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ever miss-bid?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by BSDeality, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    The other day i got a call from an elderly gentleman about getting his lawn mowed. His old lawnguy (15 years of service for them) was too irregular for him. The homeowner had a heart attack in the spring and he get's worked up if things don't happen at the same time on the same day every week and he says its bad for his heart.... so with the "old-man-had-a-heart-attack thing" in my mind i went to give the bid and told him $38/wk to cut the property which i thought was a little low, but i figured i'd do it for that price since he was an older guy with heart problems.

    I went and cut it this morning after the rain had stopped cause it was getting pretty long. i mowed/trimmed/blew it and it ended up taking over 1hr 20 minutes to do. It did take a little extra time due to the length, wetness and me "learning" the property. Also with the way the house is positioned on the propert and the trees, walk and small garden, i mis-gauged exactly how large this property really is. My bid of $38 is drastically underbid and should be more like $60-70 for the effort i'm going to be putting into this thing.

    Has anyone ever approached someone after the first cut and said something to the effect of "I mis-bid the property and I'll do it for the price i said today, but if you'd like me to keep servicing the property it'll be $new-rate" I'd like to keep him as a customer as i could use all the work i can get my hands on right now.
  2. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    just approach him and let him know...that is why when ever I bid something I make sure to tell them that the bid is an estimate, and it can change after the first mowing. We have a statement directly on our estimate sheets that says, "All estimates are not final, we reserve the right to modify the price. You will be notified before the next date of service whether an estimate price will change."
  3. A1 Grass

    A1 Grass LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 330

    Sneak up behind him quietly, STOMP your foot real loud and yell BOOOO!

    Just kidding - I am going through the same kind of problem right now, but it's an old lady who's a friend! I guess the only way out is tell him ASAP. The longer you let it go, the worse the problem gets, and the more he grows to expect you.
  4. Tvov

    Tvov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,157

    Have I ever mis-bid?!?!

    Does a dog ever poop in the lawn?

    I usually do one of two things if this happens.

    One, if it isn't really off, and looks to be a good customer, I keep it the same for the first season and then raise it the next.

    Two, if it is really low, I do something similar to tiedeman's post. I talk to the customer, explain what happened, and we come to some sort of an agreement. Worst case, I simply say we can't do it at that price, but will mow it a couple more times at the original price until they can find someone else if they don't want to use our service.
  5. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Posts: 949

    Have I ever mis-bid a lawn?

    Yes, but never drastic enough to ever rebid the job. I would just finish the season and raise the price accordingly for the next season. It was your first time cutting so maybe you can speed it up a bit throughout the year.

    $28/hr would barely cover my eployee and expenses.

    When you are new in the business this is bound to happen occasionally.
  6. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Posts: 1,647

    Yeah, I've under bid years ago.

    Never hesitated to right then and there knock on the door or call them and explain.

    If it means only doing it that one time, fine.

    You can only kick yourself in the butt so hard and so often :D
  7. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    I've been bidding lawns for a few years now, but this one is just... well i can't believe i was SO far off. I'll have a chat with him next week. the $28/hr is well, well below my usual rate too, which is why i need to do something asap.
  8. KerryB

    KerryB LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 661

    Thats why I get out the measuring wheel every time.
    It helps me to be on target. I still get some things wrong but, anything to get me close.
    The best way to handle it is be honest. Explain your mistake and whatever comes live with it.
    Or just bite the big one and raise your rate next year.
  9. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Posts: 269

    Ok. I've read on several occassions that you've got to be grossing $40/man hour in order to make any money in this business.

    I'm beginning to think that's more of a northern rate. Here in the DFW area, I'm grossing, at best $65/hr with a two man crew. And that's with very little drive time as all my stops are within 1.5 miles of one another from start to end. Perhaps I could have bid my jobs at maybe 15% more at most, which would get the hourly on my two man crew to $74. However, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have as many customers if I were bidding that high.

    Perhaps it's because we're closer to Mexico here in Texas. From what I understand, a Mexican working in Mexico earns about $8 to $10 per day. And I'm telling you, NOTHING in the way of outside labor would be getting done here in the Dallas/FW area were it not for Mexican labor, legal or illegal. Road construction, concrete work, landscape work, roofing, masonry...you name it...if it's unskilled outdoor labor, there's a Mexican doing it in this area.

    In fact, I'm just about the only white/caucasion guy I ever see on a lawn crew in my area. Most crews around here are 100% mexican/hispanic.

    Anyone else here in the DFW area finding that the market won't bear $40/man hour?

    DFW, TX
  10. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Posts: 949

    I have found that in most cases a two man crew is not as efficient as an individual. This adds up over the day. For instance, solo you may be able to gross $400 per day but a two man crew may only gross $600 per day. This is because of drive time and idle time at jobs.

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