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how do you estimate

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by kosty, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. kosty

    kosty LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    what are the circumstance to estimate a property to mow?
  2. SodKing

    SodKing LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,641

  3. kosty

    kosty LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    im trying to find out how u guys price lawns to mow. For example how big is it, or how many trees u have to go around, how hill is it. Do you go out with a rolling tape measurement and measure it.

    For example today i went and did an estimate for a lawn where i mow it was like 3 f-250 long and 2 trucks wide, that was the front the back was like two times that and then the other side was like 5 trucks long and a truck and half wide. i estimated 40 dollars they tell me the other guy did it for 18
    i thought somewhere around 30-40 thought i would start high and drop down to 30 if they same something. and this was a suburban property
  4. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,447

    Well you now have one data point regarding the market price in your area. Generally if you bid several and they keep saying too high you either keep on bidding high or cut your price.
  5. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 632

    Ok, I don't do mowing, only installs but I would first find a more precise method of measurement. If you are measuring distances based on how many F250's long they are, youre eventually gonna get into some trouble. For instance what if today you have a std cab w/short bed and you bid a job and get it. Imagine that it's a really good paying job so you decide to buy a new truck and your wife insists you need a crew cab w/long bed. Now when you go to the lumber yard to get your materials and you use your new truck to measure materials for the job you bid using your old truck, your gonna blow all of the profit on excess materials. I woud suggest you start by getting a good tape measure it's well worth the $15 you will spend
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    No, I don't measure because over time I learned what size is what by looks so how big a quarter acre looks <- I know this. The way I learned is flat out ask the home-owner how big is their lot, and keep asking until you got it down. Now some of them may lie to you so to get a cheaper price but most people are honest so it's not that big a problem and with time you will know like me, this lot is 1/3 acre, that lot is 1/2 acre, and so on, just by looking at it (and yeah you gotta walk around the back to see it all ok).

    My prices today are as follows:
    1/4 acre - $35
    1/3 acre - $40
    1/2 acre - $45
    2/3 acre - $50
    3/4 acre - $55
    Full acre - $60
    Minimum charge: $35 <- I don't drop my gate for less.

    That having been said, when business is slow it never hurts to drop the above prices by 5 dollars each (not to outline the whole thing again, 35 becomes 30, etc). Also when I started out my prices were lower (to get more business) and even today I still have a couple of Full acre lots I do for $45 and some 1/4 acres for $30, to give you some ideas, it's not a perfect science.

    Another method that works is adjust your price according to demand / response: If demand is sky-high (lots of phonecalls) your prices can be higher so you don't get too much work, then also if response is absolute zero your prices should be lower: Always lower / raise your prices slightly <- 5 bucks one way or the other makes a big difference, any more than that and you may find yourself out-smarted, but if after a while 5 bucks is not enough, maybe another 5 does the trick.

    Hope that helps.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    I also believe that there may be some people that may get PO-ed that you drove that F250 across their front lawn to measure it.
    The 2x4 method is much better for the lawn. Just put an 8' 2x4 down and than move it as many times as it takes to cross the lawn Add it up and you have your measurement. Just be sure to remove it from your pocket before you enter their glass patio door, been their done that:) :)

    Sorry just had to, Cut a few and figure how long it takes to do a certian size. If you get into bigger lots you need to measure but for smaller stuff, most you can just tell. Add in your hourly rate.
  8. kosty

    kosty LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    thanks for some of the help. Its just that ive done two estimates so far and one was a simple yard i quoted her 20 she told me it was a little higher than last year, but bc i did such a great job plowing she will go with the 20 and sign up next year for plowing too. She also said that she paid 18 dollars last year but her lawn was at least 2-3 times smaller. And i went of that lawn plus the area is alot more nicer where the bigger lot is and i get low balled. I was thinking if i should call her back bc she was a good customer for plowing never complained and see if she would sign up for the leaf clean-up and plowing for next season and i would do it for 25, or should i just let it fly
  9. kosty

    kosty LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    no i didnt drive over it i just used a mental image of my truck and how many i could fit on it. I do the same for plowing how longs the driveway how many cars fit on it.
  10. yrdandgardenhandyman

    yrdandgardenhandyman LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 953

    Now you have the general idea. After a while you will be able to just look and be able to tell approximately the sq footage. But, sq footage is just one of the measures of cost. What kind of grass is it? How many obstacles to mow around and to trim around? Do they want every week mowing or every 10 days or bi-weekly? Are there other services you can sell to possibly offset a slightly lower price to get the lawn?
    In order to get a good price you must sell yourself as to why they should pay you a higher price than the other guy. Some people only want a low price and these people usually don't want any other services except maybe snow removal. I try for the ones who want their lawn AND landscape to look good. Upsell, upsell, upsell.

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