PDA

View Full Version : Basic formula to bid mowing jobs


emeraldtouchwizard
03-10-2011, 06:22 PM
Mowers,

What is a basic formula to mow residential homes? I just started out on my own but have experience...Just want and idea on how to bid jobs fairly....Thanks

kilgoja
03-10-2011, 06:33 PM
varies depending on where you live but for me it's $30 for 1/4 acre, $40 for 1/3 acre, $50 for 1/2 acre, $60 for 3/4 acre, and $75 for 1 acre

AOD
03-10-2011, 06:48 PM
I usually look at a lawn and estimate how long it takes to mow it, and I use a $30-$40 per hour rate to estimate how much per mow. I base closer to $40 per hour if it's far away or a PITA yard. I use a $30 minimum, unless a place is really tiny. For a season price I average 25-30 mows per season for western MI, 25 for no irrigation, 30 for with irrigation. This gets me ballpark. These are mow/trim/blow prices only, anything else is an extra service.

Son69
03-10-2011, 07:18 PM
$1.00/min From the time i pull up to the house to the time i drive away. Most lawns I'm in and out in 25-30 min.

CLS LLC
03-10-2011, 09:30 PM
My advice is don't start out on your own. This is a question that only you can answer by analyzing your own cost of doing business. I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but it's the fact of the matter, if you can't even get that far you really have no place being "out on your own."

Roger
03-10-2011, 10:08 PM
.... This is a question that only you can answer by analyzing your own cost of doing business. ....

This is a "chicken/egg" situation. I've read many responses like this, "What is your cost of doing business?" I think one needs to have two or three years of experience to get a good handle on the "cost of doing business." There are too many variables, too many unknowns, without any data.

Nobody would get started if we suggested they didn't extend themselves at the onset. Yes, pair up with somebody else, but how likely will somebody share all the information to make a decision to leave and get out on their own. This might happen if somebody is leaving the business, and wants to groom another to take over.

CLS LLC
03-10-2011, 11:36 PM
This is a "chicken/egg" situation. I've read many responses like this, "What is your cost of doing business?" I think one needs to have two or three years of experience to get a good handle on the "cost of doing business." There are too many variables, too many unknowns, without any data.

Nobody would get started if we suggested they didn't extend themselves at the onset. Yes, pair up with somebody else, but how likely will somebody share all the information to make a decision to leave and get out on their own. This might happen if somebody is leaving the business, and wants to groom another to take over.

This is the problem with this industry. Guys come in with no knowledge of what it costs to be in this business. They start thinking "I'm making $25 an hour I'm doing awesome, I used to only make $12 an hour" they lower the prices for the whole industry and everyone loses.

I disagree with you completely when you say there are too many variables. They aren't really many variables at all.

Things you can figure out before you ever mow a lawn:

Cost per hour to run a lawn mower
Cost per week for insurance
Cost per mile for truck
Cost per year for your trailer
Cost per hour for you trimmer/blower
Cost per year for advertising

This all comes down to simple business principles. DO YOUR RESEARCH before you start a business. And don't tell me asking what others charge constitutes research. If you can't put together a very basic business plan, whether on paper or in your head. You shouldn't be in business for yourself.

A difference of $5 per hour will indefinitely determine how many jobs you land, and you don't want to be losing bids on jobs because Johnny High Price on lawnsite told you to charge $XX.XX per hour. Worse yet you don't want to go out of business because Joe Cheapo told you to charge $ZZ.ZZ and you now can't pay your bills. Determine your cost of doing business or get the hell out of business.

jsslawncare
03-11-2011, 12:53 AM
It a dollar a minute for me.Do I get it? Maybe 85% of the time. But, what NicholasMwhite said is true.

GarPA
03-11-2011, 02:50 AM
Sad but true, that the "dollar a minute" benchmark has been around for over a decade....and we wonder why the landlizards come and go every year....we have only ourselves to blame

Roger
03-11-2011, 10:31 AM
Nickolas, I respect your position, but stand on "too many variables" in determining costs.

When anybody starts, there is little understanding of maintenance costs. How long will a machine last? When I bought my Exmark w/b in 1995, I never believed it would be running well in 2011, ready for another season. I didn't know how long hydro pumps would last, the cost of replacement, etc. Also, I did not know how many miles to drive for a season. I didn't know the whereabouts of my customers, hence I didn't know how many miles to drive. In the early years, I was thrilled with five jobs per day. Now, I'm disappointed with seven. Advertising, ....? Who knows what will be needed? I spent $18 the first year, no other direct costs in the past 15 years. I am doubting many starting out can make a good estimate on what expenses will be associated with advertising.

