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something I find odd that is mentioned a lot on here..

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Soupy, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,125

    This pertains to the solo/small operation. Since the majority of this forum falls under this category.

    I always hear people complain about srubs etc. Talking about how they can undercut you because they are not legit.

    It doesn't cost much at all to be legit. Insurance and license (if needed in your area) is one of your cheapest expenses by far. Taxes come from profit and is not an expense.

    I do agree that there are way to many kids, retires, and weekend warriors out there cutting lawns cheap. Being legit or not has little to do with it. The truth is these guys are not supporting a family on their grass cutting. They are not in business like the rest of us. It's not the cost of business but the fact they don't act like a business. They are fools for working cheap, and that is the real problem. They still have to land the job, and do the work just like the rest of us. So they do have expenses just like the rest of us. Insurance cost about as much as a good blower and should not be breaking anyone.

    I know bigger operations have more expenses that put them at a disadvantage to make as much per man hour. The bigger company has the same competitive disadvantage against the legit solo company as the non legit solo company.
  2. MudFoot

    MudFoot LawnSite Member
    Posts: 31

    This is exactly the problem! The kids, retires, and weekend warriors do it for cheap because they're just looking to make a little "extra money". The worst part of it is they're taking all the good properties away from us, because most home-owners don't seem to care what the cut looks like, as long as it's cheap. :rolleyes:
  3. DLS1

    DLS1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,619

    Legitimate companies are can also work cheap. I just did a huge shrub (200+ shrubs) trimming job and the owner said a company was mowing the 3 acre lots in the area for $80. Now that is cheap and the guy is a good size legitimate company.
  4. TLS

    TLS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,940


    Some of the bigger, multi-crew, companies are often lowballing more than you think.

    I hear it all the time, and see it.

    There is this 1+ acre lawn I do in a real nice neighborhood. $700K houses, all 1-2 acre lots.

    Neighbor approaches and asks me if I have time to do his (the neighbor gets his mowed by a larger LCO), and what my price would be. I give him my price ($85/cut) and he looks at me like I have 3 heads.

    He says that his current LCO only charges $45

    At first I thought he was giving me a line by saying he's paying only $45, but I tend to trust this guy....seems honest.

    Most of the time with these larger companies, the owner isn't on the job. He may have initially quoted the price, but has no idea how long his crew is at this job.

    The property I mow (which I charge $80/cut BTW) takes me about 1 1/4 hr and has less trees and is virtually flat, where this guys lawn slopes a bit in the back yard.

    But, like I said, it's not always the part-timers lowering the bar. Rather the 4 person crews mowing 4-5 properties per stop with no real knowledge of the price their boss is charging the particular customer.
  5. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    Mowing is the least lucrative operation out of the entire green industry, and one of the most least lucrative out of ALL industries.
    There was a good article in our local paper this weekend and a similar article in USA Today last week. It was written by an Economic analysist and told bout how we are actually getting a bargain on gas compared to the early to mid '80's. All the other prices have gone up on everything, yet the price of mowing has stayed about the same. the $30 lawns of the late '80's and '90's are still $30 with most lawn services. Oh sure, some have gone up for some of us, but we hear it everyday....They are used to only paying x amount, because that's all they have been charged in the past. I talk to managers of some of the complexes I used to take care of back in the early to mid '80's, and they are paying what I was doing them for 20 years ago...some even LESS! It's a joke....and will always be. One of the things about it, is that it's not rocket science. About any lamebrain with a mower and trimmer can go out and cut grass,...and that's exactly what alot of them are doing. This is why the larger companies don't usually have "brain surgeons" on their mowing crews. This is the "grunt work" part of the industry. I think it's only going to get worse as time goes on. Whille some of us are charging proper standard pricing structures, there will always be those out there who are not..inCLUDING some of the bigger companies...especially those that do volume. We have a company to the south of us who is mowing around 1400 lawns a week. Well, if the owner is making $5. a lawn when it's said and done, he's doing alright. This is the type of volume I'm talking about. Incidentally, yes, he is dirt cheap.
  6. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 963

    It's not the insurance that is the problem though! Just think if you got a reprieve from the government that you no longer had to pay income tax (just you though). You decide to pull out all stops and go big time. You have your insurance etc. To get people to switch to you (to go big time because it's very competitive) you drop your price $7 on a $30 lawn. Hell, it's only 23% cheaper than any other "legal" business. Your selling point is, "I can save you $210 per year for the same job as the other company's). This is the type person I call a scrub. If they are not legal (pay taxes on income), they have a distinct advantage over me. They can do it much cheaper than me, not because they are more efficient, but because they don't pay taxes.
  7. jtrice11

    jtrice11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 380

    Every contractor in any industry operates the same. They bid the job and the owner, company or whoever is making the decision usually takes the lowest bid. Wether its concrete, electrical, a strip mall....whatever. Cutting grass is no different. Low bidder is usually going to get the job. So, as a business owner you must sell yourself and your service as BEING WORTH the extra money they will pay. I've lost a few bids because of price, but 95% of the properties I bid, I end up getting the work. I I believe that's the only way I'll stay in business, if I get the price I've quoted to mow. To mow a half-acre lots for 25 bucks would put me out of business in 3 months. I'll let the poor guy who's doing it for 25 bucks mow for 3 months, then fold.

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 5,137

    there is no real fines if u get caught with out the proper ins and biz lic in most areas its a slap if u even get that so why bother is the way most mow and go see it in my area
    people r cheep and want the best deal they can get and just because they spent a mil on the house dont mean they gonna pay the lawn boy well payup
  9. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Yeah seems to be the case here but a ton of people cutting this year. Lot of college kids with mowers in their trucks. Where else you going to find a job with no training(and probably tax free) making 20 plus an hour. If they can make 150 a day that's what they would make in a week of flipping burgers.

    I just lost a bit for 17 duplexes. I thought I was low at 382.50 (6 hours work) but lost it to 140. I was floored. Basically if I can't make it worth my while I aint gonna go do it.
  10. jtrice11

    jtrice11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 380

    I always inqure as to what kind of service they are looking for. I try and sell my service as a premier service, I won't gouge the crap out of their turf, we will trim everything nicely, blow out rock and mulch beds, I use expensive fertilizer with Iron on their turf, mower blades get sharpened once a week, none of the equpment is more than 2 years old, 24 hr response time on any complaints etc...that kind of service is certainly not for everyone, but there are associations and homeowners that want that, and will pay for it. If they are looking for someone to just blow and go, for next to nothing, I can work with that too. But its not my preference.

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