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View Full Version : formula for Pricing lawns?


AllAmericanlawn
06-15-2009, 09:31 PM
I wanted to come up with a formula to price lawns/ adjust pricing on existing lawns. In the past i have basically just pulled a figure out of the air based on size of lawn. I do not want to underbid. Some estimates have worked out well others not so much. Mainly i want to be more consistant on pricing. I have heard of the $1 a minute theory, is that solo or with 2 guys per truck? I know the pricing will be higher in the north. Any input would be helpful.

AllAmericanlawn
06-15-2009, 10:25 PM
if a 2 acre lawn takes 1 hour for 2 guys to mow trim and blow is that a $60 dollar lawn.

marcuslawnguy
06-15-2009, 10:31 PM
Ask around to other lco's. When I first started I had one of the well known lco come to my house and give me a estimate lol. If you know your area market value it helps. After that well its up to you knowing your cost and having to make any adjustments. I like the 1 dollar a hour thing but it is not the only way. by the minute can get you in trouble (example 61 inch turf tiger on a quarter acre lot lol lol with no ditch, fence or any extras just a light trimming around the foundation) jobs like this is what I see many around in my area losing their bottoms on because with the minute formula thats about 10-15 dollars. lol. My Scags don't like to wake up from a nap for 15 bucks. I have a minimum no matter what to cover me but this is just my 2 cents. Also make out a list on a piece of paper based off of the most common type of properties that you service. for example around here that property would be a 1/2 acre with edging and foundation trimming. take that easy lawn as your base and think about what you would charge for a fence, ditch, backyard only accessible by pushmower etc.. and you will have a solid plan to follow and make adjustments off of. Once you get good only a glance or knowledge of a neighborhood and you will be able to tell a customer of the phone and usually be within 5 bucks. thats how I do it I know the avearge yards in my area and double cuts, overgrowns etc...get charged extra. Now extra work that is manual labor or tedious that is under a hour or 30minutes is excellent using the buck a minute.

marcuslawnguy
06-15-2009, 10:40 PM
if a 2 acre lawn takes 1 hour for 2 guys to mow trim and blow is that a $60 dollar lawn.

1 acre is usually 60 so I would say blindly with out knowing nothing about the 2 acre property your talking about 90 and up. depending on your relationship with the customer and the equipment you have. example if your bringing a knife to a gunfight 36 inch mower on a 2 acre lot you shouldn't charge the customer a ridiculous price for your time on site because you brought a knife :laugh: Back to the customer relationship part I deal with 36, 48 and 61 inch mowers, a 61 will destroy a 2 acre job in no time at all and if its a easy job with minimum trimming sometimes I will give them a little bit of a break in price but not much! Before I got my collection of mowers it sucked big time trying to price jobs because sometimes you get a call for a overgrown that will take a 36 a long time to handle. but my turftiger may take me 20-30% longer if its a overgrown but that is because I'm trying to make the lawn look good. So in all equipment you have to do the job, time taken, location of job site and customer relationship has to all be taken into consideration. Just my 2 cents. good luck because if you don't learn it quick well the market will eat you alive.

bohiaa
06-15-2009, 10:47 PM
if a 2 acre lawn takes 1 hour for 2 guys to mow trim and blow is that a $60 dollar lawn.

YOUR HIRED,

yes find out what the rate is in your area. for 2 guys and 2 Z's I get 120.00

1 guy is a dollar a min. 2 is 2.00 a min, and so on, and so on, and so on.

so you can quicly see that if I send 3 guys to a 2 acer lawn it's still gonna be about the same as if it were 1 guy.

AllAmericanlawn
06-15-2009, 10:48 PM
I do have $30 min. for those sweet 1/16 acre wide open lawns. The bigger lots 1+ acres are what i am trying to figure out. the 1/4 acre or less lawns are a no brainer. I do have a 60 ztr and yes they will eat up an acre of grass. Thanks for your input.

jnrogers
06-15-2009, 10:54 PM
First of all I dont open the gate to the trailer for less than $30. I try to get around $1.00 - $1.10 per 1000 square feet of turf. It also depends on the terrain, how much trim etc. You can get a little more in Knoxville than we can get here in Morristown. I mow a couple of yards in Knoxville and I charge $50 and it takes 2 of us around 20 minutes. One is in the Farragut area and the other is in east Knoxville. I also charge more for dog crap in the yard and junk everywhere if I even take the account at all.

