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lxarth 06-22-2011 01:10 PM

Apartment Complex and Commercial Plaza Bid
So I just got a call from a property management company to get a bid on two commercial properties.

I haven't even checked them out yet, but one is an apartment complex with 72 units, and the other is a business plaza with 15 suites.

If I were to get this it would be the biggest job I ever had. The only other time I had a chance to bid larger properties was with a small apartment, the largest being a single unit with 10 doors/addresses. Other then that I have a 4-plex that I service weekly.

First of all, I'm a single person show. With a 21-inch commercial Toro, trimmer, blower, etc. This job would practically require me to buy new equipment right away. I don't think I would have to hire anyone else, as I'm not to a point yet that I can't do all the work I have (close, but not yet).

Basically, I would like to know what I even should look for when I go to these places. She did mention that she wants season flowers included in the bid. So I'm thinking she wants something that is complete and all inclusive.

I know I can calculate my time based on square footage with mowing and trimming, etc, with a typical home. But how does it work then you are looking at something on this scale?

I was once told that an easy way to bid for apartments is $19 per door (I'm assuming per month). So that 72 unit apartment complex would be $1,400 per month (rounding up). But does that count fertilizer, weed spray, pruning, planting, etc?

Can you guys give me an idea of what I should be on the lookout for when I do actually go over there? I have a measuring wheel, so I can get pretty precis, and I can take pictures if that would help.

Steve 06-22-2011 04:09 PM

Take some pics of the properties and get a list of services they want done. Then measure it all out so you know how much work you will need to do.

I look forwards to reading your findings.

Liberty Landscaping LLC 06-22-2011 10:44 PM

I agree with steve get a list of services they are requesting. Alot of them want the parking lots cleared of trash. Keep a good look out for ditches and gullies, trees, anything that's going to take extra time. That doesn't seem like much but it will take extra time. If it was an open field it would be faster. I would say estimate what it would cost you with your mower and one that's say a 48" deck or something in that area. It will most likely be cheaper due to taking less time. The competion is going to factor in using a larger mower. That's just my suggestion maybe take both figures and use a middle ground of the two. Let us know how it goes. Good Luck!

B-2 Lawncare 06-23-2011 08:53 AM

I have several properties like this one, I would say that you are on the right tract with a per door charge. In my case $19 is cheap. But I am also biding snow removal in to my bid. I will buy they fertlizers and sprinkler parts "ect" and bill them in addition to normal month billing.
I would caution you with taking on something this big, be a one man band. places like this take a lot of time and if you have other clients there could be a time conflict. Sure you can hire some one but are you ready for pay roll taxes "ect" and what happens when he quits. I have a back log of applications that i can go back to pick up a guy if i need. You will need more equipment than you think. If you have the bank roll to do it then thats great, but if you have to borrow then you can find your self be hind the eight ball.
Not trying to be a buzz kill just giving you the other side of the coin.

Steve 06-24-2011 05:07 PM


I would say that you are on the right tract with a per door charge.
What's your view on why this is the way to go? What if property size varies from one complex to another?

Do you feel the apartment complex likes to see a breakdown per unit?

lxarth 06-25-2011 12:24 PM

Got it measured.
12 Attachment(s)
I just got back from walking the apartment complex, and geez that took me a while.

I measured everything with my measuring-wheel, so I have pretty accurate dimensions. Although I did remember as I walked in the door that I missed one area, but I pulled up Google maps and got an idea of it.

So all in told I am looking at just under 20,000 square feet of just mowing. It is all very flat, but there are many trees there as well that I would have to navigate around, so there would be no way to use a 48-inch mower on much of the lawn.

There are 2 ditches that are steep (approximately 6,400 square feet total). These are the areas I forgot to measure while there.

I also walked out just under 3,500 linear feet of edging. This is including having to edge around the circles just under the trees. The pictures show a pretty typical area. You can see the grass, the ditch area, and I took a picture of a tree base, which is what they all look like. There are also many manhole covers that I have to edge around too. You can also see from the pictures that they have many bushes. Like a typical apartment complex, there are beds of bushes surrounding every building.

There are 8 buildings, with a total of 72 units. The total area is about 150,000 sq-ft, so roughly 3.5 acres. I'm not sure how long this would take to blow off either.

3,500 feet of edging
20,000 sq-ft of mowing.

I'll also include a couple images from Google maps to help illustrate.

