Most residential landscape design firms see dollar signs when they look at commercial landscaping jobs. Those big, highly visible contracts make landscapers salivate. Plus it’s an ego boost. You’ve really made the big time when the largest businesses in your area call on you specifically.

But is it a good idea? Too often, residential landscapers start chasing commercial contracts without considering if it’s a good idea and the best way to go about it.

Try to answer the following questions before you start on that next bid. And contact us! We’ll have an expert talk these issues through with you to help you make your decision.

Can you profit on commercial landscaping?

This may seem elementary, but plenty of landscape contractors skip this step to their own detriment.

Commercial jobs require a high level of service without a lot of wiggle room. As a residential landscaper, you have an edge over your clients in the negotiations. They haven’t done a lot of research, sometimes they don’t even get another quote! Of course you’re not looking to take advantage of your clients, but you can count on a consistent level of profit from your work.

With commercial projects, you deal with far more experienced buyers. They know a lot more about what they’re looking for, and they’re going to speak with many more companies before they make a decision.

Commercial landscaping projects are generally larger projects. There are a lot more moving parts, so there are a lot more ways things can go sideways on you. You need to prepare for the possibility of failures and determine whether you can still make money if one of the many parts of the project doesn’t turn out as you want.

What does the competition look like?

Commercial landscaping projects often come down to the bid and the creative pitch. The bid is not the end-all, be-all of the purchase decision, but it can definitely make the biggest impact.

So then the competitive landscape becomes very important. Every market is different, and you need to understand what options your client is weighing.

Is this a market where every business is trying to keep up with the Joneses? In that case, every business is trying to get a leg up on the competition. These clients are willing to pay a premium for a unique project that stands out and a maintenance plan that they never have to worry about. In these markets, you’ll lean on your portfolio of past work and give the prospect a consultative pitch.

In other markets, your prospects may not face that kind of pressure. In those markets, the biggest pressure is price pressure. You may have a flood of cut-rate providers to fight for the contract with. In these markets, you have to be very careful with your estimates and meticulously do your homework. Take a scientific approach to bidding because you’re not going to have a lot of margin to work with.

Do you look like a commercial landscaper?

This may seem too simple, but appearances are critical in the commercial landscaping business. You’re often dealing with people who are managing other people’s money.

Property managers are a cautious lot. They don’t just need the job done right and on-time. They need to look like they made the right decision. There are a few things you can do to ease their minds:

  • Have a great looking website
  • Have consistent marketing materials (color, logo, tagline)
  • Have wrapped company trucks
  • Have employee uniforms
  • Have a portfolio they can show their boss in several media
  • Be able to discuss their needs in a professional, thoughtful manner
  • Have a trained crew with professional demeanors

If you have all these ducks in a row, you may be ready to start bidding for commercial landscaping projects.

Not sure if you’re ready? Contact us! We’ll help you talk through these issues and develop a plan that gets you on the right track.