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Pricing for commercial work

I've recently quoted to tidy up a commercial area that hasn't been touched in a year , they have also asked for a price for a maintenace call every 6w after an initial tidy up.

whilst I know everyone is different , is there pointers to give me regarding dealing with big companies ?

do people have a signed agreement on what work the compaby require each visit ?

do people charge the usual rate ?

the job willl involve lawn trimming , weeding and litter collection.


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  • Ah, the perennial question of what to charge. Commercial grass cutting should really be at least £40p/h, as a benchmark minimum. I have jobs that vary from one very large ‘3.5 hour’ playing field  [£140 job] up to one ‘50 min’ job at £100 and one ‘1 hour 45 min’ job at £156. One pound per minute is a good aim to have broadly speaking.

    You mention that they only want you every six weeks. If there is much mowing involved then I would walk away. The height of the grass after six week intervals will mean a ton of work to get it to look right. It also shows that the client is not prepared to spend money on gardening. I do several Church yards for Parochial Church Councils. They rely on the collection plate and weddings etc for income and so are all on three weekly cuts as this is all they can afford. Although the grass can be really ready after three weeks, this is still very manageable and not a problem, but six weeks between cuts will mean at least knee high grass.

    When I took on one of the church yards about seven years ago, they had been having seven cuts per year. The first year I did the same and it was a pig. Parts could be waist high after one month in late spring, let alone six weeks. I soon got them up to eleven cuts [every three weeks] and it has transformed both the job itself and the churchyard.

    Try and talk them into more cuts or run away.

    • I had the reverse situation with a Churchyard we had been maintaining for a while, on a 7x per year basis.  A typical year would be: first cut, leave as late as possible, sometimes late April. we would then go to once every 3 weeks until the end June, then stretch July/Aug to one cut, hope it didn't rain much in early September to give a late and final cut of the year at the end of October. It was juggle, but a nice little contract to have, which would take two men a day.   Then, about 10 years ago, we received a letter(and I wish I still had it!) saying "in veiw of Climate Change, the Parish Council has taken the decision that the Churchyard will only need cutting four times per year in future........." time to walk away!!

      • Colin, did the church find a contractor to do a 4 cuts a year?

      • Climate change? You mean global warming, which results in faster grass growth? Mad.

        I wouldn't touch a job asking for a 6 week cut. Every alarm bell in the system starts ringing at that.  


        • For the first year it looked awful, then they employed a 'gardener/handiman', providing him with a new pick-up and gear.

          Yes Dan, probably did quote 'global warming' actually, 'climate change' probably hadn't been invented then!  I do remember the phrase "in view of forthcoming hotter and drier summers.....".  


  • PRO

    Commerical work I find has more scope for dealing with what the client wants. This can mean a lot depending on who they are. As you say 6 weeks between cuts is a long time. I had a contracts manager last year try and tell me grass doesn't start to grow in the UK until May but doesnt really get going until June so we'll do first cuts late June and stop in September (this was pricing up a park, which the company I was going to be subbing to did not get...) My point is you have to take each one as they come, dont ever price to "get in the door" as you're more likely to be replaced than with domestic work. P

    Some work will be only down to whoever is cheapest others will take in account more factors.

    • Some poeple have really got no idea about seasons and grass cutting!  I think your right Seth that there is more scope when dealing with clients.  I used to work with national contractors doing military, council and industrial sites.  I remember having a conversation with one of my managers a few years back and we both come to the conclusion that national grass cutting contracts day were numbered and that the work would be carried out by small firms that offered better pricing and more flexibility and I think that is happening.  I'm still mainly just doing domestic work now but I'm looking/thinking of getting into more commercial stuff agian. You make a good point about not buying work its a long road to loosing money. 

  • PRO

    I'd point out straight away that cutting every 6 weeks will result in a poor reflection on your efforts.  In reality, as everyone here says, it would be extremely difficult work with lots of waste to pick up.  It probably explains why it hasnt been touched for over 12 months.   I have walked away from quite a few commercial jobs (2 warehouses spring to mind), as they tend to be very difficult work, cars parked over the grass, bottles and bricks in the grass, and so on. I tend to only do the ones that I'm happy with and the maximum I leave between cuts is 3 weeks.

    For my own purposes, I list what will be done, i.e. Grasscutting, strimming, leaf and litter clearance and this is useful when you are inevitably asked to do something extra.

    Commercial jobs are not the dream many believe they will be and you need to charge accordingly or you will regret it. As I say, I do a few but I've probably binned more.

  • Commercial work can be very good. Just like domestic work it depends on having good clients, the ones who are sensible and understand what is required.

    My commercial work includes Parish Councils [playing fields and cemeteries], parochial church councils, diocese of Derby, a very large country estate, Businesses [one who exports across Europe], a school and one charity. It is all very good work to have.

    Whilst the PCC run churchyards [actual churches and not to be confused with modern Council run cemeteries] are all on eleven cuts, all the other work for all the above people is fortnightly and one every ten days in Spring. So all these various bodies/companies/organizations etc., all understand and are prepared to pay for regular mowing along with hedge cutting. So don’t be put off commercial work by one bad example. With the right clients it is very good work to have. In most cases you just turn up and do the work without the need to interact with customers as can be the case with domestic work. While a cup of tea is lovely, we don’t always have the time for a chat. This is where the commercial work is very good. It is also easier to increase prices on commercial work as they tend to understand and in many cases it’s not their money. Domestic clients are sometimes a little trickier in this regard.

    Basically I am saying walk away from the difficult commercial jobs because there are plenty of good ones out there to be had.

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