Uranus
06-15-2009, 10:56 PM
Topsites had a good way to price lawns. I think it was $75 per acre. Wait a few minutes he'll be around.

marcuslawnguy
06-15-2009, 11:00 PM
I do have $30 min. for those sweet 1/16 acre wide open lawns. The bigger lots 1+ acres are what i am trying to figure out. the 1/4 acre or less lawns are a no brainer. I do have a 60 ztr and yes they will eat up an acre of grass. Thanks for your input.

empty lot shoot for 45-60 a acre depending on the frequency of the cut and the terrain. for example I have a .75 lot no house just a ditch that I maintain once a month and its 100 bucks. but terrain is flat, monthly cut, and a ditch to play with. thank god for spray lol

kaferhaus
06-16-2009, 12:21 AM
If you can't estimate the time it will take to do most any job within 5 minutes or so you'll have a hard time being successful.

Always measure time estimates based on the biggest fastest mower(s) that you can get onto the property. If you don't have "big fast mowers" and you're in a competitive market you'd better base your quote as if you did or the guy that does is going to clean your clock on price as he can do the job quicker and move on to the next one.

I figure my quotes at a higher "rate" than most people because my crews are very efficient (quick) so we can do it not only faster than you can (man hours) but I can make more money while doing it.

Most guys never study a job to figure the most efficient way to cut it. And if you think there's nothing too it, you'd be wrong. If you can find a way to shave a few minutes off of each job it ends up being one or two more cuts per crew per day.

Obviously, if you don't have enough accounts to fill your available time then why bother? It gives you more time to go prospecting or spend at home with the family.

P.Services
06-16-2009, 12:29 AM
according to other members on the site i like to mow for around 30% less then what every one else is doing it for. seems to work out great for me. :)

marcuslawnguy
06-16-2009, 12:30 AM
I agree with kaferhaus completely big fast mowers and do the job as quick as possible. I see guys cutting 2-4 acre empty lots all the time with the famous deere riders or craftsman riders. While passing them on the highway to another job I'm thinking how the heck is this guy making any money? but sights like that are common around here because that bozo will quote 60 bucks to do it. lol

marcuslawnguy
06-16-2009, 12:36 AM
according to other members on the site i like to mow for around 30% less then what every one else is doing it for. seems to work out great for me. :)

I know what your saying about the prices. One guy in my area charges less than me but he doesn't edge, blow or trimm lol. He asked me why I was higher than him in the same neighborhood. I told him:laugh: if I only stayed on my mower I would lower my prices. He was offended and drove off like any real man would. lol:laugh:

sandy creek
06-16-2009, 05:10 AM
I'm bidding $35/man/hour with a $35 min. charge and it's working out well for me. I talked to another lco in my area and he said he cuts for free and charges $2 a minute/man to do the trimming, edging and blowing. I find it works out to be about the same though.

ProStreetCamaro
06-16-2009, 08:23 AM
$1.50 to $2 per minute

Supper Grassy
06-16-2009, 10:56 AM
good tips in here

does anyone charge by sqft?

lawnjocky
06-16-2009, 12:15 PM
I wanted to come up with a formula to price lawns/ adjust pricing on existing lawns. In the past i have basically just pulled a figure out of the air based on size of lawn. I do not want to underbid. Some estimates have worked out well others not so much. Mainly i want to be more consistant on pricing. I have heard of the $1 a minute theory, is that solo or with 2 guys per truck? I know the pricing will be higher in the north. Any input would be helpful.
I don't know if I read the replies to fast or what but no one's post's made since to me.
The formula for pricing lawns is simply this.
1. Know your cost's per hour. There are a lot of post's on how to do this.
2. Know how much area (sq ft) you can service in an hour.
3. Do the math.

If your hourly cost's are $100 and you can mow an acre in one hour your price should be around $100.

Don't forget to factor in travel time and remember to adjust for conditions. A flat lot will mow faster than a forest and wet tall grass will take longer than short dry grass.

I have a three tier system for sq ft price. A. is a fast easy job. B. Moderate obstruction's, average yard. C. Problems everywhere.

Everyone's cost's are different. After you know what you need to charge you can compare that to the competition. If they are charging $120 for the same acre you can raise your price for more profit. But if the other guy's are charging $80 you need to lower your cost's, raise production speed or convince the customer you are worth more. The price you charge is not based on others but on your own personal cost's plus profit.

topsites
06-16-2009, 12:33 PM
Just keep underbidding until it pisses you off really bad, then do it some more and then some more again and again
because you'll see you just can't help it anyhow so just do it, and somehow one day and before you know it you will
suddenly price every job right (well, almost every job anyhow).
So if you blow one (or three) don't get down on yourself too much, we've all done it, we all do it, and we always will underbid some.