Much is said about "cost of doing business" in these kinds of threads. In reality, there is much more discussion in more threads about "what the market will bear," "what others are charging," and "why won't people pay more for my services." In these discussions, "cost of doing business" has little to do with pricing. The "cost ...." has much to do with longevity and profitability, however. The 500# gorilla sits in the corner at all times.

The turnover in this industry is so fast that most never reach a point of understanding their business, their plan, or a realization of something of longevity. For most, the tasks to be done are the menial ones of grass cutting, trimming, mulching, etc. There is nothing unique about these tasks, nearly everybody can do them. Any business built on these asks is vulnerable, highly subject to pricing pressures. There is no shortage of posts on LS, "... I have been in business for five years .... I need a program to make invoices ...." When asked, rarely does somebody offer how they have been managing their finances for the previous five years. The answer is undoubtedly, "not." In these cases, nothing is being done to build a base of information to understand "cost of doing business," even though they have all the information to understand a basic concept of financial management. Strong, straight stripes, having a diesel powered mower, ... all more important than managing finances.

On the other hand, tasks of wall building, landscape design, plant selection, and install, and the like, are more specialized and not everybody can do this work. Pricing is much more leveraged because of the unique nature of the services being offered.

These principles are not unique to this industry.

Johnny Ringo
03-11-2011, 10:47 AM
This is the problem with this industry. Guys come in with no knowledge of what it costs to be in this business. They start thinking "I'm making $25 an hour I'm doing awesome, I used to only make $12 an hour" they lower the prices for the whole industry and everyone loses.

I agree that this is how some people think. I did an estimate for a guy the other day for his lawn maintenance. After I gave him my written quote he told me that his last year guy has half my price (Mind you that the "last year guy" was using the homeowners equipment). After a few minutes of talking with him he told me that his guy would get paid for the work done and ask for next weeks pay in advance also. Then he said that the guy stopped mowing for him and started sending his nephew. He ended the conversation by telling me that the guy stole his blower and after all that he was considering hiring him again. I reminded him about my written estimate and that if in the future he needed my service not to hesitate to call. These people you speak of tend to work themselves out. The problem is that there is another one right behind him.

CLS LLC
03-11-2011, 12:33 PM
Nickolas, I respect your position, but stand on "too many variables" in determining costs.

When anybody starts, there is little understanding of maintenance costs. How long will a machine last? When I bought my Exmark w/b in 1995, I never believed it would be running well in 2011, ready for another season. I didn't know how long hydro pumps would last, the cost of replacement, etc. Also, I did not know how many miles to drive for a season. I didn't know the whereabouts of my customers, hence I didn't know how many miles to drive. In the early years, I was thrilled with five jobs per day. Now, I'm disappointed with seven. Advertising, ....? Who knows what will be needed? I spent $18 the first year, no other direct costs in the past 15 years. I am doubting many starting out can make a good estimate on what expenses will be associated with advertising.

Yes when they start they don't know any of that information. But those are the questions these people should be asking, instead of "what should I charge." Of course you're not going to know the exact location of each customer, but you can select a service area and there for determine the approximate number of miles you'll be driving for each account. That's the problem no one does there research.

Much is said about "cost of doing business" in these kinds of threads. In reality, there is much more discussion in more threads about "what the market will bear," "what others are charging," and "why won't people pay more for my services." In these discussions, "cost of doing business" has little to do with pricing. The "cost ...." has much to do with longevity and profitability, however. The 500# gorilla sits in the corner at all times.

This statement again just shows the problem with the industry. You can't base your business on "what the market will bear." I agree that you do need to determine what the market will bear, but you shouldn't determine the price of your services based on that. You should determine what you need to charge and then find out if it is higher or lower than what the market will bear. If it's higher, find a way to cut costs or find another business to start. If it is lower than charge it and you'll be happy with what you're making and you'll accumulate more customers because you're charging less than other companies.

The turnover in this industry is so fast that most never reach a point of understanding their business, their plan, or a realization of something of longevity. For most, the tasks to be done are the menial ones of grass cutting, trimming, mulching, etc. There is nothing unique about these tasks, nearly everybody can do them. Any business built on these asks is vulnerable, highly subject to pricing pressures. There is no shortage of posts on LS, "... I have been in business for five years .... I need a program to make invoices ...." When asked, rarely does somebody offer how they have been managing their finances for the previous five years. The answer is undoubtedly, "not." In these cases, nothing is being done to build a base of information to understand "cost of doing business," even though they have all the information to understand a basic concept of financial management. Strong, straight stripes, having a diesel powered mower, ... all more important than managing finances.

