View Full Version : Need help in bidding lawn Jobs.

06-03-2007, 04:58 PM
I am fairly new to the lawn care business. Is there a general guideline on how to bid commercial and/or residential lawns.

I read several other threads but they seemed to depend on several different items such as how many man hours or a specific size of mower.

I am looking for something such as how much to charge per 1000 sq/ft regardless of the type of equip. used (I know that a 21" mower will take longer than a rider or larger walk behind but I will have to bid against all).

I am also assuming a fairly flat surface with not too many obstacles. Although I would also be interested if anyone has formulas or ideas for slopes or if there are more than average tree or sign posts on the property.

I am from Minnesota but am looking for input from anyone.

Thanks in Advance


Stuttering Stan
06-03-2007, 10:42 PM
After a few years in the biz you will learn what you have to charge. I walk over the property, estimating how long it will take to cut, how much trimmer work is involved, how much blower work, and weed spraying (if applicable). Just estimate and learn from your mistakes.

06-03-2007, 10:56 PM
My average lawn is $40. These are usually regular sized yard, less than a 1/4 acre.
You need to figure out about how much it cost to run your business per minute. Then factor in a percentage for growth (I factor in at least 15%, but have gotten as much as 50% on landscape jobs).
If you are only using a 21", then you should specialize in very small, postage stamp lawns. I don't think you could compete with the bigger mowers on anything bigger than 1/4 acre.
There is definitely a fine line for pricing mowing jobs. You have to charge enough to be profitable, yet charge something that a homeowner is willing to pay.
You also need to find out what the going rate is in your market area.
Overall, you will overbid and underbid, and eventually get good at judging what you should charge on different properties. Experience.

06-04-2007, 12:56 AM
I agree with Grits, 35-40 to start unless it's a REAL tiny lot, then 30 is my minimum...

21" mower, if that's all I had, I'd stick with 1/8th acre and smaller properties only. Sure you can cut larger but your time is going to get ate up.

06-04-2007, 11:31 AM
For the time being I am going to stick with the 21" and will upgrade later as I gain more accounts.

But like I said in the original post, I know I will have to bid against others with larger and faster mowers so I am looking for a general starting point per 1000 square foot regardless of speed (so I can use approx. the same formula each time to start out, adjusting as I learn) or how much to charge per hour based on the larger mower.

So maybe another question is approx. how many 1000 sq/ft of lawn can an average individual mow a lawn with an average amount of weed wacking and obstacles ?

Also do you bid Commercial the same as residential ?

Thanks in advance


06-04-2007, 12:00 PM
Honestly I can't tell you what to charge. I've never used a 21" mower on anything but maybe a 50 square foot spot that was too small for any of my other mowers.

I'm trying to remember how long it took me to cut my own lawn with a 21", I want to say it was a 45 minute job for just the mowing, but I'm not sure.

Part of the problem is that in most instances, you may not be able to charge more for that extra time due to using a 21" mower. If the going rate for a lawn in your area is $35 per cut, it's hard to charge even a few dollars more to make up for some of that lost time. Most customers do not really care what you cut it with, as long as the results look good.

There are a few customers who don't want the "heavy" walk behinds or Zs on their lawns, so they might be willing to pay a few bucks more.

Of course, your costs are not going to be as much with a 21" as they would be with a larger mower. Less fuel used, and less replacement cost. So that would offset some of the extra time you'll have to use.

A general rule that you hear a lot here is you want to try to get about a dollar per minute. Find 1K square feet of grass and mow it, time how long it took, and charge accordingly.

My advice for you would be to start with a minimum and do not go below that no matter how small the property. 30-35 bucks. Then do lots of lawns, save your $ and get yourself a 36" or 48" walk behind.

To figure conservatively(and assuming you can get accounts), 5 lawns per day is 25 a week, X 30.00 = $750 per week minus expenses such as gas.

In one month you'd have enough to buy a decent 36" walk behind.

Hope that helps, and good luck:)

06-04-2007, 03:15 PM
try to keep your time at a dollar a minute, 1st strating out, this is a good rule of thumb....