And that may not be the best advice but it is, at least in my experience, how it seems to usually work out.
It's the only way to learn, too, and it is hard but once you get it down you are so much less likely to forget or slip up.

Oh ...
Yes, I do believe that arming yourself with as much information and formula as you can, before heading out, that can and does help.


Topsites had a good way to price lawns. I think it was $75 per acre. Wait a few minutes he'll be around.

Too funny.

Exact Rototilling
06-16-2009, 02:29 PM
Small tiny lawns work out best for me. With a full mow trim and blow they are solidly $55-60+ per hour but they average $27 per cut.

If I charged a $35 minimum no matter the size of the lawn I would not be doing any lawn mowings at all. All my properties are meticuslsely trimmed and this is where most of my time is spent. I have lost all my $35 - $45 per cut lawns to the neighbor kids, grandsons and unemployed neighbors. My biggest mower is a Quick 36. I may buy a Quick Dually 44 or even a Toro Grandstand 48 or a Wright Stander down the road but currently most my lawns require a 36" mower or less due to gates and other landscaping factors. I really don't see myself buying a big ZTR riding mower that forces me to get a bigger trailer and a bigger truck [thus more overhead] just so I can mow a larger properties for less profits than what I can pull in on tiny lawns with my current truck and trailer. Many of you will say you are limiting yourself. And yes I am doing that intentionally. I'm focusing on the sweet spot in the market.

One larger well established LCO in my area that refers lawn aerations to me is cutting a corner lot [aeration customer of mine] for $33 per week with a 2 man crew and a Walker rider. My price on the same lawn would be $45 per week. Even then my profit would be less than doing one of my tiny lawns. Even if I had a bigger Walker mower I can't see how profits would be that great.

I have a relative who gets a mailer form their sprinkler Co. every spring saying they will match what you are currently paying for lawn maintence. This includes neighbor kids. This is a Co. that has employees and runs a mowing crew. No thanks - I'll pass.... I'm worth more than the neighbor kid. :nono:

This is why I prefer aerations and lawn renovations over just mowing payup $75 - $120 per hour. :waving:

delphied
06-16-2009, 04:35 PM
I agree with kaferhaus completely big fast mowers and do the job as quick as possible. I see guys cutting 2-4 acre empty lots all the time with the famous deere riders or craftsman riders. While passing them on the highway to another job I'm thinking how the heck is this guy making any money? but sights like that are common around here because that bozo will quote 60 bucks to do it. lol

In my area, the biggest operators bid that.

brucec32
06-16-2009, 04:44 PM
This has been covered before. But it is much more complex than many are aware of, or want to admit. Ultimately it comes down to what the market determines is the price in your area. You have to first get a good handle on what that is and how your particular productivity and desired earnings factor into that.

I did a 1/3 acre lot yesterday that took 88 min because it was a first visit and was overgrown. In the future it will be a $48/cut lawn (mow, trim, edge, blow only). I do other properties that size that are $32, a huge difference.

Factors to consider that come to mind are:

Size of property

Type of grass. Some spread rapidly and require more time to edge. Others you can quickly edge at a rapid walking pace. Some grow faster than others.

Is there more than one variety of grass on the lawn? If it's Bermuda in front and Fescue in the back, and you have a walk behind with 4 pins to adjust (or worse, a fixed deck) you will kill an extra minute or so changing mowing heights.

How tight are things? If discharging you may find it impossible to neatly mow some tight areas without an ocdc. Some areas you may not be able to squeeze a side bagger through w/o taking out a few shrubs or whatever, so you'll have to switch to a smaller machine.

Does the lawn require a mower switch? (gates, etc) The load/unload time has to be factored in.

Bagging, mulching, or discharging? These range from highest to lowest cost to provide. Obviously a bagged lawn costs more than a discharged one.

Is the lawn on a fert plan? Is it irrigated? Obviously a slow grower is going to require less time to mow than an otherwise similar lawn.

How long does it take me to complete the property based on my experience? This is probably the most single important factor and the hardest one to nail down until you gain pretty extensive experience. You still get it wrong sometimes. I just did an 88 min lawn for the first time that I bid out at 90 min. Do that a few dozen times and you start to feel more confident about your pricing.

Can someone else with better equipment do it faster? If so, I can't charge as much "per hour" consistently and get the job.

I am more motivated and experienced, and therefore more productive than an employee. Will employees be doing the job or will an owner/operator? I routinely beat 2 man crews side by side because I am interested in finishing as fast as possible. The hourly employee doesn't have that motivation and a lot more time is spent doing things like talking, smoking, taking breaks, and even things like spooling trimmer line or gassing up machines. I'd have already done that before I left the shop that morning. I work smarter, so my on-site time is going to be a little lower because of that.

