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National Pricing Guide?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by AlleganyLawnCare, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. AlleganyLawnCare

    AlleganyLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 180

    You know, it hit me yesterday. Why couldn't there be some type of say..."blue book" for pricing lawns. You know, like mechanics use when gauging how long it would take to a car.

    I know, alot of you will say...... there are too many factors involved.... the region...... the size........ the cost of the house..... all of the frigging obstacles.... the height of the grass....... so on.....and so.........

    It does seem impossible. But I thought about it for awhile (since yesterday :) ). And there does seem to be a possible way. Now please hold on with me for a bit, this still in womb stage of idea thinking, so don't be too judgemental right of the bat please. What if you got information from all over the country from lcos (like ourselves), came up with a database (with a wide variety of factors: size, height, region, etc.), and came up with a reasonable (average) for a particuliar lawn based upon the services provided? It would be a great field tool. You could make it free to lcos.

    It would take awhile to compile of course, and would need alot of help from lcos interested, but it might save alot of time and frustration for practically all lcos or starters. Or at the very least, it would help give an idea to everyone, what is acceptable in your area.

    Like I said, I am just throwing this out there to see what ya'll think. I know, I still come here quite often to get assistance on bidding, but it would help me alot more, if I had a guide to give me an idea out in the field, when I get stuck. Please let me know what you think. Bad, good, or whatever. IMO, if we want to be paid and treated like professionals, we really need to start treating our profession like one - a profession. Email me (chris@alleganylawncare.com) if you might be interested in doing this or helping out. Thanks!

  2. TScapes

    TScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 453

    Chris- I can tell that you have a good intention here, but it just wouldn't work as a whole. Like you said.... too many factors to take into account. Not so much as the height of the grass, but what type it is. Do you have to scalp it? Bag it? Is it irrigated? Turf apps? 28 cuts or are we talking 42 cuts? Are there obstacles? Pedestrian or vehicular traffic? Steep hills or flat? Do you see where I am going with this?

    Sure it would be nice to have a book like the Kelley Blue Book and pull it out and look up the size of the lawn or beds and say.... "That'll run you $XXX.XX!" But it just isn't feasible. Not with the various markets out there. Large metropolis cities and subburbs sometimes demand high quality and expect to pay for it, thus a high price. Rural or inner city area don't have the budgets to pay for these services, so the economy drives that price way down. Plus when you take into effect the machinery that you use, that will determine your pricing. The only way that you can centralize something is to take an average square footage of turf and come up with a cost per piece of equipment per hour. Like how much turf you can cut per hour with various machines, and come up with a price per 1000sqft. Same goes for edging, line trimming, mulching, etc.

    I like the idea, trust me I do! I wish it was that standardized, but in my opinion it isn't. Good idea though!

    Let me know how it goes!
  3. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    This has been brought up many times before. Do a search and you'll find some interesting reading in those threads.
  4. OrganicBob

    OrganicBob LawnSite Member
    Posts: 73

    I think the only way to get a feel for price is to simply check out the competition. I mean, what do you offer, what do they offer, etc.
  5. sinkum

    sinkum LawnSite Member
    Posts: 20

    You know, it hit me yesterday. Why couldn't there be some type of say..."blue book" for pricing lawns. You know, like mechanics use when gauging how long it would take to a car.

    I know, alot of you will say...... there are too many factors involved.... the region...... the size........ the cost of the house..... all of the frigging obstacles.... the height of the grass....... so on.....and so.........

    it could be done.
    remember when only banks could see what the Kelly blue book said? now you can get it online. if your car gets wrecked they tell you what its worth. what's they difference if someone makes a Kelly book on lawns. that's what everyone would go by.
    I wish they had it for heating and cooling too. cause everyone has a different price and they say theirs is the best. they are counting on you being lazy and not price shopping enough.
    there are a lot of factors but I have found that everyone in construction or heating or lawn cutting or anyone who gives estimates. just makes a guess, and its usually high.
  6. Ax Man

    Ax Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 446

    It would have to be a spreadsheet,with all of the items listed before and also with factors like type of equipment, operator skill level, attitude of property owner...
  7. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    I think your right but it just isn't happening, i think it would help the people that unintentionally drive prices down just because they do not realize what the market price is, then they under bid and you end up with what i dealt with on almost all my new est. this year, price wars, out bid repeatedly, no biggy, they are coming back to the phone to call me now that the lawn is burned up from cutting too short or from not being mowed anymore.
    my area is really bad right now, idiots out there pricing 1.5 acre lots at 20 bucks mow, trim, edge & blow. if they want to go broke busting their a**es
    they are welcome to. I just walk away and wait for them to go broke.
    anyway back to the big book, the motors or chiltons auto labor guides do leave room for all variables, they even tell what to charge for a light bulb.
    ex. tail light 0.2hr. w/o access panel add 0.1 hr. a guide is intended to be a guide it is up to the user to add or sub. the variables. it could work if one was ever produced that had a reasonable base pricing structure that could self align to the going rate in a given area.such as by zip code. for now though, contact your local LCOs and ind out what average sq. ft pricing is so you are at least in a competitive price range. nothing pi**es me off more than these idiots that offer a current 45 dollar prop. a price of 15. (i've seen more of this this year than any other.)
  8. AlleganyLawnCare

    AlleganyLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 180

    I understand it be easier to just call up our local lcos and ask them to give a price, but to be honest, I get very tired of newbies or other people posing as a potential customer just to get me to give them various prices. This is waste of alot of my time, money, and energy. To me, this is a perfect way for the undercutters to know exactly how much room they have to deal with, when (not if) they decide to screw you over. Granted, they could still do that with a national price guide book, but with everything, once it gets started and word of it spreads to customers as (as was once said in reference to the Kelly Book with the banks only having it) the norm for pricing, then it would be more acceptable. You will ALWAYS have the PITAS and undercutters, that will never change, period. But all professions have standards they go by, whether it be SOP on a particuliar subject, method, practice, or pricing.

    As I said before, if we want people to accept our profession as professionals and we want to be paid like professionals then we have to start making our line of business - professional. We can talk all the talk we want, but people will just see another guy mowing grass for a living and think no more of that person, while they are on their way to see their car mechanic - THE professional.

    I am not saying it would be easy or something that would be done overnight or even in a month or two. It would require several, if not hundreds of lco professionals chipping in to develop. Just like price guides, they are developed based upon what people are willing to pay and under what condition. The size and scope of the guide is different, but the idea and principles are the same.
  9. Southern Pride Lawn

    Southern Pride Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    what we do is if we get one house on a street we go around on a sheet of paper and make notes of the property's around that one home and the price they would be charged for it. that way if they call us i can give them a price over the phone and tell them i can come out and go over all we do for the price. with this method we never get any turn-downs and sign & keep 95% of them
  10. Metro Lawn

    Metro Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,112

    The thought is nice, but just as in a car... The book may say it's worth x $, but your only gonna get what the buyer is willing to pay for it. Same goes with our service. In our area, the average lawn goes for about $15 to $18 per cut. Where would I be if I went with the book saying $30. If everyone stuck to the book, then it would fall back on service. The bad thing is there will always be the scrubs willing to charge half the going rate figuring they will corner the market....lol

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