Taking on a big law care job is not a simple decision.

Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here to talk about really big bids.

When you own a lawn care business, you’re bound to encounter the occasional huge job. 500 acres, 1000 acres, huge properties. And I absolutely understand the temptation to say yes right away. Lots of acres means lots of money!

But don’t let yourself get blinded by the dollar signs. Here are a few things to ask yourself before taking on those big jobs.

What percentage of your business will this customer be?

One big property may represent one big chunk of your business. Do you really want to put 40% of your livelihood in the hands of a single account? That’s a risk not everyone is willing to take. If putting all your eggs in one basket makes you nervous, it might be best to pass.

If you do decide to proceed, you can still project yourself from the risk of losing that customer. Make them sign a multi-year contract with limited “out” clauses. Do everything you can to protect yourself from getting dropped unexpectedly. Otherwise, you could be in real trouble if they decide to cancel the contract.

Why are they hiring a new lawn care company?

You’re probably getting a chance to bid because things didn’t work out with their former service provider. If at all possible, see if you can figure out why. You might discover that the client is a nightmare to work with and decide to steer clear.

See if you can get your hands on their old specs and pricing, too. You might be able to design your own specs, but they may want you to match the old ones. How you feel about that is up to you. 

But pricing can be a sticking point. If you can provide a comparable or competitive lawn care quote, that’s a good thing. But if the last guys were undercharging them, you may have a hard time getting a fair price. And I’m never in favor of being underpaid.

Do you have enough cash flow to cover the overhead?

Taking on a big client can be very expensive. You might need to buy more lawn care equipment and hire more guys. Can you absorb those expenses now? If you can’t, and their monthly payment is ever delayed, you might be in big trouble financially. 

How would you recover if you lost this contract unexpectedly?

Continuing on the last question: What if you spend all that money, and then this doesn’t work out? You can let go of employees you no longer need, but all that new lawn care equipment will be collecting dust. Can you afford to have all that on the books?

Are you interested in being the go-to guy (or gal) for this account?

Here’s the thing about big accounts: They don’t want to work with a middle manager. They want to work with the big boss. That’s you. 

Many lawn care business owners will be happy to take this on. But if you prefer to be more hands-off, I’d advise you to really think this through. 

And consider the fact that you’ll probably have to hire a few extra crew members to do the work. New guys are more likely to make mistakes, means more complaints. Are you prepared for that sort of headache?

A little advice from other lawn care business owners.

A while back, a fellow lawn care business owner was approached about an 825-acre job. That’s well over a square mile! Our friend turned to the CLIP community for advice. There are a few extra tidbits from that conversation that I’d like to share:

  • “While this project would make up 35% of your business, you can bet it’ll suck up about 95% of your time.”
  • “As a general rule, it is not wise to tackle a new account such as this unless it’s no more than 10-20% of your total gross revenue. Unless you can get a commitment for three or more years, I would not do it.”
  • “This could be a job that enhances your quality of life… but be careful.”

If nothing else, think of it this way: Don’t assume that the big bucks are worth it. It’s not just about the hefty check. Big lawn care jobs mean big costs, big time commitments, and big responsibility. 

If you want to take those things on, all the power to you! Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons and consider the sort of life you want to live. Your work should support your life; not the other way around.

Until next time, keep clipping!

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