Need help in bidding lawn Jobs.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by glicious, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. glicious

    glicious LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    I am fairly new to the lawn care business. Is there a general guideline on how to bid commercial and/or residential lawns.

    I read several other threads but they seemed to depend on several different items such as how many man hours or a specific size of mower.

    I am looking for something such as how much to charge per 1000 sq/ft regardless of the type of equip. used (I know that a 21" mower will take longer than a rider or larger walk behind but I will have to bid against all).

    I am also assuming a fairly flat surface with not too many obstacles. Although I would also be interested if anyone has formulas or ideas for slopes or if there are more than average tree or sign posts on the property.

    I am from Minnesota but am looking for input from anyone.

    Thanks in Advance

  2. Stuttering Stan

    Stuttering Stan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,504

    After a few years in the biz you will learn what you have to charge. I walk over the property, estimating how long it will take to cut, how much trimmer work is involved, how much blower work, and weed spraying (if applicable). Just estimate and learn from your mistakes.
  3. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 2,994

    My average lawn is $40. These are usually regular sized yard, less than a 1/4 acre.
    You need to figure out about how much it cost to run your business per minute. Then factor in a percentage for growth (I factor in at least 15%, but have gotten as much as 50% on landscape jobs).
    If you are only using a 21", then you should specialize in very small, postage stamp lawns. I don't think you could compete with the bigger mowers on anything bigger than 1/4 acre.
    There is definitely a fine line for pricing mowing jobs. You have to charge enough to be profitable, yet charge something that a homeowner is willing to pay.
    You also need to find out what the going rate is in your market area.
    Overall, you will overbid and underbid, and eventually get good at judging what you should charge on different properties. Experience.
  4. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    I agree with Grits, 35-40 to start unless it's a REAL tiny lot, then 30 is my minimum...

    21" mower, if that's all I had, I'd stick with 1/8th acre and smaller properties only. Sure you can cut larger but your time is going to get ate up.
  5. glicious

    glicious LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    For the time being I am going to stick with the 21" and will upgrade later as I gain more accounts.

    But like I said in the original post, I know I will have to bid against others with larger and faster mowers so I am looking for a general starting point per 1000 square foot regardless of speed (so I can use approx. the same formula each time to start out, adjusting as I learn) or how much to charge per hour based on the larger mower.

    So maybe another question is approx. how many 1000 sq/ft of lawn can an average individual mow a lawn with an average amount of weed wacking and obstacles ?

    Also do you bid Commercial the same as residential ?

    Thanks in advance

  6. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    Honestly I can't tell you what to charge. I've never used a 21" mower on anything but maybe a 50 square foot spot that was too small for any of my other mowers.

    I'm trying to remember how long it took me to cut my own lawn with a 21", I want to say it was a 45 minute job for just the mowing, but I'm not sure.

    Part of the problem is that in most instances, you may not be able to charge more for that extra time due to using a 21" mower. If the going rate for a lawn in your area is $35 per cut, it's hard to charge even a few dollars more to make up for some of that lost time. Most customers do not really care what you cut it with, as long as the results look good.

    There are a few customers who don't want the "heavy" walk behinds or Zs on their lawns, so they might be willing to pay a few bucks more.

    Of course, your costs are not going to be as much with a 21" as they would be with a larger mower. Less fuel used, and less replacement cost. So that would offset some of the extra time you'll have to use.

    A general rule that you hear a lot here is you want to try to get about a dollar per minute. Find 1K square feet of grass and mow it, time how long it took, and charge accordingly.

    My advice for you would be to start with a minimum and do not go below that no matter how small the property. 30-35 bucks. Then do lots of lawns, save your $ and get yourself a 36" or 48" walk behind.

    To figure conservatively(and assuming you can get accounts), 5 lawns per day is 25 a week, X 30.00 = $750 per week minus expenses such as gas.

    In one month you'd have enough to buy a decent 36" walk behind.

    Hope that helps, and good luck:)
  7. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    try to keep your time at a dollar a minute, 1st strating out, this is a good rule of thumb....
  8. glicious

    glicious LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Thank you for the replys so far. I am apparently not explaining what I am looking for very well.

    I understand that with a 21" mower it will take me longer than a larger commercial mower. However I must bid as if I have a commercial mower in order to be competetive, so assuming I have a 36 to 42 inch commercial mower approximatly how long will it take to mow approx. 1000 sq/ft ? I can then use the $1 per minute based on this approx. cut time.

    Also is $1 per minute applicable to commercial accounts ?

    Thanks in advance

  9. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    YES and NO..........

    all lawns " JOBS " are going to be diffrent. longer drive to get there. a stump in the way, a talking customer, a plate glass window, there are tons of issues.

    the $1.00 per minute, is just a rule of thumb, look at the job, ask your self,
    Self- can I cut this in 2 hrs ? yes. ok now we have a dollar amount to work with. some customers will say WHAT 120.00 for 2 hrs work.
    BUT if you have to drive 30 minutes to get there, it just turned into a 3 hr job. " ya have to get back ya know "

    Exzample. I cut my neabors lawn. It takes 17 to 20 minutes. I charge him 40.00. there is NO driving time.
    So the $ 1.00 a minute is out the window on this one.... but there is NO way somone would cut his lawn for 20.00,

    hope this helps.
  10. LA LAWN

    LA LAWN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    I'm bidding on a Motel and I have no idea what a bid sheet is I need some ideas please HELP..... Thanks in advance:dizzy:

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