How a quick lawn mowing favor for a friend turned into a day long disaster.

Do you ever find yourself taking a call from someone you know and as a favor, you agree to mow their lawn sight unseen for a predetermined price? Well, after you read this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, you will always remember to never bid a property without visiting it first. Once you commit to mowing a property for a predetermined price, you are going to find it difficult to change it later if you find you need to spend more time on site than you originally planned.

One lawn care business owner wrote “yesterday, someone I know called and said they had mower problems and asked if I’d mow their lawn for $70. That is more than any of my accounts so I jumped on it way too fast. He said it his lawn was really big, and I knew it was farther away than any of my other yards, but today I got directions, and was there at 9am. It took me 40 minutes to get there, as it was located out in the middle of nowhere. The property was probably about 8 acres with trees, palmetto bushes, a pond, a shed, a front gate, etc. It looked like it was last mowed about 3 weeks ago! The grass was over 2 ft high!

I shook my head as I thought about what I had gotten myself into but I decided to I start mowing anyway. I had no clue what was under the grass and high areas he usually mows, and as I was mowing, I scraped a bunch of rocks until I hit a good one and bent my blade down. After that I was starting to carve a rut into the lawn with the blade as I drove.

At that point I had to stop and fix the bent blade. Since I didn’t bring any extra mower blades with me, I had to drive 40 minutes back home, to get another (from now on I’ll bring a spare) then 40 min back to the property. Took another 10 minutes or so to change the blade and then get back to mowing.

As I was mowing, I realized my center blade wasn’t cutting, and was dulled from the rocks, so I sharpened it on site with my dremel. Then back to mowing again, but when I looked back, I soon realized the long grass shoots were just bending over so I had to go super slow. It was so frustrating!

Here I have this fast 50″ lawn mower and I’m backtracking over areas I already did and going a very slow walking speed on 8 acres of grass! Since I was going so slow and backtracking, I ran out of gas and had to drive 15 minutes to the nearest gas station and back. Anyway, after trimming around the trees (only a few of them) and edging the driveway, I was ready for my 40 min drive home. It was 5pm!

As I was loading up, this friend of mine comes out and asks when I’d make it back to mow again and I said NEVER! Then I was thinking, now that I know where not to mow, I wouldn’t lose another blade, and if I went weekly, I could go full speed and not waste gas, it might not be so bad, maybe under 2 hours? I’d like a little more money to mow it though but I’m not sure what he could swing. I’d much rather knock out 3 $35 local homes in an hour.

This mowing was more of a favor thing, but when he asked when I’d be back I was shocked! I actually think he thought he was doing me a favor throwing me $70 bucks my way. I almost spent that much in gas alone. I wish I had an accurate acreage of grass for you, but the property has so much going on, with the pond, woods, fence, etc that’s its kinda tough. I’m thinking I might be in the 1.5 hour range at full speed and no problems, but since when are there no problems? I’m wondering how bad it would be every other week, and charging $150 so he can afford it.

If I had to go as slow as last time, it wouldn’t be worth it, but if I could zip along, I think that’d be fair. Yeah, it’s pretty far from my home, but I wouldn’t be driving around town to 5 $30 yards either, just driving once and going home so it’d work out even I guess. Should I just forget about it? It would be an extra $300 a month if I took the job.

I’ll think what I might do is just lay it out for him on paper of what I need to mow the property and it’ll be up to him. It’ll save me a lot of swearing. Obviously, I’d like $150/week, I just can’t see him springing for $600/ month, but if last time the grass was 3 weeks high, 2 weeks might not be so bad.”

A second lawn care business owner said “8 acres…. Even with my ZTR that would be at least a $250 job at least! The closest I mow to that size yard is a 2 1/2 acre estate, with good mowing conditions, and we charge $185.00. The property takes about 90 minutes to service.

I cringe when I show up to a new customer’s property when they are large and have over grown lawns. I did two last week, one was nothing but problems.

Since you know the fellow I would suggest you just explain to him that due to your fuel costs, travel time and the size of the property, you have to get at least $xxx.xx and see what he says. There is no way he could do a property that size with a push mower and it doesn’t sound like he is going to spend the big bucks for a ride on so you have that on your side. What is the worst he can say? No?”

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