PDA

View Full Version : New Member from SW British Columbia, Canada


Moki
10-11-2011, 10:50 PM
After 30 years of working in a heavy duty truck drivetrain business I sold out took a few years off then earlier this year I decided I needed another change.

I am an outdoor nut so figured I needed a job in the great outdoors and being self employed for most of my life I did not want a boss so earlier this year I started a part time pressure washing yard and lawn care company.

I have never done this kind of job profesionally before but I have done tons of this kind of work to my own home and the homes of many of my friends.

I have a lot of the equipment but definitely need a better riding mower and a aerator...

Anyway I found this site and had to join what I need to know is how to quote townhouse complexes/old folks homes/apartment building etc what is the best way to advertise?

So hopefully I'll find what I need here...

Steve
10-12-2011, 05:06 PM
Welcome to our forum!

After 30 years of working in a heavy duty truck drivetrain business I sold out took a few years off then earlier this year I decided I needed another change.

That sounds very interesting! Could you tell us a little how you got involved in that kind of business and what you thought of it? Are there business lessons you learned from it that you find yourself applying to your new business now?

I need to know is how to quote townhouse complexes/old folks homes/apartment building etc what is the best way to advertise?

I'd suggest starting with residential customers first. Learn how much time it takes you to perform jobs on residential sized properties. Then it will be easier for you to scale your bidding up to work on larger properties.

Check out my blog here on getting commercial lawn care customers (http://lawnchat.com/?cat=39). There are a lot of articles that cover the topic you are interested in.

Also, experiment with the lawn care calculators (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?p=43299#post43299) on the forum here and see how they can help you create your bid price.

Ducke
10-12-2011, 09:13 PM
Welcome from the east coast of Canada.
Where in BC are you ??

Moki
10-15-2011, 12:54 AM
Welcome from the east coast of Canada.
Where in BC are you ??

East of Vancouver

Moki
10-15-2011, 01:22 AM
Main thing that I can take from my old business is to be honest and trustworthy my clients/customers knew that the job would be done professionally and that we stood behind everything that we did.

My experiences have taught me how to sell a job I'm an excellent saleman just don;t know the pricing yet...

Don't know if I am going to take you advise on sticking with residential sounds like I am going to be quoting on a 24 townhouse complex next week got the contact thru net working with a fellow I know he does residential yard care and does not want to take on employee's whereas I already have a hard working and believe it or not trustworthy young fellow looking for full time employment and having so many years hiring/working with my employee's I don't have an issue/fear of hiring someone to work with me.

I'm also quoting on a small retaining wall/path way for a lady that lives in a 50 unit townhouse complex while I was there this morning she told me she sits on the strata council and that they are going to be looking for a new grounds maintance company to take over when the fellow retires this coming year.

I asked if I could get a copy of the exisiting contract so I could see what they are paying him she said she thinks she can pull that off ahh for all I know she is saying it so that I give her a better deal on her brick work... :)

Also going Monday morning to quote on another yard maintance job oh well maybe some of these contacts will actually turn into jobs soon.

Steve
10-17-2011, 04:26 PM
That is fantastic news! I am sure you will be busy in no time. You really are on top of your networking! Keep us posted on how all these jobs go!

I don't have an issue/fear of hiring someone to work with me.

What about hiring staff do you feel is something newer lawn care business owners seem to have such a tough time with? Can you explain what that issue/fear is and what would be the best way to get over it and why they should get over it?

Moki
10-18-2011, 09:40 AM
Networking is the easy part its the quoting that has my head spinning I know one day it will come easily but now... Oh my...

On the townhouse complex I have a fellow that used to have a lawn care business and is hoping that I will buy his trailer/equipment stopping by to check the complex out and give me an idea of what he would quote.

This TH complex is only a few blocks from my old house my old neighbour there that I got a long with fairly well is also a landscaper I am planning on stopping by to say hi and see if he will help me on a price as well I may have to bribe him with a new local area I found to blacktail deer hunt with his son.

I stopped at a huge local church yesterday that needs a lot of hedging/pressure washing only person I was able to find was the janitor she told me that no one is doing the grounds since the pastor left so she will give my card to the board of directors.

About employees I think the main fear is the expense = paying wages/benefits especailly when your just starting out and just making ends meet.

I do not plan on hiring an employee but I will be sub-contracting I will pay their wage and Worksafe BC insurance but they will have to cover looking after paying their own taxes, Canadian pension plan costs etc.

Second fear is finding someone that I can trust so far I am lucky I had a couple of guys that I totally trust lined up for when I need them.

I had a guy ask me if I would hire him yesterday fortunately or is that unfortunately I do not have enough work to even think of hiring any one right now especially with the season now winding down.

