Does anyone have any experiance on how to break into commercial landscaping / groundworks etc? At present all my work is residential which is to be expected givem my current marketing (local papers and directories).
Im in the process of getting a 2nd van on the road though to keep up with the demand for work and would like to get into the commercial sectors.
I live in Norfolk, not from from the coasts, and would like to pick up some Leisure work (Holiday camps, Pubs, places of interest etc). We only do hard landscaping and groundworks (no planting) and would appreciate any input on how to break into this mysterious commercial sector.
The way i got into maintaining the flats round here was word of mouth i happenend to get one contract and it snowballed from there i now work for 5 housing assosiations and they now make up the majority of my work load.
They are soleless places to work and you never get a brew but i now make approx £400 on a good day. What they did ask for was a full risk assesment on myself and staff and our health and safty procedures, also full insurance for me and my staff.
Firstly identify who has work available, all of the above + - Housing Associations, local/district council, industrial/business parks, hospitals etc.
Visit there sites and make notes on what would be required if you won a contract and roughly price it so you know how much and time frames.
Next, find the contact name of the person who would commission you. This could take some time though swichboard!
Formulate a very well written letter of introduction, not too formal, with references, asking for a meeting at their convenience (make sure you know if it is Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr or Professor, it shows that you have done some research).
If you get a meeting - take portfolio of work completed etc, references with contact details. Shoulders back, look them square in the eye (without being frightening) and ask questions which pertain to the job and show an interest.
ABOVE ALL, BE YOURSELF AND SELL YOURSELF!
(Used to be a practice manager for and interior design firm)
A lot of the time with commercial hard landscaping you need to be "in with the manufacturer". Way before contractors are approached to tender there will have been a landscape architect who specified a particular brand of paving from a particular manufacturer. That particular manufacturer will have a panel of approved installers and from those they will recommend some to tender for the work.
It can be quite a closed shop - and to be honest I would be careful of removing yourself from the residential market too soon. Instead concentrate on building up your own brand and reputation and the bigger jobs will come.
We worked for a Plc who own a chain of pubs and from that we will get more work from them. We then used the portfolio from that job to show other pubs what we could create. We also offered discounted labour rates for works undertaken in the winter (when their garden trade is slowest) and this continues to work very successfully for us. You just need that first job!
Thanks for the input, will start compiling names and contact details...
Out of pure chance, i recieved a letter in the post today from a housing association that looks after ex MOD houses here in Norfolk. They've asked me to quote for quite a large job, which ive been to look at today as well.
For commercial contracts, shoud i be charging slightly higher rates? At present, its me and my labourer, and I charge £180 a day for the two of us when dealing with residential clients.
talk to your local council,you may be able to get on their list of approved contractors,we do schools,colleges,commercial properties ,some will require you to have £10m and £10m insurances,police checks,crb checks and the like.
letting companies and new build estates are always worth a drop in,let people know your about,look out for tenders on the interweb,good luck