How to bid commercial lawn care jobs that require a lot of materials.

Bidding some commercial lawn care customer jobs is fairly straight forwards and similar to the way you would bid a residential job. But as the jobs get larger and the amount of materials needed is increased, you can find yourself in a cash crunch. The last thing you want to have happen is finding yourself in a position where you are paying thousands of dollars in material costs early in the season and you aren’t expecting to get that money back until months later. You are not a bank and you shouldn’t need to front large material costs for customers. Here is a great discussion about this from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum that should give you more insight as to how to bid such jobs.

One lawn care business owner wrote “this is the first year. I am a new company and have an amazing opportunity to take a lot of market share in my area.

Right now I am trying to get more commercial mowing accounts as it seems to be more steady work. I bid on a few of them already and was awarded two, but they were for landscaping jobs. These jobs did not include the cost of mulch and flowers, they were considered extra with the approval of the managers.

Commercial Lawn Care Bidding

Commercial Lawn Care Bidding

I am currently working on my first bid where they are requiring the cost of mulch, flowers, etc all included in the bid. The company is an HVM, (homestead village management). I’m not asking for specific numbers but what I do need is some advise on how to bid such work and how to stay competitive with my bid.

Right now I am figuring $275.00 a week is a fair rate for everything they are asking for. The bid is for 4 locations and I might have some wiggle room in the price and be able to lower it to 250.00 per week per location, if I need to to get the work, but with gas prices on the rise, I may be setting myself up for failure.

A big problem I am really having a hard time with is, even though I do some commercial lawn care / landscape work, I have never submitted a bid before that included buying so much up front materials. As it looks, each hotel will need roughly about 30 yards of mulch, and roughly $1,500 in flowers per change, they want spring/fall flowers.

So I am trying to just see what everyone does when it comes to materials. Right now I have been using a couple local places to buy all my mulch but does anyone have any suggestions on how to make my material cost lower to help win the bid?

I feel like I have an in with them as I do all their snow plowing. I had sent a little sales marketing kit with my new flyer this spring, along with a letter stating my interest in bidding on their other work. I got a phone call about 2 weeks later asking me to bid on the landscape and lawn care work.

The company that previously handled all the grounds work for them for years recently moved so I just hit them at the right time and really hit it off well with the regional manager who manages all of the hotels. From all this so far I learned the importance of timing and stellar marketing materials.

When I submitted my bid I did ask for a deposit upon winning the contract. I asked for 50% of the cost, or direct billing from the supplier. I did this because I currently do not mark up my material costs so it would be easy to just have the customer buy the product directly from the supplier for me.”

A second lawn care business owner said “the best way to do it is have your mulch and flowers bid separate from lawn care contract. Most commercial lawn care customers pay in 30 days and if you have accounts with your suppliers you can buy your material and pay your suppliers in 30 days because most property managers are not going to pay a deposit up front.

The reason it is better to have the mulch and flowers separate is your not having to carry that cost over the term of a 12 month lawn care maintenance contract when you are buying thousands of dollars in mulch and flower. That cost can wipe out the monthly contract amount. When you do heavy volume, it’s ok on small contracts where you are buying 20 yards of mulch but when you buy 200 yards of mulch and 500 flats of flowers on one property it is expensive.

So to summarize you bill the for the mulch and flowers separately with invoice terms of 30 days. You work it out with your supplier to pay in 30 days. Then you won’t have to front the cost. You should be getting your payment in from the customer as you are writing the check to pay for the supplies.”

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