How hilly is it? You obviously can't mow a steep slope as quickly as a similar sized flat rectangle of grass.

Is it even dangerous? Factor that in as well.

How many obstacles and how much string trimming is there?

How much edging?

A sidewalk TRIPLES the linear footage at the front of the lot requiring edging, even though the lot size is identical to one w/o a sidewalk.

Same goes for a corner lot. it has more edging to do for a given lot size.

Is there a high percentage of edging/trimming vs the lot size?

Anything that requires more physical exertion should be factored in (inability to use ztr, more time on-feet, hills, etc, etc)

Can I use my biggest and best machine on the property, or will it require smaller machine to get a good result?

What are customer expectations on quality? (high end property vs a weed patch. It's foolish to spend extra time "striping" a weed patch, and it's foolish to rush through a manicured lawn to save a few minutes)

What does the home cost, if residential? This matters because sometimes you'll find a customer in a certain income level couldn't care less about you beating another guy's price by $2. He's more interested in reliablity, cut quality, and personal service.

Any strange circumstances to deal with? A drainage ditch that has to be string trimmed? No easy access to the back yard requiring you to lift a 21" mower down a flight of stairs to reach it?

Is the lawn properly drained? If not, you may not be able to cut it after rainfalls, resulting in added drive time to double back to it another day. Another lawn may be easy to cut almost anytime and you might want to discount it a little.

Where is the property? If you have to drive close by it anyway every day it is easier to schedule flexibly and so you might be willing to do it for a little less money than a lawn out at the periphery of your service area that you will only be near once a week.

Load time. If you're doing 3 lawns side by side you may want to discount a small portion of the load time saved to ensure their continued service with you. Win-win.

How likely is the account to last? A home with a "for sale" sign out front is not going to be worth as much to me as someone who's lived there a while and doesn't plan to move soon. I don't have to replace them mid-season and waste time doing that. This also applies to how easy the person seems to be to deal with. Are they demanding? Are they giving off a bad vibe early on? You might want to charge a premium so that you wind up mostly with happy long term customers instead of PITA complainers who turn over rapidly.

Access. Can you park conveniently? Zero lot line homes with 40' frontages might result in your rig blocking at least one driveway. If they're active folks this could cause some delays moving while they leave and arrive.

What percentage of your bids are rejected and are you ok with that? Advertising costs and time spent giving quotes should be factored into productivity. If you have to spend $3,000/year on advertising and 100 hours a year running around quoting jobs to get the top dollar you insist on, you need to amortize these costs into the cost of doing your lawns. You might find that there is a "sweet spot" where you get a little less but you waste less time quoting and have better long term customers where things are easier to manage than a slew of brand new accounts all the time.

How does the price you've come up with seem psychologically? Say for example you run accross a difficult lawn on a very modest home that you realize will cost you $75/week to service profitably due to it being a perfect storm of bad situations (hilly, sidewalks, corner lot, cluttered with obstacles, marshy, etc). You may realize that your choice is either to work for less, or more desireably, pass on this customer. Realize that you do not have to feel bad if you don't take on every prospect in town. You will grow faster in the long run if you stick to your niche'. There is always some desperately unbusy guy willing to do it for $50 just to get the work. He will work harder for less.

Any short quick rule of thumb is just that. It's a shotgun approach. Acceptable, but not optimal. Statistically you will wind up in a few years with a high percentage of difficult lawns.

Mahoney3223
06-17-2009, 12:05 AM
I base it off my hourly rate per man per hour, works much better than the 1 dollar a min thing because with 2 guys on z's that are experienced. (which i have guys that are) we can blow out some yards in no time. the best way is whatever works best for you, don't believe these guys who bullsh^t that they get a minimum of $140.00 for x amount of mowers, if it works for them amen but in ohio where every dumb schmuck has a "company" it would never fly.