After talking with him for appr 10 minutes my spidie senses where sounding off = I knew that there would be issues with this guy that he would be more costly in the long run I saw it would be better to pass up a job now because I don't have a helper than to have to pay back a Worksafe BC insurance claim or something else this guy would do.

Moki
10-18-2011, 01:12 PM
Bonus just happened I haven't had this opportunity happen before I get to quote a job against another company and the client gave me the other companies quote to beat.

Turns out I was underpricing my hourly rate by $15.00/hour I was asking $40/hour this well established local company is asking $55/hour.

So I'm quoting $50.00/hour from now on = well for this kind of job anyway... :)

Steve
10-18-2011, 05:06 PM
That is fantastic! Isn't it amazing how much money you could have been leaving on the table without knowing what the local competition is charging?

Did the customer give you the price break down per service or just their hourly rate?

Is there anything you could show us as an example?

Moki
10-28-2011, 08:11 AM
Yes the quote had a price break down for hours and all extras it worked very well for me.

I have also now due to a connection from back in 1989 been given the best contractors price list for gravel - mulch etc = it pays to be personable to people.

Here is a copy of my quote I removed mine and the customers info.

My company name/info etc Date

Customers name/address

Job Description:

Remove gravel, weed cloth,
Install upgraded weed cloth and replace gravel
5.5 hours $50.00/hour $275.00

1 yard additional gravel $39.00

20 year weed cloth 4 X 70 $105.00

HST 12% $50.28

_________________________________________
Total: $469.28


We recommend a wood retaining wall be installed to retain gravel from spilling over into neighbours yard.

5 2 X 10 X 8 used planks $40.00

Install 1 hour $50.00

HST $10.80
________________________________________
Total: $100.80

Combined Total $570.08

Steve
10-28-2011, 07:32 PM
Oh nice! Take some before and after pictures when you get the job! I'd love to see this.

Moki
10-29-2011, 01:03 AM
The fellow called me today saying that he is still waiting to hear if the strata is going to cover the costs.

Steve
11-02-2011, 04:55 AM
if the strata is going to cover the costs

What's the strata? I think I missed something.

Moki
11-03-2011, 12:43 AM
Up here they have what is called strata councils this is a group/board of people that run/make decisions on expenses for their a townhouse/trailer court complexs.

Each townhouse/trailer pays monthly fees to the strata to cover the costs of taking care of the grounds.

The grounds around a townhouse/trailer are called common ground any costs for work on these areas has to be approved by and is paid for by the strata.

Steve
11-03-2011, 12:00 PM
Ah ok, they sound like they would be similar to home owner associations down here.

Has anyone heard back from them yet to see if this was a go?

Moki
08-22-2013, 03:00 AM
Holy cow I can hardly believe it my business is still alive and kicking..

I started it 2 years ago next month hard to believe so much time has gone by already.

I was so totally green when I started = I am now what you would call a professional well that is what others call me... :)

I have grounds care contracts for 3 townhouse complexes 110 units/51 units/18 units and I just completed pressure washing/cleaning gutters on the 110 townhouse complex.

I am even being asked to quote on several more complexes for next year already.

Earlier this year I even put together a second truck/trailer/equipment to take on more work but the fellow that I had just spent the last year training to be my team leader for this truck completely failed me it was so bad I had to shut the truck down.

Next attempt was trying to get a team leader for a pressure washing team started talking with an old high school friend that supposedly has pressure washing experience had him do a few townhouse units to show how he could do = was the only time I have had complaints against me and my company was because of the crappy work this guy did.

I had him and a couple of young fellows lined up to do the pressure washing job at the 51 unit complex would have split it 50/50 with him had to shut that down as well when I realized he was an idiot that I couldn't trust.

Anyway I am still not paying myself all that much but I am covering all the bills and buying equipment like it is going out of style probably averaging $1000/month on new/used equipment example this month was a new 21" Toro Commercial a barely used Stihl 600 backpack blower and just yesterday a new Stihl KM90R Kombi power head.

If I pull off the contracts that I am trying for next year the plan is to hire a second team and get that second truck on the road...

There I vented and informed hope others businesses are growing like mine is.

CC

Cashin H&P
08-22-2013, 07:27 AM
Looks good but you spelled neighbors wrong.

acrajchel
08-22-2013, 07:47 AM
It would be hard to say without actually seeing the work needing to be done, but that seems low to me. I charge $50/hour labor for just my work, I would charge another $20 for a helper. I would also take into account the time and effort it is going to take to go get the materials and such. You have to cover your unseen expenses also. It is easy for a customer to think that he only needs to pay for your time and the materials, fact is you have to pay for insurance, licensing, your truck, your equipment, gas, etc.... Also, once you start down the road of low bids, it is hard to get out of it. Next year the customer will call for more work, and be mad when your rate has doubled.

