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Bidding a golf community

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by KrohnEnterprises, Jun 22, 2003.

  1. KrohnEnterprises

    KrohnEnterprises Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Hey guys, I had a question about what to put in for a bid for this project. I realize prices vary by region but I will just give some insight on this. It is a golf community in a Des Moines suburb with 172 driveways and walks and possibly will be doing the new south sub-division of it. I will be doing drives, sidewalks and the streets are city so I don't need to worry about that. I was told the last contractor that ran through this place got $75 a pop(each drive and walk) That seemed a little high to me but I guess it could be reasonable, these house are anywhere from 250k to 350k a piece and they pay monthly dues. I was just wondering if I should bid that high or bid lower. I don't know how they would react if I underbid alot? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance,

    Jim :waving:
  2. Mike Nelson

    Mike Nelson Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    Hello Jim and welcome to plowsite. :waving

    Sounds like this would be a nice project to have.

    1) find out what there expectations are?172 drives are a lot of bosses to keep happy

    2) were they not happy with the last contractor and why?

    3) what did they like about the last contractor?

    4) what is the budget for this project?

    5) What equipment your might need special or more of?(pull plows, snowblowers,trucks,etc.)

    6) Now it comes to you.What will it cost for You Jim to do the job?
    Figure in all your costs ( overhead,equipment,labor,insurance,fuel
    etc.) and then you can tell me what your number will be. You might be surprised that it may be higher. This is how I would approach the job. I am sure others will chime in to help.
    We spread sheet all our jobs to find out what our price would be.

    7) If you seriously want to grow and be more profitable in the snow business and aren't already a member you should join Sima(snow and ice management association).

    Good Luck
  3. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Welcome to PlowSite, Jim :waving: . I would second each of Mike's recommendations. I researched your profile and also congratulate on being a young man with an impressive amount of equipment. Being from SW Iowa, I'm familiar with your area. I have an aunt who lives in Ankeny, too. Since you're asking about bidding, I'm guessing you don't have a lot of experience in bidding commercial accounts. Definately do not seriously underbid if you know the previous bid. You will not be taken seriously, if considered at all. Many places will accept bids each year. Common practice is to throw out the high and low bids from the start. Considering the neighborhood you're bidding, they will expect top service and be willing to pay for it.

    Are you going to use that Bobcat to plow the driveways? If not, consider a pull plow. Also, will you need to haul off the snow? You'll need to line up dumps to work with you. Iowa doesn't get a lot of snow (by this area's standard, anyway) but they probably won't want it left onsite, anyway. Even if normal snowfall amounts can be left onsite, you want to have provisions for hauling snow for that freak storm. Do you have employees or are you going to be using subcontractors?

    Are you sure the sidewalks aren't the homeowner's responsibility? Every state I've ever been in, maintaining the sidewalk was the resident's responsibility. That's how I made my money in high school during winter - shoveling walks. I'm a little confused because in one place you say the the sidewalks are the city responsibility, then say the previous contractor got paid for the walk. Do you mean the walkway from the drive to the sidewalk? Regardless, I'd make sure of what is expected regarding any walkway/sidewalk etc.

    Of course, there are many other considerations here, but one other would be the trigger. I'm guessing, but for that area I would think they'd want any accumulation to be plowed. Make sure you specify this and the time by which it will be cleared. Rich people can get kind of snippy if they think you're not fulfilling your obligation. That's a mistake I made last winter - I didn't sand a driveway that had a little patch of ice to save the customer money and emailed him that he might want to use his 4WD. This was a long gravel driveway with an incline. So he reads my email, leaves the 4WD with his wife in case she might want to go somewhere, took his 2WD and got stuck on the hill. Since I was at my other job, he called my sand supplier and had them come sand his road. They didn't get mad at me, but I learned a lesson. If in doubt, do it (plow, sand etc). Some might not agree with me, but in a disagreement over service, I would have eaten the cost rather than have the customer call someone else to come in after me.
  4. KrohnEnterprises

    KrohnEnterprises Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Well guys, this is gonna be a tuffy. Mike-Thanks for the welcome! This account is already a hair-grabber and I don't even have the account yet! They won't tell me who the last contractor was(never got a chance to see who becuase I usually did the other side of town), if they liked the service, no budget outlooks, as for the service I need to be careful to watch the grass because they all have sod and its real upscale. The good thing about the account is that all the houses are one after the other-no jumping around from street to street. I can do the continuous sidewalk with a 4-wheeler and blade because a snowblower would eat up my labor allowance.

