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Learned a valuable lesson about bidding too low

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by allstar, Aug 31, 2003.

  1. allstar

    allstar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    One of my first customers was this guy who lives in my neighborhood.He has a pretty big yard(probably about an acre)but at first glance it appeared to be pretty straight-forward so I told him I'd do it for 60 bucks.Boy was I wrong!To start with he must have 50 trees and everyone has limbs that go all the way to the ground;all of them need to be pruned.Also he must have 15-20 little beds and his property is located on a pond,the edge of which has to be cut with a trimmer because I can't risk getting my mower stuck.To start with, it takes at least 45 minutes with the weedeater and the fastest I've been able to do the entire job has been 3 1/4 hours.
    I've decided to finish out the season at the current price then hit him up with an increase in the spring.He seems real pleased with my work.In the future,though,when bidding I was thinking about just telling the customers that I can't give them a firm quote until I do the job at least once and see how long it takes me. Jim
  2. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,878

    With time, you'll get better at bidding. You need to get to the point where you can walk the property, and tell how long it will take you. I don't see many people letting you cut first then give a price. That one you mentioned sounds like a $175.00-$230.00 job.
  3. Navig8r

    Navig8r LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 477

    What type of equipment are you using?
    If you go too high, will someone with a larger machine come in and lowball ya because they can do it faster?
    It sounds like you're doing the right thing by finishing out the season, I have a prop. that I'm in a similar situation with (not as bad, but not right price.... My fault=My problem)

    Also..... can you sell him the pruning, and make a few bucks back?

    How about weeding the beds? Mulch? Aerating?

    Best of luck. Welcome to Lawnsite!!
  4. allstar

    allstar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    I own 2 small John Deere mowers:a Sabre that has a bagging system and an LT150 w/mulch kit.I also own a couple of small push mowers,weedeater,blower and various hand tools.I realize that I need at least one large lawn tractor and have some money set aside for that reason.I actually like the LT150 alot because it makes a nice cut and mulches well but I'm considering trading or selling the Sabre.
    Getting back to the original subject matter,I don't see how I can charge more than $100 and keep this account.With a larger mower I could probably do this job in 2 1/2 hours;that would be $40/hour which is probably as much as I can get in this area.
    I've already talked to him,Navig8r,about pruning his trees,trimming his bushes and cleaning up his beds this fall.I need experience in all these areas plus I believe it will be a profitable long-term account.Thanks for the advice.
  5. imograss

    imograss LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 796

    a commercial ztr or w/b will cut your current time in half w/ less fatigue.
  6. DLS1

    DLS1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,619

    Every property I have done over one acre I have told them I would do it one time for a certain price. I would then give them my price for future mowings. They have always understood.

    You do need a ztr that will zip around a tree very quickly compared to what you have now. The more trees on the property the more time you save using a ztr.
  7. Expert Lawns

    Expert Lawns LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,660

    I still have problems bidding lawns correctly. I have two right next to each other, they take me 2 hours togther....120 minutes. I only make $70 on both of them. They are on my street, so that helps with the cost of gas, but doesn't come close to making up for it. My problems is the trimming and blowing, I always forget to allow time for those. One has a tennis court and it takes me just as long to blow and trim that as it does the rest of the yard. I am holding on to them and plan on bumping up the price next year. They are both very pleased with my work and probably won't mind the increase. Also, they both are getting fall cleanups, so at least I can make up for some of the lost income.
  8. LawnSmith

    LawnSmith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 389

    w/ a few Turf Tigers and some guys doing the trimming/blowing, we charge about 55-60 an acre, depending on amount of trim time.
  9. nelson279

    nelson279 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Now that fall is coming I will say that there is going to be an extra charge for bagging leaves unless the owner of property does not care about how is going to look.

    Or maybe I will trry to get charge a good buck for fall cleanup just make up for cutting..........
  10. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    was he wearing a sexy blue nitegown? i make mistakes now and then for a few bucks, then i make it up by charging someone else a little higher for something.that erroe you described is just too much of a mistake to continue, in my opinion, when u tell him it will be double or more next year, u r gone anyway. talk to him now, stop losing money

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