Maybe the price is right for your area, but if it was me that $500ish total would be closer to the $800 area.

Best of luck!

Moki
08-22-2013, 10:18 AM
Looks good but you spelled neighbors wrong.

You are correct but you are also wrong = you are spelling neighbor the American way Being a Canadian I am spelling it the Canadian way.

Including the U started back when reporters were paid by the letter for their articles/reports American spelling dropped its use Canadian spelling did not.



It would be hard to say without actually seeing the work needing to be done, but that seems low to me. I charge $50/hour labor for just my work, I would charge another $20 for a helper. I would also take into account the time and effort it is going to take to go get the materials and such. You have to cover your unseen expenses also. It is easy for a customer to think that he only needs to pay for your time and the materials, fact is you have to pay for insurance, licensing, your truck, your equipment, gas, etc.... Also, once you start down the road of low bids, it is hard to get out of it. Next year the customer will call for more work, and be mad when your rate has doubled.

Maybe the price is right for your area, but if it was me that $500ish total would be closer to the $800 area.

Things have changed from 1 1/2 years ago I charge $100/townhouse unit for pressure washing the going rate is appr $90/unit.

I now charge $60/hr and depending on how many employees with me for the day I have charged as high as $97/hr.

I do give the resident owners of the townhouses a break and only charge them $40/hr or give a good price on a quoted job.

I do this because the complex's are already paying between $450/day - $500/day for us to be there and I fit these small jobs in.

Cashin H&P
08-22-2013, 12:48 PM
You are correct but you are also wrong = you are spelling neighbor the American way Being a Canadian I am spelling it the Canadian way.

Including the U started back when reporters were paid by the letter for their articles/reports American spelling dropped its use Canadian spelling did not.





Things have changed from 1 1/2 years ago I charge $100/townhouse unit for pressure washing the going rate is appr $90/unit.

I now charge $60/hr and depending on how many employees with me for the day I have charged as high as $97/hr.

I do give the resident owners of the townhouses a break and only charge them $40/hr or give a good price on a quoted job.

I do this because the complex's are already paying between $450/day - $500/day for us to be there and I fit these small jobs in.

Wow i gues you really do lear something new every day!

Steve
08-22-2013, 01:22 PM
If I pull off the contracts that I am trying for next year the plan is to hire a second team and get that second truck on the road...

With all those experiences you had with difficult or problematic staff, what is your view on how you will handle staffing this second truck differently next year?

Were there any lessons you learned from that staffing experience so far?

Moki
08-22-2013, 09:00 PM
Main staffing issue is I really can't afford to pay a premium wage for top people yet so basically when you pay peanuts you get monkey's... :D

Basically to remedy my staffing problem I need to pay a better wage to get better qualified people.

I need at least one fellow that can take on the responsibility of being a team leader for the pressure washing and another for grounds care.

My friend from high school was the exception I was trying to help him out but was blown away at how he acted turns out he has ADHD and very seldom takes his meds.

I spent 3 months training a young fellow this spring but had to fire him turns out he was a drama queen momma's boy that lied thru his teeth he comes from a very well know family in my area his dad is the editor of one of our local newspapers.

Recently I've met a 30 year old fellow that has 10 times the pressure washing experiences I have he's trying to do his own thing but doesn't have the equipment I'm hoping to score him to be the team leader for a pressure washing crew next year or at least get him to subcontract to me.

The husband of my wife's friend is wanting to be part of my grounds care team he ran his own outfit in Alberta he's the guy that showed me how to edge grass and price hedging cedars.

Actually due to this post I just sent the pressure washing fellow an email to meet me tomorrow and I am meeting the other fellow also tomorrow he is returning one of my orchard ladders to me.

So it all comes down to money I need more money to get more money which means I need more contracts + in order to do the work I need the right people = it is one big circle.

Steve
08-26-2013, 11:54 AM
Do you think the market would handle you being able to charge a rate you needed to hire that better staff or will it most likely have to come down to it being a revolving door of people that are 'quasi-functional'?

Moki
08-26-2013, 10:41 PM
I live between 2 cities the larger is appr 10 miles to the west and has a population of appr 134,000 people the smaller is appr 10 miles to the east of me and has an appr population of 80,000 people.

A rough estimate is there are over 350 from small 1 - 2 people up to mega grounds care companies in this area = pricing is extremely competitive.

I actually do not know how some of these companies survive with the wages they pay starting wage for some is $13.50/hr I'm paying $10.25/hr.

CC

Steve
08-27-2013, 02:21 PM
I actually do not know how some of these companies survive with the wages they pay starting wage for some is $13.50/hr I'm paying $10.25/hr.

Do you keep track the size of the companies offering such higher pay? Is it possible they are doing so because they service either a lot more properties or possibly focus on commercial ground care?