The Green Industry's Resource Center

Thread Tools   Display Modes
Old 09-05-2011, 06:00 PM
FinerCutslawnCare's Avatar
FinerCutslawnCare FinerCutslawnCare is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Posts: 1,389
Could not have said it better myself procut. You hit the nail on the head.
Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2011, 05:48 PM
douglee25 douglee25 is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 293
Originally Posted by PROCUT1 View Post
So you did a search and youre about to post a new thread.

"Big commercial job, what do I bid"

Youre going to post the info about the job, and sit back and wait for guys to give you a price to submit. You;re looking for "the going rate"

Then PROCUT1 is going to post a "sarcastic" response to your thread saying something like.....,"Send me your last years tax return, a years worth of bank statements, an equipment list, a balance sheet, and itemized bills, then I can help you"

"What a jerk, you think" Others will post....."He just wants to give you a hard time, and doesnt want to help"
Well.....Let me tell you something.....If you get a price on here, and you submit that price......Youre on the road to failure.

I know....Youre staring at this bid package right now....You want this job....The big boys that do the condo complexes have these new trucks, fleets of mowers......Theyre rolling in it.....You want to be them....

All you need to do is get your foot in the door right? Wrong

If only you knew what they were charging, you could just go a little less, and get the job....Once they see the quality you give them.....More jobs will follow...Wrong again

Ill be ok as long as them Brickman or Valley Crest lowballers dont bid....

Nobody but nobody online can give you a price for that job.
Only you can
If youre a solo guy working out of your house mowing $30 lawns with no real business overhead. You may be profiting $25 on that lawn.
How about if you had 10,000 in overhead expenses a month.
Could you still charge $25 on that lawn?
Suppose it costs you $35 in expense to cut that lawn.
How does me telling you "The going rate is $25" going to help you.

If youre asking for prices....Youre asking the wrong questions. Youre setting yourself up to fail. You will forever rely on "I heard thats a $15,000 property" to submit a bid, not knowing if youre making or losing money.

Here are acceptable questions to start asking.

- How do I measure a property to determine the acreage?
- How do I determine how much mulch is on a property
- I have a 61" ztr. What is the production rate for that machine?
- How many feet per day should a weedwhacking man cover?
- How long does it take to install mulch per yard? What is your technique?
- How long would it take your crew to mow this property? What is the makeup of your crew and equipment?
- How long does it take to edge these beds?

Questions along those lines, are questions as a newbie, you need to ask.

Not one of them has a price attached.

NOW.....Here is where that info that I ask for comes into play.

You need to take each one of those jobs, and put a time on them.

3 guys 8 hours per week to mow
3 guys a 40 hour week to mulch
3 guys 24 hours to trim the bushes
Dont forget drive time to and from your place


You need to add up all the manhours to complete the job.
Lets say 1000 man hours for the season to round off numbers


Add up what those employees cost you.
Their salary, matching taxes, processing, workers comp.
Now you have the number what each employee COSTS you per hour.
Lets say you pay your guys $10 per hour that works out to $15 per hour with taxes etc.

So you have 1000 man hours in labor including drive time.
It costs you $15 per man hour.

Your payroll expense....COST TO YOU....Will be $15,000 for the season.

Now. Figure out your materials. The guys on lawnsite told you how to measure.

You come up with 100 yards of mulch. You know your employee expenses already.

Lets say you pay $25 per yard of mulch delivery included
Your mulch expense will COST YOU $2,500

So now your bid is up to $17,500

Now you look and see what each machine and truck burns for fuel. You know how many mowing hours it will be now. You take that hourly number, multiply it by the mowing hours......then by a "high" pump price and that will give you your fuel......

Lets say its $4000 for the season

Now youre at $21,500

Now. You need to add up all of your bills. Shop rent, electric, insurance,
maintenance items, anything that you have to pay thats not a DIRECT cost of doing the job. Add those up for the year.

Now. Figure out how many available working days you have total for the year. Figure out how many hours per day you plan to work. Take into account average number of rain days.

Lets say you can work 150 days per year. 8 hours a day
Thats 1200 regular hours or 3600 man hours for your crew

Lets say your bills add up to $30,000 for the year
Take that number, divide it by 3600

Your overhead is $8 per man hour

Now to figure that into your bid.
You figured 1000 man hours to work this place.

Your overhead will be $8,000

Now your price is at $29,500


You are covering employees, overhead, and fuel.

NOW you figure in profit. Which is a number that YOU decide YOU want to make. This is what should be left over when the contract is done, free and clear just sitting in your bank account.

Lets say 20% which is high. But possible, maybe.

So after the job is done. Everyone and everything is paid. At the end of the season you should have 6 grand sitting in the bank.

YOUR BID IS $ 35,400.00 For this job.

Now......You hear that the "going rate is $29,000"

What do you do?
Ill tell you what most would do......Bid it at $27,000......Just a little cheaper to get the job.....
Do you see the problem here? It costs you 29,500......You cant possibly do the job for 27,000.

So now what? You want the job.

You have to go back to those items and see where you can adjust.

Do you really want to take all the profit off the table? Work all season for nothing in the end?

Maybe you can start with reducing the profit somewhat. You have that option as the owner.

Next.....How can you get those man hours down? Can you figure out how to cut manhours out and get the job done?

