1. summitgroundskeeping

    summitgroundskeeping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    I just got back from giving a spring clean up. (sorry i'm just blowing off steam) This elderly lady has been bugging people do her lawn, so we went to give an estimate. It's a small yard and I gave her an estimate of $15.00 per hour for about 1-2 hours, plus a $5 desposal fee. She looked at me like I was out of my mind and practically shut the door in my face. She wouldn't even talk about mowing her yard, just the $15 an hour. Was I wrong to charge that, because all my other clients say I'm real cheap?
  2. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    She's probably used to the days when kids mowed the grass for a quarter.

    For the job there isn't a whole lot of technical skill required, but even so, $15/hour sounds pretty cheap to me. Especially after you drive over there, do the work, take your time to dispose of the waste, and drive to the next project.

    Sometimes it's an easier pill to swallow when it's put in terms of a project price. Then it doesn't sound like they're paying more than they'd like to. $50 might sound cheaper than $15 per hour.

    But it doesn't always work. When I was still in college, I was doing a 'consultation' of sorts, just helping a customer with the technical aspects of installing a raised brick patio. I had a set price, and had outlined how much time I'd spend there for each step of the project.

    About halfway through he did the math and found he was paying me $50 an hour. Once he found that out, he found out the residential site I was working on (I have no idea how he found it out), drove there, charged out of his car and up to me and proceeded to give me the what-for for charging that much.

    But then, I was 19 or 20, he was in his 30's, and what did I know that was worth that much per hour, right?

    BTW, I finished his project and got full payment.
  3. John Allin

    John Allin LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,488

    You are at about half what you should be.

    At that rate, I'll put you to work 80 hours a week, and pay you at the end of each week.

    Time to learn what it costs you to do business. You need not be mad at that lady...... she's taught you a good lesson. She actually did you a favor not hiring you. No matter what your overhead is like (or lack thereof) you need to charge much more than that rate. You CAN NOT make a viable profit at that rate. Can't be done, nowhere, nohow.
  4. Matt

    Matt LawnSite Member
    Messages: 161

    I agree with John, there is no way at that price that you are going to cover costs let alone make a profit. Peaple have come to expect a low price for green industry work. After all any one can mow a lawn, customers need to be educated as to the professionalism and education that we as green industry professionals can offer them. I tell peaple up front that we are not the cheapest, but you will get your moneys worth.
  5. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    If you happen to start a business in the Detroit area let me know, I don't think I can clean up my own yard that cheap.
    Jim L

    FIREMAN LawnSite Senior Member
    from n.j.
    Messages: 318

    If you work hard I'll pay at the end of each day..lol..raise your prices..make yourself some good money...if you are like most of us here I'm sure you deserve it. If you are afraid to up prices on existing clients at least up your estimates for new prospects...just my opinion..
  7. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 543

    Quoted a price for a lawn install for new construction. Guy was a doctor of foreign decent. Elevations from hell and rocks everywhere. Quoted him a bid and he asks how long to do it. I tell him from 2 to 4 days days depending on what I run into. He says" If you do that in two days you'll be making $100 an hour. Not even a doctor or lawyer makes that!" My reply was that when I go to the doctor I see them for 5 minutes and get a $50 bill. That comes out to $600 an hour . Our last conversation and I don't mind a bit!
  8. Greenkeepers

    Greenkeepers LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE Ohio
    Messages: 695

    Raise your prices....

    You are the reason that people still think that their work can be done for peanuts. Bring your price level up with competitors around you.
  9. summitgroundskeeping

    summitgroundskeeping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    Thank you for your info. I'm not a new guy in town, I know what to do, the $15 an hour rate is for future costomers(when just raking and only raking). Usually after that first raking, I raise prices way up (initial job is a costomer break). Example, a lawn I can do in under 10-15 min. I charge 25-30 dollars. I'm just mad about having people beg and beg me to do stuff, asking for time consuming estimates and ideas for landscaping, saying that I got the job, and then dumping me because they don't want to do it anymore. (happened 7 times in the last month, spent over 50 hours helping them, and got dumped)

    In my area, the best service+low rates=gettin' stiffed
  10. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    You've hit the nail on the head. I'll try to relay a valuable lesson I've learned. It sounds like you're partway down the same road.

    When I started my biz, I wanted to penetrate my market and build the reputation of my business. My thought was, I'll charge below the going rate here, and attract all kinds of business. Once I've established my presence here, I'll raise my prices.

    It's probably a common mistake. But that doesn't make it any less dumb. If you start with really low prices, you'll attract the people who are the real bargain hunters. The problem is, when you raise your prices to the level they need to be to make a living, something bad happens: All those people who really liked your quality work for a low price are now mad because you're charging too much. And you stop getting their business. And the worst part is, to the people who are willing to spend good money for quality, you are still an unknown. None of those people (birds of a feather) have any experiences with you. You've only been working with the frugal customers. So it's like you're starting from scratch again, trying to lure those customers willing to pay for quality.

    Your best bet is to start off charging the right price. That way they aren't unpleasantly surprised later, and you'll get the people who appreciate the value in what you do.


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