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Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Cut-Rite2, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. Cut-Rite2

    Cut-Rite2 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 74

    Hi guys. I recently moved from the "wannabe2" status, to actually being in the business. I put some of my doorhangers out last week, and I got 2 calls for estimates on friday of last week. I went on the first estimate and the guy had a half-acre lot with about a 3500 square foot house on it. The lot measured about 18,000 square feet of cutable area with 290 linear feet of edging, and some bushes to trim. I use the $20 show-up fee plus $1.00 per square foot cut area and 5 cents per linear foot for edging and I estimated $14.50 for shrubs. Well, the total I calculated came out to $67.50 per week or $227.50 a month for 1 year. This guy said he had been getting the job for $75.00 per month and I almost choked!! I believe he was trying to chisel me into lowering my price, so I stood my ground and simply told him I couldn't compete with that and left. What a BUMMER!

    The next estimate was for a lot of 7700 square feet of cut area with 640 linear feet of edging, and some shrubs. I quoted him $30.00 per week, or $105.00 per month, and the guy told me that was exactly what he expected to pay for the service, and gave me the job. GO FIGURE!! I used exactly the same formula to calculate my price, and the guy with the little house on the little lot thinks my price is fair, while the guy with the $400,000 property thinks my price is a RIP! :cry:

    Both homes are in nice areas but the small house is a fair price, and the big house is too much. Needless to say I left the big house kind of depressed, wondering if this is the way the business is going to be all the time. After the small house though, I did feel better about it. :cool2:

    Does anyone have any good comebacks or justifications for what you charge, or would I be wasting my time trying?

  2. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,369

    Comebacks......rather simple... ..why is the guy who is paying $75 per month looking for bids? Did you ask?
  3. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569


    First I think you made a big typo when you said you charge $1 per Sq foot for cuts. I think (and your formula syas this to be the case also) you meant $1 per 1,000 sq feet. So, actually using the formula you used you didn't at all quote them the same based on the same formula. Using your formula of a $20 "show up" fee, $1 per 1,000, .05 per linear foot, yes (throwing in your shrub est there also) your first estimate would have been $67.50 a week, which seems WAY high to me for only 1/2 acre (course that $75 was way low too).

    Now take that exact same formula that you also said you applied to Lawn #2 and your price should have been, $60 a week not the $30 you quoted him (not even figuring in the shrubs because you didn't say how much you figured on those). Heck, by your formula alone the edging would have been $32 640 x .05. Looks like you either badly misfigured or you didn't in fact use the same formula for them both. You also got the 2nd lawn because you were more in line with the correct price than you were on the first one, if you didn't screw yourself on the shrubs.

    Also why in the WORLD you ever reduce your weekly price if they pay monthly!? It should be the same price per week times the number of weeks in the month, period! In offering him $30 per week or $105 per month you have just cut your price to $26.25 in a 4 week month, then you really screwed yourself in the months that have 5 weeks, which there will be a couple of this season as the weekly price just went down to $21 a week! If he's smart he realize that and jump all over the reduced monthly price. Again, NEVER reduce a price of weekly vs. monthly.

    I'm not sure where you got this "formula" but I'd trash it, at least that $20 "show up" mess, or it will cost you more lawns than you will get.

    Good Luck.
  4. procut

    procut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,853

    Do you trim shrubs every visit?
  5. Cut-Rite2

    Cut-Rite2 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 74

    He said the guy wasn't reliable and was looking for someone else, but I didn't find that out until after I gave him the price.

    Right...I meant $1.00 per 1000 sq, ft. cut area.

    My calculator was giving me problems when I went out there, but I think I arrived at about the right price for the small lot regardless of the error. The owner told me that's about what he expected to pay.

    I'm using the 42 cuts per year......weekly price x 42 / 12=monthly price

    I got the $20.00 show-up plus $1.00 per 1000 sq.ft., and the 5 cents per linear ft. for the edging from other LCO's on this board...If anyone has a better way of pricing a job, please tell me...."I'm all ears", if you know what I mean.

    No, just once per month or whatever.
  6. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569

    Drop the $20 "show up" fee or reduce it to $5 and the rest will give you about the right price and land you the customers. The $30 was right on the small lawn and why you got it. The first lawn you said had 18K of cutable turf which is a little over 3/8 of an acre. So, lets use the formula without the shrubs and a $5 "show up" fee on the first lawn and that would have been $37.50 which would have been about the right price.

    Also I believe you'll find that most shrubs will only need attention 2-3 times a year, certainly not every month.
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205


    I don't know of too many people willing to pay $67.50 to cut 18,000 sq. ft. of turf.
  8. Cut-Rite2

    Cut-Rite2 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 74

    The 67.50 was for cutting, edging and shrubs. The reference to "Cheapskates" was because he said he was getting the job done for $75.00 per month, and I believe he was trying to chisel me. If you take the $75.00 x 12 / 42cuts, you get $21.42 per week. How the hell can you make a living cutting 1/2 acre for $21.42 a week. If the formula I stated previously is wrong.....that's fine, I just want to price the job correctly. I found someone else here who uses the total area of the property and multiplies by .003. Using that calculation results in numbers close to what I quoted for the jobs already, so I tried lowering the multiplyer to .0025 and that seems to work better. The only thing is, if I use that number for the 1/2 acre property, I still get about $55.00 before edging and bushes. If I can get $30.00 for a small 10,000 sq.ft. lot including edging and bushes, why can't I get double that for 1/2 acre? Using someone elses pricing, I should have charged $25 for the first 1/4 acre, and $15 for the second 1/4, and then added the edging and bushes. Is that a more realistic way to estimate it?
  9. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569

    First of all 18K sq feet is NOT a 1/2 an acre, it is over a 1/3 and less than a 1/2 by the exact same amount. 22K would be a 1/2 acre.

    Next FORGET charging extra for edging. Trimming and edging are already included in the cut price and you should even worry about figuring any extra charge for that unless it is an unusal property that has a ton of either to be done. You know what? I've done this so long I rarely if ever measure a property for a grass cutting estimate. Formula this and formula that will cost you more business than you will get. It you insist on a formula I told you and showed you how to modify the one you use to get a better and closer price to what you should be charging. Also forget including shrubs in a lawn care price! Sell them that service as an add-on as it is only needed 1-3 times a season anyway. Again as I said and DVM said your $67.50 price was simply too high. Even when you take out the shrubs at the $14.50 a month that $53 was $18-$20 too high. I have several 18K props that we cut for $35-$38 a week. Plus when you figure the $14.50 a week for the shrubs at your 42 week charge you were hitting this poor guy for $609 for shrub trimming.
  10. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    I have to agree on the use of formulas..........
    I wouldn't waste my time on it, although perhaps a person just trying to figure it out may need some sort of starting point until being able to eyeball a prop and price it.

    Never used formulas per se, but I guess it works for some.

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