first bid and grass is 8"+ DID I BID TO LOW??

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by johnjw77, May 10, 2013.

  1. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,012

    Another thing I was going to say is, keep in mind that those one time cuts are a gamble because you have no clue about the property. There could be rocks, water hoses ect hiding out.
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  2. Penncare

    Penncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 179

    Ex is right, in the new cut looms danger. Some hate it but if the grass is over a foot tall, I tell them the price (for a one cut) include bringing my tractor to bush hog and then a finish cut. One cuts also must sign a waiver that states that due to the condition of the yard and our inability to determine what, if anything, may be present in the undergrowth, they are solely responsible for any damage or liability to their property or others. This way they understand why the price is high. If I am contracting to provide long term care, I still bush hog first if over a foot and you get no waiver nor large bump in the price. A little common sense goes a long way. I always stress that I do what I do because I value my customers, my business and my reputation and that I do not provide substandard service at any price.
  3. johnjw77

    johnjw77 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    well I just finished up and let me answer my own question..


    I would guess if the grass was actually 8" as the homeowner claimed than it would have been ok, but most of it was knee high!! Even with my brand new blades it was patching horribly. I knew after the first pass that I made a mistake by blind bidding that job. Spent about hour and a half there for $45 ($50 bid but after the 10% off first time maintenance add I was running) not to mention I made it 3/4 way before I realized I left my mower keys at home and couldn't find the spare I put in the truck so I had to stop at a mower shop and buy one. Definitely mowed that yard for free, maybe even paid to do it..

    As for the danger in the grass I walked it over pretty well and even still didnt notice the 12" high angle iron sticking up in the middle of the yard with a dog chain hooked to it. I luckily seen it right as I was about to smack it, and steered clear.

    P.S. Homeowner agreed to weekly mowing at $35 before I took on this job so it wasn't a "one time cut" (although zillow claimed it at 12k square feet I believe it was closer to 20k, so I'm debating raising my price a hair)
  4. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,348

    don't be afraid to charge what it's worth. charge $40 a cut if you need to.

    what i shoot for is if it's less than 30min to do the job...edge, mow, trim, and blow then i charge $35

    if 35-45min i charge $40 and if 50-1hr i charge $50.

    some guys charge even more that that like $1 a min or whatever. you just have to figure out what the going rate is for the area you live in.

    don't be surprised about underbidding your first job. you learn over time. generally speaking any first time job or one time job takes much longer than you ever think it is going to take. the more you do the more you learn and you'll charge extra "just in case" and most times the just in case happens. :laugh:
  5. Blade Runners

    Blade Runners LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,021

    Last edited: May 13, 2013
  6. Blade Runners

    Blade Runners LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,021

    Since you are just starting, a thread I recommend you read is "How to fail in the lawn business" It was started by someone who started a lawn business that basically grew until he was broke. I know that doesn't make sense on the surface but read it and you will understand. Alot of experienced owners also chimed in and backed up alot of what the OP said. I always keep information from that thread in mind when I make decisions in my business.
  7. johnjw77

    johnjw77 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    That's exactly how I expect to run it and if things don't work out I know at least it wasn't my service that drove me into the ground.

    As far as the underbidding goes I can assure you that is not my plan or style. I am setting a minimum of $35 on a lawn and as I advance in this field and learn what it takes to operate I can adjust my prices accordingly, but I think the minimum of $35 is a safe bet as for now. I have worked many years self employed (remodeling years ago) just keeping my head above water and that is not the way I want to run this business. I priced a lawn a few days ago at $40 (1/3 acre corner lot with about 10 trees to weave through and trim around) and the lady basically laughed in my face and said the LCO a block down will do it for $20 or $25 trimmed. I explained to her that my basic service includes mow/trim/blow/edge and gave her a card anyhow. I guess if I had a ZTR and could drive 6 houses down, mow for 10 minutes and never step off the mower I might do it for $20 too, I just wouldn't want to be seen leaving a lawn in that shape.

    I measured the lot from today at 15k sq ft. and I think I can maintain it in 30-40 minutes now that the beast is tame. I really wish I had said $40 however :hammerhead:
  8. johnjw77

    johnjw77 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    I will definitely give that a read. I appreciate all the help btw, it's always nice to have a helping hand even if it's just made up of pixels on a screen.Thumbs Up
  9. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    I find site's as Zillow to be wrong to many times that I do not bother checking them for the SF.

    Instead of believeing the size measure it. Now if you were off by 8,000 SF you tell the customer about your error but you can not do it for $35 a week.
    You would like to continue providing service. Though if need be we will have to part ways.
  10. johnjw77

    johnjw77 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    I know this isn't a decision for anyone else to make for me, but I would like the opinions of some who are more experienced than I.

    I took this job because it's the first call I recieved. I battled with it for a few hours whether it was the right decision. The house is roughly 25 minutes (14 miles) from my garage. I wasn't originally planning to service this small town but I wasn't sure if I should pass up the opportunity to get my name out. I decided to go for it and try to secure some accounts in the area to hit all in one trip to justify the drive, but if this is the only account I get than I'm actually probably losing money (about 1.5 hour time in drive and service for $35). I can't raise my price much and stay competetive but I can't afford for this to be my only account.

    Question is: Would you hang on to this as your only account or drop it before you start the commitment and stay focused on the closer radius?

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