Discussion in 'Florida Lawn Care Forum' started by Dr. Cornwallis, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,814

    Military plus seven years experience--now you can consider yourself educated and skilled labor. Charge about the same as your mechanic.
    --say around 75 per hour. More if you have to sweat. Your barber probably stays cool and makes a dollar a minute--and his "mower" costs less.
    And cover your expenses and overhead. Suppose you billed for 5000 hours last year. And your overhead was $10,000; then you have to charge $2 per hour for overhead.
    Likewise, suppose your equipment payments, repairs and fuel cost about $10,000 per year, add $2 more.
    Truck costs--likewise.
    Suppose your labor "burden" costs $5000 per year Fica tax, med insurance, benefits, add $1 more.
    Add your cost last year for callbacks, retreatments and loss due to slow or non-payment.
    Then reward yourself for the risk of being in business--you are entitled to earn a salary for your labor plus profit on your business investment.
  2. Greg78

    Greg78 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,010

    A truer statement has never been made!!
  3. Greg78

    Greg78 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,010

    This in a nutshell for me as well. I decline to bid them now, not wasting my time or gas to go out and bid them.
  4. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    If you are doing a lot of 1/2 to 3 acre lawns, I'd say the first thing you need to be looking at is a bigger mower. The best way to make more money is to spend less time there.

    You are bidding everything by the cut? No monthly contracts? I've found the easiest way around the shock of pricing on a big lawn is to price it over a year. I've got a 3-plus acre bahia lawn I do but price it over the year so they can more easily budget it. May not be a normal practice on something that only gets cut 30-32 times a year, but it works for me.

    Oh, I don't recommend trimming hedges at the owner's discretion for a set price either. There is a big unknown there.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  5. Dr. Cornwallis

    Dr. Cornwallis LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 854

    I gross $300 for the whole day, that's working about a ten hour day. Because my business is new, my accounts are still a bit spread out, I don't have any accounts that are right next to each other and even though most are within a mile or two, I spend a lot of time driving, traffic is really bad in my area too, so even though an account may only be two miles from the one I'm at now, it's a fifteen min drive with lights and traffic.

    I guess what I may need to do is accept that on larger yards I'm not going to gross fifty an hour with a 48 in mower. I may need to move up to a 60.
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  6. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,281

    If you are doing 1 acre and under you might save 5 min or something. If you are doing 3 acres then ya, you might save 20. You answered your biggest problem, driving. You are loosing more money on that than anything. This is something I am working through. For me if I make $318 a day in 10 hrs then my business breaks even with paying myself $15 a hr.
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  7. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    IMHO the first mistake is giving a price over the phone. With 7 year experience you should be able to name every plant and tree in the guys yard. WHY NOT PUT ON A SHOW AND SELL YOURSELF AND YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

    IMHO Nothing will sell a customer better than Knowledge. They will pay more if they feel they are dealing with a Professional instead of a Fly by Night. A Clean good looking vehicle, a Clean cut appearance and a Clean Cut Head on your shoulders is what it takes. Separate your self from the Tattooed Pieced Pot Head Fly by Nights by selling yourself in person.

    PS be sure to qualify the customer on the phone before spending the Time & money to meet them in person.

    BTW $ 85 a month is the going rate for mowing 5.000 sq ft yard in my area. Trimming is $ 35.00 a man hour with dump fees. Roundup weed control is sometimes included so you might be High there. But once again Paul Pot Head is not getting those prices.

  8. Ric brings up a great point about selling yourself. Cause really, what separates you from other guys. People want to know your confident in what you do and that you are going to give them what they are looking for. I never give prices over the phone unless I can tell they are someone I don't want to work for and then I do cause it weeds them out then and there.

    I bring a folder with me with about 25 pictures of properties I do with beautiful pictures so people can tangibly see the work I do. Right there, they know what they are going to get. If it is a cheapo, it doesn't matter if I do the best work in the world, they are only looking at price. If it's not a cheapo, I have just given myself a great chance at getting hired.

    My advice, try to get more plant knowledge and do more gardening work. I can tell you that most guys around here don't know squat and they only want to mow. Great for me, cause I can do the more detailed work and get better prices on it.

    It does take time to get solid clients, but you need to start on that path. The only way I will let people tell me when to prune is if it is on an hours based bid. That way, if it is overgrown, it takes longer to clean it up and I'm not out money cause it's taking longer. In my opinion, it is a good idea to give people options, but only to a degree. It also depends on how intricate the property is.
  9. Dr. Cornwallis

    Dr. Cornwallis LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 854

    Thanks for all the constructive replies this far.

    Ric, these are all things I do. I maintain a very professional appearance... Mountain Khaki dry wick pants, hiking boots and plaid columbia PFG shirts... My truck and equipment are always spotless and I'm well spoken. When I show up on sight chances are I can name about every plant common to Florida, native or not.

    Florida Gardner, I like your idea of a portfolio with pictures of your work in it. This is something I would like to do, and have thought about in the past; the only problem is I only have one picture perfect yard. I have several well maintained yards, but only one that I would say belongs in an article of better homes and gardens. I also have quite a few yards where all I do are the basics, the owners weed the beds and trim the hedges a few times a year, so most of the time the yard looks like crap.
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  10. 360lawncare

    360lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 962

    You will not get that a cut around here! Your way off on your bid unless you want to land 1 out of 20 bids...Lol you would be doing good to get 65 here for a acre.. Hate to tell you but if I come in and mow trim and blow in under a hour... Guess what you better be able to do that also! It's just how the game works..this is where it's hard for solos! You take a 2 person operation while I am mowing the other guy is trimming and blowing behind me 45 minutes at the most and we're done and gone for less then 80 your charging.. You think the customers Care how many people you have out working on there lawn? Nope they don't.. All they care about is the other guys came in a cut in under 45 minutes... So when you say 1.5 hours they think your crazy! Welcome to the game!
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    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014

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