View Full Version : Pricing ?

FS Lawn
12-30-2002, 11:44 AM
I need some help bidding a residential yard that is 2 3/4 acres big. The yard is mostly flat with very little trimming to be done , the house is located in the center of the property and has a small pond at the far end of the property. The property is a total of 118,188 sq ft. I would like to see what some of the
" professionals " would charge and see if the price I have come up with is close. Thanks for the help

Tony Harrell
12-30-2002, 11:58 AM
A picture would probably get some accurate quotes.

12-30-2002, 12:01 PM

FS Lawn
12-30-2002, 12:24 PM
I tried to send a photo and it advises that the file is to big......

Blessed 1
12-30-2002, 01:13 PM
1 person x 1.5hrs on my Z Master = $65-$75

12-30-2002, 01:31 PM

12-30-2002, 03:33 PM
Discounting for the driveway, the pond, and the house itself, without seeing it I would estimate $100 - $125. And that's just an estimate.

FS Lawn
12-30-2002, 03:42 PM
rodfather.........Thats about what I was estimating ( 100-125 ) The house is some what out of the way from all my other yards so I was going a little on the high end. Thanks

12-30-2002, 06:45 PM
What size mower are you using and how fast can you mow with it? Also how much trimming and blowing will there be? I plan on having a setup that could do a 2 3/4 acre job mowed in less than an hour and if 15 minutes for trimming and blowing or so, I could do it for $75 and make a good $1/minute but you won't beleive the low overhead this setup will have for it's high productivity. I wont' let the cat out of the bag yet but I will tell you it is going to eat the competition if I decide to build it. I have a 4 acre yard I can get if the price is right, and it is all flat open with a house and maybe 10 trees scattered out, I would be able to mow it in about an hour and 10 minutes with this setup, trim and blow in 10-15 and be gone in a total of 1:20 or so for a price of $80 which is $1/minute solo but cheaper than his previous guy. That means that, figuring on 28 mowings, this property alone will get $2240 a year. That will pay for this setup 4x over (leaving over $1500 profit first year I do this property). It will work great... If I build it I will definatly post some pics.

Here is how you know about how much you can mow per hour (figured accurately):
width of cut in inches x average ground speed / 140 = acres per hour.

If you email me the picture at eric@cuttingedgelawncare.biz I will post the picture for you.
Good luck,

12-30-2002, 07:22 PM
Determine what your average equivalent hourly rate is in your most productive market and the SFT you can complete in that time. Divide the total SFT of the prospective job by the hourly SFT rate to determine the time required. Multiply this by your hourly rate to determine estimated cost. Why work for less for a customer just because he has a large lot? There is just as much work and it is not any easier. I do not discount large res. jobs. If these customers have enough money to live on an estate they should not expect to pay a pauper's wage to maintain it. I figure if a competitor is willing to give himself away on these jobs working for less than my time is worth, he is tied up there and not competeing with me as much in other areas. For me the minimum over the phone estimate for this property would be $175/week. $200.00 if I have to pull a 21" off the trailer. More if it is complicated with lots of trees or hand trimming. Last year I started applying this formula for all my accounts. Yes I lost much of my big work, replaced it with smaller. End result, more customers, less work, more net $$.

Frank, when were you in the Corps? I was in 1/12, 1st Marine Brigade, '81-'85

12-30-2002, 08:14 PM
xpnd - good advice but I kinda think that it is upto you to become more productive in order to make the money you should and still have a competitive price. This is where you can kill your competition I think. Example, like adding a Flex Deck to a large mower- that adds alot of productivity. On large properties, add a tow behind wing mower that adds alot there as well. Of course if you dont' want to mess with these properties and extra equipment that is fine, but I mean if you want these jobs, to get them and be profitable, you gotta come up with a better way to get it done faster. The customer doesn't care what you use or how long it takes. They just know that if you dont' do it for the same price or less than the next guy, you're gone!
Anyway, you have good advice there ;)
BTW, what are you using to come up with $175?


