Hey! This is Jonathan Pototschnik. The question is, how do I quote, estimate, or bid an apartment complex that is in dire need of lawn care maintenance? I will address the question as if you already have an understanding of how to bid an apartment complex but, it’s in far worse shape than normal and, as if you’ve never bid an apartment complex before.
Let’s start with bidding a property that is in really bad shape.
What you do, in our opinion, is simply bid the property exactly as you would if it were already manicured. Bid the apartment building as though the bushes are already trimmed and just need to be maintained, the beds are clean and just need to be kept clean, the turf is pretty healthy and doesn’t need to be over-seeded and doesn’t have a significant weed problem. You are just there to maintain their landscape for the next twelve months. Hopefully when you leave a property that you’ve acquired, it’s always in better condition than when you got it.
I would include a separate make-ready bid in the contract so that next year the extra say, two thousand dollars, isn’t included. That will help to prevent you from being unfairly underbid by another lawn care company next year. It will also be clearly stated to property management as there is turnover or as memories lapse.
Produce a proposal for twelve months as though the property’s in good shape and separate out what it’s going to cost to get the property in shape…the make-ready cost.
Now, let’s assume you are asking how we quote an apartment complex that’s in bad shape because you’ve never quoted an apartment complex before. This is the challenging one. If you have hands-on experience, you can project yourself into the position of actually doing the maintenance and you can run through it in your mind’s eye. As you walk the property, you can see that it is going to take say, four hours to maintain the turf. You know that once a month it’s going to take five and a half hours to maintain the bushes. And, so on, and so forth.
If you’ve never done a property this big, the only way you can come close to estimating it is to break down the sections.
Walk the property and look at each section one at a time. Break it down by size, type of equipment to be used, how many trees and other obstacles to weed around, whether or not there will be leaves to be bagged, and how long it will take to clean up the area using a blower. Estimate the time for that one area and then move on to the next section and break it down the same way.
What you’re doing is taking the big property and dividing it into bite-sized chunks so that you can estimate it based on your previous experiences. That’s the easiest way, and again, separate the clean-up from the ongoing maintenance.
Keep in mind that the clean-up is always more difficult than you expect. If it’s really tall, and you don’t normally bag, expect to bag. Expect the extra cost and time there. I’d probably add ten, twenty percent to your estimate just to cover yourself.
If you have built a system in your company, you know on average how long it takes to mow a specific area. You have timed multiple guys, at different times of the day, mowing similar areas, and you know the average from that past experience. You also have the experience to know how long it takes to trim rectangular and round bushes.
When you get to that point, you’ve built time estimates for every task within your company. Then all your estimating is literally measuring…measuring linear footage for energy…measuring square footage for mowing based on the mower type…counting the bushes and trees based on size…then adding it all up, multiplying it by a dollar per hour that recovers your labor cost, your overhead cost and delivers to you a net profit contribution. This is a multi-year process of systemization and building your business. It takes a while to get there. But, when you get to that point, I think you’ve arrived. This is when you’ve really built something where you can send anybody out to do estimating.