Apartment complex bid example.

Jumping from residential lawn care to offering commercial lawn care can be tough on a newer lawn care business owner because you just aren’t used to estimating larger properties. With no example to go by you may greatly underestimate the amount of time it would take you to mow and underestimate the amount you should charge.

In a discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum a member posted an overhead image of an apartment complex he was wanting to bid on but since he had no previous commercial lawn care bidding experience he needed help.

Here is the property he was bidding on.

Commercial lawn care bid example.

Commercial lawn care bid example.

In his post he wrote “can you help give me an example quote for this property on a estimate mowing, weeding, edging, and blowing? This is an apartment complex. It has 6 unit complex with a pool and an entrance way. There are two major hills on the corners, one far left and one far right.”

One lawn care business owner responded “before I give you the example here let me share with you some concerns. First never give an estimate based strictly on an overhead photograph. It can give you a general idea of your bid but you have to visit the project site yourself to understand the lay of the land, obstructions, gradients, type of grass, desires of apartment management, etc.

Secondly, I can’t see the slope of the hills you describe. Also, there looks to be a drainage problem in the upper left corner of the complex. Problems like these can add hours to your work and you simply cannot plan for them based on a photo.

One other thing, there are other aspects I can’t take into account due to it being only a photo.
Weeding - I can’t even see the beds. So, I’m going to leave them off.
Travel Time - Umm…no way for me to determine this.

For this example, I am assuming 1 person running a 61″ lawn mower with ~20hp motor, 1 weed eater, and 1 backpack blower. The equipment operator is proficient and mows with a 80% efficiency, what I mean by this is you need to take into consideration overlaps, inefficient turns, etc when calculating mowing time. I am also going to assume this area is 40% more difficult to mow than a “normal” area this size.

Okay, now that all that is out of the way, I crunched some numbers based on your photo. Here is what I have come up with:

1) Mowing: I calculated the size of the entire project is approximately 16 acres (outlying trees not included). Taking out buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, etc, the actual mowing area is almost 11.5 acres. I believe you can mow that area in an estimated 5 1/2 hours taking into account for the difficult terrain and the equipment described above.

2) Trimming/Edging: My calculations for trimming accounted for buildings, walk paths, pool and other public areas but it did not account for the outside perimeter or the perimeter at the outside of the parking lot. Taking this into account, I came up with 6220 feet of string trimming that needs to be done every week. At 1′ per second, trimming will take 1 hour 43 minutes.

3) Blowing: Blowing is subjective. By minimizing the amount of grass your mower shoots onto walk areas, you should be able to blow off the area in 1 hour. Size of blower and number of cars in the way will have a bearing.

Alright, let’s add all this up:
Mowing: 5.5 hours
Trimming: 1.72 hours
Blowing: 1.00 hours
Total: 8.22 HOURS

Based strictly on one photograph you sent and some assumptions, I came up with an estimated 8 hours 13 minutes to do this job. Now all you need to do is multiply that time by your cost per hour to operate and you will get your final price.

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