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Bidding On Condo Units

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by DeereFarmer, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. DeereFarmer

    DeereFarmer PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,296

    In my search to expand, I'm starting to look at bidding on some condo units. Where my girlfriend lives they are starting to look for bids for year round maintenance (mowing, fertilizing, bark mulch, plowing the roads and driveways) for about 55 units. The company they has just went bankrupt and walked off the job yesterday. What is the best way to bid on something like this? They want the roads plowed (about 2 miles of them), each driveway plowed (the condos are stand-alones, so it would be 55 driveways), and everything salted as needed. They want to do a 2 year contract for year round maintenance. I've been working for a company that does condos for the last few years, so I can grasp the work. Any suggestions?:drinkup:
  2. Pristine PM ltd

    Pristine PM ltd PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,794

    your biggest mistake will be to look at it at 55 places. I would assume it will be about 40% of what you would normally charge for 55 separate houses. Your benefit is that they need you asap. I would go a bit higher for that reason. Good luck, and take a good look at the eves, that will tell you how much salting the place will need.
  3. DeereFarmer

    DeereFarmer PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,296

    Yeah the eves will be the first thing I look at it. From what I've seen when I've been up there, it looks like it will need a ton of salt. I like the idea of all 55 units in one place. The property manager does other condo complexes as well. She said she may be able to get other places for us as well. I like the idea of having all the guys in a central spot to keep an eye on them and to make sure everything is done to how I like it. Its a crapshoot really. 55 individual places have their pros and cons.
  4. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    run away
    don't do it
    all HOA's are insane.
  5. Lsanzerr

    Lsanzerr Junior Member
    Messages: 18

    Hey, buddy regardless of how close they are together you cant look at them as one. Each driveway equals a seperate owner and a seperate set of the way they want it done. DOnt bid cheap sounds like the last guy did. Dont assume that it will be easy as I do something like this in ct its about 188 drives though. It is a pain in the ass but the money at the end of the day makes it well worth it. Throw out a number that you feel comfortable with and than add on some wiggle room. Be stern in your contract and make sure that snow removal is an extra, also my advice would be set a limit on the amount the season snow fall falls in before you charge per storm. For instance her I GO AT 45" and then time and material this way you cant get hurt.
  6. DeereFarmer

    DeereFarmer PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,296

    I know its a pain, I subbed for a guy a few years ago that did a 75 unit place. Its not fun, but at this point I have to take what I can get. This lady seems normal for now, of course until the contract is signed then she blows steam out her ears for the enxt 2 years. IF, and I do mean IF, we were ti get to an agreement on price and I sign a contract how do you guys do your payments? Do you ask for 25% up front? 50% up front? Weekly? Sorry for all the noob questions. I know I should know more than this.
  7. If you feel up to the task of showing up alot to make sure every driveway is cleaned off and that there isnt any extra snow that was trailed off or a missed hydrant was missed then go for it. Just be ready to get calls after you think you have plowed and cleared everything off, there is always a few people that complain to the president who then calls you up after you got done and you have to make a separate trip to the site. Dont bid cheap and make sure to put into your contract a few extra trip charges built into your contract to cover for revisits you may have to make. These bigger complexes always seem to be a PITA, but can also make you good money.
    Ask them when they were paying the previous company, I would think its usually once a month they pay their contractors for the work.
    If you havent done much work at this scale on your own you may want to look for something smaller and build from there. But if you feel ready to try something this big then make sure to price accordingly and go higher.
  8. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    I would set a payment plan over 12 months. 8 months of the summer payments, including the mulch, mowing, fert, and so on, and 4 months of the winter payments, salt, plowing, and so on. If you can come to an agreement on the prices, make sure you put in your contract, they pay for a month in advance, and if the payment is more than 10 days late, service is stopped at the end of the month they are paid ahead to. I think you will find overall your looking at a 50 to 60 thousand dollar contract, not knowing how big the drives, or yards are, but I would guess your going to average around 1 grand per resident. Like you said there are many positives and some negatives, but if you can get them to stick to your payment terms, it should be a lucrative job for you.
  9. misterbluesky

    misterbluesky Junior Member
    Messages: 13

    Be verwy careful

    You don't want to get in over your head based on your present work load. The small storms are not the problem, its the wind driven blizzards that dump 20" in 12 hours. May have alot of seniors that can have high expectations of level of service. Don't sacrifice the present customers to please the new guys. A year round service means they will expect close attention. Just my 2 cents. Good Luck.
  10. DeereFarmer

    DeereFarmer PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,296

    You guys are awesome, really. Everytime I come on here I get great advice. So thanks! I'm a little worried about getting over my head, but I'm ready to make a jump like this. I've been planning for this for about 3 years now. It might be time to go for it. This just fell into my lap. The one good thing is my girlfriend lives there, so I can stay at her house durring snow events and run the command post out of there. That way if there is anything that was left behind I will be on site still. she knows a lot of the people there and they seem to like her. I have met a lot of them before and have gone to many functions up there. Everyone seems ok and maybe by a few of them knowing me I can get in with the community a little better or quicker. Who knows, I may be way off on this. I am very particular about my work and I expect that from my crew as well, I'm very OCD about it. I was managing two crews of three guys the day I got out of high school. The 20" storms in 12 hours are bad, no matter what. This would just be on a larger scale. Bigger headache I guess you can say. I'm getting way ahead of myself because we haven't even discussed numbers yet or even had a bid put up yet. The other crew literally walked off in the middle of a light snow storm 2 days ago. Got 1/2 done and just walked off. As for the cost, I was thinking around $60,000 for the year or so depending on what exactly they want done and the terms. I know the HOA fees are around $400 a month which is very high for this area.
  11. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    Just make sure you figure out your time and costs before you price it. As stated before I have no clue how big the drives are, or how large the yards are, but it's very important to know your time, and costs before you bid it. If the HOA fees are 400 a month, they are collecting 264,000 dollars a year. Don't leave anything on the table and undercut yourself. If your ready to jump into something like this then I am assuming you have equipment, and a place to store salt. This is too big of a job to spread bagged salt, your going to need bulk, and lots of it for a whole season. Good luck, let us know how things turn out.
  12. Cutter1

