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Home Depot lot need info on how to price

Discussion in 'Bidding & Estimating' started by Bo-Line, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. Bo-Line

    Bo-Line Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    I have been asked to quote on two very large lots. Both are about the size of a Home Depot lot without any other buildings included. Meaning just what would be infront of the store itself. I just started plowing this year and only did a few small places so any help on how to bid this thing would be much appreciated. Is there any kind of a "standardized" pricing structure you all use to bid things like this? Like some sort of square footage? I won't have any idea how to figure it hourly since I don't really know how long it would take as I'm new to anything like this. Also that would depend on how much and what kind of equipment I would be using. This would help me figure any other new jobs to bid as well. Also right now I just have a truck with 7'6" blade. What would be the best piece of equipment to buy/lease/rent to help do this. I know it would take forever to do this with a truck and there's two of these lots. Lucky they are right across the street from each other so I was thinking a loader would be best. Thoughts? Thanks, I definitely appreciate the input.

    Jerry Lowe
    Bo-Line Landscaping
    Kearney, MO
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2008
  2. Mick

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

    I'm being honest and straightforward when I say that you'd be best to leave that to someone else till you get more experience. There is no way to give even a rough estimate without surveying the site. Next, I'd want to see the Request For Proposal from Home Depot (or are they even the ones who are responsible for maintenance?). No way can you do any decent-sized commercial lot with a 1/2 ton pick up and 7.5' plow; especially with no backup. Too many varables - What are the insurance requirements. Is snow REMOVAL to be considered and what are the arrangements. This doesn't even scratch the surface.

    No - no "standard pricing". Too many variables, such as obstacles, time requirements, trigger depths, length of runs etc.

    Best bet - work for whoever gets the contract.

    If you want, there's someone in your area I could refer you to for help. Let me know and I'll see if he's interested.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2008
  3. Bo-Line

    Bo-Line Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks any way

    Mick I appreciate the advice but it's not actually a home depot. It's just a couple of lots about that size. Since I already have snow removal on my insurance and the fact I already do the mowing on these properties, I don't think I'm interested in turning this over to someone else. I built manufacturing plants for 15 years including two oversea's and oversaw three locations at one time with 200 employees and over 20 million in combined sales, I'm pretty sure I can handle this. Just trying to get some idea's on how to bid it. Thanks though.
  4. TURF2004

    TURF2004 Junior Member
    Messages: 1

    You need to determine your cost per hour. I use a website from Maryland that has a snow calculator on it http://www.mdsnowremoval.com. You would need to take the time to become a member of the site, then you can use their snow calculator, which is very helpful. You need to measure the parking lot, then measure the sidewalks. Enter your findings into the snow calculator, then it will estimate how long it will take to plow it...based on the equipment that you use. If you know your cost per hour, then that should help. Just don't get yourself in a pinch! We did that last winter when the weather man said "less than average snow fall expected" and it ended up being one in the record books. We were overbooked and it became very stressful. Spring has arrived and we are exhausted from winter. Know your limits or plan on hiring reliable help. And charge more for larger amounts of snow. The snow calculator will tell you how much longer it will take with larger amounts of snow.

    It also calculates the estimated amount of salt that you would use too.
  5. Mick

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

    Just curious - Does your insurance policy say snow "removal" or snow "plowing"?
  6. creativedesigns

    creativedesigns PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,929

    Bo-Line, what kind of business do these lots operate? Are there going to be steady vehicle & people traffic all the time? If their like the Home Depot parking lots, then thats a very HUGE contract to be responsible for. You'd need "Big Shot" equipment to takle that.
  7. Bo-Line

    Bo-Line Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks for the info

    Turf2004-Thanks I'll do that. Seem's like that would be of great help.

    Mick-My insurance company didn't ask me to differentiate, but all I'm doing is plowing.

    Creativedesigns-One is a farm supply store with a few other mom/pop type stores the other is a furniture store with a couple of restaurants and drugstore. Only the farm supply opens before 8am and most are closed by 6pm. I wouldn't say any of these get a ton of traffic. These lots are pretty open with a few islands in each. They are pretty much rectangles and should be pretty straight forward.

