How To Get Commercial Landscaping Contracts

Read Time13 minutes

PublishedMay 1, 2024

How To Get Commercial Landscaping Contracts


Table of Contents

Many landscape businesses begin by targeting their services to residential clients due to the lower barriers to entry and initial investment required. Targeting residential properties for landscaping services provides several advantages to new landscape contractors, including:

  • Smaller in size

  • Straightforward needs

  • Relatively small teams can complete work with efficiency

But residential properties don’t always mean substantial profit margins.

Tapping into the commercial landscaping market is a business path every landscaping company explores at one point–and for a good reason. Commercial landscaping jobs have a lot to offer, such as:

  • Better margins

  • Higher chances of repeat business

  • Great marketing opportunities

So, how does a company make that pivot?

Building relationships empowers growth in new verticals and markets

When expanding your business, connections can mean everything. Knowing who to target and how to target them is vital to getting your new business model on the right footing.

Find opportunities that align with your goal by targeting business owners who need your services.

How do landscapers obtain commercial clients?

Obtaining commercial clients is challenging, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. There are two areas where you should concentrate:

  1. Outreach

  2. Marketing

Outreach is as simple as defining the type of customer you need and putting your name in front of them. 

Marketing requires more investment, but the resources should already be available.

You must invest in an online presence to connect with potential customers learning about your services.

This blog will cover each of these areas in more detail.

Connect with local business owners

When launching new services, you need to start with a list of possible leads. The goal is to build social proof behind your new vertical by landing one new customer in your new field of business. 

Consider looking up business owners in the area with properties that need your services. Then, you can send cold emails or calls to the property manager.

Be intentional when gathering commercial property leads

Create your leads systematically based on the following:

  1. Specific needs with which your business can assist

  2. The likelihood they will respond to your offer.

This way, you can be specific in how you reach out rather than losing engagement by sending out broad and general intro calls or emails. 

Even if you don’t get the desired response, don’t instantly disregard the business as a future opportunity.

The list of leads you’re creating is only the beginning of your outreach strategy. Because as soon as you complete your first commercial landscaping job, you’ll now have the fuel you need to win over businesses that were initially skeptical.

You’ll need to deploy a system to organize your potential new customer lists. Aspire software makes organizing your outreach and communication efforts seamless. From one central hub, you can track who you’ve reached out to, how often, and if they responded. 

Market your landscaping and lawn care business

Of course, it’s paramount to have personnel who carry themselves with the same level of professionalism that you do. While in-person networking events, working the phones, and email outreach might be a priority at this point – don’t look past the importance of digital marketing for landscape companies.

Everything from Google Ads to social media updates can assist your company in finding the right audience, which might include decision-makers prying into the digital world for the right landscape and lawn care company to deliver on their property’s needs.

Building a company presence

Creating a brand presence in the community is part of building up your connections. Your residential clients should be familiar with the value of your work, but connecting to the business community is a different challenge. 

You want people to recognize your name whether you’re reaching out to them or they’re coming to you. The good news is that you already have a community presence through your residential work. You just have to turn that experience into tangible value.

There’s no single marketing strategy to land commercial lawn care contracts

Marketing puts your company’s work in front of potential clients with paid advertising and an online presence to capture organic traffic from search engines.

Some marketing strategies may include:

  • Share customer stories or case studies online

  • Ask residential clients to leave reviews on Yelp or Google

  • Create social media accounts to engage with other community pages and groups

  • Turn your testimonials into online ads

Even if your company doesn’t have much online capability, there is plenty you can do locally to get your name out there.

Getting involved in your community is a great way to build brand awareness and create buzz around your commercial work.

  • Get involved in nonprofit events and charity work

  • Host lectures and webinars catered to building owners' and managers' associations

  • Establish a business page on social media and LinkedIn

  • Build a community presence at the local chamber of commerce

  • Connect with your local commercial real estate groups and HOAs

These suggestions may not land you commercial landscaping contracts on the same day, but they will create organic momentum to win more bids in the upcoming weeks and months.

Encourage happy clients to leave reviews

Marketing might not sound up your alley. As a landscaping business owner, the last thing you probably considered in getting your company off the ground was online advertising.

→ You don’t need to go out and hire a team of experts to give your marketing momentum. 

User-generated content is your best friend. The best part about a testimonial is it never hurts to ask. You’re wasting business opportunities if you don’t give repeat clients a chance to leave feedback.

You can always frame the request as an opportunity to help your company grow. Customers love talking about what they enjoy about the services they pay for and what they wish the company could enhance. 

Incentive programs build brand loyalty and generate more high-quality accounts

The referral request could be a simple thank-you email after completing the job. You could also offer happy customers a discount on the next job if they submit a review.

→ Incentivize reviews in whichever way you can and start adding online content to your marketing efforts.

Your company’s internet presence should reflect its outstanding reputation in the communities it serves. Reviews from customers that mention the unique and innovative solutions your landscaping company offers will help boost your online footprint. 

Maintain professionalism to drive referrals

There’s no denying that the landscaping industry is crowded. But when your integrity and work ethic are the backbone of your services and brand, it won’t take long to stand out from the crowd.