06-04-2007, 04:26 PM
Thank you for the replys so far. I am apparently not explaining what I am looking for very well.

I understand that with a 21" mower it will take me longer than a larger commercial mower. However I must bid as if I have a commercial mower in order to be competetive, so assuming I have a 36 to 42 inch commercial mower approximatly how long will it take to mow approx. 1000 sq/ft ? I can then use the $1 per minute based on this approx. cut time.

Also is $1 per minute applicable to commercial accounts ?

Thanks in advance


06-04-2007, 05:50 PM
YES and NO..........

all lawns " JOBS " are going to be diffrent. longer drive to get there. a stump in the way, a talking customer, a plate glass window, there are tons of issues.

the $1.00 per minute, is just a rule of thumb, look at the job, ask your self,
Self- can I cut this in 2 hrs ? yes. ok now we have a dollar amount to work with. some customers will say WHAT 120.00 for 2 hrs work.
BUT if you have to drive 30 minutes to get there, it just turned into a 3 hr job. " ya have to get back ya know "

Exzample. I cut my neabors lawn. It takes 17 to 20 minutes. I charge him 40.00. there is NO driving time.
So the $ 1.00 a minute is out the window on this one.... but there is NO way somone would cut his lawn for 20.00,

hope this helps.

06-04-2007, 06:09 PM
I'm bidding on a Motel and I have no idea what a bid sheet is I need some ideas please HELP..... Thanks in advance:dizzy:

06-04-2007, 06:10 PM
I'm bidding on a Motel and I have no idea what a bid sheet is I need some ideas please HELP..... Thanks in advance:dizzy:

We sacrifice 75 percent of ourselves to be like someone else...

06-04-2007, 06:16 PM
Good Points, bottom line you must make money. I guess for the purpose of starting out I will assume all lawns will be done within say 30 minute from my base of operation.

While I agree that if I had to travel far the price for me would have to go up or I would have to accept less profit or more loss, I also would have to assume that I lived a distance that would allow me to bid competitively, otherwise a local individual would be able to outbid me.

I am not looking for exact figures only a guestament on what a lawn, residential and/or commercial, would take to mow using a mid-range commercial mower with average slope and obstacles (trees, posts, gardens etc.).

I would be happy if anyone could let me know the approx. time it would take to mow each 1000 sq/ft or another square footage of your choice, and then I would use the $1 per minute rule as a starting point. Or if someone knows what to charge per 1000 sq/ft regardless if it takes me 10 hours or 10 minutes.

Once again

Thanks in advance


Midwest Lawn Services
06-04-2007, 06:21 PM
Where in MN?

06-04-2007, 07:34 PM
OK, well I can tell you this - as far as time -

One acre, completely flat, zero obstacles, I can probably cut in 30 minutes with my 48" walk-behind at full speed(6.2 mph).

So 1K square feet would probably take me about 2 minutes, or less.

But your problem is, that if you're cutting with a 21" mower, and trying to do large properties at the same rate as large mowers, you're going to be hurting because you can't be nearly productive. You're going to ache and get sick of it. This is why I suggest you try the smaller properties first until you can buy a more productive mower.

You can also go to exmark or scag's websites, and they have productivity charts that list(in acres per hour) how much turf can be cut with a certain deck size at a certain MPH. These are misleading a bit though, you want to take about 75-80% of that figure and that's more realistic. You need to account for turning around, going around obstacles, etc. These things slow you down.

06-04-2007, 09:08 PM
it's VERY hard to give you a bid so you can give it to some one else......

Belice me, I know waht you want but there's Jsut NO way anyone " most anyone" here will do that.... NOW if you shot us some pics it will help...but there again,,, we just dont know your situwation......


06-05-2007, 01:14 PM
Im not asking for someone to bid for me. I just dont know what kind of things owners are looking for in a bid sheet.. or how to present it.. thanks for the previous comments though. I dont have any pics.

