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View Full Version : Getting small accounts can be easier than you think


Robc
05-14-2011, 11:45 AM
Just wanted to let some of the new guys know that want to get small commercial accounts how easy it can be to encourage you to go out there and talk to businesses.
I was mowing a property and noticed a business kitty corner from where I was at that needed some maintenance. So I told my partner and we stopped in there. We asked who we would talk to about the maintenance and they sent him out. We asked and he said yeah he would like a estimate. He also said if we actually showed up he would be impressed and if the price was reasonable we could have the job. The point is all you have to do is have confidence to go out there and talk to businesses and sell service.
When I started I was to nervous to do it. Now for smaller properties that I can know I can handle I dont have any problem walking in and asking. The worst they can do is not at this time.
His main thing was that we actually show up and work. He said you dont know how many times landscapers have come in here and bid on this place and never show up again. I will be real suprised if you even show up....

But at the same time I have a question. While we were walking around taking measurements for the cleanup and maintenance he came out and asked if we had any idea for the price. We told him for maintenance about $120 per month. He only wants bi weekly cuttings. He was like well thats a reasonable price. Ive had guys come in here with prices that are way out there.
So my question if you have the same square footage for a commercial and residential property how does the commercial property cost 3 times what the residential of the same sq ft. cost?

robgee05
05-15-2011, 12:56 PM
Well Im sure if your doing Commercial accounts your Lic and Insured. So I think the problem in pricing on Smaller Commercial accounts comes in when the person your giving the bid has a low baller doing their home for $20 a cut, and the comparable commercial property is bid at $60 because you actually have overhead. Not to mention a lot of larger Landscapers wont even drop their equipment for less $100 once they start dealing with all commercial accounts.

Robc
05-16-2011, 10:54 AM
Well Im sure if your doing Commercial accounts your Lic and Insured. So I think the problem in pricing on Smaller Commercial accounts comes in when the person your giving the bid has a low baller doing their home for $20 a cut, and the comparable commercial property is bid at $60 because you actually have overhead. Not to mention a lot of larger Landscapers wont even drop their equipment for less $100 once they start dealing with all commercial accounts.

I can see what your saying. - Larger landscapers probably arent out bidding on commercial properties that take 45 min to maintain either because its almost a waste of their time i would guess. Thats ok though because thats the ones i can do as i learn and work my way up.
I cant remember how many feet it is but if you are doing only maintenance related landscaping insurance is pretty cheap even for $1 mil coverage because you arent going to deep in the ground if you do dig. When you cross into construction related jobs.

Fisher
05-16-2011, 02:56 PM
One commercial job I bid on this year was at a busy intersection. This company required 2mil in general liability which many of the other LCO's didn't seem to have. I don't typically charge anymore for commercial maintenance until you factor in that I wasn't pushed to compromise my price because the homeowner is talking about the teen that will cut their yard for half the cost. Even then I will bring up overhead and liability and of course quality. I do see that trimming and edging curbs and sidewalks take a little longer on commercial properties when their parking lots are full and the street out front is busy, these can become obstacles. I look to pick up the bed and shrub maintenance though which helps to offset that little extra time

Robc
05-17-2011, 11:20 PM
I wonder why people dont understand that if you are running a licensed and insured business and performing quality work that it costs more than what the teenager next door is maintaining it for and yet they expect it to be so cheap.
But then if you call someone to come out and do some maintenance work on any other part of your property or house; having them charge $75/hr is really no big deal or same for fixing their car...

lawnsape
05-18-2011, 09:56 PM
I think the problem is that most people have the mentality that "it's just cutting grass" but as any true landscape maintenance professional knows it is far more than that.

Steve
05-19-2011, 05:18 AM
So my question if you have the same square footage for a commercial and residential property how does the commercial property cost 3 times what the residential of the same sq ft. cost?

Have you found that to be the case in your area that commercial tends to be 3 times the price of residential or were you just using it as a guesstimated figure in your question?

Robc
05-20-2011, 11:18 AM
Have you found that to be the case in your area that commercial tends to be 3 times the price of residential or were you just using it as a guesstimated figure in your question?

