Getting a commercial lawn care or landscaping account means one thing: big money.
But it can also mean a big headache if you do it wrong:
- Charge too much, and you lose the contract.
- Under bid, and you could lose money.
The goal is to WIN the account and make a PROFIT, right?
In this guide, I will show you EXACTLY how to bid (and win) more commercial contracts than you can handle…
…which means big money for your lawn care company. Let’s do this:
Your 1st Goal: Meet With to the Decision Maker
Your First goal right now is to simply get your foot in the door.
For small and medium lawn or landscaping companies, networking is the only reliable way to get more commercial accounts.
Yep… YOU have to approach THEM.
One solid strategy is to craft an email or a letter for each business you want to bid. When you start to send these emails, hanging them up in HOAs, and get your name into the right hands…
…they will start to respond to you.
Another option is to head over to the right local networking events:
- Local businesses: You will get to talk directly to the owner, instead of a middleman. This makes sales and upsells easier.
- HOAs: Talk to Homeowner’s Association and other Real Estate groups. You can find these by searching “HOA or Real Estate Groups in [your city].”
- BOMA: Set up a meeting with your city’s Building Owners and Managers Association
- Chamber of Commerce Meetings, CEO Forums, and other networking events will help you meet potential clients, especially if your town has a commercial district or sector with above average commercial density.
When all else fails…
…it’s time for some cold, hard knocks.
Drive around and look for properties that need fixing. When you see a business that could use your services, go knock on their door and introduce yourself. This one works very well if you are good at in-person sales.
Why “Professionals” Win Commercial Landscape Accounts
In the corporate world, looks matter.
To win the big accounts, you must look like someone who can handle the big accounts:
- Do you have the right uniforms?
- Are your trucks painted or wrapped?
- Do you have a professional website?
- Can your equipment do the job in time to make you money?
At Service Autopilot, we call that last one ‘Job Costing.’
Job Costing tells you how many labor hours it takes to do a job and how much you should charge to make a profit. It’s key to making money in this industry.
If you don’t know exactly how much it time it takes to maintain a property, you will lose money on your services.
Did you know… Service Autopilot can automatically price all of your lawn care jobs? Watch this free Demo to see how it works.
The Right Way to Bid on Commercial Landscaping Contracts
Here’s the dark side of Commercial Landscaping:
The commercial world is focused on “the bottom line.” They will try to skim you. Businesses only care about the price…
…unless you can sell them on better service.
Your goal is to differentiate yourself. Look better than the other lawn care companies bidding on the property.
Here are some other strategies you can use to win a commercial contract:
- Show them the value of a great-looking property. Be visual with your descriptions: “What if your lawns were emerald green, and your sidewalks sparkled in the sun? Would this make your customers more likely to buy here?”
- Work with your clients, not for them. Get them to collaborate on a landscape design. Ask them what they think a perfect yard looks like.
- Listen to your client. Listen to their problems, and their expectations. They will tell you what they want.
- Teach them about the pitfalls of bad landscaping: inexperienced labor, bad work, and dead lawns will make anyone think twice. Explain why they should never allow uninsured workers near their land.
- Walk in with a professional proposal. If you can hand a business owner a clean, well-formatted step-by-step proposal, you will make a great first impression.
To win Commercial Landscaping Contracts, you will need a good deal of salesmanship. Books, YouTube videos, and other B2B sales resources will help you nail the sale.
5 Must-Know Questions before You Bid on Landscaping Contracts:
1. [Critical] How low can I bid before I lose money?
Winning a bid is often a matter of offering the lowest prices. But some victories are not worth it.
Take the scientific approach. Measure the property yourself. Note all of the irregularities that will slow you down or cause you problems. If you can’t win a bid without underpricing yourself, it’s not worth it.
2. How many competitors will also bid on this job?
If there are a hundred lowballers clawing for this job, it might not be worth the effort.
3. How “warm” is my relationship with this account?
Make friends with the account owner, and your chances of winning the bid greatly improve.
4. Can I upsell work to make a profit on this Contract?
Maybe you lose money on the mowing, but you can make 200% on the fertilization package. Again, good job costing tools will tell you if this is worth it.
5. How often does the account typically switch landscape contractors?
The truth is you WILL lose accounts. That’s part of the commercial lawn care game.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t win them back. Let me show you how…
How to Win Back “Lost” Commercial Accounts
Some warnings for people starting out on commercial landscaping contracts:
- Do NOT price yourself out of profit.
- Do NOT try to buy commercial jobs. This is a scam. You will lose money on this.
- Do NOT depend on one account. You will lose accounts. Keep some steady residential accounts as a safety net.
When you lose an account, don’t freak out. If your finances are straight, and you have back-ups, you will be fine.
But you don’t have to just accept the loss. Here’s what you do:
Write up a ‘Thank You’ letter.
Yes, that’s right. Be grateful. Use phrases like “We want to thank you for giving us the opportunity…” and “It has been a great experience working with your team…”
Be polite on your way out. There’s a huge chance you’ll get hired back when the next guy screws up.
…and here’s the kicker:
When you are writing your “Thank You” letter, include one last counter offer. Your professionalism + an irresistible offer will keep some businesses in your pocket.
If they still don’t want you, move on.
Chances are, they will switch landscape contractors again next year. You want them to remember your professionalism and high quality service, not your desperation.
Commercial lawn and landscape contracts are a great way to crank up your yearly revenue.
- Surprisingly easy to win
- And extremely profitable (when done right)
With this advice, you should be able to find more business owners who want your business.
And, once you get your foot in the door, you’ll know exactly how to win your next commercial contract.
Good luck, and happy growing.
Patrick Hoffman is Marketing Director at Service Autopilot. He specializes in managing marketing campaigns and giving marketing strategies to the Lawn Care, Landscaping, and Cleaning Industries. When he's not writing, he's reading books on marketing, self-improvement, or science fiction.