    Thanks again everyone, I really do appreciate the input!
  8. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    What does building Manufacturing Plants Over Seas have to do with Managing Snow and Ice ? Usually someone with experince running large companys realizes you hire the right man for the job, thinking you can do everyones job is about as foolish as Hillary saying she was shot at by snipers LOL.
    Managing a construction site and having real world experience handling large sites for Winter Service are about as far apart as you can get.Plowing a couple small sites with 2" triggers, does not qualify any one either for managing a large site properly. Does someone who mows lawns qualify as a Horticulturist ? Can the lawn mower guy apply liquids properly and safely ? Sure,how hard can it be right ?

    Remember Theres no one to call at 3 am when theres an inch down, and it takes 4 hours to clear the site for a 7am deadline. Do you roll the dice and salt at 5am or call in the crews and start plowing now ? If you salt and it snows another 1" can you still bill for 8 tons of salt you put down ? What if you Call in the guys and it stops snowing, do you have to pay 5 guys 4 hours min. for getting out of bed ? Who pays for that ? What about ground temps and how they effect when you should apply de-icer during a daytime event ? Will there be performance clause's in your contract ? Tuff way to learn a leason when you get fired when the big one hits and you blow it big time.Theres alot to learn on How to Properly Manage a large site.
    Managing Snow and Ice is just that, its not Snow Plowing, or Lawn Mowing. You get paid to handle a large site, make the most cost effective calls for the client, and keep the site safe, and open. Theres NO TOMMOROW when it comes to Managing Snow. You get it done properly now, or the client will find someone with the knowledge and equipment to get it done NOW.
    Good luck
  9. Bo-Line

    Bo-Line Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks for the helpful advice

    T-Man thanks for the valuable advice. You're just the kind of competitors I always liked having. Tell everyone how they can't do this, can't do that, and hopefully they'll be scared enough to quit. Look if you don't want to offer any info, do what your mom always said and don't say anything. I have the utmost respect for anyone who can start their own business. I have even more respect for those guys that work hard and try to do the right things in business. I have even MORE respect for those that aren't afraid to try. I wasn't being disrespectful to anyone other than to say that I figure if I have done the things I have, with a LITTLE help from all the knowledgable folks on here, I'd have a far better chance than not of being able to handle the snow plowing and salting on a couple of fairly good size lots. I'm not trying to plow an entire country. Saying "just give it to some one who know's how to do it", is not an acceptable answer to me. If I fail, I fail. If I lose money, I lose money. But I'm smart enough to learn from that. Oh and I've also dug ditches, cleaned toliets, sold cars and a host of other things for a living so my background is far more diverse than just getting out of college and managing people.
  10. creativedesigns

    creativedesigns PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,929

    Bo line, there is no such thing as standardized pricing in quoting parking lots for snow clearing. Price is determined on what it's worth to YOU. Someone else will come up with a totally diferent price everytime, based on what its worth. Different variables are followed up such as how long it will take YOU to complete the job, how many pieces of equipment YOU have, how many sub-contacts YOU know/have, what resources YOU have, how much time YOU have, ect ect .... its a big responsibility to step into with little experience. A rule of thumb is to grow your business accordingly. ( slowly, step by step )

    With leasing heavy equipment, insurance costs, employees, payroll, safety insurance, ect ect...would you make any money on those two lots? You need to decide if its worth it for your company. Hiring skilled operators ain't cheap! What about salting?...you need the equipment for that too. And many return trips to clean up where parked cars were!!!

