View Full Version : Whats your formula?

Chris Aurelio
02-25-2002, 11:24 PM
I am new to the buisness.This is my first post after 2 weeks of reading.My folfs are tired of me bein on the computer!well i got a question.I have bidded a couple of jobs and think that i was to high.I want to know what some of you guys formula is for cuttin a yard? I just guessed on how long it would take me and i think I have been thinkin it might take me longer that it really will! Also what do you think are the best ways to advertise for a guy that is in first year? I just bought a new John deere 36" mower.I have heard anybody mention these mowers are they any good?I am also 19 if that makes a diffrence??!!!
Thanks guys,

AL Inc
02-26-2002, 12:03 AM
Chris- First, welcome to lawnsite. I'm a new member here too, and have learned a lot from everyone here. As far as pricing, there are so many variables. To put it simply, figure your overhead (fuel, insurance, licenses, etc) and profit you expect to make, and that should put you in the ballpark. Give your price and stick with it. Over the years, I've been friendly with other landscapers in my area and have made some good friends. This has allowed me to discuss prices with them and we help each other with estimating. We look out for each other and wouldn't consider stealing accounts. This is something you might try, but keep in mind these are CLOSE friends.
When it comes to advertising, I had the best luck with flyers when I was starting out. Good luck in the business. Mike

02-26-2002, 02:26 AM
To be effective at pricing you MUST know your costs! There are many ways to figure it. I do mine on a per stop basis. I guess this comes from my accounting background.

Give us some idea as to what size properties you bid on and how much. This may help us give you other advice.

Chris Aurelio
02-26-2002, 03:53 PM
How do i figure out my cost.the only thing i have is a 3500 mower loan for three years a 4500 truck loan for 3 years and gas $500 for insurance.I have no clue about overhaed and what that all involves and how to fiqure that into my price.That is what i need help with about you formula? i read a post with a yard size and someone was askin to help figure out a bid?Eveeryone was sayin"when i plug the numers into my formula......" !!!!this is what i want to know what is the formula that you guys in the industry use since guessing might not be working? I dont know the size of the yard just it seems it might take me two hours to trim mow edge and blow..but i might do it faster or longer.i am new at this so what or some ways to measure and plug in measurements to get an estimate.

02-26-2002, 04:23 PM
I use the "school of hard knocks" formula. Hard to say experince will help you price jobs .Them more you screw yourself by underbidding the more you will learn how to bid.I try an get 35.00 for 10k lawn ( about average size ) if it is bigger i adjust it .Need a measureing wheel.best way to get accurate sizes.

02-26-2002, 04:26 PM
Buy "Estimating for Landscape and Irrigation Contractors" by Huston. Read it twice and then you'll have a bit of a handle on job costing. The best money you'll spend if you are serious.

02-26-2002, 04:36 PM

First off, use good grammar when you type. I cant understand what you are talking about half of the time. I HATE that! Slow down and use that high school education that you just got.

Secondly, why did you take loans out on everything??? That was probably the biggest mistake a new person could make. Shop around and you can get good deals on equipment. I just bought 2 John Deere Walk Behinds and spent around $1000 on each of them. (48in, HYDRO, electric start etc., 400 hrs) There are plenty of old trucks for under $2000 as well. I paid cash for all of my equipment and am reaping the benefits, therefore everything I make this season, is MINE.

As far as formula, bid so you know you are making $45-$55 an hour. Everyone has there own rule of how much they want to make. Just dont undercut everyone, you screw yourself and you screw the market up.


02-26-2002, 05:49 PM
first of all...........................

First off, use good grammar when you type. I cant understand what you are talking about half of the time. I HATE that! Slow down and use that high school education that you just got.

Now that is funny!!

Secondly, I think that it is very difficult for someone to automatically assume that paying cash is the best way. I agree that as a startup it is not always best to invest in new equipment and have payments, but it isn't a terrible thing either. Lots of plusses to new equipment.

Secondly, it is also very difficult to automatically say you should make 45 to 55 per hour. I disagree. That might be right for you and your market but maybe someone else's market is different.

I think he is actually trying to figure out how to bid properties based on a formula for size??? Let's help each other not bag on each other..........

Chris Aurelio
02-26-2002, 08:40 PM
for someonewho dodnt understand what i wrote u sure did writ alot and sorry erery1 isnt ask computer literate as you your honor

dont get bitter,and hopefully you dont think i talk like that..it just comes out diffrent one the screen

Chris Aurelio
02-26-2002, 08:43 PM
the truck is a 95 gmc four wheel drive with 100k miles and a 350 so i dont think it was a bad deal..plus it was my grandfathers and he babied it...no problems except belts,hoses and oil changes


02-26-2002, 10:01 PM
for someonewho dodnt understand what i wrote u sure did writ alot and sorry erery1 isnt ask computer literate as you your honor

Now thats funny. Look at what you type before you hit ENTER and it will not look like that.

didnt mean to crack on you, it just pisses me off when when I see someone post something without looking at it.
Sounds like you got a really good deal on the truck, and Im not downing that. I was just trying to advise you to keep your first year expenses low, until you build up a good client base, thats all. Im 19 too.

