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How to land commercial contracts

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by rick21793, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. rick21793

    rick21793 Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    We have been plowing snow as subcontractor for about 5 years. We never got much regular work but we would get called in a lot for emergency's and more regular to push back snow piles and load and haul snow. Most every time we go out we are approached by the property manager about doing there snow removal for the next year. They seem to be impressed with our speed and efficiency.

    Ethically I have a problem with taking work from a general contractor that was using me as a sub. I would like to find my own work but I have no idea how to go about making contacts with these kinds of people. I would be looking for several large contracts such as shopping centers or big box stores. We currently have for equipment

    150 hp tractor with front end loader
    120 hp wheel loader
    large skid loader with a huge bucket
    several pickups witch we could mount plows
    2 dump trucks which we could mount plows
    200 hp 4wd tractor with a 12' snow blade

    I thought I would need a salt spreader and maybe a couple snow blowers to do side walks. I have no problem getting the labor to do the sidewalks.
    Any ideas or direction on getting work or anything else would be appreciated.
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Pickup the phone and call to see if they have a bid packet or if they want to you to just send in a bid. You need to start working on it now for next season.
  3. Rc2505

    Rc2505 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,245

    Ethically you have no obligation to your general for next season. I can see where you would have a problem taking the job from them on a season they already have a contract, but unfortunatley that is why compaines bid jobs either every season, or every other season. They are looking for the best price, as well as the best quality they can get. Now for the record, I am not saying go in and owball just to get the accounts, but my guess is if you are making money subbing for someone else, then you can probably do the job cheaper. ( boy I can see the comments comming already !! )
    Otherwise start cold calling after the season, and start asking. You would be surprised how fresh bad service is in the minds of managment right after the season.
  4. rick21793

    rick21793 Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    i am not going to bid on jobs that I subbed for. At least not for the next season. The contractor has given me work for many years and even though you have no problem with taking his work I do. Now, on a job he does not have currently I will compete directly with him, no prob.
  5. jayman3

    jayman3 Senior Member
    Messages: 372

    I sub for a local company here,and have often thought of bidding on lots against the guy that I subbed for,but never ended up doing because I was brought up to never bite the hand that feeds you,if there is something that I know that he might have tendered on I will ask him.But at the end of the day business is business I guess.
  6. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    We have our subs sign a sub agreement, in it they cannot pursue work we have contracted for 3 years. Enforcable or not it's signed before they drop a blade for us. You know the saying once bitten twice shy!!!!!! Though having been on your side of this I agree, agreement or not, having been given work by someone for years I'd not pursue sites I knew were his clients, bidding on other sites against him is different. You never burn bridges..........never know when you might need a friend, salt shortage,breakdowns, manpower issues it all happens.
  7. Hummer120

    Hummer120 Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    I sub, and have some of my own accounts. I will not bid a job where I sub. When I do inquire about bidding, the first thing I ask is "are you happy with your current plow company?" If they are happy, they usually do not even take a bid. If they don't care, the will tell me the specs, and I bid. Currently it's about 50-50, and my route takes about 6 hours with a 2-4" snowfall. If it's a lasting storm, I'm plowing for a long time.
  8. ford550

    ford550 Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    ...............................and that's exactly why our sub-contractor agreements have a non-compete and damages clause if you try to take our work (whether the property manager likes what you do or not)....................
  9. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    RC... I fired a sub for doing just that.... Kicker is I was still lower then him....Now hes doing nothing but twittling his thumbs while We're making money.....I don't care if a sub tries to get his own accounts just not mine that they've been plowing for me..,. I now have all of the subs sign non compete agreements....
  10. rick21793

    rick21793 Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Well, it seems this post has gotten of topic. As I said before I am not going to take this guys contracts. He has paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. And always pays me promptly. So its just not the thing to do.

    Anyway, do I just go visit the customers, or call them, or by mail?
  11. Mick76

    Mick76 2000 Club Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,157

    I useally just call on the lots I'd be interested in doing and ask them if their accepting bids for snow removal for this upcoming winter season (I start in the summer but this year I'd be going after the lots that looked like crap in early spring and see if their interested while the bad service is still fresh in their minds)...... getting a face to face goes along way either before or when submiting your quote

    Don't burn your bridge with the contracting guy...seems like you've got a pretty good thing going..... if hes paid you that kind of $ and you don't have to wait for it, why are you trying to go out on your own?

    Just curious....

  12. Super plow

    Super plow Junior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 1

    Anytime you hire a sub they should sign a non compete clause for at least three years. There is not a lot of loyalty in business. Price is an issue however the bigger problem is change of management or low ballers. Low ballers don"t last long because they don't know their true cost of doing business.
  13. jvm81

    jvm81 Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 381

    I had the same thing happen to me. Although i use Subs- one guy we hired worked great for us for a few years - he thought he could do this and he went on his own - he took a few accounts from us but nothing major - hurt the others guys more than i cuzz he still needed our help now and then. Well - after 1.5 years - he turned his list over to us the 1st of Jan. He couldn't handle it, was lowballing to keep work, never on time, jobs were lousy so now that we gained this much i am doing whatever it takes to make those accounts shine again - at least according to our standards.

    I would say keep subbing but maybe branch out on your own into areas this guys is not. You need help - he is only a phone call away - kinda like him calling you. I see it as a win win for both parties.
  14. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    To get back to your actual question, Mick follows roughly the same method as I do. Visiting management of the facilities you'd like to bid, WM used to be the best as they used to accept bids at the store manager level, USM saw to the end of that, at least this year. But besides them there are lots of bids still accepted at the store manager level, some will happily forward to regional/district managers if they don't have the final say. Best bet is target lots what look like they could use better service, take pictures(time/date stamped) of their lot and some you service, if you can get some face time with the manager of a site show them the pics.......this of course works best when they're already thinking things could be better and they have an expectation of service which is not being met. Bottom dollar shoppers (you can usually tell these by lots looking terrible year after year) will likely accept crappy service in favor of lower bills. Networking is a good way too, find property manager/building owner associations, such as BOMA and join as an associate member(service provideer), your activity in these groups will directly affect the exposure you get, this kind of thing takes time to develop but CAN lead to huge connections as you nuture the relationships you gain.
  15. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Face to face meeting are the best and then you can call back to check.
    Ask for bid packets for next year....NOW
  16. dgt178

    dgt178 Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Being a general contractor for many years, I would take offense if my subs tried to "steal" my jobs from me. And, needless to say, they would be fired immediately, and would never get any more work from my company. There's plenty of work out there. All too often, there's no loyalty among general and sub. I'll have NO part of it.
  17. silvetouch

    silvetouch Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    I agree with the other posts about having a non-compete clause set in place. Not to mention it is unethical to bid on a contractors properties that you sub for. :nono: It rarely happens to me, but when it does we have our "collections" department go and collect all their equipment! ussmileyflag
  18. Gary @ Shamrock

    Gary @ Shamrock Junior Member
    Messages: 24

    The best way to get work is to ask for it. Make sure it is a location you feel confident doing and go inside, introduce yourself, get to the manager or owner, tell him/her what you do and that you would like to do it for them. Act professional and polite... then continue to followup. You are selling yourself and then you provide the services to keep the customer.

    I agree with your business acumen regarding your general contractor. It has brought you success as a subcontractor and will provide you long-term success as a general contractor.

  19. DobbinsINC

    DobbinsINC Member
    Messages: 61

    I got my commericial accounts by word of mouth. I only do about 5 parking lots but I handle the landscpe work at the places. I do all the work myself. And the one guy who said you dont burn bridges. I couldn't agree more.