how to price contracts

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by RyKR, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. RyKR

    RyKR LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I kind of understand how to price some of the yards, but I am not sure about contracts. I have been asked to give a price for the season on a few jobs. Unfortunately I haven't been doing this enough to even estimate the number of mows a lawn may need during a season. How would I quote something like that?

    Do any of you bill for the entire season? Do you just shoot them a weekly price and then just bill them for everytime you mow (seems the simplest). Should I just figure out what I would charge weekly and then multiply it by, say, 20?

    I know that these may seem incredibly ridiculous but...
  2. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,404


    My first instinct is to say if you don't know how to price jobs, you should not be in business for yourself.

    If you can't price a seaosnal contract, how can you forcast your sales? Know how much to charge hourly? Or even know if you are going to make any money until the year is over and you count your pennies.

    That was my first instinct.

    However, I'll tell you how to do it.

    You live in Indy, so I'll assum you do your first cut in April. Then 5 in may, 4 in june and july, 5 in august, 4 in september, 3 in october and 2 in novemeber.

    that gives you 28 cuts for the season.

    I would suggest that in the spring you cut on a 5 day shedule and in the summer you cut on a 10 day schedule.

    This means you are not cutting once a week.

    If you do this, grass will be too tall and wet in spring and too short and dry in summer (unless your properties are irrigated)

    Now if your customers HAVE to be cut on a certain day of the week (alot of homeowners are stuck on that)

    Then lets figure, if your "normal cut" is $40 for example, figure your spring cuts being a little more (april, may, june) so $55 for the trouble of the wet tall grass. there is one in arpil, 5 in may and 4 in june. So spring cuts (10 total) are $550.00
    Then the grass gets under control and you are moving a little quicker, go with $40 for July , August, September (13 cuts) for a total of $520.00 (and you don't have to trim as much)
    Now you have 3 cuts in octoberand 2 in november (cuts are less often because you have leaf clean up and weather and the lawns are slowing down.

    No if you are charging separately for leaf clean up, then dont make any changes, but if you are including clean up of leaves on the lawn during the cut. go with $60 for these 5 cuts or $300.00

    So on your typical $40 lawn a total year contract would be ($550.00 + $520 + $300) or 1,320.00$$

    IF it's a $20 lawn this would be half as much if its and $80 lawn this would be twice as much. and so on.
    I only do yearly contracts, have since 1989. I don't do cut, bill cut , bill.
    My customers send me a month up front before I Begin a maintenance contract and get sent a monthly invoice 7 months out of the year.

    I always know how much money is comming in every month and how much is going to go otu (more or less) before the season even starts
  3. dura to the max

    dura to the max LawnSite Silver Member
    from georgia
    Messages: 2,246

    idk, usually i price them by what theyre worth, but thats just me

    seriously though, he had good advice. depends on what you include, (mulch, pruning...) w/e. and mine like that are paid 12 months per year. i am in the south though, so i do have some dirt to cut in the winter.
  4. RyKR

    RyKR LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Well thanks for all of the advice.

    I know that it was a stupid question, but I figured I would ask rather than estimate 16 cuts and lose my ass or 80 cuts and not get a customer. Like I said, I know what I would charge per cut. I was just caught off guard when asked about the annual bill.

    It wasn't my original plan to jump into this as a business, as an owner anyways. I was working for this other guy who just disappeared. I mean straight up stopped calling any and every body. Me and the customers! Last I heard he had sold all of his equipment. I started out just trying to keep the customers he had happy until they found somebody. Anyways, I decided I would like to give this a go. I am sure that I am in over my head, but what the hell? I am gonna give this a try. Who knows, I may be selling some stuff next year (but I sure hope not!).

    I am not in a position where I can just quit my job and go for it full bore. I am hoping to supplement my income a little bit and pay for the equipment. Hopefully I will be able to roll with the punches this year and learn from the bruises, and then come out next year ready to go.
  5. tomflan947

    tomflan947 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    tell him for this year you will just charge for how many you get then you can get an idea for how quick his lawn grows in the summer time you may need to skip i always figure on skiping 4 times in the summer 2 in july 2 in august.
  6. KGR landscapeing

    KGR landscapeing LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,544

    i base off of 35 cuts throw on an extraineous amount for plowing divide the whole thing by 12 and just hope you can put up with them for 12 months. if they dont stay for the lenght of the contract you lose out because they got there mowing cheap. so you may think to include an early tremination fee just a thought
  7. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Good advice, but seriously every one has to start somewhere whether they know how to do it or not. If you don't learn, you don't last.

    Why didn't you take a mow every week for the whole season. We don't skip unless it's dry, and that's rare because it dries out and we mow higher to ensure that we can mow the following week.

    We don't start full bore leaf cleanups until almost Nov. We just mulch what's in the yard and clean the beds after they are all down.

    Your estimate on number of mows could lead to a loss of around 1000 to 2000 grand depending on the size of the operation. Could be a lot more if you run 3-5 crews.

    Not trying to be a tool, I just see money lost in that philosophy.

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