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Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Willis120, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Willis120

    Willis120 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    Hey guys I have read through 100 bidding threads at least on here lately, there are a lot of very good suggestions, but is there not just a general formula to go by when bidding? I know there are variables in steep banks, travel time, etc, but I know when I worked at tru green they had a formula and they would measure plug in the numbers and have a bid...any thoughts?
  2. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 613

    I figure I can mow anywhere between 650-1100 sq. ft. per minute with my 52" Ferris. I have only done mowing for one season and those numbers are only for a total of 7 properties so as I do more places I can get a much better range. I have to think about the size as one factor, along with the technicality of it. If there are only foundation beds and all are curved nicely, no trees or obstacles in the lawn, I can be up around 1100 sq. ft. per minute. If there are obstacles it is going to be lower. If all areas can be done with my big mower great, but if I have to bring out the pushmower to finish a difficult area chalk up another 5-10 minutes of time at least. Then trimming and blowing are anywhere between 10-20 minutes each per property. So using a formula only gets you so far.

    Now if you are talking about fert and weed control its pretty much by sq. ft., just make sure you have a minimum charge. Mine is $45 per visit as a minimum (which would be about a 6000 sq. ft. lawn)
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    To answer your question, there does not exist a simple one-size fits all formula, not just because of the variables but because it just doesn't work. Take lawn mowing for instance, the bigger the lawn the cheaper the price per square foot, but there exists no consistency in the price reduction... Or at least there doesn't exist a consistency that doesn't involve some sort of fancy algebra II formula and this is quite simply not feasible for quoting prices out in the field.

    It's not something as simple as 50 cents a sq.foot for an area Y big so then it's 25 cents times sq.foot for an area twice as big. And even if it is in some cases it soon falls right back out of order, by the time we get to an area three times the size sure enough it ain't triple or three times less or anything that is even remotely workable with a simple pen and paper calculator.

    Because it has to be simple, lots of + and * and then a little - and maybe a bit of /
    But we ain't getting into square roots and fancy three-way nonsense because before long we got ourselves formulas that would make a chemist's paperwork look like child's play, and speaking for myself I don't got the time for it, not to mention I suspect it might challenge my brain beyond ability as well.

    Same with mulch, I can not charge the same $ per cubic yard for a one cubic yard job than I would charge for a 5 cubic yard job. No, because for either one I have to drive to the mulch yard and this 30-mile trip has to be covered no matter how much mulch I get, so less certainly isn't cheaper. There do exist some constants, such as our cost, at least to a point our cost of doing business should remain somewhat constant and then there exist the averages (that is, how much it costs over time between all of it)... Certainly some things involve more cost than others, we try to compensate for this by charging more for what costs more, but once again by the time we get to nickel and diming the crap we're as well off averaging it out by charging everyone the same flat rate, for example.

    That having been said, there exist pricing charts that outline the dollar amount per job per size, and there do exist some formulas but most should be simple multiplication / addition / subtraction maybe some division but once we get past that it becomes too complicated and we just mess ourselves up (not to mention the customer).

    Hope that helps, there are charts floating around that list the exact dollar amount per area, or per volume, or what have you. And then some simple formulas as well, but much beyond the "how long does it take" we don't go.
  4. Willis120

    Willis120 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    thanks guys it definitely gets me started. My brother was a area manager at trugreen a while back too and he has the formula they used but thats when you have all the labor you need, so like you said i can just adjust mine as I go...Thanks again
  5. mattfromNY

    mattfromNY LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,581

    My question would be... Why use a generic 'formula' for a property, then bid low because thats what your 'formula' tells you to do, and end up leaving money on the table??
    Why not bid at the highest amount you can get away with? Tailor each situation, each bid to your advantage. Just because a property is quick and easy for you doesn't mean that it is worth any less to a customer. Some customers are fine with spending a little more, just as long as they dont have to do it themselves.
    I guess I'm a little bitter, b/c one of my 'friends' in the industry just put in bids to two of my largest accounts, bid $70.00 PER CUT less than I have been charging for 2 years. When I confronted him about it, he says 'I thought you worked cheaper than that', 'I bid it the way I always do, try to get it cheap, then up the price next year'. After I nearly kicked him in the boys, I reminded him I dont work for free, and his 'Brainstorm' of a marketing plan would surely backfire next year when the next yahoo with this same mentality bids against him and ultimately keeps lowering prices around us, making those of us that are actually trying to make a profit look like we are gouging the customers.
    Sorry to hijack your thread, just a little bitter going into this mowing season.
  6. Big C

    Big C LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,641

    Here is my formula:
    $25-"trip charge" + $1 per 1000 sq ft + any misc fees (excessive trimming/edging or blowing, excessive travel, hills, ditches...etc).....thats what I do
  7. millenium_123

    millenium_123 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 186

    Pretty good idea here. This may be a dumb question, but how do you know the sq. footage?
  8. kleankutslawn

    kleankutslawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,185

    My guess would be a measuring wheel.like you use for sod laying
  9. Big C

    Big C LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,641

    Measure the property using a measuring wheel
  10. TScapes

    TScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 453

    There are several basic formulas that the larger companies use. Companies like Trugreen, Valley Crest, Brickman, US Lawns all have similar formulas. However, the labor costs vary between markets and is basically your real variation between them. I myself have a couple of these firms formulas that I use to plug #'s into. However, I still only use them as a guide. Even when I was a manager at TG, sure we pluged in the numbers and it gave us a price, but we still played with our GP %. While these are great bidding tools, they are simply a guideline. You should be able to look at these numbers and revisit the property to figure out where you need to be to reach the profit level you want. If you know your costs upfront: mulch, annuals, chemicals, etc. it will allow you to back out your labor costs and see what your gp level is. This will tell you where you need to be.

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