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Basic formula to bid mowing jobs

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by emeraldtouchwizard, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. emeraldtouchwizard

    emeraldtouchwizard LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7


    What is a basic formula to mow residential homes? I just started out on my own but have experience...Just want and idea on how to bid jobs fairly....Thanks
  2. kilgoja

    kilgoja LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 944

    varies depending on where you live but for me it's $30 for 1/4 acre, $40 for 1/3 acre, $50 for 1/2 acre, $60 for 3/4 acre, and $75 for 1 acre
    NivLC likes this.
  3. AOD

    AOD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 331

    I usually look at a lawn and estimate how long it takes to mow it, and I use a $30-$40 per hour rate to estimate how much per mow. I base closer to $40 per hour if it's far away or a PITA yard. I use a $30 minimum, unless a place is really tiny. For a season price I average 25-30 mows per season for western MI, 25 for no irrigation, 30 for with irrigation. This gets me ballpark. These are mow/trim/blow prices only, anything else is an extra service.
    Turftyme likes this.
  4. Son69

    Son69 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    $1.00/min From the time i pull up to the house to the time i drive away. Most lawns I'm in and out in 25-30 min.
    HetlandENT likes this.
  5. CLS LLC

    CLS LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 487

    My advice is don't start out on your own. This is a question that only you can answer by analyzing your own cost of doing business. I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but it's the fact of the matter, if you can't even get that far you really have no place being "out on your own."
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,972

    This is a "chicken/egg" situation. I've read many responses like this, "What is your cost of doing business?" I think one needs to have two or three years of experience to get a good handle on the "cost of doing business." There are too many variables, too many unknowns, without any data.

    Nobody would get started if we suggested they didn't extend themselves at the onset. Yes, pair up with somebody else, but how likely will somebody share all the information to make a decision to leave and get out on their own. This might happen if somebody is leaving the business, and wants to groom another to take over.
    hort101 likes this.
  7. CLS LLC

    CLS LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 487

    This is the problem with this industry. Guys come in with no knowledge of what it costs to be in this business. They start thinking "I'm making $25 an hour I'm doing awesome, I used to only make $12 an hour" they lower the prices for the whole industry and everyone loses.

    I disagree with you completely when you say there are too many variables. They aren't really many variables at all.

    Things you can figure out before you ever mow a lawn:

    Cost per hour to run a lawn mower
    Cost per week for insurance
    Cost per mile for truck
    Cost per year for your trailer
    Cost per hour for you trimmer/blower
    Cost per year for advertising

    This all comes down to simple business principles. DO YOUR RESEARCH before you start a business. And don't tell me asking what others charge constitutes research. If you can't put together a very basic business plan, whether on paper or in your head. You shouldn't be in business for yourself.

    A difference of $5 per hour will indefinitely determine how many jobs you land, and you don't want to be losing bids on jobs because Johnny High Price on lawnsite told you to charge $XX.XX per hour. Worse yet you don't want to go out of business because Joe Cheapo told you to charge $ZZ.ZZ and you now can't pay your bills. Determine your cost of doing business or get the hell out of business.
    OasisPonds&Patios likes this.
  8. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    It a dollar a minute for me.Do I get it? Maybe 85% of the time. But, what NicholasMwhite said is true.
  9. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,586

    Sad but true, that the "dollar a minute" benchmark has been around for over a decade....and we wonder why the landlizards come and go every year....we have only ourselves to blame
  10. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,972

    Nickolas, I respect your position, but stand on "too many variables" in determining costs.

    When anybody starts, there is little understanding of maintenance costs. How long will a machine last? When I bought my Exmark w/b in 1995, I never believed it would be running well in 2011, ready for another season. I didn't know how long hydro pumps would last, the cost of replacement, etc. Also, I did not know how many miles to drive for a season. I didn't know the whereabouts of my customers, hence I didn't know how many miles to drive. In the early years, I was thrilled with five jobs per day. Now, I'm disappointed with seven. Advertising, ....? Who knows what will be needed? I spent $18 the first year, no other direct costs in the past 15 years. I am doubting many starting out can make a good estimate on what expenses will be associated with advertising.

    Much is said about "cost of doing business" in these kinds of threads. In reality, there is much more discussion in more threads about "what the market will bear," "what others are charging," and "why won't people pay more for my services." In these discussions, "cost of doing business" has little to do with pricing. The "cost ...." has much to do with longevity and profitability, however. The 500# gorilla sits in the corner at all times.

    The turnover in this industry is so fast that most never reach a point of understanding their business, their plan, or a realization of something of longevity. For most, the tasks to be done are the menial ones of grass cutting, trimming, mulching, etc. There is nothing unique about these tasks, nearly everybody can do them. Any business built on these asks is vulnerable, highly subject to pricing pressures. There is no shortage of posts on LS, "... I have been in business for five years .... I need a program to make invoices ...." When asked, rarely does somebody offer how they have been managing their finances for the previous five years. The answer is undoubtedly, "not." In these cases, nothing is being done to build a base of information to understand "cost of doing business," even though they have all the information to understand a basic concept of financial management. Strong, straight stripes, having a diesel powered mower, ... all more important than managing finances.

    On the other hand, tasks of wall building, landscape design, plant selection, and install, and the like, are more specialized and not everybody can do this work. Pricing is much more leveraged because of the unique nature of the services being offered.

    These principles are not unique to this industry.

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