Mow and go - what's a fair price in a relatively poor area?

JokerOfAllTrades

LawnSite Member
Location
Conneaut, Ohio
I'm sure to raise the ire of a few people here by talking about "mow and go", but I never really had any aspirations of doing lawn care. I'm a musician whose longtime business was destroyed by COVID and I have no idea to what extent it'll come back after COVID resolves, if it ever resolves.

I'm going to college for a master's degree in counseling. For now, I'd like to find a way to make a few extra bucks, and I do have a fancy new zero-turn at my disposal. I'm not interested in fancy landscaping, chemical weed care, pesticides, whatever. I basically want to do for other people what I do for my own lawn - lower the height of the grass every week or so.

In this area, people don't have a ton of money. To give you an idea, there's another mowing service down the road from me, and the guy's 1990's-era truck barely runs. Somehow, though, he gets mowing gigs. Stands to reason that they're out there, and one of the local lawn services just went out of business when the owner moved to Florida.

I'm looking for NON-SNARKY opinions about what prices I ought to quote, from people servicing the same general type of area. Tell me what you'd charge for a mow-and-go, let's say for a small lawn and then for something that's a few acres. (I can finish my 1.3 acres in 0.7 hours on the counter, according to my mower.) So instead of a few acres, maybe think of it in terms of something it'd take you two hours to do by yourself. Assume that there wouldn't be an unreasonable number of obstacles / mow-arounds.

Even if you're not the type to do mow-and-go's regularly, assume that you found a customer who wanted only that. Sometimes people want only the basics.

I'm not going to "shop" other lawn care services to find out what they charge - I find that unacceptably sneaky, and I've always hated it when people shop me. I'm willing to do some trial and error to see what this market will bear, but at least I want a reasonable starting point that wouldn't make me look like a homeless guy pushing a mower up the street, and wouldn't make people run away in total unwillingness to negotiate. Maybe tell some inflation-adjusted tales of when you started out - we've all taken a bit less in the beginning, and then bumped up to market rate once we started chugging along.
 

Caledwen

LawnSite Senior Member
it really comes down to what does it cost you to run said "fancy new zero-turn", truck, whips and edgers. Needless to say one of the biggest expenses is fuel. So, you need to charge enough to cover that and all of the other expenses out there i.e. insurance etc. What about if you break down? It's going to happen....... All of that, and then you need to pay yourself. Most advice you will see here is..... figure out how long it takes you to do an average yard and charge accordingly (i.e. hourly) so that you cover all of that. If you dig deep enough in here you will find established companies that have a floor price of $40 and goes up from there.

Now, being in a poor neighborhood really doesn't do much to lessen the need of income to cover those expenses. The fuel pump price doesn't change because of where you work. So, you still have to charge at a rate that you are going to pay for your stuff.
 

Hurryupelectric

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Charleston
can you drive to a more affluent area? I walked over 50 miles earlier this spring and put out about 7-800 door hangers, got me the expected 1% return with 8 new clients. I highly suggest pounding pavement in areas where you want to work, on yards you want to mow. I fully believe that for someone looking to grow, If you ain’t workin that day you should be walking instead advertising.
 

kemco

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Memphis TN
"snarky" or do you want the expertise of a few thousand years experience found on here? Not sure it'll be snarky but I really don't care as my answer wouldnt change. You really need insurance and a biz license at a minimum if you are going to do this. It is probably required by law in your area anyway. So far so good? If you are purposely going to cater to "poor" areas then you need to first keep in mind that you need to minimize your profit margin. What I end up making per hour after paying myself and profit means absolutely nothing to you nor would anyone else's. So what do you need to bring in per hour net? Decide on that figure then come back to the thread and post it. Im happy to help but I can't do much with the info you provided.... Yet.
 

One-Man Lawn

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Midwest
Hey there!

A residential unit will do you fine if you aren't putting tons and tons of wear-and-tear on it, in my opinion. I've been using a residential push mower since last year and, aside dull blades, I've had no issues.

I'd recommend forming an LLC if you want to do this. Here in the poor state of Oklahoma, it costs $100, give or take, to form one. Very easy to do, and it helps separate you from your business in terms of liability. Hiscox insurance is what I use for my business. Costs me $500/year.

I'd like to expand into all aspects of the business, including hardscaping and irrigation, but that's a ways down the line. Right now I'm primarily mow-and-go, with whatever services my regulars need along the way that I'm able to provide.

When I first started last year, I was only going to do it on the side for extra cash. Was going to start pricing it at $25/lawn. Got smart before I even started and raised that to $45. People were willing to pay, so I started pricing $50 for 10k-ish sq ft. lots. Once the season reset in March, I bumped that up to $60 for bi-weekly service. I have two properties that are an acre each, and I borrow someone's residential zero-turn for those. I around $80, bi-weekly, for mow-and-go on them.

Cleanups and garden work are hourly work, and I just do my best to guess on those.

Good luck.
 

notoriousSTV

LawnSite Member
Location
Atlanta, Ga
No sparky here. Covid hit alot of people hard. Everyone on here has the same challenge this year, finding help....so will every landscaper in your area. $60 per hour of work time, especially with a fancy zero turn....thats a 8 to 10k mower.
Don't know about your drive time, but that costs gas and wear and tear. More info would be helpful. Show up and just cut someone's grass shorter , takes 20 mins....can't just charge 20 bucks for it
 

kemco

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Memphis TN
I'll add this. There really isn't a difference price wise as far as I have run into in what one might call depressed or poorer areas than mid to upper. The rates stay generally the same. Sure there are low-ball mowers but that's everywhere and in every "class".
 

landscaper22

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
South Carolina
Prices are going to vary by area, so it's hard to say living in another state. I guess really it's just what people are willing to pay. Price one or two and see what happens. I still charge basically the same rate no matter the area. Even some of my elderly customers in "poorer" areas seem to have a decent SS income or savings or something. Some of our poor areas here were once nicer and some of the older folks have been living there since the 60's. I am not sure what your average yard size is there so that makes a huge difference too. I imagine poorer areas if people were hit hard by Covid may be mowing their own yards unless they just can't. I Still wouldn't mow for less than $50 per hour, if mowing by yourself. Make it worth your while, or don't do it. Just my advice. We have all different types of markets here. I still stick to my same pricing no matter the neighborhood. One thing is try to get neighbors. You can make more by not having to drive around, and having 2 or 3 together.
 

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