questions about bidding larger residential jobs

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by minnesota mower, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. minnesota mower

    minnesota mower LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Hello, I am breaking down my pricing points for the types of jobs i plan on bidding and mowing. I am currently living and will be working in the minneapolis minnesota area, I will be advertising to the southwestern suburbs and the cities south of the twin cities for those famillar with the area. I know that smaller half to 3/4 acre residential lots are bidding around 30 or so dollars for one mowing, what about the larger residential accounts with 1 and 3/4 acres to 2 full acres. this would only cover the mowing and trimming around ornamental trees and around the edge that covers the permimeter of the house-nothing more. I have heard of guys asking for 250.00 a mowing, that seems really high. I would think that i could afford to do the job for around 150.00, my business consists of me and my truck and mower/trailer/smaller equipment. Any advice? i would assume with a walk behind i could do the job in about 4 hours, and possibly weed whipped with 1 summer hand.

    IN2MOWING LawnSite Member
    from Zone 6
    Messages: 66

    30.00 for a half an acre? You need to rethink that. I try to get 3.00 - 4.00 per thousand sqaure feet. That includes trimming and blowing.
  3. waffletown20

    waffletown20 LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 100

    I would say to do it for the amount that you will happy with making after you're done. Bare in mind that typically bigger properties can be tougher on the mower because they have lots of holes and sticks if there's trees. I think 150 might be too high and maybe more like 120 would be better. It's important that they don't expect a manicured lawn if they're not getting full trimming. Good luck!
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,652

    Ok the prices may vary a little because I am in Richmond, Virginia but here are some my current averages and things:

    Minimum charge: 25 (thou I still do something for 20 if the ppls r cool, this is only to prevent the bs of 'oh can you cut my 5-foot strip here pls?')

    Most my yards run 30 and 35 bucks some 25, and the larger lots around an acre (like 3/4's+) vary from a low of 40 to a high of 60, it all depends like so:
    If the area is a big flat square with hardly any trees and is like 0.88 acres plus the house, that is a big yard but it is easy and so it is 40. If the area is more like 1.3 acres and is a bit of hills and trees and things, then it's closer to 60.

    Roughly speaking, a full acre should be 50-55 and the way I figured it out, I have a 1-acre lot where I live and after cutting it SEVERAL times with different wb's, I found it takes 45-60 minutes of straight cutting, then you gotta weed-eat and blow-down, so 75 to 90 minutes for an acre, roughly.
    If I'm earning 40/hour, then 50 dollars pays for 75 minutes and that would be an aggresive price, 55 would be middle of the road and 60 would get you the most negative responses around here.

    My biggest problem with big lots always HAS been estimating, even in my 4th year I find it difficult to SEE in my mind how long it will take... For this reason I don't have 2-acre lots thou I'd guess they would run 80-90, maybe 100 (remember, the more acres/lot, the cheaper the $$$ per acre)... I hear say once it's 10 acres plus, it drops to $25 / acre, but what happens is a lot of times it looks SO big that I get scared and overbid it then I don't get the job, heh...

    Hope is help.
  5. befnme

    befnme LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,413

    it all depends.i have one lawn i that is .95 acre with centipede and only 1 tree.i cut it for 40.i mow and weedeat the house and leave.the drive is gravel.if it had a cement drive and walk way then i bid accordingly.
  6. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,586

    everyone here tells you they wont drop there gate for x amount of dollars. I say it depends on what the prices are in your area.....

    toledo is a very depressed area, small yards can be 20 or 25, and no one wants to pay more then 40 for an acre.......

    so what every anyone tells you, all that matters is you make what you need to cover expenses and clear the profit percentage you decide you need to make.

    i bid 90.00 on a three acre job and they though i was outragious..... BIG lco in area has been doing it for 50???????
  7. minnesota mower

    minnesota mower LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    this site rules!!! Thank you guys for the helpful tips when estimating, I see everyones opinions vary when it comes to pricing, but everyone sounds like their estimates are really close with what i was estimating.

    Just one more question. what are people charging for commercial properties 1 acre or bigger, with the usual weed whipping aroung the perimeter of the building?

    Also, does anyone have an idea how many accounts a company would need to be able to hire on a fulltime employee? I would say 50 or so accounts would be a good flow of business for one person small/larger residential accounts, but would that mean i have to take on more than 100 accounts per week, is that even possible for two guys with large walk behind mowers?
  8. Markf

    Markf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 406

    Your question is valid, but it depends on the size of the lots and how far apart each of your accounts are. Do not forget to count in windshield time. Presently, we are approaching 40 accounts and without burning ourselves out, we spread them over 4 days. This was done to allow the "extras" to be accomplished on Monday and Tuesday and sometimes on Saturday. Try to leave Sunday (at least for me) as a day of rest. Also, remember that you need to perform the required maintenance on your equipment. If you do not take care of your machines, they will not take of you.

    The people you have working with you must be completely trustworthy. I have my two sons with me and now my daughter wants to get in with us. If you cannot trust family, who can you trust. If you are not in this position, maybe a good friend can help you.

  9. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Messages: 1,796

    Priices will vary around the country and from city to city. There are some great threads about estimating costs. Costs are everything. How much will it cost you to mow the lot? Hills and obstacles eat time and gas and there are many other variables depending on the mowing speed and so forth. Up in the green bar towards the top sort of the right there is a search feature, type in costs or estimating or any subject really and you can read past threads, print them, save them etc. If you do not meet the costs then you're losing money. You're on the right track thinking about how long it will take and so forth and what the local guys are already charging so you're half way there. Do it for as much as you can get. Do not price low because it starts eating into your profits and hurts the industry as a whole. For large open areas swath of cut will give you an advantage. You may be interested in looking up old posts by Flex-Deck if you're doing those types of lots. Anyway, welcome to the site and ask away. :waving:
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,652

    Yes the opinions DO vary but overall the prices are about the same, and you are correct, this is good.

    Far as commercial I do it same price as residential, same treatment, and same contract: verbal. This doesn't work some big corporations who want bids and contracts but it works great for small businesses.

    I am not sure on the accounts, I have 50 to 55 but I THINK I can handle up to 60, maybe 65 but in spring that is the hardest, and that's for me in my 4th year. In my first year, I was lucky not only that I had 20-some accounts but really, the most I could sustain is 5-6 yards/day.
    So if you are new I might suggest work by yourself for 2 to 3 years to learn ALL the ins-and-outs because when there is a question or a problem, you are the owner and you NEED to know the solution. By working for yourself, you will learn in this time the solutions to the millions of problems while you also build your customer base (50 accounts took me like 3+ years, heh), then once you are up to 50 or 60 accounts, you should be able to hire someone (and you will need about 3 thousand dollars spare) so you can train this person - While you are training, you will find it is NOT possible to increase production, it will take months before your employee is ready to cut more than 5-6 yards/day sustained, most ppls can't do 10 yards/day with me even thou I can do it by myself, it takes time to build the experience and stamina.
    With the right helper, you SHOULD be able to increase your production to 130 - 140 accounts based on a 50-60 solo account because with the right helper you CAN (theoretically) more than double production (almost triple). But with 2 helpers it is tricky because driving time always eats your labor and with 3 helpers and 1 truck, this becomes unprofitable at least on paper.
    I have had a few helpers over the years (only 1 at a time) and yes with good, experienced help I really was able to get more than twice the work done than had I done it myself but with an inexperienced helper, I was unable to increase production at all and today it would actually slow me down.

    Hope is help.

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