New method for bidding lawns

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Meier, Sep 19, 2003.

  1. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269

    Anyone ever try this method before?

    A guy called about mowing a 2 acre lot this afternoon. I went by there and looked around. Figured my price would be about $300 to mow this with my equipment.

    Went by the dealer for a part and mentioned the opportunity. He tells me that the going rate per acre around here is $150 to $200 per acre.

    I figure I'm in the ballpark. I call the prospect and leave a message indicating that I have availability tomorrow and that we just need to agree on price.

    He calls me back a few hours later. I already knew from my previous conversation with his wife that the guy who had been doing it up to this point with a brush hog was no longer available. Of course, I was real curious to see how much this guy had been paying so I asked "What kind of pricing did you have in mind?"

    He answers "Well, I was paying the other guy $125 per cut, but he's no longer available." My response was "There's no way I could touch that lot for $125. We'd have to double that at the very least." He said he'd call around and see if he could find someone else.

    Oh well. For me to do that with my equipment (Ferris 32" Hydro) would take me 4 to 8 hours and honestly, that's the best I can estimate this thing.

    On the next opportunity tonight, I walked around the property with the owner. Towards the end, he asks me "How much?" I was thinking $40 on a one time cut and $30 if he signed up for weekly. So I say, "Well, what did you have in mind?"

    He said "Well, I was thinking 40 bucks." He was thinking one time cut.

    But it makes me wonder if in fact I haven't been charging too little.

    Just wondering if anyone else has ever bid work this way? Let the customer spew out the price and then it's either yours to accept or decline. If they blurt out a price you're a whole lot happier with, fine, take it. If not, tell them what you think your minimum would be and let them decide if they want it. I'm thinking this might lead to a higher close ratio too.

    Just wondering if this method has ever been tested and if there's something I'm missing here. It seems to me that when you put the customer on the spot, so to speak, well, it's almost like tipping at a restaurant. If the customer doesn't want to seem cheap, they're probably going to blurt out the pricing that's at the top of the range they had in mind as opposed to the lower end of the range. Also, when they blurt out a price, it's almost like they're making you an offer and then you can close pretty easily by saying something along the lines of "Yeah. I could make that work." Then straddle up beside them with the pen and paper and start going over the terms.

    DFW, TX
  2. stevo22

    stevo22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 344

    not trying to bust your bubble here, but 150-200 for an acre????jeez maybe i need to pack up the family and move to texas...there is no way that those prices would hold here...let me ask you a question...say you charge 300 to cut with your 32 ferris..takes you every bit of 6hrs...50/hr right...down the road you purchase a 60 ztr and get the same property knocked out in say 1.5 hrs...are you going to charge 300 or should be charging what the market will should be bidding according to what it is worth to you, not what the customer has in mind or what the last guy was charging whatever...and you do not bid a property based off of what mower you have...homeowner does not care if it takes you 40mins to cut his yard with a good size w/b,ztr or if it takes 3hrs to cut the whole darn yard with a weedeater...they mainly want to pay a fair price and have a manicured yard...there are deviations to the norms but when it is all said and done bidding yards, giving estimates what have you is not brain surgery, you learn as you bid some little low, you get bit on a couple here and there, you just have to be able to walk up to a yard look at it and tell someone how much it will cost to cut it...that simple...
  3. Whatdefunk

    Whatdefunk LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 38

    well i dont think you are too far off. first of all its going to look a heck of a lot better done with a mower opposed to a brush hog. if he only wants the grass knocked down thats a different story. you gotta keep i mind the trimming also, it probably takes a while on a property that size. i wouldnt budge off of what you need to earn or otherwise you wont be happy doing it. if he doesnt want to pay dont sweat it unless you are desperate for business.
  4. Ryan Lightning

    Ryan Lightning LawnSite Senior Member
    from CA
    Messages: 554

    I have one account that is 1 acre. I mow, egde around house drive way, side walks, and street, blow. and Im back in my truck in 55 minutes, with a 48" mower. I charge $50.
    I dont seee anyone paying more than $50-75 acre:dizzy:
  5. Rustic Goat