12-30-2002, 09:01 PM
Simple formula. I can do 4 residential jobs priced at a $30.00 minimum in one hour or 120.00 gross, sales tax not included. Working in an estimated travel time of 10 minutes from the last job and with no complications in work patterns it will take an estimated minimum 1.25 hours to closing the ramp after we have experienced the learning curve. 1.25hrs X 120.00/hour = ~150.00 + sales tax (.0825) = ~162.00. What generally kills me on these bids is my inclusion of one way mileage to the next job and sales tax. I'm not willing to eat either but most are. For estate jobs, I estimate including sales tax as on these size jobs that can be a significant factor. Please understand I whipped out the prior numbers as a guestimate while typing. I was $13.00 off after putting a #2 lead to a Big Chief tablet but on this "job" my assumptions are no pool, no terraced turf areas, the house is sitting close to the front without a mile of edging and blow down, all areas are irrigated and all areas will be serviced every week. I know I could easily see my way to adding back in the $13.00 if it wasn't during the spring. Why would I want to charge less?

As far as the extended, flex decks. It is specialized and significantly more expensive equipment. Less time, more expensive equipment to repair warrants more than anything else to not charge less and not get a fair return on your equipment investment. Equipment doesn't last forever.

BTW, today we had ~6" of rain and two tornadoes set down nearby. I have nothing to do except play on the computer.

12-30-2002, 09:02 PM
At least $130 per cut, and thats with minimal to no trimming/edging. Hard to really give a good estimate without seeing the property. If there is a long driveway and/or quite a few trees to trim around, the price would be higher,of course.

12-30-2002, 09:13 PM
I know what you mean, I played with the numbers too and small in and out town lawns are close on to twice as profitable as say a 4 acre job that I mentioned. If I'm using my regular mower - 38" w/b - on both, but with that setup I hinted at, I will only come out about $10-15 per hour behind by doing the big lot, and I will still be making $60/hr solo with very very little equipment investment. Any one unit of the equipment setup can be replaced without replacing the whole system. Plus it allows you to have 4 mowers in one, capable of doing 7k sq ft. town lawns in 10-15 minutes trimmed and blown, and same mower with different deck configuration can also do a 4 acre job in about 1 hr and 15 minutes trimmed and blown. That is if it's flat pretty much wide open with not alot of obstacles, but most 4 acre jobs are like that. So here I am, I can make $60 per hour staying on the same job without driving my tow vehicle eating up non profitable time and burning gas, wear, tear etc. or I can make maybe $75/hr doing 3 7k sq ft lawns per hour having to drive 5 minutes job to job and running that vehicle, constantly loading/unloading etc. The way I figure it I can be just as happy on the larger lawn and make a similar dollar figure since I'm not driving the vehicle. Of course they might not be within 5 minutes of each other either ;) But I will be satisfied doing either type of job this way...
do your own thing :)

12-30-2002, 09:19 PM
BushHogBoy, have you ever pulled one of those offset mowers? I never have but I have seen guys use them and a ZTR is much quicker. I wouldn't think they are worth the money. I've only use an 9' offset orchard mower with a 3' kicker on the back that was fast. The cut wasn't very good though.

FS Lawn
12-30-2002, 09:53 PM
I have a 928 D Grasshopper with a 61" deck. I am a one man show but have been realy sucessful in the past 4 years. I know there are alot of other factors to consider other than the size of the lot. I have figured 100-125 for the lot. My main concern is that it is about 10 mi out of the way from my other accounts , and trying to see if it would be worth it. Money talks and BS walks

12-30-2002, 10:03 PM
Here is that lawn Frank is talking about ;)

12-30-2002, 10:08 PM
cantoo - no I haven't actually pulled one, but I know that on a wide open feild like 2 acres and up, certain ones are capable of mowing just as fast as the Z itself and being wide open with no obstacles and not that many turns, it can save alot of time. Like alot of things, it takes the right situation to be worthwhile. I think they do have their place though. I know of several people who use them with their garden tractors on open fields and it can cut their time in half. I think if you get one that has the right deck design and blade speed, such as an acrease mower (advertised in Turf) I think they are capable of mowing at 8-10mph or so... so if you don't have any obstacles or just a couple, and a wide open area relatively flat, i can see it working just fine.

