Bed maintenance

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Meier, Mar 23, 2003.

  1. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    My friend has 4,100 square feet of lawn and about 200 square feet of beds. Her LCO charges $27 to mow on a weekly basis and $5 to de-weed the bed each week.

    Anyway, I figured out a pricing schedule that seems to make sense such that I come up with a very similar price for the same sized lawn.

    Today, I sat out on the highway with my 8' X 6' sign and this dude pulled up and asked me for an estimate. I went by his house and he had 29,875 sq ft of lawn, 1,600 sq ft of beds and another 71 trees with about 2' circular mulch around each...I estimated the beds around the trees to be about 12 sq ft per tree.

    My estimate was that he had about 2,400 sq ft of bed area in total.

    My estimate was WAY too high. (I'd rather be too high than too low, though.)

    Anyway, I'm figuring 1-1/2 cents per square foot for weekly bed maintenance. My price to maintain the beds on a weekly basis was $38.75, plus another $77.95 per week to mow the lawn.

    Needless to say, I was embarrassed. He is getting all 2,400 sq ft of beds and all 29,875 sq ft of lawn mowed for $60 per week.

    I'm certain that if I had a 60" cutting width, as opposed to 32" & 21", I could make the lawn work at $60. But how do you maintain that many square feet of beds for that price?

    Any thoughts as to what is a good price to charge for bed maintenance?

    No more acreage bids for me...I just can't compete with the equipment I have. I probably shouldn't bother bidding anything over 10 to 12 thousand square feet.

    DFW, TX
  2. MacLawnCo

    MacLawnCo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,847

    I have had success biding with $0.0046 per sq. ft. of beds per week. I also have clients that i have hourly at $25 per with one hour min, which I do monthly. I dont really care which way they go, i still make money.
  3. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    Well, if my neighbor is paying $5 per week for about 200 to 250 square feet, that works out to about 2 to 2-1/2 cents per square foot of bed.

    I only do beds if they agree to weekly mowings too.

    So far, on the normal sized lawn of 3,000 to 6,000 square foot lawn, I've been really competitive. One guy last week did have about 650 square feet of beds and he agreed to pay $9.31 on top of the normal price for mowing.

    I'm beginning to think that perhaps 1.5 cents for the first 500 square feet of bed, then the rate might drop to something like .5 cents per square foot there after.

    For a business that looks so redneck to the average homeowner, this is a VERY tough business. Very tough.

    Bid a job too high, you simply won't get it. Bid it too low, you'll find yourself working with your own equipment using your own materials and paying self employment taxes for $15/hr. Or less.

    Very tough business.

    As a rule, if you're working by yourself, don't most guys figure on $40 per hour? So a crew of three should gross $120 per hour? What's the reasonable expectation?

    DFW, TX
  4. KDJ

    KDJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 325

  5. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    Either roundup or a hoe. Roundup can be a problem in beds with drift. Gotta be a still day to use roundup.

    DFW, TX
  6. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    A crew of three is not the same as 3 owner/operators working, first of all. Equipment quality also matters a lot. Reality check time. Employees aren't as motivated and I find they generally work at 1/2 to 1/3 the pace I do on the type work I do. I regularly finish lawns before 2 employee crews next to ones I'm doing. Now put one on a 60" ZTR mowing acreage and they're closer, but on small residentials, they don't match up. Also, bigger crews can quickly become less efficient unless really trained to work as a crew. So a crew of three will not gross what a solo owner will per/hour.

    My main advice would be to avoid the whole bed maintaining mess in the first place unless you have some low-paid labor to handle that part of it. An owner with a $7000 ZTR may spend an hour on site mowing and grab $48. But nobody is going to pay this business owner $48/hour to spread mulch or pick weeds. Just my experience from 11 years of bidding jobs.

    Finally, you probably need more data on pricing than just what your neighbor pays.

    I do maintain beds for some existing long term customers, but only to keep their business, not to make big money. I would rather ride a mower and trim and blow than do stoop labor, anyway.
  7. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    When I give an estimate I give it across the board at $60.00 an hour................weed pullin' or mowing..........makes no difference. If I'm pulling weeds then there's $30,000.00 worth of equipment in the truck resting............but still has to be paid for, along with the truck pulling it. You have to bid a job at what YOU WANT AND NEED TO MAKE , not what anybody else needs or wants. I could care less what the competition was doing it for. I want to make plumbers pay and no less. When the A/C guy comes to check out my unit he gets $65.00 just for the trip. Raise your standards so you can pay the other service providers when they show up to do work at your place (that's my motto). I'm not busting my butt for $20.00 an hour and then pay the plumber $60.00 to unstop a drain!:blob3: Might as well go back to working for a paycheck.

    If you ever want to get that 60" ZTR then you need to start thinking like a plumber or electrician.....not a yard boy!

    When I bid shrub jobs, weeding (which is rare), or any other job besides mowing I have to bid it at a rate that I could be making if I were mowing ! If I don't then it's not worth doing it because I instantly begin to lose money.

    I've said this before..........find your niche and stick to it, weeding ain't mine and I know it. Mowing is so I mow it:D That was a good one cause it even rhymed.

    I'm to go to work now.

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