    Mick-small world huh? that is crazy that your aunt lives in Ankeny. If she needs someone to do her drive I will be glad to do it for her-heck I might even know her, everyone around here knows everyone. As far as hauling the snow away no one around here does that except downtown DSM. My trigger is 1.5". I will include sw in my price bc I'm sure they will pay for it and the homeowners dont want to fuss with it and with a 4-wheeler it wont be bad to do at all. I think I need to do some more thinking on this but I appreciate you and Mike's input so far.

    I will be back

    Jim :waving:
  5. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    "I was told the last contractor that ran through this place got $75 a pop(each drive and walk)"


    "They won't tell me who the last contractor was(never got a chance to see who becuase I usually did the other side of town), if they liked the service, no budget outlooks..."

    If they told you what the last contractor got, but won't tell you who it was or what they liked or didn't like, what they want etc, it should be a large red flag with the words "Run, don't walk" on it. Or at least "Proceed with Caution". That's the first thing I want to do is talk to the person and find out, if this isn't a new place (many houses being built and sold in this area), what they're expectations are and what they liked or didn't like about any previous contractor. Most of my customers are new to the area, but a few I've picked up from another guy who couldn't meet their needs.
  6. Arc Burn

    Arc Burn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,141

    I do a few private roads were the homes are setup on a "due" scale.As i'm finding out it only takes one unhappy customer to mess up these good accounts.Their complaint was very petty in the grand scheme of things,my insight is just the obvious,be certain you have the equipment or subs lined up to tackle a large job like that,it sounds like something good to hang onto.
  7. KrohnEnterprises

    KrohnEnterprises Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Mick- I'm sorry I didn't specify that-I had overheard that was what they were getting and I really don't understand why they won't tell me who or what the last contractor got the job for. It was just overheard so It could be wrong. If you have any more questions or I forgot to answer some please ask me and I'll tell you. I know this is a tough question because of the limited info but that's all I can get out of them so far.

    Bye for now,

  8. Mike Nelson

    Mike Nelson Senior Member
    Messages: 637


    I know you are young,but take it from experience. You need to take a stand and ask these questions to them. If they don't want to answer them then walk away. You are about to climb in bed with somebody and become business partners and they can't be truthful with you. Then they are not the people you want to do business with. It is a two way street. Sorry to be so harsh ,but business could be harsher.

    Good Luck
  9. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    IF the city will be plowing the roads, you also need to consider final clean up. By that I mean you may finish all the drives, then the road plows come by and block in 172 driveways that YOU are responsible for touching up.

    I would look into the cost of an FFC snow pusher. They are a pusher and a box/pull plow all in one. You can go to the end of the driveway by the garage door, "curl" the pusher all the way forward, drop it and backdrag all the snow right out. Then you can curl the pusher back, and use it like a plow. A pusher like this will hold a lot more snow than a pull plow, or the Bobcat bucket.

    If there are association dues that cover plowing, maybe you can talk to someone on the board who will give you a little more info on the last guy. Anytime you have an association board, you have members on it that don't agree. You just have to find a complainer, and they typically will give you an earful. Also, active residents that attend meetings can also tell you a lot.

    You mentioned sod lawns, are you doing the maint. there now? IF not, who is, and do they plow too?

    Good idea on the 4 wheeler for walks. I'd look into a U edge for it, to reduce damage, and last longer. It sounds like there are a lot of walks, and those steel edges don't last long in that situation.

    I would also consider adding a U edge to the FFC pusher top and bottom.

  10. KrohnEnterprises

    KrohnEnterprises Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Mike- I'm glad you made me realize that this could be something close to a nightmare(possibly) It really has made me think alot about this project. It is a shame that they don't seem to want to work with me on this deal. I guess thats what you get dealing with a golf/home assn. of this class. I feel almost blindfolded by going in on this because of the lack of information given to me. I think I'll come up with a more creative way of asking questions to them and if they don't budge I guess I will have to walk away and go from there. I don't plan on losing any sleep over it.

    Chuck- I will look into every obligation including the city plow furrow left over and other items. Do I do the lawn maintenance? no...I believe the lawn co. is a big outfit in DSM and they also are pretty big into plowing and they charge an astronomical amount of money for the accounts they do so I don't think they will get the bid.(very high rates!) I thought the 4-wheeler was a good idea because it takes one guy to do and i figure its just a little louder thatn a blower and it will go by quicker thus resulting in less noise....just makes sense to me. Thanks for the help so far guys, you are top-notch!

    Bye for now,