12-30-2002, 10:48 PM
Guys - Those pull behind mowers are a headache - you krick your neck watching them, then how do you get into the corners. You are always trying to back up with them in mind and wasting time-get a deck up front like the flex-deck that is attached and follows your machine, and a flex-deck gets into the inside corners and more. You will be done so fast it will make your head spin.

You people out there have been investing upwards of $9000 on these big fancy commercial ZTR's, and we can put a flex-deck on for a mere $1300 or so and increase your production about 50%, and all I hear is how expensive the flex-deck is - It is actually the cheapest piece of equipment you will ever invest in as far as the productivity it produces.

Are you interested in making money or do you just look at the cost of something (The flex-deck does not even have a motor) - but it will save you so much trimming time, while contour mowing and getting between things you will pay for it in 4 weeks if you mow 40 hrs per week.

Here is my new wide area mower - you have probably seen it before, but it will work even in the one lot (60 x 120') yard just fine because the flex-deck side is still the one trimming
http://Wide Deck

12-31-2002, 10:28 AM
That is what I was talking about, like Brad's setup. I might try to make one of those 36" wing decks myself. Would like a Flex Deck to hang off of the left side too ;)

12-31-2002, 03:16 PM
I'm with xpnd on this one. I came up with $175.00 per cut.
I know that most say that their market will not take that amount , however, I tried it and it works. I havnt lost any accounts as of yet. And although I might have lost a few bids due to my pricing structure, I more than make up for it with the smaller yards.

12-31-2002, 03:58 PM
$170-200 in this area.

12-31-2002, 05:07 PM
man I envy you guys that can get $150+ for that kind of job.... wow. There is no way I can do that here- i'd get laughed at and ruin my reputation-to-be with that customer. But i'm glad some of you guys can do that. :(

01-02-2003, 06:04 PM
I'd bid $50/acre minus house and pond. I'd have to agree with Rodfather, $100-$125.

01-02-2003, 06:15 PM
In Mediapolis Iowa, a single lot yard is worth $20, and a double (corner) lot is worth $30. If a kid push mows with a 21" truevalue, or if I mow it with a 78" 455 JD Flex-Deck, it is worth $20 or $30.

The only difference is cost of equip and time spent. My cost is 15 times as much, but I can do it in 1/15th of the time. Bingohttp://Wide Deck

01-02-2003, 07:21 PM
Brad, that's the right idea!!! Makeup in volume!

01-30-2003, 05:26 AM
Sorry, but that flex deck setup photo makes me chuckle. It's like something a mad scientist inventor came up with...all those belts and connections...

It may work for some people, but for my customer mix, it's an unneeded complication. Just buy a bigger mower. How many 36" deck mowers come with enough power to add all that extra drag, anyway?

02-01-2003, 05:17 AM
If I take my base acerage rate of $28 and fig it at a DOD of 1.5, that = $42/acre x 2.75 acres is $115.

If you like to look at it from a productivity standpoint and figure your bids that way then this property using a 52z will give you about 60% efficiency with terrain and turns -- now your looking at about 1H50M. Take the 110 min by the $115 and that still gives you just over the buck-o-minute I try to shoot for.

If you've got a 60z at 4mph w/ 60% efficiency youd be in the range of 1H37M. Take the 97 mins by $115 and now you've incresed your bottom line to almost $1.20 per minute.

I'd figure that with all the berms and whoops here that you wont be able to do much more than 4mph and still mow grass -LOL!!!

