The 4 Types of Proposals You’ll Receive When Putting Your Landscaping Contract Out For Bid

Posted by Joseph Barnes on Aug 5, 2020 6:00:00 AM

When in the process of seeking a landscaping proposal at your commercial property, you might be overwhelmed by the number of different bid types that you receive. Not only will you see some variance in prices, but you might also see some variation in what’s included or how the bids are written.

It might make the process feel daunting.

Because of this, some people find their own ways to simplify the process of narrowing their choices. One way that we’ve seen companies and organizations make bid decisions is to just look for the “middle bid.” There’s almost always a bid that’s the highest and a bid that’s the lowest, so they just choose something right in the middle. It might feel like an easy way to choose a contract when you’re really not sure how to narrow your options.

Unfortunately, any method where you shop solely on price is oversimplified and one of the easiest ways to ultimately be unhappy with your results. That’s because it’s not enough to just look at the price—you actually have to understand what you’re getting for that investment.

In order to help you with that process, we’re giving you a few trade secrets. There are usually certain types of bids that you’re likely to come across in collecting landscaping contract bids. 

We’ll break down some of the troublesome commercial landscaping bid types you may see as well as they should potentially raise red flags. We’ll also share some helpful tips on how to end up with the commercial landscaping company that provides the most value for your investment. 

1. The High Bid 

As you look at the different bids that you receive for a commercial landscaping proposal, there’s often one that’s significantly higher than the rest. When this happens, it’s almost always that the commercial landscape contractor didn’t do their homework. Any bid that is 20 to 30 percent higher than the rest, probably missed an important detail or doesn’t have a good grasp on what you’re looking for. 

Most often it’s a misalignment of expectations. Because of that, they often overestimate the amount of time that the commercial landscaping company will need to spend on your property.

2. The Low-Ball Bid

The super low bid is the exact reverse of what the high bid is usually about. Whereas the high bidder typically hasn’t done their homework, the low baller actually understands what you need but has figured out ways to cut corners so that they can land the job by having the lowest price.

As you might imagine, the low ball bid is a lot more dangerous than the high bid. They’re often trying to find ways to shave the cost off on their end that they hope you won’t notice. But this is a perfect example of how you “get what you pay for.” When you shop on price alone and choose the lowest price to try to save some money, it often ends with a subpar experience and results that don’t live up to your expectations. 

We should mention here that we’re not talking about a bid that’s ever-so-slightly lower than the competition. But like the high bid, we’re talking about the bid that’s 20 to 30 percent lower. The one commercial landscaping company that really stands out from the others as being substantially less money for seemingly the same work.

Generally, all of the commercial landscaping companies that are going out to bid should be somewhere within a 10-15 percent difference from one another. 

3. The Jack of All Trades (Master of None) Bid

The “Jack of all Trades” bid is from a bidder that does a little bit of everything. They not only handle all of your commercial landscaping needs, but maybe they offer janitorial services, or security, or even some other contracting work, too. They’ll throw all of it into a proposal and try to sign you up for as many of their services as they can.

Whenever you are dealing with a “Jack of all Trades” type of company for your commercial landscaping needs, you have to question whether you’ll get the best results since it’s one of so many different services that they offer.

Most of the time we find that clients want a commercial landscape contractor whose core competency is landscape services because they don’t want to risk subpar results. 

4. The Incomplete Bid 

This is another bid type that we rarely see because the clientele we work with won’t stand for it. But it is still worth mentioning as every so often we see a contract like this. 

This is the commercial landscape service that leaves a lot of “TBD” (to be determined) on your contract. They fail to provide you details that are important to your decision making process or to address specifics.

The incomplete bid isn’t going to be all ready to go, packaged neatly and nicely, with all of your questions answered. When a company says something like, “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” it should raise an immediate red flag. You need answers and you need them now as they are critical to making a wise choice. 

What if ALL the Bids Look Different?

One thing that we wanted to mention is that sometimes organizations need to reconsider their RFP (request for proposal) if they’re seeing a ton of inconsistency in the bidding process. That can be frustrating, and not necessarily what you want to hear. 

However, if the bids are drastically different with pricing and language that is all over the map, it is possible that the commercial landscaping companies bidding the job don’t really understand your expectations. It’s possible that you may need to redraft your RFP.

The truth is, if you’ve done a good job putting out your RFP, then you shouldn’t see a ton of variation, unless you’ve attracted some unqualified bidders (like the kind we’ve mentioned). 

What Does a Yellowstone Landscape Proposal Look Like?

Now that we’ve given you an insider’s look on some things you may see in the bidding process, let us tell you a little bit more about what Yellowstone’s proposal will look like when compared to others.

Landscape maintained by Yellowstone Landscape

We’ll be upfront that we usually are a bit higher than a lot of the competition. But a huge differentiator from us and the “high bid” is that we can explain why we’re higher. We’re not so far out of the ballpark that it’s impractical and it’s not because we didn’t do our homework. Conversely, it’s because we know exactly what it will cost to get you the results that you’re after. 

Another key differentiator is that we are taking the time to explain not only our pricing, but everything that we’re doing on your property. Most of our clients tell us they walked away from that bidding process feeling confident in our ability to understand what they were looking for.

Along with that comes transparency. You can count on us to be fully transparent in all that we’re doing. Unlike the “incomplete bid,” where questions are left unanswered or sometimes a commercial landscaping contractor doesn’t want to be upfront about cost, you can expect transparency from Yellowstone. 

Making a Wise Choice

All of what we’ve told you is about helping you to be an educated consumer. We believe that you deserve that opportunity. The truth is, the information we’ve shared might be more than some commercial landscaping companies want you to know. They’d rather you were kept in the dark about any behind-the-scenes knowledge of the bidding process. 

Commercial property landscape maintained by Yellowstone Landscape

Whether they mean to be deceptive or not, we feel this isn’t the right way to start a relationship with a new client. You’re owed more than that when it’s something as important as your commercial property’s landscape. After all, it’s your reputation on the line if the results are unsatisfactory. 

In the end, choosing a commercial landscape contractor that isn’t shy about sharing details about cost—and can provide you with plenty of information as to how and why they operate the way that they do—is going to be a smarter choice than one that is not forthcoming. We believe you deserve that honesty and support in making your choice.

Are you ready to feel confident in making a wise choice in the bidding process? Request a consultation today. We’ll meet to learn more about your property and its challenges and come up with a comprehensive plan to take care of all of the details for you.

Meet with Us

Are you ready to discuss your property's specific challenges?

Request Quote
Joseph Barnes

About The Author

Joseph Barnes

Joseph Barnes has served as Marketing Manager of Yellowstone Landscape since 2013. He writes on a variety of topics related to the commercial landscaping industry.