    Cutter1 Senior Member
    Messages: 243

    uh oh condos. Lets see. Phone rings. There is snow in front of my window, can you push it somewhere else. I can't see pulling out of the street, can you move the 2 month old frozen pile? The fire hydrant isn't cleared 5 feet all around it, your going to get a fine. I want salt, I don't want salt. This one is handicapped and needs the sidewalk edge to edge. There is water dripping and freezing can you come back up. You hit a bush, you hit a curb, you went in the grass, you have to pay for all those repairs. Its too early to run a machine. Your not here early enough. Why do you start there first all the time? LOL. Be prepared. I do a lot of condos. Biggest problem is where to put the snow. A lot of back dragging if you don't have a machine and that only works for small snow amounts. Plus they are tight getting in and out. We have machines with back plows to pull out the garage doors. Good luck. They complain, BUT they pay on time and its year round work.
  13. bristolturf

    bristolturf Senior Member
    Messages: 435

    It actually looks like your set up good to do the snow at this condo place. Use your truck to plow the roads and any parking areas and the tractor to plow out all the drives. Probably with the tractor, depending on the size of the drives 3 minutes or less at each place. So that comes up to right around 2.5 hours or so to clear on all the drives. Im guess that on the average size of most condo driveways, around 20-30' long and a tight 2 car wide. I agree with the others though, dont look at it as 55 induvidual drives, look at it as just a number of man hours. So if its going to take 3 hours to clear out all those drives with that tractor, and your getting $75/hour for it, id bid that at $225 for the drives.

    To help with the problems of the snow in the peoples grass etc, just push it all into the road and have the plow truck windrow it all to the sides. You might have to make a couple passes down the road to clear it out, but thats what I would do.
  14. Stan

    Stan Senior Member
    Messages: 579


    -Your driver helped me brush off my car, he scratched it and I want a new paint job.
    -I've fallen (2 weeks later) and I cant get up. The snow melted and the puddle froze... I want to sue!
    -Why do you have to put the snow in front of my driveway, I used to plow myself and you can simple push it to the other side.
  15. FordFisherman

    FordFisherman PlowSite.com Addict
    from 06611
    Messages: 1,593

    May be beneficial to sit down and talk to the previous service provider. Don't be lured in with "we have other properties we want you to do also" crap. Major PIA account but IF you can get your price it may be worth it. You have to ask yourself this though; If it's such a good account, why is the other guy going belly up? I would schedule a sit down with him and his foreman ASAP before submitting a bid.
    Sometimes, staying small is more profitable percentagewise.
  16. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,106

    Ask to be invited to Board meetings as a guest...especially those that have site maintenance on the agenda. Gives you a great view of the dynamics and puts you in a position to address concerns before they happen.
  17. John from OH

    John from OH Member
    Messages: 35

    If you take this on, walk the property with a representative from the board and document/ photograph ever nick, dent, scratch and scuff on the garage doors, trim, front doors, siding and pavement. Also note broken concrete on the drives and walks, chips on curbs, existing damage/ leans on retaining walls if present. If not, after the season you will be paying for every one of the above. Your insurance won't cover it as 1 incident, each repair will be treated as a separate claim which means you will be forking out of your own pocket. Good Luck!
  18. Cutter1

    Cutter1 Senior Member
    Messages: 243

    garage doors!! I forgot that one. Definetly check them out before. We actually take pics of every door at the condos we take care of. Been blamed for alot of dings. Some virtually impossible to do. Even lined up all equipment with the marks, nothing came close to as high as it was and still had to pay for it. Slip and fall also. Her car was parked in the driveway preventing us from doing it, she walked around her car(through the grass area and fell) sued us and won. Cars in the way preventing service was added to the contracts needless to say. Cover your ass.
  19. DeereFarmer

    DeereFarmer PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,296

    Awesome advice. I thought of documenting previous accidents/problems, but not to the extent that you guys have suggested. Big thumbs up for that. That is soemthing I will be sure to do. The driveways are all fairly short, most in the 40ft 2 car width range. Some are longer. I'll have to try to get google map of the property if I can. Most of the condos are staggered, so snow can be pushed straight across the street. We would have the shovel around the garage doors and the front step. Anything else would be extra. I can store all my equipment there, they have a lot just for storing equipment/salt on site. Thats a good plus. I would be running my F350, tractor, two Bobcats (one with a plow, one with a bucket/snowblower if needed), a GMC 5500 with a 10' Fisher and sander, and maybe another F350 if needed. Then probably 2 to 4 shovelers.
  20. bristolturf

    bristolturf Senior Member
    Messages: 435

    dont tie up that much equipment into 1 site. You could probably easily handle that entire site with your tractor, a skid loader, and the 5500. Save the other equipment for the other site. Honestly look at one of those kage innovention snow plows for the skid. Comes with a pusher attachement for it. Do all the drives with the tractor and skid loader, then the skid can do any other bigger parking lots if there are any, and just have a bucket with it then too, so if you need to stack or push snow back or its too deep for the plow or soemthing, then you just use the bucket. That amount of equipment you listed i think would be overboard for that site. Then right as your about finished send the 5500 in there to clear the roads and salt.