It can be difficult to scale up your lawn care estimating ability from working on smaller postage stamp size residential properties to larger acreage commercial properties. In this discussion, from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one entrepreneur who is trying to figure out how much time it will take him to mow a larger site. Should he try and estimate the amount of time each service will take and then total it all up to get a bid price? Or should he low ball the first mowing to find out how much time it will take and then bid the property accordingly?
One lawn care business owner wrote “I have great news. Business is definitely picking up faster than I can answer the phone! I also have not so great news, and that is these newer lawn care customers have properties that are very large.
I have the opportunity to bid on an office building property. All told, the lot is 61,200 sq-ft. So about 1.5 acres. But after looking at an aerial view of it, it seems like it might only be an acre.
The area to be mowed has a watershed culvert/embankment thing running the length of nearly the entire mowable area. If that wasn’t there I could simple use the lawn care calculators to get an estimate, but this area has me concerned with time.
It will have to be mowed by hand with a push mower, and the slope is too severe for anything else. There are also areas littered with large stones that will require just using the string trimmer and other spots where lots of time may need to be spent just trying to navigate a mower around.
I have figured out that the area with grass (which needs to be mowed) is just shy of 20,000 sq-ft.
- 15,214 sq-ft to be blown.
- At least 2,036 feet to be trimmed/edged.
There are also a few other small things. Some garden bed areas that need maintaining as well as a number of small bushes that require pruning. All told about 1,721 sq-ft of garden/bark area. The customer had mentioned cleaning them up, and maybe even getting new bark in (total of 16 yard at 3 inches deep I’m coming up with).
All told I came up with 3.5 man hours just in mowing and edging. But I know that the culvert will stretch out way beyond that, I just don’t really know how much. I could estimate that the area takes x2 as long to mow? I’m also thinking that the trimming/edging will take 2x as long because a lot of it will be against rocks or on a hill. So then I come up with about 5 hours. But how long does blowing that much ground take? Also, the customer mentioned there is irrigation, I don’t think they use it, as she said that when summer hits, they will put service on hold, which just makes me want to roll my eyes and explain the nightmare of a forest she will have growing.
I had initially thought to estimate 40 min of blowing (but again I don’t have anything this size to compare it to. 50-60 min of trimmer use (normal time x1.5. And around 135 min of mowing normal time x1.5).
So guestimating I figure 235 min. That’s not counting the time needed to spray weeds, or put down other chemicals.
On the high end, it may probably be more like 306 min and that still is not counting time to put out chemicals.
So say an average of 180 min a year to fertilize (15 min a month) with a unit cost of about $300 extra per year ($25/mo). Makes me want to guess about 45 min to walk around each week with the sprayer and hit weeds (probably costing ~$5/week extra).
To mow/blow/edge I’m thinking $225-$306. So $1,326/mo. Add in chemicals, apply time, etc. An extra $257/mo.
Add in the maintenance time on several bushes/roses/ground cover. Probably an extra 20 min a week. $85/mo. (just a guess). And add in renewing the bark 1x year, at $75/installed yard (16 yards). That’s an average of $100/mo ($1,200/year every time).
So that gets it to +$185/mo.
Depending on what she wants, I’m looking at a lawn care estimate of $1,326/mo. $1,583 with chemicals which I normally would do for every a basic account. And $1,768 for working in the garden beds.
Should I low-ball my first cut though, to get a better idea on time? I could explain that I need to cut it once to get a time-frame down?”
A second lawn care business owner responded “I see 30-40 minutes of mowing. 30-40 minutes of weed wacking, weed wacking around rocks will take longer. The area you need to blow I assume is the parking lot. With one person, it should take about 50 minutes to an hour. Make sure you use a backpack blower and not a walk behind blower because of the cars parked there. These times are for 1 person using 52 hydro mower with stand on attachment, weed wacker and a back pack blower.”
Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.ā€¯