    Rustic Goat LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,194

    From what I've seen, $60 an acre to 'mow' is a broad average. Being as this 2 acres has been getting cut with a bush hog, the quality of cut may not be of any consideration by the owner, sounds like he just doesn't want it overgrown, doesn't care about it getting a 'lawn' cut. Price he quoted for having it bush hogged seems about right.
    So it sounds like you're not comparing apples to apples in the bidding. Difference being 'acreage' and lawns large enough to be acreage. Not priced/cut the same.
    $150 an acre might be correct for high end neighborhood lawn servicing, mow, trim, edge, blow, this is my lawn, make it look pretty type account.

    Your bidding technique, (and this is JMO, from too many years of dealing with/training sales types,) sounds way too amateurish. Like you're unsure of yourself and/or your prices in the first place.
    You're not giving the prospective client any where to go when you make them tell you what price sounds good to them first.
    It shouldn't matter what 'sounds' good to them, your price should be set by what it's going to take you to get the job done with your usual profit margin built in. You should be offering the client a price that's as close to take it leave it as you can get it. If you're trying to wheel and deal with every possible client, you're working way too hard at the wrong end of the business.
    YOU are a BUSINESS, act that way, bid that way or you'll be pricing jobs like people price items at a garage sale, ultimately you'll be losing money.

    As example, this current 'acreage' bid.
    You should be pricing/selling to the client as;
    For this amount, you get x, y, & z.
    If they don't buy that, then get details of what they do want/expect.
    Oh, you want a, b, & c, well that'll be this amount.
  6. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    You are wanting to penalize him for your lack of equipment. Your nowhere in the ballpark to handle those types of properties. Your dealer filled you with some major bull also. With the right setup that is an hour or less job. Nobody will pay $300 for that job. Your nuts.

    I have a 2 acre property that takes 35-40 minutes to cut.
  7. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,586

    Not to pile on, but you don't have the right mower for 2 acres.Stick to the smaller props until you get at least a 52" rider of some kind.
  8. I agree with Rustic. That figure the dealer gave you is pretty high. He must think we're getting rich mowing lawns.
    And you can't let the customer set the price. You have to be able to quote to a prospective customer, "here's what you get and here's what it'll cost you".

    With that said I'll have to confess that I've asked that question "What have you been paying" to the last couple of customers. And with very good results I might add.
    I don't ask to try to make my price fit into their expectations. But to see if my quote will be a shocker. Or so much less that they'll think I'm not doing a complete job.
    Because once that price comes out of your mouth the conversation is over. Anything after that is haggling and that isn't productive.

    I had an experience this year where they simply told me what they'd been paying. It was more than I expected. I simply said that I could do it for that. My mind was taking mental notes of services I could provide to qualify billing that amount. They simply said "OK".
    This account has a lot that had been bushhogged too. I explained that I don't bushhogg. And the lot would be mowed as a lawn. Although the amount billed would be the same as the former LCO, I would be billing that amount every week not once per month. They said "fine".

    I've serviced this account all season and they're pleased with the appearance of the property. The price doesn't seem to be a problem either.

    I only have a few very large accounts. Every account is custom tailored to their wants and needs. It's very important for me to get the services provided matched with the amount billed.
    It may not be worth the effort on smaller accounts.

  9. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647

    I think it's fine to ask what they have paid in the past.

    Only after you explain to them that this is the first 2 acre property that I have been asked for an estimate. And that I would like to know if based on what you were paying that we can do business.

    Your the professional, your the business owner. Be honest, do try not to present your self as a scrub.

    You asked me what I would be willing to pay or how much I feel it's worth. You would be excused and I would be making more calls.

    The only way I would entertain that estimating process is if it was someone I knew, that would be for example painting my house or something.
  10. TRex

    TRex LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW ,TX
    Messages: 487

    would it not be the same for a property owner who is not in are industry to get asked what sounds fair to cut there lawn as it would if the painter asked you since your not in his industry. Just asking.

    I think it is somewhat unprofessional to ask except what they were having it done for to help you bid a little better and to see what kind of bid the customer is expecting.

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