Here you're describing the perfect employee and the last person who should RUN a business. The thing is if it took you 5 years and you still have no clue what your cost of doing business is you really need to get out of the business. The reason the turnover is so high is in direct correlation to the lack of research being done before starting a business.

On the other hand, tasks of wall building, landscape design, plant selection, and install, and the like, are more specialized and not everybody can do this work. Pricing is much more leveraged because of the unique nature of the services being offered.

These principles are not unique to this industry.



I completely agree these principles aren't unique to this industry, and ALL basic principles of business say that you should do research before entering in a business venture.

CLS LLC
03-11-2011, 12:35 PM
I agree that this is how some people think. I did an estimate for a guy the other day for his lawn maintenance. After I gave him my written quote he told me that his last year guy has half my price (Mind you that the "last year guy" was using the homeowners equipment). After a few minutes of talking with him he told me that his guy would get paid for the work done and ask for next weeks pay in advance also. Then he said that the guy stopped mowing for him and started sending his nephew. He ended the conversation by telling me that the guy stole his blower and after all that he was considering hiring him again. I reminded him about my written estimate and that if in the future he needed my service not to hesitate to call. These people you speak of tend to work themselves out. The problem is that there is another one right behind him.

This is exactly why you can't just "charge what the market will bear." If you did that you'd quickly go broke trying to complete with Joe Push Mower.

New2TheGreenIndustry
03-15-2011, 05:33 PM
marked for later

A. W. Landscapers, Inc.
02-21-2014, 12:04 PM
I have an app for this too…it's called arithmetic.

It works by charging a price for each minute you work.

Here is where it gets really complicated...

If I estimate the job will take 45 minutes or less, the price is $45.

If I estimate the job will take 50 minutes, the price is $50.

If I estimate the job will take 55 minutes, the price is $55.

If I estimate the job will take 60 minutes, the price is $60...

the3ps
02-21-2014, 12:14 PM
This is a "chicken/egg" situation. I've read many responses like this, "What is your cost of doing business?" I think one needs to have two or three years of experience to get a good handle on the "cost of doing business." There are too many variables, too many unknowns, without any data.

Nobody would get started if we suggested they didn't extend themselves at the onset. Yes, pair up with somebody else, but how likely will somebody share all the information to make a decision to leave and get out on their own. This might happen if somebody is leaving the business, and wants to groom another to take over.

nice post....

Roger
02-21-2014, 12:15 PM
A.W. ... don't hold back. Tell us how it really works. :weightlifter:

jrs.landscaping
02-21-2014, 12:49 PM
AW, where can I find this app?

Is it on android. ;)
Posted via Mobile Device

marc228
02-21-2014, 01:31 PM
I guess the way I price a lawn may be considered lazy, non calculated, simple ect. It works for me and this is my 9th season in business. All I do is mow, trim, edge, and blow. Anything else i sub out to one of three other companiies. Im sure every area in the US is different but it works great down here. I only work in the 17 largest neighborhoods in my area closest to my residence. I only do residential. These neighborhoods consist of 150-400 homes each. At the beginning of every season I take my flyer that has two large blank spots at the bottom and go door to door. Above these two blank spots it has "your lawn already priced". I write two prices with a red sharpie in these blank spots. A price for a 10 day cut and a price for every other week price. They are 5 dollars different. My minimum is 40. I never have and never will go back and give an estimate. The customer knows the price and what it includes from the flyer. These are cookie cut neighborhoods with sidewalks. At most 1/4 to 1/3 acre. I pre determine if the neighborhood is a 40/45, 45/50, 50/55 ect neighborhood.I knock every door, hand the customer the flyer, introduce myself, tell them what I do, tell them that the price and number is on the flyer and if they are interested please give me a call. It is the simplest, yet most affective way I know how to do it. But hey I just cut grass for a living.

JFGLN
02-21-2014, 01:36 PM
I have an app for this too…it's called arithmetic.

It works by charging a price for each minute you work.

Here is where it gets really complicated...

If I estimate the job will take 45 minutes or less, the price is $45.

If I estimate the job will take 50 minutes, the price is $50.

If I estimate the job will take 55 minutes, the price is $55.

If I estimate the job will take 60 minutes, the price is $60...

I think an app would be kind of handy for mowing quotes. Get a bit more precise then just eyeballing it. If it was available for iPad I would give it a try.

CNYScapes
02-21-2014, 01:53 PM
1. findlotsize.com
2. measure
3. ask customer if the back yard is fenced in (if it is add$)
4. Give quote
5. Move on to next quote

I eyeballed lawns for many years and I am way more accurate now.

