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i keep estimating wrong, help

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by environment, Apr 27, 2004.

  1. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    im having problems with estimating, i either underbid and have to cut into my profit to finish the job (common on construction jobs for me) or with the maintenance i come in to high, i have heard all differnt methods and tried a few, i keep screwing up, im not getting enough maintenance because my prices come out way to damn high, i dont know what im doing wrong,
    i had to submit a bid for this commercial lot in my area, turned out i was 50% higher than the other bidders, i was charging around $60 an acre for weekly maintenance i believe,

  2. Norm Al

    Norm Al LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,227

    you have to spend more time sitting around the local lawn mower shop asking the other lawn guys what they charge?
  3. NNJLandman

    NNJLandman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,306

    Yea Norm has it, thats how I learned to estimate, I talk with many people in my area, online, at the deli, plus I work for a guy p/t and he teaches me a load of stuff, hes a real good guy, even gives me some work. After a while you get the hang of it and your pricing is competetive with other companies. Good luck, Hang in there. If ya ever need any help im jus up the road.

  4. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,810

    You definitely need to find out what the going rate is in your area. Talk to some other LCO and ask them what they are charging.

    Your $60 per acre comment is too vague.. Is that for one acre lots or for 10, 20 acres? If your competition is charging $30 to do a one acre lot.. you should find work in another county! If it was for multiple acres.. $60 would be too high.

    Good luck.
  5. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    well say a lawn is 15000 sqft
    i would charge $50 for the weekly maintenance each week
    that includes mowing, trimming, and blowing, and a quick weeding

    all the guys at lesco told me that they take the sqft and divide by 300 to get there price

    i was using that for a while, but know now it just dont work
  6. polecat63

    polecat63 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,655

    YOu charge $60 an acre, and you charge $50 for less then half an acre. Doesn't seem to add up. Divide square feet by 300? CAn't say I've ever heard of that.
    For mowing I try to make $60 and hour and have gotten pretty good at judging how long it takes to mow by looking at the property. As far as construction jobs go, try getting the Means cost book. It doesn't always give you what you need, but it sure comes pretty close. Experience is going to be your best teacher, and like the others said, ask lots of question of other LCO's. We tend to be rather chatty.
  7. KL Squared

    KL Squared LawnSite Member
    Messages: 113

    Finding out what others charge for similar mowing in your area is the key. You may want $60 for a single acre but if everyone else is charging $45 then you will probably lose most competitive bids. What is your overhead? If it is low then you can afford to cut your price a bit and still make a good profit. Don't get frustrated but get to work learning about your market. My last suggestion is to call back lost bids and ask what the winning price was. This will allow you to get an insider's view of what a project is going for. Good Luck!
  8. DJL

    DJL LawnSite Member
    Messages: 237

    I have too respectively disagree with some of the previous posters. How the heck can you state that x-amount is too high or x-amount is too low when you know nothing about the guys company? In addition, what exactly does finding out what someone else is charging do for you? It perhaps gives you an idea if you can be competitive in that area. I don't think that that is KEY.

    Just because company X is charging 35 dollars per cut shouldn't mean that you should charge 35 per cut. What if my expenses are 35 dollars just to service the place? What's the use of that? I'm not making anything.

    You really need to take a closer look at YOUR company. Specifically, what YOUR expenses are. And I mean ALL of your expenses; from truck&trailer registration down to roadway tolls. Once you know what your expenses are you can derive what your break-even point is on a job. Of course this is an estimate and not 100% accurate but it is a good starting point. You can then add your desirable profit. Key word here is desirable. You may not get what you want but you at least know how low you can go until you just walk away from the deal (or lack thereof).

    I think a lot has to do with who your targeted clients or customers are also. I can't bid on >1 acre properties and hope to be competitive because my equipment is not geared towards it. On the same token, I can't be competitive on yards with gates that won't accommodate our mowers. But, there is an area/s that I have targeted where I can be competitive. It is an area in which the jobs aren't too small for us nor are they too large for us. It's what we can handle and handle well. Of course this comes with experience. And by experience I don't just mean personal experience. Everyone is correct in stating to speak with others from the industry. But don't be afraid to speak with people in other SERVICE industries. Chances are they are very similar. They have to commute back and forth from the job, they have to bring consumable material, they need to utilize equipment, etc...

    Also, I feel you have to be a bit of a salesman. For instance, a customer tells me that he can get his lawn serviced for ten dollars cheaper by "the other guy". I start pointing out the benefits of staying with my company. I'm not going to cheap shot the other company, but I will talk up mine. It will make them (my customer) go back to the other company and ask such things as "Are you insured? For what Amount? Do YOU perform the work or do you have 'crews'? What happens when a few consecutive days of rain comes? Do you do this full time? Can you perform these other services? Do you return phone calls within the same day? Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Another thing not to look over is being friendly with your clients. I'm not saying be fake, but be friendly. Yes business is business, but it is nice to stop and say hi once in awhile. You never know when that conversation can lead to additional work (either with another customer or additional work on their property).

    Most of all it comes with experience. Once you take that job that you loose money on chances are you won't make that mistake twice!!
  9. RTallday

    RTallday LawnSite Member
    Messages: 214

    A little thing that i sometimes do, i will factor in per acre the lay of the land. An open obstruction free acre will be a few bucks cheaper than a cluttered one. Maybe just 10 bucks, cause an open acre i can use my 61 stander. A more cluttered one, i have to use my walk behinds, more cost. Get it? Again, i SOMETIMES do this.
  10. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    i never wanted to try and guestimate the time it will take, i always wanted to find something more concrete, like by the measurements or something, but i think i may have figured it out, i will cut a lawn at a rounded off measurement, say 10000 sqft, and do it casually, no crazy rushing, but no being lazy, and see just how long it takes, this way i can figure out that if i charge say $60 an hour, just as a rounded figure, i know how much grass can be cut in an hour, and then i have a decent thing to go by, with the exception of obstacles in the lawn

    anyone agree, am i on to something

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