How to create a bid for the lawn care of 32 cabins.

When presented with a potential mowing job on an average sized property for one home, the average new lawn care business owner would more than likely go to the property and check it out before bidding. But when presented with the opportunity to bid on a larger lawn mowing job with a limited time to bid, that same business owner might try and guestimate a bid price in hopes of getting it. With the idea in his head that no matter what, winning such a job would be a way to take his business to the next level, that business owner would rather gamble with larger jobs than smaller jobs. The problem is, as we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, that your potential losses are a lot bigger on bigger jobs if you underestimate them than smaller jobs. So if you ever find yourself in such a situation, take a deep breath and prepare for the big job estimates the same way you would with the smaller ones.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I am doing some research on bidding lawn care for a development. A new potential lawn care customer called me today and needs a bid by tomorrow morning. I am relatively new to this, and it’s my first big job opportunity. Here’s some info on my set up. I have a 54 inch zero turn lawn mower, back pack blower, trimmers, etc.

The job is a cabin development that has 32 cabins and common area. I was able to pull it up on google earth to get an overhear view of it. I outlined the area in red. Unfortunately I really don’t have time to go there and measure it out and all that.

They want a year lawn care contract to include:

A second lawn care business owner said “the way I would do it in my state is look up the county deed information online for that address. Find out the exact total square feet of property. Subtract out the houses, driveways, roads, and go from there. Without that information, you could take an an average cabin yard on google earth and multiply is by how many cabins there are. But then all of this would really be guessing.

We charge a separate fee for fall cleanup, storm cleanup, and snow removal. The reason for that is the amount of leaves vary each year. The wind blows a lot and leaves go everywhere. It’s the same with storms and snow. Not all storms or snow storms are alike. Some dump 2 inches of snow verses 20 inches. Therefore the price can vary a lot. Weed eating and blowing is covered in the basic lawn maintenance package.

Hypothetically speaking, if each cabin lot is 10,000 sqft. say you charge $30.00 each.
$30 x 32 cabins = $960 per week for all cabins. Add in the extra areas, etc. then times 16 cuts a year and that comes out to a little over $15,000 for the year.

Personally, I would tell the owner you need more time to give him an accurate lawn care bid. You really need to visit the site and take measurements, note any obstructions, etc. If he can’t honor that and give you more time then he is trying to screw you over by forcing you to make a mistake and either underbid or overbid it.

ex: You quote him $15,000 for a yearly contract. You get out there and do the work and discover ‘oh no’ it’s a lot more than you thought. Now you have to eat the extra work or try to get more money out of it. If you over bid, you risk not getting the job.

If I was in your shoes, I’d learn as much as you can about the site as from a site visit. Talk to the owners in person. Walk the grounds. Explain you charge $X for 1-6″ of snow and every 6 inches add in another $X dollars. It’s a tricky thing with snow removal. It’s the same with leaf cleanup and storm damage. Be careful on this one and good luck.”

A third added “You wouldn’t bid on a SINGLE one of those cabins without going there and checking it out first, let alone 32 of them!

cabin-lawn-care-bid

Cabin lawn care bid example.

You are going to need to figure out the total area to be mowed. The total amount of linear feet of trimming.

What is your plan on the snow plowing bid? Are you going to charge them a fee per plow or try to calculate one price for the season?

How many man hours will it take you to perform the following?

  • Mowing as needed (average here is 15-17 cuts per year) = ?
  • Weed eating = ?
  • Blowing off = ?
  • Fall clean up = ?
  • Storm clean up = ?
  • Winter plowing and salting = ?

Let us know what you come up with and don’t be rushed to bid on it. Take the time you need to come up with an accurate bid.

With that said, here is my guestimate for lawn care based on the overhead satellite photo.

  • Mowing 32 cabins x $20 = $640. Times that by the number of Weeks (17) ( Use a buffer just in case) = $10,800.00.
  • Fall cleanup 32 cabins x $75 each cleanup x 2 cleanups = $4,800.00.
  • Winter Plowing & Salting, assuming you are salting all roads and driveways (Price includes salt). 32 cabins x $50 x (avg # of storms in your area) = $?????

Then add up to get your total. Then divide by 12 months for the monthly payment for them.”

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