Calculating cost, bidding on-site, form of payment, business ops...

Business is Good

LawnSite Member
Crestwood, Ky
I had the same simple, one man operation over 10 years ago and would like to do it again, keep it mostly part-time, but be more disciplined and professional this time around. I was reasonably successful although I was winging it, honestly.I kept about a 15 mile radius from our town and wouldn't consider going further knowing there were window shoppers that could cost you money, one-time job bidders, etc. At the peak I put in about 20 hrs/wk and grossed 2400, fuel was 600/mo, paid cash for my equipment being medically discharged from the Air Force. I miss the outside work and although I wouldn't depend on the income, a little extra would be helpful in paying bills off early, vacations, etc.

Before, I'd get a call and schedule a time to meet. I'd eyeball the yard and compare it to other jobs to estimate time overall. My goal in '05 was 50/hr but I never justified a bid to a customer with how much I wanted to make per hour.

Region- Louisville, Ky area, only offering mow, trim, hedge/shrub trimming, mulch replacement for the time being until I determine whether I can handle more.

- What are others doing after the first contact call? I've read some use some type of Google Earth to see the lot and bid without seeing the property (I'm not sure about that.) and I assume others still go check out the property.
- Do you bid on the spot or give them their bid via email/phone call/text after you've estimated your costs?
- What about X factors like how much extra do you add for hills or a lot of trees, edging?
- Do you break it down and add so much for the hill itself or X amount per tree over the average number of trees? How about pricing the edging portion?
- Or do you picture the lawn without the trees and only mentally add X amount of mowing/trimming time for each tree beyond average?

I just want to make sure I'm keeping up with things and also be able to show where additional costs on my part may legitimately translate to more cost on the customers part. They then either accept it or not. I appreciate any feedback on the call to the bid itself.
After I individually calculate my equipment replacement cost and fuel for each/Hr (something that I was aware of but guessed loosely about previously), Accounting/CPA costs, Insurance, and miscellaneous expenses I can arrive at a cost.


Invoicing and forms of payment- I'll use QB to generate invoices and account with. My wife is the expert and will initially oversee the accounting until I pick it up.
- What are your payment methods that you accept and what are your payment terms?
- For slow or non-payers, when do you cut off service on residential customers? I was fortunate last time as I never had issues with residential. My commercial accounts, I gave them 30 days.

Do you take cash, check, paypal online or card swiper, square, ACH?



My insurance company gave me an initial quote that may need some further conversation about for covering "lawn care services", class code 27050. $632/year and I told them, here, I'm looking at operating from April to Nov.
It's a long list but bodily injury and Property Damage coverage is 1,000,000. General Aggregate is 2,000,000 and Products/Completed Operations Aggregate is 2,000,000 as well. I see medical expenses say $5k and that seems really low if you injure someone. Damage to premises rented to you (?) 100,000. My equipment will be stored inside at home. The equipment will be insured for current replacement cost. I could request extra for inflation.


Business operations, Marketing

Currently it's only a FB page. I will consider a domain early next year.

I can participate in the weekly local Business Networking International (BNI) meeting. I think of it like a business to business, in-person, Angie's list or Home Advisor. They currently have an opening for the lawn care field. Anyone belonging to the group is supposed to refer anyone needing that kind of service to the person offering that service in their group. Lots of HVAC, contractors, trades type individuals in addition to lawyers, bankers, and the like.

Home Advisor called and prior our scheduled phone call I had him send pricing. No thanks.

Flyers were not a great experience for me in the past, for lawn service or other businesses I've been a part of.

The most efficient would seem to be mailer cards targeting neighborhoods/regions you want. Correct?

Person-to-person networking and referrals have worked well for me in the past.


A lot of questions this time around but that's a good thing. I want to do it right this time around. Thanks for your time!

Adeas Printing

Wichita, KS
From what Ive gathered over the years of printing for so many different lawn companies is that it differs so much by area what will work great for one person may not work well for the next. Just trial and error.. We are in a BNI group as well, it has actually been the fuel behind our going local! for quite some time all of our customer base was online and no one in Wichita even knew about us. The BNI group has helped a ton as well as being involved in the Chamber of Commerce! Good luck with all of your business ventures!!


LawnSite Member
If you're not a fan of HomeAdvisor, try out Thumbtack. Very simple platform. Yes the leads cost you money and you do get quite a few dead ends, but I have gotten several consistent customers from it.

Clean Earth Lawns

LawnSite Member
Mount Juliet, TN
Dear Business Is Good,
I'm creating a business plan for a lawn care company and came across this post from a few years ago. I would love to hear how your business is going and what lessons you learned to help a new company such as yourself a few years ago...but obviously today instead. Your questions are all in-line with my thought process as well (leads, pricing, invoicing, insurance, etc). Thanks ahead of time for anything you share.

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