Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by KerryB, Sep 9, 2001.

  1. KerryB

    KerryB LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 661

    Well I have searched and you guys have a wealth of information on LawnSite. I thank you all that have helped me so far.
    My first question is about pricing. I know what my bottom line is, what I need to make, However, I feel as though because of this I might bid to low. I do not wish to drive down the market and heaven forbid I leave any money on the table. So how do I find out what the competition is charging? When I bid on a job I want to know why I didnt get it or why I did get it. These people will not give out the competiters bids. So how do I find out?

    Next, I love the idea of door knockers. I am designing one right now. Is this a good time to put them out?

    Next, I found a neighborhood with about 50 postage stamp yards. Most look really bad. The houses $100,000 or so. Should I price just for mowing and make my rates for other services available? Should I charge at least a $30.00 or more per stop?
    I know this is a lot but I want to learn more, I cant stand the thought of leaving money on the table and I do not want to be the cause of lowering the market here.
    Please help! I do good RRRRHHH great work and I feel like you do I should be paid accordingly. I see so many guys doing poor work and taking and keeping good contracts from me. I like many of you would like to see an end to this.
    Thanks for all your help.
    The LawnDoctor
  2. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Well, there are a lot of questions here. I'll try to answer a few.....

    There are a lot of ways to find out what the competition is charging. One of the best ways is to call the competition and get an idea of their prices. You can do this a lot of the time by just calling and saying stuff like, "Hi, I am Joe Cool. I want to get an idea of what you guys charge for lawn service. I know you probably don't give bids over the phone - I understand that. But I just want an idea - a rough estimate. My yard is about 3000 sq. ft. and it takes me about 25 minutes to mow it and edge it. So given that, approximately how much would you guys charge me to take care of my lawn for me each week?"

    Another way is to just ask the people you're giving bids too. Many people will tell you what others charge. Be sure you ask AFTER you give them your bid.

    Another way is to drive up to lawn care crews [on your day off, in an unmarked car] and just say, "Hey, I am interested in getting lawn service too. How much do you charge?" They will undoubtedly tell you they can't say without seeing your house but you can say, "I know that. I just want an idea. Like, for instance, how much does this guy pay you (pointing at the house their working at)."

    I should add that I wouldn't bee too awfully concerned about what other guys charge. I find a majority of the time people aren't getting other bids. Particularly if they are answering a door flyer or are a referral. Some times they are looking around. But a lot of times you're the only one. So their just looking for;

    1) is this an affordable price for me?

    2) Does this guy / company seem professional? (people look at phone etiquite, your vehicle, how well groomed you are, etc. and [many times subconsciously] size you up based on all of this)

    3) Does this guy / company seem reliable?
    4) Does this guy / company seem to know what they are talking about?
    Door knockers? I assume you are referring to flyers? Yes, they are great. They work great in the spring, good during the summer, and not so good during the fall and winter. We are getting pretty good results with them now. But I've been perfecting ours for like 4 years.

    As for the sub-division you found, my first thought is you should be focusing on nicer houses. I've worked them all and all we do is residential (150 of them currently). It's the upper class and the upper middle class neighborhoods who you want to be focusing on. A common mistake new guys make is to think, "wow! look at all of the bad lawns in this area? I could make a fortune." No. They look bad for a reason. Primarily because most people in that neighborhood can't afford a decent lawn mower much less a service.

    It's been my experience that in the rich neighborhoods people are nicer, are more prompt with payment (in general), more loyal, and are less likely to change services if another, less expensive, guy comes knocking.

    If you do decide to take on this neighborhood I guess I would recommend that you price it fairly cheap and hope that you get a whole ton of them. The highest profits are when you can get a ton of houses all in one area.

    Well, there's enough info to get you started.
  3. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    I must agree with Jim. I find the same is true about the small residential areas. They want their junk lawn to look like a million bucks but want to pay pennies for it. Don't expect people with $100,000 homes to pay much. These days that's not very much.

    I try to be friendly with the competition. I stop and talk to them some. I usually ask what type of prices they charge. I've been know to ask like I want their advice so they are easier to get answers from.

    Jim is correct about flyers. Most people that call you from these are not getting estimates. I would say 90% of the time I show up to someones home I am the only person they called. Get the job, be reliable and honest and you will not have to worry about some lowballer showing up taking you properties. Many of my customers trust me to be fair. They sometimes don't even ask how much an add on will cost. They know I will not screw them. At the same time, probably the biggest business secret to long term success is reliable. I have had many new customers just because the last people were not reliable. These are the people that will chase you around the lawn to give you a check. They want to make sure you will be back next week.
  4. KerryB

    KerryB LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 661

    So fliers should wait till next spring.
    Ok I see your point about the restricted subdivision. But I was hoping to pick up the common areas as well. There is a center entrance island with guard house and along both sides of entrance as well as around the lake and a couple of other areas. I just picked up a small commercial account in that town and I was looking for a few other props to fill up an entire day.
    I took the commercial because it is part of a chain. I now have two stores working on #3 & 4 at this time. Its nice but have to have other props around to make it worthwhile.
    Thanks guys for the help. I guess I will concentrate on a few fliers for now and plan a large coverage in the spring.
    I guess for the other I was just worried about what I read in the older threads about lowering the market and lowballing.
    I want to be fair, I do good work, I have a few high profile jobs and have priced them right, I just dont want to leave money on the table. I only have 5 major competitors in this area. Same in Pinehurst. I want to make sure I am in line with them. they seem to be doing ok. I will be adding a new ztr in a couple of months, either an Exmark or dixie chopper, thinking of adding a new hydro wb also. So I dont need to leave any money laying around.
    Thanks guys
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I dunno about that. It's just that you won't get as much response from them now as you will then. But as a basic rule, we start puting out flyers whenever we have a free day or two. If we aren't busy with work, then it's time to put out flyers.
  6. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    Flyers help for the comming leaf season, fescue seeding, and bed mulched. All this can add to more customers in the spring. They don't forget the guy that was fair and did good work.
  7. grassyfras

    grassyfras LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,473

    one thing
    I think 30 for postage stmap yards is alittle high. whats everone else think?
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    It all depends on the circumstances. But I agree, it's a little high if it truly is a postage stamp yard (e.g. 500 sq. ft.)

    We do a few postage stamp yards for $45 per month (that's mow, edge, blow, fertilize, control weeds in-lawn). But that's also a year-round rate (we only stop by 1-2 times per month in the winter) and I only ever go that low if we're already doing work on that street or if I expect to get a lot more clients in that neighborhood.

    If it wasn't a year-round deal and if it wasn't in an area where we were already at every week I'd probably charge $25 each mow.

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