Estimating Mowing Jobs

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by aflawncare, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. aflawncare

    aflawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    I want to hear how you price mowing, trimming, edging, and blowing a property. The formula I try to use is $1 per minute it takes me to complete the job. Example, if I think a job will take me an hour to do, I'll quote it at $60. I've made some mistakes with this in the past. It just seems like I am doing too much guessing. I would like to be more organized on how I quote jobs. I want to hear some feedback.

    Also, I'd like to hear how you quote hedge trimming, mulch, pine straw, leaf clean-ups, etc. Any service you offer. Thanks!!
  2. Joel D

    Joel D LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    The way I do it is to basically walk the lawn, and pay attention to the turf. If the turf looks like it will grow thick (i.e. treated and watered) or is full of weeds you may need to spend more time cutting to make it look good. I don't know your experience level, but I would say that most guys can make a real good guess on how long will take to mow an average lawn and the obstacles that will have to be trimmed around . Factor the turf in with the size of the lawn and you should be good. I actually charge $2 a minute because these mowers and handhelds are not cheap and we pay for the ability to move fast.

    There are more scientific ways to bid a job, such as, finding all your fixed cost, variable cost, and the amount profit you need to make on each minute to make your financial goals. By taking these number and putting them into a formula along with the square footage of the lawn and the linear footage of trimming, and edging then add an appropriate time (or square footage again) for clean up, and you get an amount of what you need to charge.

    For the square footage of the lawn you will have to calculate the size of you deck- minus average overlap, and average speed to know how many square feet you cut in a certain measurement of time. And as far as the trimming/edging it basically the same, but a little easier. Just find the average speed that you can trim/edge a foot and multiply by the footage collected at the estimate.
  3. aflawncare

    aflawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    Joel D, I'm fairly new in the business so I'm still learning new things everyday. How do you estimate hedge trimming, mulch, etc.???
  4. Joel D

    Joel D LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    Every thing is based off of your operating cost, and desired profit. I only deal with bulk mulch so I take the cost of the mulch plus $55 a yard. Pine straw is cost + $4.50 a bale. Hedges are kind of tricky. I basically set a rate based off of time for small, medium, and large hedges then charge per hedge on the property. On clean up jobs always factor in dump fees plus time spent traveling to the dump and at the dump. For leaves I estimate time and charge an hourly rate.

    You just need to find that hourly rate, and as I said in the last post you need to bump up your mowing rate. Another good way to price is to set a minimum price that way you don't drive out to a small yard for $20. YOU still have travel time and all the other things involved. I believe that $30-$40 is about the average for people on here as a base price. Once you look at the property and see that it will take at least 15 minutes then start tacking on the price per minute. For example, your minimum rate is $35, and $2 a minute. You get to a lawn and see that it will take 25 minutes, you just need to do $35+($2 x 10 minutes) = $55. That may seem steep to some people, but it cost us thousands of dollars to do that yard in 25 minutes as to a homeowner that could do it with a push mower in an hour and a half or more with all the trimming, edging, and blowing.

    Hope that helps.
  5. A. W. Landscapers  Inc.

    A. W. Landscapers Inc. LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,285

    How did you arrive at your $1 per minute figure?
  6. Middle Tennessee Lawn

    Middle Tennessee Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 220

    We price mowing which includes basic litter pick up, edging, trimming and blowing and normal sticks of course at 2.00 per 1,000 sq.ft. With a 35.00 minimum also this is for weekly cuts and nothing really odd like extreme hill or retention pond etc.
    As far as hedge trimming shrubs we just factor in height and accessability and make a good guess of how long it will take and price. If you price too cheap you will survive just remember next time what you should have charged.
    I find even with experience item like cleaning up pine needles you can screw up and be way too cheap.
    I can remember back when we would guess how much dirt was going to come out of a cut before we had ability to figure exact I missed a small job bye about 25 loads one time no big deal back then diesel was 1.29 gallon but now its 4.00
    I call the learning experiance education and education is exspensive. Lol
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  7. KeystoneLawn&Landscaping

    KeystoneLawn&Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 774

    Lawns...I walk the property and quote accordingly. Accordingly to what your market allows. Not all markets are equal. Hedges....Those are much harder to quote. You need to take EVRYTHING into consideration. Access, height, thickness of what is being cut, what will be needed to reach the top, etc. I have used everything from a 2 foot step to 12 foot scaffold to do hedge work. As for pricing, again you need to know what your market will allow. I give a range. If I think it will take X hours I add to it and give that range. The price will be no lower or higher.
  8. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    So you get $82 to do a 1 acre mow?
  9. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    When starting out it is impossible to know your costs. So you need to keep records.

    I estimate by the SF. It takes out the guess work. When you start measuring you will have a property size. As you work through the season you will get data on how long it takes you to do so many SF in so much time.

    Once you know the time it takes and your costs you will then get good pricing.

    Example, a 1/4 acre lawn you do in 30 min's. Your costs are $20. You want to make $20 hour pay. You charge $30.

    Business cost is more then gas and line and blades. Repair, maintenance, replacement money to buy new equipment. Money to add additional equipment to grow the business. Even trucks and trailers have to be factored in.

    Then there is office supplies, insurance, licenses. All are part of a businesses costs.

    So until you learn your costs try to find out what the local pricing is where you live so you do not ask to high and get no work or ask to low and lose money.

    Many a LCO start out trying to get $60 hour. At that rate there should be enough gross to cover all of your costs and pay you a salary.

  10. aflawncare

    aflawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    How do you go about measuring the property?
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