02-27-2002, 12:40 AM
Chis- don't worry, I am pretty new at this too. I have loans for some equipment and I am still trying to figure out how to bid on lawns. Its hard because I know there are some bigger companies in my area who charge a ton, but there are also some people who I swear are working for damn near free. I got in the business 4 years ago but only did it for a year then I went to college. Unfortunatly I learned a few of the "hard knocks lessons" that leeslawncare it talking about.
I am friends with a few people in my area who are also in this bussiness. It is nice to be able to ask someone in your area what they get for certain sized lawns.

Best of luck to everyone who has the guts to go out on their own.

02-27-2002, 02:00 AM
Interesting, all these posts and still no answer to Chris's question.

First you need an idea on how long it takes you to mow a given size lawn. Mow your oun lawn or a friends just like it was a custumers and keep track of the time. Then get an accurate measurement of the turf area. Use a wheel or step it off but get a sqare footage of the lawn and and idea of the amount of trimming done. Now your have a starting point when you go to bid a lawn. square feet per hour. Remember to take into account difficulty, obsticles , trimmming amount, hills etc.. every yard is different. Time also depends on the equipment used.estemated)
Next figure out how much you need to make each month to cover ALL your expences :loan payments, gas, repairs, insurance, wages (dodn't forget to pay yourself) etc..
Now how many hours are you going to work a month 8per day 4per week or 12per day 6per week.how much of this time will actualy be spent mowing. take into account maintance time , drive time, sales time, paperwork time,.

expences per month divided by mowing hours per month = price per hour.
square feet for lawn divided by square feet per hour = hours for lawn
hours for lawn times price per hour = price for lawn.

Another thing to do is get an idea of what others in your area are charging.

This isnt by all that scientific but its a start. Hope it helps. Good luck.

02-27-2002, 04:33 PM
Chris - you asked several questions in your post. Most importantly, you need to understand the cost of being in business. My recommendation would be to learn about business in general to give you a basis of understanding. It won't come over night, you'll learn like everyone else. Trial and error. The less error you have because you do your homework (like reading posts on this site and others) and making educated decisions, the fewer errors you'll make.

Get in touch with someone who can sit with you in person to help you consider all these costs. Try www.score.org

In the meantime, here is a thread on pricing - hope it helps.


03-01-2002, 09:41 AM
Remember even if a piece is paid for with cash, you need to re-coup that cost with in operations......even though there is no payment you will still have maintenance on that item and eventually you may want to upgrade

03-03-2002, 06:59 PM
Lawnlad is correct! I representative from S.C.O.R.E. or SBA will sit down and discuss your business goals and give you guidance for FREE! I personally have not done this, but I have attended free seminars. Read posts and buy books. The info is out there, but will not come to you.

Good Luck!

03-06-2002, 01:32 AM
Here is an example of how I account for equipment costs: If a mower costs 6000, and I plan to use it for 3 years, I divide 6000 by 3. The mower costs 2000 per year. then divide 2000 by the number of weeks you work per season. do this with all your equipment and other costs-leaving some extra money for unexpected expenses. Figure out the weekly total of all expenses and it will give you a good idea of what your business costs to operate every week, before making any profit. this will help you decide what to charge people based on what you feel is fair for your labor.

03-06-2002, 01:25 PM
Heres how I would do it.
Figure the life line of the equipment....say 10 years (better yet, how many hours)
Figure how much money you will put into that equipment in 10 years, or XXXX amount of hours.

Cost of oil, filters, spark plugs, blades, fuel consumption per hour, general maintenance, engine replacement and so on. Then you can calculate how much it cost you to operate that machine on a per hour basis. I think this will be one of my goals this year. This will take some extension research, but I think this would be the most professional way to do it.


wayne volz
03-19-2002, 09:42 PM
:D :angel:

The best way to start is to start right. Use a cost recovery system that demonstrates how to do this. A book Bidding and Contrcats Your Key to Success is available through Profits Unlimited. They advertise in all the trade magazines. This book will show you exactly what you want and need to know. Not industry standards, but sheets to show you how to calculate your company's cost per hour of operation.

Don't amke the mistake that we made in the early years by looking ans asking the competition what they are charging. Many times they have no idea why they charge what they charge either.

Any questions, please feel free to call me email me at (wayneslawn1@aol.com)


B. Phagan
03-21-2002, 12:57 PM
Chris and others,

FORMULAS WILL KILL YOU! Too many times, companies work up some formula for landscaping, etc......2x cost of materials, charge what others charge or come in below what others charge and most use the old SWAG method. May as well go deer hunting with Ray Charles! Just about as risky.

Try this:



overhead recovery


An acceptable profit to you


Your selling price!

Anything less than the above may prove extremely costly. If you wish, check my website for estimating books on maintenance and landscape/hardscape, plus others. They have helped thousands in the profession.

If you really want to pick up some knowledge, check my site under "events" for upcoming workshop locations in GA, NC, SC and VA.

For those of you in GA, the Earth & Turf Expo has been cancelled so those classes will not be held. I will have a "sales jubilee" and money maker workshop in Marietta, however.

E-mail me if you have any questions on the above.