I know of a few times this happened to me. Twice with a couple of HOA's and at least once with a business owner at his business. So I'm guessing that this must be the case probably more than half of the time.
OR maybe we could be under bidding unintentionally??? This is when I was working with my partner and he was doing the bidding.
Im not sure. but i was also at a home owners house the other day doing a cleanup which took 7 hours with 3 guys working and cost him $530. Me and 2 employees.
The customer came out and told me that last year 2 guys did the same thing for 750 and it took them 6 hours. He felt he didnt get a good value for his money spent from them but they did a good job.
He told me we were more thorough than them but they also did some trimming. He was extremely happy with what we did.
The point is I felt that job we did was a little under bidded. The previous landscapers charged about 200 more and did it in less time with 1 less guy but we did a better job. Maybe we could be under bidding slightly unintentionally.,
Maybe this is why but we seem to be pretty much right on with residential customers.
Im not sure. it still seems to me like if its a commercial property the price automatically goes up...

Steve
05-23-2011, 04:52 AM
Do you think part of it is that it seems easier to ask a commercial property for more money than a single home owner because no matter what you quote the home owner, you always worry that it's going to be too much for a single home owner to handle?

Robc
05-24-2011, 12:57 AM
Do you think part of it is that it seems easier to ask a commercial property for more money than a single home owner because no matter what you quote the home owner, you always worry that it's going to be too much for a single home owner to handle?

I think your right steve. It seems like you always stress a little that its going to be to much with a residential.
But i finally had some time to do some reading on here. I think it doesnt matter to much what others are charging. I think what i need to do is sit down and try to figure out my operating costs and what i want to make and go off that. And as long as i am within some kind of margin of a "standard" in my area (not way to low and not way to high) then thats what i need to worry about. I know my operating costs arent that much so I should be in a fair to average rate.

There is some really good info about how to figure out operating costs. its just sitting down and actually doing it...just like some one else said its kind of like taxes...

Steve
05-24-2011, 04:27 AM
I think what i need to do is sit down and try to figure out my operating costs and what i want to make and go off that.

When you sit there and think about it, would you say this is one of the most important things a lawn care business owner must do and know? If it is unknown, how can anyone figure out if they will profit or not on a job?

Also, what is your view on why you feel this is something most business owners either don't do or put off doing for a long time?

Robc
05-25-2011, 12:56 PM
When you sit there and think about it, would you say this is one of the most important things a lawn care business owner must do and know? If it is unknown, how can anyone figure out if they will profit or not on a job?

Also, what is your view on why you feel this is something most business owners either don't do or put off doing for a long time?

It didnt seem like it to me when it was just me with a helper. i could get away with bidding at $60/hr and made good money (i mean using that rate to figure out a total for a bid. not charging by the hour). Now that ive worked with a partner and we had 2 employees i realized the importance. It seemed like every job we were barely making any money. We never did though even though i kept bringing it up. - Part of the reason why i split from him.
So yeah you have to know how much you need to make to cover everything.
Its important to do probably so you know what your bottom line is when you are bidding so you can stay competitive or not just underbid.
I am going to try to work on this. I dont know how exact I will have it but i will at least have a closer figure to work with.
I dont know where the post is exactly. but that was extremely helpful because i didnt really know how to figure all costs...

chevymann03
05-26-2011, 03:20 PM
robc , you maybe doing more good then harm on the possable underbidding . as if you are doing a better job then the higher priced company's then you will get more work via word of mouth just from the quality of work ! i am tring to do the same " getting lawn care work " i don't have the fancy big$ equipment but i have done the lil extra to make my rider cut better by installing gator blades . i am just getting started and have had more call for used parts then getting any kind of mowing work . i had one last week that e-mailed me wanting a quote via email for mowing , after a few e-mails back and forth i finnaly got them to understand that its impossable to give an estimate via e-mail or even phone , so they asked about a time to come by and give them an estimate so i gave them a time of 2pm the next day , later that night i got a reply that it wasnt going to work for them on the time and they would get back with me when it would be more convienant for them .... ive got flyers out and have several putting the word out but calls are scarse !