02-26-2003, 11:58 PM
Finally somebody talking about adding on extra width. Whether it be the flex deck or a pull mower it only make sense for larger yards. Actually I prefer the pull mower because you can add it on or remove it very quickly depending on the size of your job. This allows you to use a smaller ztr which is more practical on smaller jobs. Then when you get to a big job you can add the pull mower and be cutting much wider and faster than any larger ztr.
Flex deck have you tried that set-up on any hills yet. Also how hard is it to make sharp turns. Have you noticed any pushing in the corners. Just some thoughts.


02-27-2003, 12:31 AM
$100.00 nice round number:drinkup:

02-27-2003, 12:56 AM
Simple pull behind solution, for ztr:
I use cub tank 2560.
Put hitch on back, pull two 60" pull finish mowers to each side. with one inch over lap.
cutting width 14'10"
Does not sacrifice speed.
Very cheap width!!!

02-27-2003, 08:29 AM
My price for mowing would be $100 even. That does not take into consideration any trim, edge, clean-up so the $125 number may be more realistic.
Brad, not everyone knows where Mediapolis is located. Pretty much small town rural Iowa. Also the town had the top girls basketball teams in the state for years. Girls basketball was big in Iowa many years before it gained popularity elsewhere and the girls state tournament was just as big as the boys.

02-27-2003, 08:56 AM
Are you actually mowing this way or are you just suggesting it. If you are what brand of pull mowers are you using and what kind of time savings are you seeing.
Cheap width is right. Not only are you cutting three times wider with a small aditional cost but you have eliminated two operators with this set-up.


02-27-2003, 09:14 AM
I cannot belive you guys can get $100 to $150 for that job.I would be out of business. 1 man ,1 52" wb with velke =1.5hr, no trimming, blow the drive off with mower $65.00. Trim $75.00. I make great $ but you guys must own the bank.

02-27-2003, 10:17 AM
I like these ###'s you guys are throwing out :D How can I make 50K a season ??? just curious....


02-27-2003, 11:39 AM

I can't figure out how your below formula works:

"Here is how you know about how much you can mow per hour (figured accurately):
width of cut in inches x average ground speed / 140 = acres per hour. "

Is ground speed in ft/min or mph? It has been easier for me to use Cut width in inches X MPH X .0101 example 48" cut running at 6 mph is cutting ~2.9 acres / hr. (48 x 6 x .0101)
i.e. 528 linear ft/min (at 6 mph) x 4 foot band or 2112 sq ft/min, 126,720 sq ft/hr= 2.9+ acres/hr.

SR Landscaping
02-27-2003, 01:35 PM
HEY!!!! THAT WAS MY ACCOUNT!!!!!:angry: lol
I figure about 125-130 range. In and out-travel time=$$$
Good Luck!:blob3:

02-27-2003, 01:59 PM
fvstringpicker -
Let me reword that.

Ok, put in your deck cut in inches and multiply by ground speed in MPH and divide that number by 120 for wide open mowing (80% effeciency) or 140 for "average" obstacles and turns (60% effeciency). That is your acres per hour rate. You can multiply that number by 43,560 to equal your square feet per hour rate, and divide your sq. ft./hr by 60 to come up with your sq.ft./minute rate. So like this:
52" x 4.5mph=234/140=1.67 acres/hr x 43560 = 72807 s.f./hr / 60 = 1213 s.f./minute. So that says that I can mow a 10,000 square foot lawn in approximately 8.5 minutes +/-. If the area is just wide open with no obstacles you might be around 20% more effecient.

Now do you understand it better? Most mower MFG's use 100% effeciency (divide by 100 instead of 120 or 140) and now they usually show 80% and 100%. 100% is just for sales purposes and 80% is still not representative of actual times. 60% however (divide by 140) is representative of actual mowing times with average amount of obstacles and turns.
Hope this helped some.