    What I would tell you is, don't step up to fast in the game. Focus on plowing small lots for now, where you can be in & out & do a good job. Those are the lots you make money on.
  11. Green Grass

    Green Grass PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,577

    ok bo-line nobody is being very help full. If you are able to run a loader then you need to find a price on what it cost to rent one and if they will let it stay in the lot. How will they charge you for the loader for the whole winter or per hour on the meter. Only you can determine how much to charge you need to figure out how much time it will take you to clear the lot and what your expenses are. Then how much you will need to add to make profit and how much profit you want to make. I would price it per push and would not do a seasonal price. As far as salting goes you need to figure out what you are going to use and how much salt is going to cost you. I would also check with your insurance to see how much your policy covers make sure that it would cover a loader if you are going to have one on the lot. I notice that everyone on here tells you that you can't do it but we all have to remember that we where in your shoes at some point.
  12. plowman4life

    plowman4life Senior Member
    Messages: 557


    A) we cannot help you with price. it up to you to decide what the lot will cost you to clear and charge whats needed
    B) you will need a salter (big one)
    C) youll need a loader/backhoe (whether you want to rent of buy is up to you)
    D) you will also need a truck to transport that backhoe/loader if you get it.

    if you buy a piece of equipment you will also have to make sure its not sitting or else you are loosing money. you dont buy equipment to have it. you buy it and work it untill it pays itself off. then you work it till it dies. then you fix it and work it more. untill the day its paid off it doesnt make you a dime. keep that in mind.

    also you will have to figure fuel.
    A) the equipment you use is going to use diesel
    B) diesel is very expensive i just paid $4.49 a gallon today.

    you will also have to figure out what it will cost you in time to clear the lot. if you get both of those lots it will be a lot of time

    so you price will work out to what ever you calculate for all you expenses for the lot. + what you want for profit.

    say your expenses come out to 100K for the lot and you want to make 10% your quote would be 100K plus whatever ammount you have to add to make 10% after taxes.

    hope that helps
  13. Camden

    Camden PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,604

    Huh? Most loaders and backhoes have gear ratios that can support road travel without being trailered around.

    He would NOT need a truck for this specific purpose.

    Not only that but there's probably an opportunity for him to leave his equipment on site.

    So when you store your plow in the summer you are losing money? :dizzy: You might want to think your statement through a little more... :waving:
  14. creativedesigns

    creativedesigns PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,929

    Hey Plowman, we financed a New Kubota F-3680 series mower unit over 36 months. It cost $23,000. That summer alone, we net $81,000 on a few commercial lawn contracts!

    It's not true that equipment has to be paid off fully before you make any profit money. :rolleyes:
  15. Neige

    Neige Sponsor
    Messages: 2,215

    Plowman you said,

    if you buy a piece of equipment you will also have to make sure its not sitting or else you are loosing money. you dont buy equipment to have it. you buy it and work it untill it pays itself off. then you work it till it dies. then you fix it and work it more. untill the day its paid off it doesnt make you a dime. keep that in mind.

    That makes no sense at all. I have 22 ag tractors that work on average 150 hrs a year during the winter. In the summer they sit idle waiting for next winter. I take very good care of my equipment, so it will last 15 years. In the past I have rented them out during the summer, where they got abused, so I choose not to.
    Now the accounting part. The equipment you buy depreciates over time, and always retains a value. As long as I'm making more money than the equipment depreciates + costs I make profit.
    For example I buy a $500,000.00 wheel loader. My company made $250,000.00 profit two years in a row before depreciation. I cannot put all that profit toward the loader and say I made no money these past two years. Yes you may have paid it of in two years, and have no money left over, but you still made profit. I calculate you would have made $280,000.00 profit, over those two years for accounting purposes. You have paid of your loader but it is still worth over $300,000.00
    Thats how it works here in Quebec. The first year you depreciate your equipment 30%, then 20% a year till you sell it.
    A true story: My dad in 1972 bought a MF30 industrial tractor for $6,800.00 We traded it in 20 years later for $7,200.00. It still had a deprecated value of $68.61. So we had to pay taxes on $7,131.39 We don't see that any more.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  16. plowman4life

    plowman4life Senior Member
    Messages: 557

    i guess i was misunderstood in what i said...

    im not saying that your business is loosing money. but by the machine sitting it is not paying for itself therefor you are loosing money on that machine. if it sits and sits its not paying itself off.

