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pricing lawn service

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by bjgolfer, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. bjgolfer

    bjgolfer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    I'm new to the forum I'm going to retired in the spring and want to start a lawn service
    Business including mowing, trimming, clean up, Rotor tilling. I have a commercial z master zero turn, a JD mower with bagging system, Honda rotor tiller, trailers ECT.
    I'm from Wisconsin, Oshkosh 68000 (pop.) I have no idea how to charge for my services.
    Any Ideas?
     
  2. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 2,715

    charge hourly.
     
  3. pseudosun

    pseudosun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,740

    Maybe you could get an estimate on your yard, and see what you could find out about pricing.
     
  4. Bumpmaster

    Bumpmaster LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,853

    Agree with jrs.landscaping. Do not tell the customer you are charging hourly Just look at the job an if you think you can get r done in an hour charge $20. When you get more work than you can handle charge $25.

    Just my two cents.
     
  5. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,741

    Simply put, you want to charge whatever the market will bear. Charge too little, and you are doing yourself, and others in the same business in your area a disservice. What you have to charge is based on two things: what your expenses run and your desired profit margin. What you can charge is largely based on the market in your area. I wouldn't hesitate to call up a few guys, explain the situation, tell them you don't wish to step on any toes, and ask if they can give you a general floor price for services in your area. Some won't give you the time of day, some will lie, but there may well be some that can steer you in the right direction.

    If you are going to operate strictly solo, no employees wages to worry about, your actual operating costs are probably going to run somewhere between $15 and $30 per hour. Those are ballpark figures, but I'm guessing they will include a majority of solo operators. There will be those who say there costs will be much less, but over the long haul, I think those estimates are reasonably accurate. You not only have to figure fuel and maintenance on your equipment, but also on your vehicle as well. Throw in depreciation, insurance, taxes, etc, and it is easier to approach that $30 figure than one might think. Best of luck.
     
  6. Nate'sLawnCare

    Nate'sLawnCare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,001

    Figure out what market you will be targetting and the smallest lawn size you will mow. Determine a minimum price, for example $30 for mowing that smallest lawn and work up from there based on how long you estimate it will take. You also have to consider your time travelling to the site, unloading, etc. Good luck in your venture.
     
  7. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Posts: 2,773

    You should have been doing this a few years ago. It sounds like you're jumping in head first. It took me 4+ years to get everything in order. Obviously you don't know how to do the job and asking someone how isn't really going to do you any good. You need to sit back and read and research all the aspects of the business then write out a business plan with all the areas covered and do the math. If you do all this, you wouldn't have to ask this question.
     
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    You could have your own lawn priced out but personally I'd feel weird about doing that. Chances are you know someone who has their lawn professionally maintained so ask them what they pay. Prices vary greatly from place to place. My minimum is $40 although I do have 2 lawns I do under that due to special circumstances. In other areas my $40 lawns might go for $25. I never concentrated on being cheap...I concentrate on being good.

    In order to be able to price lawns on sight, you need to be able to estimate how long they will take, which can be difficult at first. Be sure to add extra time/money for lawns with lots of detail work. I have a 5k sq st lawn that takes as long to mow/trim/blow as most half acre ones. Once you get a few lawns you can compare them in your head to ones you already have and know how long they take. I have on occasion mowed a lawn free or at a very reasonable rate the first time, just to find out first hand how long it will take to mow. I'd rather lose a little money once by cutting it free or cheap than accidentally lowball it and lose money every time I mow it.
     
  9. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,741

    So, 4+ years to start a simple business? Asking others knowledgeable about a subject isn't research?
     
  10. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    What I've seen over and over, both locally and on this forum, is guys starting out pricing their services way low. They seem to think that because they have low overhead and all their equipment is paid for that they can work cheaper than "the other guys." Word about their pricing spreads like wildfire among customers, neighbors and their friends and they soon have lots of lawns. But what they're really doing is eating into the equity they have in their original investment and running themselves ragged. Sooner or later they reach or exceed their capacity and start becoming undependable when it rains for 3 days in a row or their truck or mower breaks down and they don't have the money to fix it or have any sort of contingency plan. Then their customers start looking elsewhere and call me and expect me to match the price they were getting from the new guy who dropped out and left them stuck with an overgrown lawn mid season.
     

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