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Lawn Out Of My Route

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by TGCummings, Sep 17, 2001.

  1. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 773

    Need your thoughts on this one.

    I went out of my area to quote on a lawn today up in the hills. There are three lawns on the property measuring a total of just over 4000 square, with obstacles like landscape rocks and small trees strewn about. The lawn has an irrigation system and they want my fertilizer plan as well as weekly mowing, trimming, edging, and blowout. I'll most likely have to cut with a 21" because of obstacles but I might be able to use my 36. It's a rich area with no other lawns real close by. According to my formula, which has worked very well for new quotes this year, the service comes to $158/month for services listed. I'm getting that kind of rate for new lawns at this time.

    However, the total trip up and back from my closest lawn is about 40 minutes (round trip) through winding hills and bad roads. I'm figuring an additional $96/month for the extra time driving out and back, for a total of $256/month. That's steep for a 4000 square foot lawn in any area, I know, but I can't justify the drive out any other way. I'm figuring $36/hour for the behind-the-wheel time ($36/hour x 40 minutes drive time = $24 each trip x app. 4 trips/month = $96/month driving).

    I'm taking the position that this is the rate I need and I'm better off without the property if I can't get it. My question to you, my friends, is am I being unreasonable? Would you take the property sans drive pay? Would you disregard the property altogether as too far outside the route?

    I'm calling this evening with my quote, so any thoughts you have are appreciated!

  2. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,205

    i guess if you get the money you feel you need to drive out of your way, go for it. i dont know about $96 bucks a month extra for driving? seems a little steep. if they take it, all the more power to you though. good luck.
  3. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 773

    You know, it seems a little steep to me, too ($96/month driving), but I tried to be scientific about it. $36/hour is the base I need during a work day to meet minimum costs + profit, so I think I need to charge that rate during transit. Transit time is taking away from mowing time, obviously, where I could earn at least that amount.

    Given the same situation, what would you figure would be a 'fair' amount to charge for the extra transit time?

  4. Buttered Waffle

    Buttered Waffle LawnSite Member
    from Indy
    Posts: 16

    I quote every cutomer based on load/unload time, actual production time, travel time, then mileage. I have built my reputation on charging what I need to make PROFIT. If people don't value your time then do you want them as a customer anyway? I lose more bids than I get. I can stay home and go broke.
    Who's to say that a business or residence close to your shop decides they need their property serviced? Then you have resources contracted 20 minutes away making less money. Seems to me the far away customer will start to get sub-par service because you aren't making the cash you need to make. That's when your most valuable commodity is jeopardized....your GOOD NAME!
    One more thing, you have decided that minimun you need to make is $36.00 per man hour. Why compromise your MINIMUN?
  5. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 773


    You're making the same points I've been making to myself since finishing my quote earlier today. These are the things that make sense in my mind but the final number just seemed steep (as mdb pointed out) and I needed some reconfirmation that I wasn't being unduly unfair.

    You're right, of course, that I can't compromise what I know I need to make in order to meet cost and make reasonable profit. If I take the job for less I would undoubtedly come to resent it for getting in my way of making a proper amount of money on closer projects.

    I'll have to stick to my guns on this one. If they take the quote, I'll know I'm making what is necessary to meet my needs. If they don't, I have an open slot remaining in my schedule for the next customer that does meet those needs.


  6. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Posts: 3,486

    I doubt you will get that, as you already know I assume. I would not drive 40 minutes for one lawn either. MAybe do a flyer blitz in that area this week and see if you can pick up several more to make the trip worth it. It's only one either way so I wouldn't worry.
  7. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 773

    Yeah, I figure on not getting it, either.

    I've actually turned down requests from folks to even look at their lawn a similar distance in various other directions, but this is a good friend of a good customer and I promised him I'd take a look. Like the man said, I need to make it worth my while.

    If I do get it, the money's worthwhile and the scenery along the way is good. ;)

  8. Take the job if you can develop an entire days work in that area.

    Go to the courthouse or use INFO usa and direct mail every prospect that is on route. Do you have to go home in the same direction? Can you make a circle to open more markets?

    Charge a 20% travel time premium to the first and any new accounts. Therefore you will start to make extra money after the
    5th account.
  9. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 773

    In all honesty, I wouldn't target new accounts out that way, I'd target them closer to my established routes. We're working on many of the things you've suggested, but not out there.

    Currently, I do have enough time in my schedule to take on this place, if all the extra time spent is paid for, but it's not an area I would actively pursue at this point. If they take the quote, at nearly 60% higher than my normal quote, than fair enough. If I went 20%, I think I'd be cutting my own throat.

    All in all, it's an account I'll probably be better off without in the long run so there's a need to quote it very high.

    Like the man said, however, I doubt it's accepted...

  10. crs

    crs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 121

    I just turned in a proposal for a two insurance offices. One is less than two miles from my shop. The other is in a small community that is approximately 25 miles away. They are a package deal, otherwise I would not have considered the one that far away. I started my computations with my normal hourly charge(drive time) added to my weekly service visits. I explained to the office manager that I had to charge for drive time as well as my service. She indicated that she understood. If I get the job I will enjoy getting to sit down and listen to some tunes on the way down there.

    My thought is I would not activley pursue this kind of business but I also wont turn it down.

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