<iframe width="750" height="375" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src=";q=16410+SE+5th+Street+Vancouver,+WA &amp;ie=UTF8&amp;hq=&amp;hnear=16410+SE+5th+St,+Va ncouver,+Washington+98684&amp;gl=us&amp;t=k&amp;ll =45.618626,-122.50266&amp;spn=0.000995,0.002009&amp;z=19&amp;o utput=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href=";q=16410+SE+5th+Street+Vancouver,+WA &amp;ie=UTF8&amp;hq=&amp;hnear=16410+SE+5th+St,+Va ncouver,+Washington+98684&amp;gl=us&amp;t=k&amp;ll =45.618626,-122.50266&amp;spn=0.000995,0.002009&amp;z=19&amp;s ource=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

Here is a few pictures of the flowers the customer was talking about. Three areas, with a total of around 200 flowers. The apartment manager (no to be confused with the property manager) said she thinks they get the flowers for free as the owner has a floral company as well (or some such).

There are tons of trees on the property as well, with bases that look just like this picture.

Now, the following few pictures just help illustrate what the grass, shrubs, and trees look like.

Here is an image of a typical row of bushes.

Now, I talked to the apartment manager who told me the reason they are shopping around for a new company. Apparently there are a few bushes that are pretty dead. Either the whole bush, or just parts of it. There is a tenant that takes care of her own little oasis, with flowers, and potted plants, she even put down her own bark.

With constant urging from the tenant about the dead bushes, the last company decided to cut out the areas of dead without talking to the property manager first. The following pictures who what the last company did.

I think it is a little strange that they fired the company on the spot because of this. If the bush was dead, replace it. Especially if you own a nursery. But either way, they are now getting bids.

The apartment manager told me that while she doesn't know what they were paying, she does know that the current bids that have been coming in have been 2-3x higher then what they were paying.

I told her that I don't know what my bid will be yet, or if I will be high or low.

Another thing is that the apt manager mentioned that they also did some pruning of the trees. Handled the sprinklers. Fertilized. Etc.

So I need to figure all this out. Also, I'm not too prideful to just decline to bid. If the job is just too much, or if you feel that it might be out of my league right now, that's OK. I have no problem calling up an associate at a mush larger company and offering them the chance to bid.

Thank you all for your help.

Steve 06-26-2011 06:24 PM

Those are some good pics.

How long are you thinking it's going to take you to mow per visit?

Also how much line trimming will you have to do?

How often are you going to be edging?


There are 2 ditches that are steep (approximately 6,400 square feet total). These are the areas I forgot to measure while there.
What are you planning on using to keep this grass trimmed and how long are you estimating it would take?

lxarth 06-27-2011 12:01 PM


How long are you thinking it's going to take you to mow per visit?
Based on the online calculator it is going to take me 80 minutes to mow (which seems really fast to me).


Also how much line trimming will you have to do?
There isn't any line trimming other then edging. Which I estimate to take 60 min. I plan on doing that every other week.


What are you planning on using to keep this grass trimmed and how long are you estimating it would take?
I only have a 21-inch Toro right now. I don't have any HUGE mowers. But also, this place has a lot of spots that would not be assessable with a large mower.

So far it looks like I would spend 140 min there just mowing and edging. It is going to take an average of $20 a month of fertilizer, with an application time of around 15 min per month (just averaging out the time monthly instead of every 3 months.)

Also, it could take 30 min to walk around and spray the weeds, I don't really know.

I also have no idea how long it might take me to blow off the parking lot, walkways, and sidewalks.

It could be around 4.5 hours for me to maintain this place, and that isn't even starting to count the trimming of the bushes. Based on how much I charge, which is only $35/hour. I would be making $8,500 per year. Granted, making $700 a month is nice, it is only $10 per door.


I have several properties like this one, I would say that you are on the right tract with a per door charge. In my case $19 is cheap.
So I am way under bid here. I need some help here. Or just turn down this kind of work until I am a bigger company?

Rodriguez11 06-28-2011 03:01 PM

I may have missed it, but did you say how often you would have to mow,trim bushes and spray? Just a thought since the complex has tight areas that push mowing would be most ideal were you considering maybe getting a second push mower and a helper so you do not wear yourself out on this property. At least until you have enough work to get a zero turn, even one from HD or Lowes. It's what I started with 5 years ago and still use it as a back up today for smaller jobs.

Liberty Landscaping LLC 06-28-2011 11:53 PM

Your times seem really low for me too esp if you only using a 21 push mower. Who are they using if they fired their company on the spot and are only bidding now? Maybe say I can do it for X dollars (your worked up est for one cut) one time to help me do a better bid that your estimating it for now. That way you can see how long it will really take and your not doing it free. They might respect you a lot for that and it will get their lawn cut for them in the meantime esp if they fired them on the spot. Other then that I missed who you quoted as saying 19 a door. How long does it take them to service their client that's close in size? You seem to have a good repor with the Apt manger ring her and see how long it took the previous company and what they used. That' s my two cents. I think its going to take a lot more then 80 min with all those obstacles and a 21 push mower. The bushes alone trimming will take a decent amount of time I would think. I would buy a lil 36 inch stander zero turn. I have one and it makes things a breeze! If that will fit into the areas it will save a lot of time. Keep up the updates.

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