Should I have a minimum charge on lawns?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Lawnboy85, May 20, 2007.

  1. Lawnboy85

    Lawnboy85 LawnSite Member
    from South
    Messages: 62

    I've read several posts on this site, and I just heard from a friend who works at a local gardening shop that they have a minimum charge when it comes to servicing a lawn. Their quote was $65 minimum, and I read on here someone had a $95 minimum?!

    Is this common among most of the other commercial lawn care businesses out there? I give free estimates and I can normally tell how long I will be at a yard and be able to give a price (i.e. if it appears to be a 25-minute job, I will charge about $25-$30, maybe $35). I figured having a minimum of a $65 charge would be outrageous, but I assume they still pick up costumers. Some of my yards range from $15 (small, front yard only) to $175 (big, country yards) and the one cemetery I do is $200, and it takes me and one other person to mow it (with two 60" Exmark mowers) in about 45 minutes, with all hedge-stones and fence lines sprayed with chemicals. But my prices are relative to the size of the yard.

    Am I possibly missing out on extra income, or should I continue to bid with an "open mind"?

    Thanks for any advice,

    Lohse's Lawn Service
  2. mattfromNY

    mattfromNY LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Central NY
    Messages: 1,582

    I dont know of anyone in any other service industry that doesn't have minimums. Usually a 'service charge' or 'stop charge'. Why should we be any different. I run a $20 mimimum whether I am mowing the neighbors' lawn or I go across town to get to your lawn. Have you been to the gas station lately??? I've gotta cover my costs! I've only ever had one person complain b/c they had a postage stamp lawn, but I still mow for them, and they always pay on time.
    my 2 cents,
  3. Lawnboy85

    Lawnboy85 LawnSite Member
    from South
    Messages: 62

    Of course I've seen the price of gas. It's outrageous. Technically then, yes, I do have a minimum charge - $15. That's the lowest price that I've had to use on any lawn. But come on, a $65 minimum? Old ladies with a small front yard only will not pay that kind of money. I imagine companies with a high-dollar min. charge still pick up costumers and obviously make good money, but how many customers do you think are turned off by a minimum fee that high?

    And if it's a first time service, then yes, if the yard is completely out of shape, then I charge more the first and possibly second time. Then, once the yard is a walk in the park, then I go to a normal fee. I see lots of people who can't afford/unable/want to mow their own yard, but they'll definitely pay a higher price if they want me to mow it when it's a foot tall.

    With all of that being said, you have kind of pushed me in the direction to raise my rates on any new/potential customers. Thank you.
  4. mattfromNY

    mattfromNY LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Central NY
    Messages: 1,582

    I guess it all depends on where you see yourself in 10 years. Your name says it all.... I have to put a minimum on my work to cover my bills. In my opinion, there are enough guys out there just making a quick buck mowing lawns. More power to them, as long as they have the insurance to cover themselves and the customers they are working for.
    I have as many old ladies that will pay whatever minimum I set, as long as there lawn looks good every week. I have also met just as many old ladies that I wouldn't work for if they paid me $1000 per week.
    I dont want to sound arrogant, that is not my intention. After you figure out your TRUE costs of operating, if you can mow lawns for $15 and still make money and still pay your bills, then go for it. Just dont lowball and make this industry as a whole look like just a bunch of 'lawnboys'. (Pun intended)
  5. mkroher

    mkroher LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 539

    My minimum is $35 per cut, and $65 to treat a lawn.

    When a potential customer calls to get an estimate, I immediately tell them my minimum charges. 100% of the time they say "ok, when can you come out to look at it (the job)." So right off the bat they assume my minimum charges are for the postage stamp/rinky dink lawns, and they're ready for the real price (of course it's usually higher) by the time I get there.
  6. muddstopper

    muddstopper LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,341

    I have a friend that wont do anything for less than $60. This weeds out the time stealers. Anybody willing to pay the minimum usually has enough money to pay for other services to. At least thats his theory.

    With that said, I dont do mowing, but "IF" I did, I think I would have to charge a minimum. I already have a minimum price for hydroseeding. I sometimes come off that minimum if the job is on the way to another larger seeding job.
  7. RedMax Man

    RedMax Man LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,051

    I have a minimum of $30 for Mowing. A few are charged that but the rest are $35, $40, $45 and up. A typical $30 lawn takes around 20 min. solo most are $35 and take 30 min. to mow, trim, blow all on my own.

    I simply could not cut a lawn for $15 even if was for my neighbor next door.
  8. Frontier-Lawn

    Frontier-Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,955

    i personaly have a $25 min for propertys and wont go lower!
  9. Zaro T Man

    Zaro T Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    I won't drop my gate for under $35.00. That is for a standard mow, trim and blow.
  10. Lawnboy85

    Lawnboy85 LawnSite Member
    from South
    Messages: 62

    These yards that I'm doing for $15 are weeklies, side by side and they literally take me about 7-10 minutes to do (mow, weed-eat, edge, blow) by myself and the reason I priced them low is because they are all on the same street. As long as they allow me to mow them at the same time, then I mow 'em for $15. This is not just a job, it's also a service; a service to people who are unable to get it done for a cheap price. And I'll be danged if my name is not then spread to their friends, which helps me pick up MORE customers!

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