All over this forum, there are guys asking how to bid: "Is my price to high? Too low? How do I bid on this? How do I bid on that?" I understand everybody's situation is different, but we should all be comfortable making estimates that will make us money and give us work. Here you will find a guide to help create a general outline of how to bid on a job. There are a few things: 1) I am only taking residential properties into consideration. 2) I am absolutely no professional on estimating properties, but have a solid system of considerations that makes me comfortable with each estimate I make, most of it being common sense. You can interpret this info any way, or try different methods to see what works best for you. This may include combining all of them, leaving others out, etc. Before I start, I would encourage people to correct me or add another helpful tip that I didn't include. It all depends on the MARKET: Common sense you would think, right? The market fluctuates constantly; obviously the nationwide consensus is miserable, but the local market is what will most affect your pricing. The best way to first establish a general "ballpark" price is to determine the average price from all other local companies that provide similar services (preferably companies of a similar size to you- this is because you may share a similar profit margin as them). This may mean going in the phonebook and getting estimates for your own lawn. Now, after several estimates you will find a general trend developing in price. By the way, if they know you are in lawn care yourself, they will not only be very suspicious, but probably charge your way more- just be aware. By doing this, I in no way endorse stealing customers from other companies, rather price competitively. Besides, if you plan on low-balling based on the competition, you will be overworked and miserable, not to mention completely unprofessional. Determine your profit margin: Those who have been doing this for a long time know how much they need to make to survive. They also know how long it will take to do a certain job when they pull up to do an estimate- but why is this important? Determining your hourly wage is why. This is easy to do: 1) Calculate your overhead that your spend in a year. Consider ALL of your personal expenses (that's for your to decide) and business expenses (maintenance, gas, marketing, insurance, etc.). 2) Divide your overhead by 52 weeks to determine your weekly margins. 3) Add in your desired weekly profit margin. Remember: if you don't see your competition driving brand new trucks and blowing their noses will money, you can't expect to either. Take time to determine a proper profit margin. 4)Divide the sum by the number of hours you work in a week. This is where knowing how long a job will take comes into play. Let's do an example: perhaps my expenses are $45,000 a year. Divide this by 52 weeks and that averages to $833.33 a week in expenses, just to pay the bills. I'll say that I want to profit $450 a week (just for kicks), making the total desired income $1283.33 a week. Divide this by how many hours per week you work- how 'bout 40 hours? The quotient leaves me with about $32.00- that's how much I need to make per hour. Let's apply this to real life: I do an estimate for a 1/2 acre yard that I know I can blow through in about 45 minutes, and it only requires mowing and some trimming. I would charge about $30, meaning I'm making $30 on this lawn, but since it only took 45 minutes, my hourly wage for the lawn would be $36.25. Just remember: this may seem low to some or high to others, but the local market must be taken into consideration. Location and Travel Time: You still have to be on the clock driving to a job, especially with the current price of gas. Simply put, based on how much money in gas I'm wasting is about how much more I will charge. If I charge $30 a week for a lawn one mile away from me, I may charge $35 for a lawn 15 miles away that cost $5 in gas to get to. While on your way to do an estimate that is a significant distance away, measure how much gas you waste to find out the travel cost, and keep that considered when you name your price. Quality vs. Quantity: Hopefully we all take pride in what we do, but it's obvious that some lawn companies offer superior service to others. You may or may not realize that most of your customers (or potential customers) are: a) blow and go accounts that are in and out really quick. b) one-up customers that will pay extra to have the best lawn in the neighborhood. It's fine if you plan to find a niche in lawn care: you may be very quick and able to do a dozen accounts a day by yourself, or you may aim to give the best service to select customers. Here are a few things you may want to consider when estimating a lawn for a customer: -Based on their home your should be able to tell if they want the cheapest service they can find, or an immaculate lawn for big bucks. -Ask what they are looking for from your services. Again, if it's very general, it's a quick job; if they are specific and demanding, there will be more money involved. -For a cheaper job that's close, sway a little lower on your hourly wage, since you won't need to work that hard and probably won't even need to park your truck. For a nicer home, shoot sky high but really try to impress the hell out of the homeowner, telling them what you can do to make their lawn perfect. Keep in mind that if your just starting out with some ugly equipment, you are more likely to get the cheap homes to start out, because people who have money and know what they want in a lawn care provider will only want the best. If you don't have a fertilizing license, aerator, and shiny truck to take to the estate homes like the other guy, then you shouldn't be charging as much as him. Well, there you go. This is not perfect and may be very general but if it helped you out then I guess it was worth the hour. Think realistically about what you're worth and stick to your guns. Good luck out there.