    also a plow doesnt cost a lot of money so having it sit doesnt hurt. a machine that cost 500 time the ammount of a plow can make you loose money if it doesnt get owrked.
  17. T-MAN

    T-MAN PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,363

    Your Welcome BO-LIne, lets put the shoe on the other foot.
    Hey I built a shed once, can you help me figure a price for a vehicle manufacturing plant about the size of the one in Rockford IL ?
    How hard can it be ? I had a High School Vocational class ( I got a D) once too. Im sure with alot of sweat and hours any idiot could do it....
    Oh ya I speak some Spanish so that should help right ?

    Ok you want help bidding ?
    How many square feet of pavement to clear ? What level of difficulty are the lots ?
    Were will the snow be stacked ?
    What is your trigger ?
    How many square feet of side walk to clear ?
    Can the walks be done with a machine ?
    How many steps ? How many fire doors ? What about municipal sidewalks, how many square feet ? Are you including those in your bid?

    Is this per inch pricing, per push pricing or seasonal ? If seasonal how many inches average last 10 years ?
    If seasonal what is your average number of pushes last 10 years ?
    What is your average number of salt runs last 10 years ? Will your seasonals be all inclusive ?

    What size Machine do plan to dedicate to the site ? What about dedicated trucks ?
    What size plow/pusher will you have on site ?
    What size truck with a v-box will you have for salting ?
    Will you have a salt bin on site ? If not, how far away is your bin ?

    What are the site hours of operations ?
    Are there off hour delivery's ?
    What level of service is requested, black and wet at all times, during open times only ?
    Are you required to pre-treat ?
    What product are you required to spec for de-icing lots ? What about Walks ?
    Are there any special city regulations (like no rock salt allowed) you need to be aware of ?
    What performance clauses do you have ?
    How many hours do you have to clear 4" of snow, this will dictate what size machine and crew you will need as well.

    I am sure I missed some stuff here.
    This should be a good start, slightly more complicated then a driveway, not really though....
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  18. Mick

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

    :waving: Todd. Bo-line - if you answer those points (even if there is no concern), you should be getting a good start. What he didn't touch on was how much you need per machine and operator (cost+profit) and overall profit. The other thing that stuck out is that there are two lots - how close are they? Can you use the same machine(s) for both? Do you need (and have) an offsite dump for snow and access to the equipment (usually triaxle dump trucks) for transporting the snow. Is this a "Commercial" or "Industrial" site and do you have the appropriate designation on your insurance policy? Your statement of "all I'm doing is plowing" suggests that you have "Residential" on your policy.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  19. JOEC

    JOEC Member
    Messages: 56

    Everybody knows the business. The question everyone should be asking him is are you ready to stay in that parking lot all day and night. Do you have the resources and connections when there is a salt shortage. Can you network with other contractors. Can you plow that lot when you break down. Im sure your over seas expierence will come in handy. Im sure with that attitude you'll do just fine.:cool:
  20. Bo-Line

    Bo-Line Junior Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks everyone

    Everybody, I appreciate all the excellent advice. I also know that these are a lot different than doing a couple of small areas, but the area's I did this winter were a couple acres each. I had the benefit of the two buildings being my old company, so they got quotes and I just had to beat those. Easy business but it doesn't really teach you that much. I measured the lots and the four largest are about 275,000 square feet. Two have about ten or twelve smaller islands, the other two are bascially completely open. Giant manufacturing area's with just parking for employees. I do have one question, I saw that some one said it takes 12-15 tons of salt per acre. That sounds like an awful lot to me. When I did the two places this winter it was about 2 acres each and I only used about 1/2 to 3/4 ton each. They didn't complain about it not working, so am I missing something? Thanks again, all this info is really helpful and I have taken the advice about how large an undertaking this will be and I have already contacted a couple of friends who own landscaping and they are extremely interested in being involved. One plows alot and has for along time, the other doesn't do much but wants to grow.