Has your lawn care business been growing over the years and you feel like you finally are at the point where you want to take on some commercial lawn care customers? Maybe you have even had your eyes on some of the big box stores in your area but weren’t sure how to go about bidding on their property maintenance. Well here is a discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, where one business owner was interested in finding out more about the bid process and what was explained to him should really help get you headed in the right direction.
He wrote “I would like to bid on a local Walmart lawn mowing account. Does anyone know how much insurance coverage they would require, like 100,000-1 million etc… Also do they require you to have workman’s comp? Or any other type of coverage that I might not know about?
The lawn care bid proposal has not come out yet but I wanted to get all my stuff together and up my insurance if I needed to. The only thing I was really concerned about was the amount of commercial liability insurance I needed. This will be the first commercial lawn care account that I will be bidding on, so I was not sure what the requirements were and how much to bid it for. I was thinking of offering a free mow to see how much time would be involved to perform the job but did not know if that was practical or not being that it is a bid.”
A second lawn care business owner said “before you do anything else, you will need to get a vendor # first. Then most all Walmart stores will handle all lawn care and parking lot sweeping bids through their own store. A $1 million liability insurance policy is ok but some want $2 mil. We carry $5 million because I heard through the grapevine that they will be changing this limit in the next couple years.
To get your vendor # go to the UPC Office at your local Walmart and ask for the vendor # paper work. You might be able to go online now and do this, but I don’t know for sure as I’ve had mine for about 10 years now. After you get it, go to Walmart and talk to the store manager. When it comes to lawn care/lawn maintenance or parking lot sweeping, the local store manages are allow to do the hiring. See if they are taking any bids. If not, ask him when.
Remember, they can only hire lawn care, parking lot sweeping, and pressure washing contractors. Once you get your vendor #, the main headquarters in Bentonville, AR will put you on a list that goes to other Walmart stores. This can help you expand.
Something to keep in mind about working with them is that they are slow to pay. When I got started, I went 4 to 5 months before I got my first check but after that they come every month. Also they want you to do a very good job, so be mindful of this. My lawn care company currently takes care of 14 stores. We do all their lawn care, pressure washing, and parking lot sweeping.
To perform the parking lot sweeping, I use Masco Hi Vac sweeper trucks. We sweep the shopping centers and plazas in the middle of the night. I also use them to do a local outside mall that sits on 96 acres of buildings, lawns, and parking areas. To do this I have a crew picking up and emptying trash cans during the day and running the sweeper at night. It’s a rough business to be in. The price of a sweeper is around $57,000 new. This is not for the weak at heart. Many things can change during the time you hold these commercial lawn care contracts. For example, a few years ago I put in a bid for two shopping centers. With them, I got a seven year contract when gas was $.89 a gallon. Five years later, gas was $3.57 a gallon, so you have to keep these things in consideration when you take on long contracts.
A few years ago most of the Walmarts were nothing but vast parking lots. Now for they are thinking more and more about curb appeal. Right in my service area, I just picked up another one where they just built a new super center about 1 year ago. It has 16 islands with grass and trees, 2 center islands that go from the doors to the end of the parking lot with a sidewalk which also contain grass and trees. They also have about 4 acres of grass around the building and parking lot. All of these new islands and grass areas take up more time and energy to maintain.
We also pressure wash the front walk ways of the stores. They have us do it from every month to every 4 months. We then have to sweep the parking lots every nite. So these jobs can really involve a lot of work. Do your homework before you bid on them and make sure you have the manpower, equipment, and mental state of mind to tackle all this before you jump in.”
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