AGG Lawn Maintenance
02-27-2003, 08:08 PM
$90 a cut plus lunch. Only kidding $90 a cut.

02-27-2003, 10:07 PM

02-27-2003, 10:30 PM
As stated previously by BHB:"I plan on having a setup that could do a 2 3/4 acre job mowed in less than an hour and if 15 minutes for trimming and blowing or so, I could do it for $75 and make a good $1/minute but you won't beleive the low overhead this setup will have for it's high productivity. I wont' let the cat out of the bag yet but I will tell you it is going to eat the competition if I decide to build it. I have a 4 acre yard I can get if the price is right, and it is all flat open with a house and maybe 10 trees scattered out, I would be able to mow it in about an hour and 10 minutes with this setup, trim and blow in 10-15 and be gone in a total of 1:20 or so for a price of $80 which is $1/minute solo but cheaper than his previous guy."

If this setup is as ugly as your "BarrelPlow", please spare us the photos. I have never seen anyone put so much math into mowing a frickin lawn. Your computations must be very time consuming. You should use your knowledge of computations in a field that can really benefit from it. Mowing is simple, not a science, and yes I do it for a living but I also am a landscape designer/installer in order to add variation to my job. I also understand that you are 15. If you can keep that enthusiasm and determination through out your life, you will be successful. Good luck

02-27-2003, 11:05 PM
I do use this set up! It works great, other then I like the striping ability of the tank, but the pull behinds do not have it. I have put striping kits on them this winter but have not had the opportunity to try them out yet. The pull behinds are agpro. I am not sure of the total capabilities Acres wise yet, but if I can cut 6.32 an hour with the tank, by adding the pulls, I can get 18.96 an hour. the closest calculation I can give is that on one prop I manage, 60 A, I have it mowed with the ztr and my toro 455d (126") in under 3 hours. before adding the pulls, it would take 7.25 hours with the ztr and the 455d. I really should figure closer on the savings, but you know what, it works, it was cheap, and I am making more $(just not to interested in figuring to the penny how much extra I am making) to much headache! :angel:

02-27-2003, 11:35 PM

Sounds good to me. I have never heard of the brand Agpro. Do they have a website. I would like to see the mowers. Do you have a picture of the set-up also. Thanks for any info in advance.


02-27-2003, 11:46 PM
I am at work now, and do not have pics here. I will try to take some when I get home and get them on here.
I was also work about the type. mine are agri-fab.
I went to the web site and could not find them anymore, the only one they had was the trial mower. Then I went to the web site from were I purchase them (rural King) they now carry a swisher pull, it looks identical, other then mine are black and these are red. Hope this helps!:angel:

02-28-2003, 08:51 AM
Thanks for the info. I have heard of Agri-Fab. As far as I know they still make pull mowers.


02-28-2003, 09:26 PM
mowingmachine - I thought I had already replied to your question as to side hills, but it must have not registered - I have already dropped the right side deck over a very steep ditch bank and done a lot of level and unlevel mowing, but you have to realize it is middle of winter - I am convinced that it will work extremely well. Come on up to the Flex-Deck BBQ Mar. 29 and demo it in person, as well as eXmark and JD Walk Behinds with the Flex-Deck, a Dixie Chopper with the Flex-Deck, and since we can now put the flex-deck on all ZTR's yours may be the next one.

I have to wait until spring to get a new video done, and pictures.

Thanks Brad:p

02-28-2003, 10:09 PM
Flex Deck
I don't recall ever asking the question before. I wasn't talking about the little flex deck I was talking about that big one you have posted in the picture above. Seems to be alot of fixed weight off to the side of a lawn tractor. I would assume that big wing will be castered all the way around. That is where I see the problem. All the weight will be tugging on your tractor and the wing itself will have no resistance because of casters. On the pull behinds they at least have fixed rear tires to give support on side hills. On flat ground it should do fine that is as long as your tractor frame can handle the additional loads. I'm just curious that's all. Thanks for the reply and any future info.