Demonstrating professionalism comes with an “act like you’ve been there before” approach to branding.

Fostering professionalism within a commercial landscaping company begins with the following:

  • Creating a company culture

  • Establishing a mission to align everyone

  • Discussing how everyone in your organization–from back offices to crew members–should carry themselves

Once those are accomplished, match your professional attitude with a professional appearance to retain a competitive edge in commercial lawn care and landscaping.

Cohesive branding in every aspect of your organization builds awareness and generates word-of-mouth business in new service areas.

Ensure your logo and business name are everywhere:

  • Trucks and equipment

  • Uniforms

  • Estimates and invoices

As you scale your business, incorporating integrity and excellence into your company culture ensures that crews deliver work that exceeds client expectations.

Offer competitive prices

Landing commercial lawn care accounts is a deeply competitive market in which you can’t stand out by marketing alone. Being outstanding goes beyond quality work. You have to consider the amount of customer skepticism that comes with tapping into a new market.

Not everyone will take your residential history as enough to trust you with their commercial landscape maintenance contracts. So, you’ll need an edge to help you stand out in the beginning. 

Research is an essential part of getting commercial lawn accounts

Before you launch into commercial properties, you need to assess the market by doing the following:

  • Look into local competitors

  • Understand the commercial service offerings

  • Get a scope of the competitive pricing

Before shifting into an unproven market, you need to know whether it is viable for your margins.

→ You can’t just undercut competitors to win businesses, hoping it’ll pay off in the future. 

Assess how much you could sell your services for while making a profit. Then, conduct market research to see how your prices compare.

If you can’t viably offer cheaper charges while still profiting, you may not be ready to shift into a new type of business. 

Find profitable access points to adding commercial landscaping contracts to your client base

If competitive pricing is the problem, there are solutions.

→ Offer new customers special offers at lower prices for commercial contracts, but only for a limited time.

→ Offer an in-season special only available for the upcoming season.

→ Remember to upsell with lower-priced contracts to demonstrate the value of your landscape and lawn maintenance services

Whatever strategy you use, make sure you have a tangible path back to your standard prices that customers will understand.

The goal is to win new customers with the quality of your work by getting them to buy in on a one-time offer.

How to bid a landscaping job with confidence

Maintaining profit margins in commercial landscaping job bids requires accurately factoring material, labor, and overhead costs. 

Bids must be profitable and competitive. If they’re too low, you risk losing money; if they’re too high, you might lose the job to a more established competitor in the commercial market. 

Follow these eight steps to improve your bidding process targeting commercial accounts.

Step #1: Understand the client’s needs and visit the site

Use a site visit to assess:

  • Terrain

  • Soil condition

  • Potential site challenges

Commercial properties will have different needs and expectations than your residential clients. Ask questions of potential clients to get insight into the client’s vision, such as:

  • Do you have any preferred plant types? 

  • What ongoing maintenance can you commit to? 

  • Do you have design preferences? 

  • What’s your budget for this project? 

Clear communication is vital to client satisfaction and accurate bidding. Understanding the client’s needs lays the foundation for precise cost estimation as you transition into the commercial market.

Step #2: Estimate labor and material costs

Once you understand what the customer wants, you can estimate the labor and materials needed for the job. Labor and materials comprise most of a project's overall cost and vary depending on size and complexity. 

→ Remember that residential projects, such as mulch installation or lawn mowing, require much less labor than hardscape patios or commercial landscaping jobs.

When building an estimate, break down costs into categories like labor—such as hourly crew rates—equipment usage, and material quantities. This strategy accounts for every aspect of the project and ensures nothing is overlooked.

Knowing the square footage of a service area helps create a more accurate bid. With PropertyIntel, you can take precise property measurements with tools designed for landscape contractors to easily create takeoffs for maintenance work, design-build projects, and more. 

PropertyIntel integrates directly with Aspire, so you can automatically pair virtual measurements with your pricing database to calculate time, material, and cost estimates.

Once you have accurate measurements for a property, build in wiggle room for factors outside of your control that may affect pricing, such as increases in material costs.

Step #3: Factor in overhead costs and profit margin

Next, factor in overhead costs and profit margin. Overhead costs refer to the expenses needed to keep the business running and aren’t tied to the specific project. Typical overhead costs for landscape business owners include:

  • Equipment maintenance

  • Office rent or mortgage payments

  • Insurance and employee benefits

  • Taxes and  utilities

  • Loan payments

To decide on your ideal profit margin, consider industry standards, desired profitability, and how established your business is in the market.

→ A young landscaping company may factor in only a 15% markup to compete in the marketplace and grow its business. 

As the business becomes more established, profit margins grow. Ultimately, you want to cover your operating expenses first, then find the right balance between competitiveness and profitability. 

Step #4: Consider site-specific challenges

When you bid on commercial jobs for the first time, it can be difficult to accurately identify site-specific challenges and their associated costs, such as:

  • Steep terrain that requires additional labor or specialized equipment

  • Poor soil conditions that necessitate soil amendments

  • Environmental factors like drainage issues that require careful planning

Communicate potential challenges with the prospective client and outline how to address them, whether you need to rent specialized equipment or bring in additional labor.

