks, for regular maintenance (e.g. lawn mowing, weeds, etc.) I am looking for someone to come in for 2 hrs and was looking to pay no more than $50 per visit.

Please let me know if you would be interested or recommend someone in this area that would. Thanks.


My reply:

Dear Client,

I would be happy to set up a regular maintenance schedule for your property.
I am located just off the Churchill exit of the parkway east, which places you within a reasonable service area distance.

I am agreeable to the amount of $50 per visit. My only concern is that three weeks my be stretching a bit too far between mowings. Obviously some of the other tasks such as raking up twigs and weed control can be stretched out, but except for during a drought, the most common schedules for mowing are 7 day, 10 day, and 14 day schedules, as anything much past the two week point causes too much of the length of the grass to be removed which is not healthy for the lawn.

Please note that I am not trying to convince you to spend $50 on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis, but we may be able to work out something that will keep costs reasonable, while maintaining the appearance and health of your lawn. Perhaps a schedule that provides a "mow only" on one visit, with more extensive time and care included with the mow on the next visit?

If you have any further thoughts on this, I am happy to discuss it with you further.

My Name
Business Name
412-555-1212


This is all new to me. I don't have contracts, or proposals printed, so for now I will need to rely on an email as the next best thing.

Any comments/critiques are welcome.

In my initial email contact (after having seen the property and speaking to the owner in person) I made it a point to thank them and mentioned specifics about the property in the description of the job.
Also, as this property is located in the city, where the more "earthy" types live, I made sure to note the use of a "recycling center" in the bid as my choice for disposal location.

In my second reply in response to the idea of a "3 week" schedule, I attempted to make my concerns more about their property, and less about the problem waiting 3 weeks would cause ME in terms of mowing grass that is too high.

I just need to come up with an "offer" that would benefit both of us. This would be my first "contract" for regular maintenance and it's a small, flat property, so it would be nice to start out on with the hopes of nabbing some others nearby.

Liberty Landscaping LLC
03-31-2011, 07:04 PM
Why don't you say we can do a full service once a month for 50 and say the one other week being every two weeks a month cutting say 25 ot 30 depending on the distance from you and say if I would be able to sign someone else I can deduct 5 or 10 on the mow only week that way he causes a buzz in his neighborhood and it may help you both save him some money and get you an extra lawn or two on his street via a neighbor.

Hedgemaster
03-31-2011, 09:48 PM
Why don't you say we can do a full service once a month for 50 and say the one other week being every two weeks a month cutting say 25 ot 30 depending on the distance from you and say if I would be able to sign someone else I can deduct 5 or 10 on the mow only week that way he causes a buzz in his neighborhood and it may help you both save him some money and get you an extra lawn or two on his street via a neighbor.

Heh. That's pretty much what I was going to propose. Didn't think about the "incentive" idea though - thanks.

The place is 5 miles from me (one way), so that's about $4 in gas to and from.
The grass area is in an "L" shape - side and rear only.(townhouse - other side is another connected townhouse)
The "lawn" measures about 15' wide and is 40' down the side and about 30' across the back. I figure about 15-20 minutes to cut and trim. It has Belgian block as bed edging (the beds follow the "L" along the side and back) so trimming should be simple enough.

I figured I'd ask $20-$25 to do the "mow only" day. That puts them at $70-$75 for 4 weeks as opposed to $50 every three weeks.

I haven't figured out how you handle scheduling these "weeks" yet, as some months have more days/half weeks than others.