Robc
05-27-2011, 12:21 AM
robc , you maybe doing more good then harm on the possable underbidding . as if you are doing a better job then the higher priced company's then you will get more work via word of mouth just from the quality of work ! i am tring to do the same " getting lawn care work " i don't have the fancy big$ equipment but i have done the lil extra to make my rider cut better by installing gator blades . i am just getting started and have had more call for used parts then getting any kind of mowing work . i had one last week that e-mailed me wanting a quote via email for mowing , after a few e-mails back and forth i finnaly got them to understand that its impossable to give an estimate via e-mail or even phone , so they asked about a time to come by and give them an estimate so i gave them a time of 2pm the next day , later that night i got a reply that it wasnt going to work for them on the time and they would get back with me when it would be more convienant for them .... ive got flyers out and have several putting the word out but calls are scarse !

I worked hard my first two years to buy almost everything i need. The beginning of the first year was learning how to bid and under bidding quite a bit. Actually the whole year was this and still do learn now. But i want to figure costs as close as i can so i know where i stand on bids. how close i get it will depend on how hard i work on it. When i underbid now it just frustrates me. I do really good work and i want to work for a profitable rate.
Getting or finding work is really not that hard for me. Now I am going to be going out and getting the work that i want. Or at least try. Im going to start going to every business that i know i am capable of maintaining and seeing when and how i bid on those commercial properties.
hey have you made a nice colorful flyer to put on CL that stands out from the average guy? I would try putting you name of biz in the heading so you stand out from the average guy thats "mowing for cheap" or whatever.

chevymann03
05-28-2011, 02:15 AM
yea i have made 2 differnet flyers already this year me n my mom worked together to make the last one since she has the exp with microsoft word , i think is what we used . i made 1 up with tear off numbers on the bottom then made another with just the single phone number to give out to individuals . ive only done 1 quote on mowing and they never would answer their phone when i tried to call them back to give them the quote on the job ... then last week i had one that kept giving me the run around wanting an estimate to do their yard but was wanting it basicaly done blind , with out even looking at the yard or anything and wouldnt even give and address ( all by e-mail ) so since then i have made sure to remove my e-mail from all postings and with craigslist i have it set so they have to call .... and to protect my cell number from unwanted private and ppl just wanting stupid stuff i dont give out my cell number i have a gmail account and use google voice ( internet phone ) thats free and have it fwd to my cell then i can control who calls and if i get one that wants to be rude or what ever i can go back later and block the number from calling thru . i have one ididot that messed up a push mower i sold them and i have gave them 2 chances to bring it so i can look at it and both times they have not called or showed up and then calls a couple days later wanting to set up a time to bring it over again . after the 2nd time of him not showing up and in the mean time him and his neighbor messed with the mower tring to fix it , i finnaly blocked him from getting thru , now all he gets is the number is not in service when he calls . i hated to be that way but he checked the mower out and said he wanted it , had it a week n a half then calls saying its not running now . i told him a couple things to try and then get back with me . 3 days later he calls then states him and the neighbor had messed with it tring to get it started and was wanting me to trade him mowers with another one that ran . i told him no i didnt have any others that ran . and from there on its been nothing but a hassel with this guy ...

aduttonater
06-02-2011, 01:05 AM
People who take on commercial accounts should be fully licensed and insured. There is a lot of risk that you take when you deal with a business. I'd rather just stick with residential.

I dump my loads for $10 where as commercial business pay $30. Plus who knows how much their insurance is, something that does not effect my cost.

Robc
06-04-2011, 09:44 AM
People who take on commercial accounts should be fully licensed and insured. There is a lot of risk that you take when you deal with a business. I'd rather just stick with residential.

I dump my loads for $10 where as commercial business pay $30. Plus who knows how much their insurance is, something that does not effect my cost.

My insurance for 1 mil coverage will be about $750 a year. not bad.

aduttonater
06-05-2011, 04:41 AM
My insurance for 1 mil coverage will be about $750 a year. not bad.

Yea, that isn't bad. What type of damage does insurance like this cover?

Robc
06-06-2011, 08:49 AM
Yea, that isn't bad. What type of damage does insurance like this cover?

Mostly maintenance, above the ground, related work. Not for jobs that would require significant digging.