Understanding and addressing these challenges upfront is essential for accurate bidding and efficient project management. It also helps the customer better understand the bid and avoid price objections. 

Step #5: Account for seasonal variations

Seasonal landscaping challenges, such as severe weather conditions, extreme temperatures, or shorter daylight hours, can extend a project's timeline, increasing the budget. 

No customer wants to be hit with unexpected price increases, so it’s best to work these variances into your bid as contingency costs. Explain the need for these costs to your customer to help build trust.

A flexible schedule enables you to work around seasonal disruptions. For example, Aspire’s scheduling board allows you to move job tickets to adjust for scheduling conflicts or insert blank days into the calendar for weather delays. 

Product Illustration | Scheduling - Calendar Nov to Dec 2023 (Desktop)

Step #6: Calculate the total bid price

Now, it’s time to calculate the total bid price. Check and double-check to ensure your landscaping bid is comprehensive and competitive. Many landscape business owners rely on software to streamline the process and assist with accurate estimating. 

Aspire’s estimating software allows you to create templates to combine commonly used services, pricing, and language for estimating specific types of work so you can keep residential and commercial bids separate and ready to go. You can also develop kits that combine your company’s production factors with labor, material, and supply costs. From there, simply add the services and items for a project to quickly price landscaping jobs and generate estimates. 

Product image landscaping template

Step #7: Prepare a professional proposal

Next, prepare a professional proposal that includes the total cost breakdown, project scope of work, and timeline. Include enough detail to answer all of your customers’ questions.

Customize the proposal to address client needs and preferences to demonstrate your understanding of the customer’s vision and commitment to delivering landscaping services that meet their expectations. 

→ Include visuals and additional resources to give clients a clear idea of the finished project. 

Double-check the estimate's cost calculations and project details for accuracy before sending the customized landscape proposal to the client. 

With Aspire, estimates carry over to professional proposal templates. You can present the proposal and receive a digital signature at the job site, letting your landscape crew get to work faster.

Step #8: Follow up

Sending follow-up emails regularly for your outstanding proposals allows you to answer additional client questions and demonstrate your commitment to the project. 

→ Clients may hold onto a proposal for weeks or months before having the resources to sign a contract.

Professional follow-up processes, whether an email, phone call, or text, set the stage for a successful working relationship and contract renewals in the future.


Improve speed and accuracy in the bidding process

Delivering faster bids with proven margins gives your organization a competitive advantage. Of course, there are several steps you’ll want to take for more successful landscape job bids, like highlighting special techniques and equipment your team uses.

You can position yourself at the leading edge of your market by having a system that can help you do the following:

  • Put together estimates efficiently

  • Job-cost potential contracts with ease

  • Communicate with clients seamlessly

Showing your customers the efficacy of your processes, even in the early stages of winning their business, is huge for securing new customers. As fellow business owners, they’ll appreciate your professionalism and ability to deliver results. 

Secure more commercial accounts 

Once you’ve entered the commercial sphere, you’ll need to continue marketing efforts to reach new potential customers while growing your business operations.

You don’t become a commercial landscaping company after winning a couple of accounts. Thinking outside the box, you might want to begin outreach in sectors you previously haven’t served before:

  • Condominiums

  • Schools and parks

  • Real estate agencies

  • Assisted living centers and healthcare facilities

  • Warehouses and manufacturing centers

  • Hospitality and retail chains

  • Churches and places of worship

Building a new portfolio of work and properties will help your business stand out and expand beyond homeowners and residential accounts.

However, businesses don’t need to spend years connecting with new customers to build a rapport.

→ Build a plan to win repeat business opportunities to create stable profit margins. 

You want to be the team that local businesses trust with their properties – and you can count on Aspire software’s tools and integrations for measurements, site audits, job costing, and data reporting to help seal your deals.

Streamline your bidding process with the right technology

The bidding and proposal process is a company’s first impression with a potential residential or commercial landscape customer, and it’s paramount to get it right. Creating accurate, professional estimates quickly lets landscapers get profitable bids to potential clients faster than the competition. 

→ Software designed for the competitive green industry streamlines the process so landscapers win more bids.

With Aspire, landscape and lawn care businesses can create fast and accurate estimates to win more jobs using customizable estimating templates and kits that combine all cost-generating factors of popular services into single-line items, including:

  • Labor

  • Material

  • Subcontractors

  • Profit margins

Implement the only software platform that scales with your organization into new landscaping services, markets, and verticals—making the switch from residential to commercial. Centralize your operations with end-to-end software that includes the following capabilities:

Aspire allows you to create templated and streamlined workflows to begin deploying in your residential work and seamlessly transfer to commercial contracts.

These optimized workflows will enable you to reduce management and day-to-day tediums that waste time and hurt profits. 

Ready to see how Aspire can help you win more landscape jobs, enter the commercial landscaping market, and fuel overall business success? Book a free demo today.


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