I dont want to start the debate vs going to look at each lawn, I am just stating how I do it.

TheBarber
02-25-2014, 03:23 PM
I have an app for this too…it's called arithmetic.

It works by charging a price for each minute you work.

Here is where it gets really complicated...

If I estimate the job will take 45 minutes or less, the price is $45.

If I estimate the job will take 50 minutes, the price is $50.

If I estimate the job will take 55 minutes, the price is $55.

If I estimate the job will take 60 minutes, the price is $60...

I think thats a good system and probably works well overall, when I was originally making this app I had my own lawn service in mind, and I'm personally not very good at eyeballing estimations so I was trying to be more consistent with my estimations. Because I wouldn't know if it would take me 40 minutes or 60 minutes, and that probably comes with years of experience, or a good time algorithm. Which I tried to create in this app.

nightshutter
02-25-2014, 03:53 PM
1. findlotsize.com
2. measure
3. ask customer if the back yard is fenced in (if it is add$)
4. Give quote
5. Move on to next quote

I eyeballed lawns for many years and I am way more accurate now.

I dont want to start the debate vs going to look at each lawn, I am just stating how I do it.

Im moving towards this kind of system. Just figuring it out. I don't want to waste time driving all over the place bidding mow and go's. Full service is a different story.

Cedar Lawn Care
02-25-2014, 06:21 PM
Im moving towards this kind of system. Just figuring it out. I don't want to waste time driving all over the place bidding mow and go's. Full service is a different story.

I went to findlotsize.com and measured all my current properties. I then wrote down how long it takes me to mow each of them. After doing so I was able to group my clients by square foot and get a really good feel how much I should be charging by square foot. You may be high or low a couple bucks but it will keep you from running around town for price shoppers. I use Exmark 30's so it works for me. People depending on larger mowers might need to ask a few more questions to find out about gates.

nightshutter
02-25-2014, 07:57 PM
We have all this information from our old system. just have to take the time to set it up.

JFGLN
02-25-2014, 11:26 PM
I went to findlotsize.com and measured all my current properties. I then wrote down how long it takes me to mow each of them. After doing so I was able to group my clients by square foot and get a really good feel how much I should be charging by square foot. You may be high or low a couple bucks but it will keep you from running around town for price shoppers. I use Exmark 30's so it works for me. People depending on larger mowers might need to ask a few more questions to find out about gates.

That's a handy tool!

Roger
02-25-2014, 11:34 PM
.... I then wrote down how long it takes me to mow each of them. .....

Most of my customers have been with me for years, and I know the approximate size of each property. I keep a log book in the truck -- simple $0.50 spiral notebook. It has each visit, with appropriate information (e.g. mower height settings, anything unusual), and the time of the stop. I have a stopwatch on the entry assist handle in my pickup -- started when I close the door, stopped when I get back into the truck.

After many years, knowing the times I've registered at all other properties, estimating a new one is usually very easy. If there is something unusual, then something else needs to be factored. But, keeping the times for each visit gives me a foundation for new properties. It also keeps me on my toes, "It took 5 minutes longer today, " or "I was 4 minutes faster, what did I do that helped?"

I keep track of time for any kind of job so that I have a good basis for future estimates.

MohawkLawns
02-25-2014, 11:46 PM
Ive been cutting for a company for 4 years and last season I went out on my own. You want make like everyone says $1 a min.
Which then you need to look how long take to trim then cut

I can cut 3/4 arce as easy as 1/4 of arce
But 20 yards isnt as easy as 60

Hope this helps you
Posted via Mobile Device

cbservicesllc
03-10-2014, 02:10 PM
1. findlotsize.com
2. measure
3. ask customer if the back yard is fenced in (if it is add$)
4. Give quote
5. Move on to next quote

I eyeballed lawns for many years and I am way more accurate now.

I dont want to start the debate vs going to look at each lawn, I am just stating how I do it.

That's about it....

Efficiency
03-10-2014, 08:42 PM
Figure out what prior company was charging, then subtract 5% (10% if you really want the job)
Posted via Mobile Device

fannin76
03-10-2014, 10:53 PM
1. findlotsize.com
2. measure
3. ask customer if the back yard is fenced in (if it is add$)
4. Give quote
5. Move on to next quote

I eyeballed lawns for many years and I am way more accurate now.

I dont want to start the debate vs going to look at each lawn, I am just stating how I do it.


On find lot size do you just do the measurements around the perimeter or do you exclude the house in the measure ments
Posted via Mobile Device