What YOU need to make is going to be unique to your operation. We average $45 - $55/man hour on site time for mowing. Grounds Maintenance type things (pruning/shearing, mulching, edging, cleanups, ie. no brainer type stuff that everyone offers & almost everyone can do), averages out to anywhere from $47 - $55/man hour after you job cost & figure in any applicable materials or direct costs (fertilizer, pre-emergent, mulch, etc.). Some of my competition, who I'm friends with & even use on a subcontractor basis, have '1 man shows', operate out of a garage (ie. low overhead), & average $32 - $35/man hour. They win all day long on certain jobs, but are very limited also. I can't worry about them, good for them, there's plenty of all sorts of work to go around. Landscaping varies from $40/man hour if it's a loser to over $80/man hour if it's a winner. However, on a lot of our landscaping projects we may have anywhere from 50 - 200 man hours tied up, whereas lot's of the grounds maintenance/cleanups/mulchings/etc. are anywhere from only a 3 - 15 man hour investment. So there's a volume/mobilization/logistics tradeoff. REMEMBER... Everything comes down to man hours. Basic job costing 101, you HAVE to know your man hours & direct costs. Overhead's an entire nuther animal. HOW you sell or what formula(s) you use will vary. A lot of it comes down to:
A - Was the job bid right (lots of variables here - how competitive is the market you're in, is it a unique or common service, is it a 'fair' price, does the Client even know/care, etc)?
B - Where do you need to be price wise in your area to be competitive? Who are your Clients, how educated/shrewd are they, do they even care? Do they just want it done? Are they nickle & dimers?
C - How bad do you want that particular Client/Job/Property?
Sometimes you need to be low to get a foot in the door, etc. A lot of times, you need to realize you can't lose what you didn't have to begin with, price fairly to yourself, & be willing to walk away. Let the lowballers have stuff. I'll forward pain in the a_ _ Clients or lowballers to my competition all day long.
You've got to learn by doing it. Also pain & necessity are wonderful motivators! Wisdom is the consolation prize of our screw ups.