02-28-2003, 10:31 PM
mowingmachine - the extra deck on theright is actually attached to the frame of the tractor, and the front right corner of the main deck, then I have 2 chain supports that keep the main deck hooked to the frame also to keep it from torquing. You are right - there is a fair amount of drag, and only a tractor with a fixed wheel base could do this - and the deck has to be locked to the main machine and up front to make it do what it does -

When you pull something behind, the first thing is - you can not get into inside corners without a couple of backup maneuvers (OW I cricked my neck looking back), and then it is hard anyway.

When you have two decks on the front corners, they are the first thing to get into inside corners - Notice that both decks are even or in front of the front wheels of the tractor.

Imagine mowing under pine trees, where the decks are totally controllable by your front wheels? - Imagine the control you have if the whole machine moves sideways at the mere turn of a steering wheel (direct control)http://Wide Deck

Darryl G
02-28-2003, 10:31 PM
I think someones been watching Junkyard Wars too much!

02-28-2003, 10:47 PM
Thanks Darryl - I consider that a compliment - Come to the Flex-Deck BBQ Mar 29 and ride the dude. :cool:

Grounds Man
03-01-2003, 11:29 PM
Have you taken the time to determine how long it takes you to mow a 1,000 sq. ft. with the equipment you will be using to maintain this property? If not, I suggest you mark off a 20 x 50 foot area and time how long it takes you to mow it. This time becomes your basis per 1,000 sq. feet for level ground with few obsticles.

Total area divided by 1,000 multiplied by the base time gets you a reasonably good time estimate for mowing a similar lawn. Multiply the time by your desired hourly rate and you can consistently estimate what you need to do the work.

You may find the market will not support the price you need to make money on this property. If so, then you have to make some choices: (1) stick with smaller properties that can be mowed efficiently with the equipment you have; (2) buy more efficent equipment; (3) get what the market will support and loose your shirt.

Be more concerned about pricing your work to show a profit than what others may charge.

Grounds Man

03-02-2003, 02:26 AM
I do properties like this all the time. I get about $125-150. The way I figure it, $50 an acre. Do not subtract the house, driveway, pond or anything else. It will take you just as long to trim and blow these areas as it would if you just mowed the same square footage. It is is 3 acres...$150. Easy enough for me. It usually takes me about 1.5 hours total to do a job like this. $75/hr is pretty good. These can actually be better money makers than the smaller ones unless you have several small ones together that you can just drop the gate and mow for an hour or 2. What do y'all think? Am I crazy?

Grounds Man
03-03-2003, 08:30 AM
You have an organized approach that produces a consistent price for similar work. You know what you can produce per hour and what price level your market will support. I think that's what it takes to stay in this business. And, at $75.00 an hour, your doing very well.

I prefer larger properties for the same reasons you've mentioned. I also try to solicit work within a three to five mile radius of my location to keep glass time to a minimum. That's not to say I won't travel further, it just has to pay enough to make it worth while.

You can make $75.00 an hour working small propertys but you have to price it right. There are small lots, and then there are SMALL lots. A 4000 sq. ft level lot with few obsticles is a small lot, while 3000 sq, ft., with a drainage ditch and loaded with lawn onaments, would be a SMALL lot. The latter will drive you nuts and must be priced accordingly.

It dosen't really matter what method you use to estimate as long as it covers overhead and produces a reasonable profit after taxes. I don't think there is a single method that can be applied across the board to every cutter out there. Comparing your "winners" and your "losers" is probably the best guidline for developing a system that works well for you.

When we first go into this businesse, we're forced to take "whatever we can get to cover expenses"...the bills have to be paid. It takes a while, but the time does come when you start to choose your customers rather than just letting the customer choose you.

Get paid well for what you do, or let somebody else do it! Just because the cash register is ringing does not mean your making money.

Grounds Man