marcuslawnguy
06-17-2009, 12:20 AM
Alright somebody on here from Ga. I was born and raised there and remained their until I joined the Marines. Anyway bruce maybe its the Atlanta Metro Area thinking or something but I constantly tell guys around me the same thing and they look at me like I'm not a retired Marine, college grad thats still taking classes lol. It's not hard to figure out but just common sense. One thing I envy you on bruce Atlanta has some properties that I would love to maintain. We got some nice stuff here but like I tell the locals that grew up here, imaigine 3-4000 sq ft homes w/basements in gated communities with decent size yards with lawns to die for and that is not even the wealthy guys lol. Since I live on the coast well basements are out of the question lol. I'm not saying lawns like that are every where in ga but more than here. Here there is a heavy mix of hard to cut overgrown yards where ignorance or stingyness comes into play with what the customer feels is a good price. And just to throw another monkey wrench in there most of my customers are military families that come from all over so back home for them that lawn could have been a 30 buck job but in my area and the conditions their lawn is in it could be 45-50 and it's hard sometimes to explain to them how prices change from area to area. Or is it them understanding the hard part? lol

marcuslawnguy
06-17-2009, 12:32 AM
I know a company that was doing a property across the street from me and they were charging 150 for the same size yard I was doing. I was getting 60 for mine which was the right price for the job. I arrived with my truck and trailer in and out in 45-50min. They arrived with a silverado w/ trailer, dump truck and about 5-7 employees including the boss. And were on site for 2 hours. Only reason why I know the time I was on my last job for the day and fooled around with some stuff in the trailer getting ready to call it a day prep for the next day. I talked to one of the guys and he said this one was a rich guy that is paying 150. I saw that and was like with all those mouths to feed and wasted time that 150 looked about 5-10 bucks profit. No thanks lol It looked like honestly they were just getting done with maybe getting done with some landscaping or something before that stop but it was only a mow,edge,trim, and blow job. Honestly how many people do you need? Well any way I gave them the benefit of the doubt and the next day I saw them again and this time they had about 8 people doing a 2-3 man job. Those guys I admit out gross me bad, now net they got to be either breaking even or about to go under. who wants to work just to buy equipment, maintenance and pay workers with no profit.....?????

delphied
06-17-2009, 01:02 AM
who wants to work just to buy equipment, maintenance and pay workers with no profit.....?????

From what I read on here, most operators seem to. From the bids I see in my area, big operators run crews for very little profit. As they say, "if you want to make a little money in lawncare, start with alot".

kaferhaus
06-17-2009, 01:23 AM
From what I read on here, most operators seem to. From the bids I see in my area, big operators run crews for very little profit. As they say, "if you want to make a little money in lawncare, start with alot".

Then the larger operator's up there are morons.

My quoted prices are generally lower than Solo's yet I "net" more per man hour than the solo does.

I'll make it simple for you. You do a hour job and get 60 bucks say your total overhead per billable hour is $25, you "netted" $35.

I send 3 guys out and do 3 $60 jobs in the same amount of time. One truck, one trailer, 2 ZTRs, 3 trimmers, 2 blowers, 2 21" walk behinds I pay them $10 an hour my overhead including wages for that crew per billable hour is $87.25

Who made more money? Me or you?

Say they goof off a lot and it costs me $125.... I still "netted" $10 an hour more than you did... reality is about 6.75 billable hours in a 8hr day so on each crew I would have made an additonal $65 per day.

Well 8 crews that's $520 more per day PROFIT than if you were 8 solo operations.

And I can guarantee you they're much more efficient than the very conservative numbers I gave above (goof off time).

marcuslawnguy
06-17-2009, 01:34 AM
a company with good crews and boss can out make a solo 100 to 1. I have seen a dark side to the larger ones doing stuff too low for example take the 60 dollar job. doing it for 30 because they are fast and yes they may can do 4 times the work in a hour they end up becoming a one legged butt kicking contest. just another side of this animal I have seen happen. I'm not saying everybody is like this but I have seen it done. Its a shame

IMAGE
06-17-2009, 01:42 AM
I used to base my pricing off figures I saw on this site. It wont take you long to figure out what you want/need to make.

marcuslawnguy
06-17-2009, 01:43 AM
I used to base my pricing off figures I saw on this site. It wont take you long to figure out what you want/need to make.

:laugh::laugh: that is the truth lol.

YardBoss Lawncare
06-17-2009, 02:12 AM
Just something to keep in mind is the cost of your machine formula. I trade every year, so it doesn't really matter to me, but the average guy puts 1000 to 1500 hours on a mower before replacing it. If you have a $12,000 machine and figure you'll replace it at 1200 hours, you can divide the price by the hours which comes out to $10 in this equation. So, every hour that goes on the hour meter you need to be putting $10 in an account somewhere so that when you've got 1200 hours on it you're able to go out and replace it with cash. Just my 2 cents.

becpropertymaint.
01-22-2010, 10:20 AM
im a solo guy and a dollar an hr has worked for me just fine there is only so much time in the day so this lets me plan my days alittle better to make sure i am maxing out my whole day.