06-05-2007, 05:56 PM
Im not asking for someone to bid for me. I just dont know what kind of things owners are looking for in a bid sheet.. or how to present it.. thanks for the previous comments though. I dont have any pics.

You will get more people chiming in on this if you had started a new thread and didn't hi-jack this one. Not being rude, just trying to help. I know nothing of bid sheets.

Lohse's Lawn Service
06-05-2007, 06:05 PM
After a few years in the biz you will learn what you have to charge. I walk over the property, estimating how long it will take to cut, how much trimmer work is involved, how much blower work, and weed spraying (if applicable). Just estimate and learn from your mistakes.

This is exactly what I do. Some spend money on tools/equipment that help you measure the square feet of a yard, but I have done just fine with walking around/through the yard and I have an idea of how long it takes and I go from there when giving a price. I've made some estimates that have come back to haunt me, but others that have done well for me.

06-05-2007, 09:07 PM
I dont know how to start a new thread im new to the site. thx for the advice tho sorry to but in. :waving:

06-06-2007, 10:23 AM
Do not feel bad about jumping on the thread. We are both looking for the same information. A basic starting point or some sort of guidline.

The best I can determine so far is that it takes about 2 minutes to mow approx. 1000 sq/ft with a commercial mower (which one must assume your are bidding against) I have seen a few threads that recommend charging $1 a minute so that would be $2 per 1000 sq/ft.

However several other factors come into play such as a minumum fee, this seems to be somewhere between $30 and $40 regardless of size of lot.

slope and the number of obstacles in the lot , the above example assumes a fairly flat acerage with just a few obstacles.

distance from your home base, however one can not penalize the customer for being a farther distance from you, one would have to bid the lot as if it was in a 30 minute distance from you or a local individual would more than likely get the bid unless you have some extreme quality that the customer is willing to pay for.

I guess another question would be does one charge extra for trimming or is this included in the lawn mowing price ? Or better yet what do most services include in their price.

Any and all information is appreciated

Thanks in advance


06-06-2007, 10:57 AM
The reason nobody is willing to help could be because you're fixing to take a beating of such proportion, none of us want to be responsible. All you have is a 21", you want to take on a commercial lot, and you have no idea on what to do... Much beyond that things get back to normal but it's like those customers where, every time they open their mouth another red flag goes up, most of us run real fast from that kind of thing, is probably all it is.

Don't charge by the square foot or by the minute, charge by the amount of work that needs to be done, because at a math of $2 / k we get to an acre lot and we're up to $90 and that doesn't work because an acre goes for a lot less than that, fact is the bigger the lot, the less per square foot it costs, so there's a constant variation there.

You have to know how much your time is worth and you have to know your costs. That is, what it costs you to run yourself and your machines, with taxes and fees and licenses, parts and maintenance and trucks and so on, then you add all this up and you know you have to get paid x amount per hour to cover your costs, basically, not quite, but yeah.

You might have to take on 1-2 jobs for purposes of learning, so that you can gain some experience, so you know how long it takes, and what it cost you, like has been said, 1-2 bids that rash your arse and soon you're on your way to better bidding, much as I hated that advice, it does make sense.

I'd stay away from commercial accounts for the first 4-5 years, and I've never owned a push mower either...
You need to save your money, work a job and put away 5 - 8 thousand dollars in the next 2-4 years.
Most of us here are going through a drought, those who lack the skill of savings are one step closer to quitting, I find the skill of saving money is essential to long term survival, so that's why it is recommended as step One.

That or just go on out there with that push mower, I don't see it going too far, so it shouldn't matter too much what you bid, I don't see no taxes or licensing fees, nevermind insurance, so who cares?

06-06-2007, 11:15 AM
I agree with topsie, except for the part about waiting to go after commercial properties. I did it since day one and they are a lot harder to get but I landed one last year. However, I wouldn't attempt to get anything commercial unless you have suitable equipment. Anything a 1/4 acre and over commercial, if the property manager sees you're going to push mow it with a 21", he'll probably laugh at you.