If you can, that reduces your bottom line price of $29,500

Can you lower your overhead?
Shop prices for insurance, phones, etc.....Can you save any money there?
Can you locate the material any cheaper? Save some money there?

Its the 29,500 that you have to reduce.


"Guys....My overhead is x per hour.......I calculated x man hours for this job......x amount of fuel......x materials......"
"How can I reduce my expenses?


Guys will tell you how to get the job done faster, save money on materials, save man hours etc.......


Now you take their advice and apply it.

Maybe between all those you figured out how to save $6,000 in expenses........

Now your bottom line is $23,500 to break even.

You wanted to bid it at $27,000

That would give you $3,500 in profit

Are you happy with 8%? I would be.....Brickman works on 3-4%
Youre clearing double
If you are.......You can bid it at $27,000 and youre making money.


Any questions?
This thread caught my attention and I had to read. Good post, however your profit percentage I believe is incorrect.

If your profit was $3500 (revenue - cost = profit) and your costs were $23,500, profit/cost * 100 = profit percentage, no? That would give you a profit of 14.8% ~15%.

Like someone else mentioned in the thread, it's basic fundamentals that everyone SHOULD know, but doesn't know or doesn't know how to put it to good use. If you don't know your cost of doing business, how the heck do you know where you stand? When most people start out with a few lawns at a young age, this isn't an issue. Everything is mostly profit because your costs are basically just fuel and small repairs. Most probably walk to their jobs, so therefore, no truck costs, no truck fuel costs, no insurance, etc. This mentality continues when more and more equipment is purchased (trucks, riders, etc) and expenses ultimately go up. Because they don't know their true costs, they lose money, and eventually they fold up shop.

I used to be in this business full time. My business put me through college and I handed down the business to my brother where it put him through college as well. I recently am starting to get back in the business part time for supplemental income. The first thing I did was figure out what my true costs of doing business were before I even got my first job. I was amazed at what it costs to do business in this field when comparing it to what other landscapers bid certain jobs at. There is just no way some of these people are making any money whatsoever. Very enlightening. If you're one of those people who don't know their true cost of doing business, sit down for a few hours and figure it out. It may surprise you.

Reply With Quote
Old 10-14-2011, 08:38 PM
PROCUT1's Avatar
PROCUT1 PROCUT1 is offline
LawnSite Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: TN
Posts: 4,909
It surprised me when I learned. There can be a huge difference in what your gut tells you and what the numbers do.

I've watched it for years.

New guy starts up.
2 years later has every condo complex in town and a fleet of shiny equipment.
3-5 years later he is out in 1 truck with 2 guys mowing a residential route. Or back to driving an oil truck or whatever he used to do.

Seen it repeat many times.

Lived it myself.
Posted via Mobile Device
Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 09:55 AM
Green Scape Green Scape is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New England
Posts: 79
Make this mandatory! Awesome points, great for a learning curve!
Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 01:08 PM
HBFOXJr HBFOXJr is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Southern New Jersey
Posts: 1,706
all in the title

There have been tons of posts over the years, but I don't think many have gotten the attention of this thread. I've weighed in with similar advice and then the thread goes quiet. I think no one likes to hear the bad news/truth about our cost of doing business vs selling price.

Good for you ProCut in getting people's attention.
Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2011, 05:29 PM
Torchwood Torchwood is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 22
lots of good info here
Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2011, 06:46 PM
PROCUT1's Avatar
PROCUT1 PROCUT1 is offline
LawnSite Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: TN
Posts: 4,909
Originally Posted by HBFOXJr View Post
There have been tons of posts over the years, but I don't think many have gotten the attention of this thread. I've weighed in with similar advice and then the thread goes quiet. I think no one likes to hear the bad news/truth about our cost of doing business vs selling price.

Good for you ProCut in getting people's attention.
A thread like this always gets little attention.

Its so much easier to ask "how much do i charge" than to sit down and take the time it takes to figure out all this stuff.

Had i followed my own advice from the start before i let it get ahead of me I would be sitting on piles of money right now instead of still digging out of past mistakes
Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2011, 08:33 PM
Lefet's Avatar
Lefet Lefet is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Jackson, NJ
Posts: 1,885
Another good thread I'll have to add to my "subscribed" list.
Thanks Procut1.
NJ Lawnmasters, Inc.
Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2011, 11:51 AM
Glenn Lawn Care's Avatar
Glenn Lawn Care Glenn Lawn Care is online now
LawnSite Silver Member
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Inver Grove Heights, MN
Posts: 2,651
Sub'd.... Great post!!
'02 Ford F-250 5.4l8' unimount
Western Salt Spreader
Billy Goat

Minnesota certified pesticide applicator

Brotherhood 2000 plus fifteen
"The real lawn care Jesus"
Reply With Quote
Old 11-16-2011, 12:52 PM
LindblomRJ's Avatar
LindblomRJ LindblomRJ is offline
LawnSite Silver Member
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Posts: 2,573
Great post. This needs to be a read first sticky thread. Excellent stuff here.
Spring Creek Lawn & Landscape

Veritas and æquitas
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Layout Style:

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©1998 - 2012,™ - Grand View Media
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:30 PM.

Page generated in 0.07623 seconds with 8 queries