A lot of times a new lawn care business owner will be working solo and wondering what kind of income can they potentially make? How many lawns can the average solo lawn care business owner service? To get some insight we asked our friend on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum to share with us some of what they have found as a solo lawn care business operators.
Chuck: “I work by myself. I can get most of my average $25 per cut lawns done in 20-25 minutes. Once I have done it a few times & have the lawn under control & “trained” the way I cut it, meaning the grass isn’t too long, the trimming never gets out of hand & the edging has been done before so I don’t have to dig out the edges of a driveway that have been covered over 2 seasons ago!
I have a few I can mow in about 17 minutes. Here is my lawn care routine. When I arrive on scene I check the time, get out of the truck, mow, weed eat, edge & blow off. Trailer closed ready to roll, back in the truck. I hustle like heck though. I kinda get in a mode like a machine & keep going all day until my mowing list is done. I should say though, I’ve gotten very used to using a line trimmer to do edging. It’s kind of an art form to do it right but it saves lots of time, the machine is in your hand & running already!
I can’t really say what profit I’m shooting for per lawn, I’ve always kinda tracked it by time. When I’m out mowing I shoot to make $35-40 per hour. This is including travel time & my lawn care routes are not as tight as I want them to be. As I go down my lawn care mowing list, I check em off & mark what I made on that lawn today. Keep in mind with my monthly lawn care accounts in the summer, if I get $85 per month & I have to cut it 4 times that month I count it as $21.25 for that cut. Some months I have 5 cuts, so I rely on the per cut accounts to keep that figure up in the summer time. Last summer I shot for & usually hit about $225 gross billed per day. The most I ever did in a day by myself & it happened to be the hottest day of the season (103 deg., 98% humidity, & 106 deg. heat index) was 15 lawns with 4 of them overgrown for a gross of $650.
As far as cost per lawn I don’t know, If I could do a month with x# of lawns (the same lawns) every week I could figure it out, but it varies a lot I’m sure. The property lot sizes here are 80ft x 125ft = 10,000 sf subtract the average house, garage/driveway and you get about 7,500 sf or lawn. I do have some vacant lots I mow for a customer once a month so they don’t get fined by the township. I run a 52″ yazoo kees. the 1st time I had to remove my mulch kit to do it (which I charged $250 for the 3 lots to knock em down) after that I mow once per month with deck all the way up at 5″. I sold it as “field mowing” & let the customer know it wouldn’t be perfect, I’d make 1 pass (flying) & keep the township off their back but that I wasn’t going to abuse my machine like that (it’s not really that bad) for less than $50 / lot. So I go once a month & make $150 in about 45 minutes.
I have heard of a few guys that are $30-35+ a lawn in the area I think the majority are priced around me or lower. I understand If you push quality & demand more money there will be some takers & eventually higher overall profits. But that’s easier to do once your busy as heck. Raise your prices & don’t take any new work unless at a better rate then slowly drop your less profitable accounts as you replace them or get them to raise up too. I average $35 or better per an hour with travel time because I can do a 10,000 sf lawn by myself mowed, trimmed, edged & blown off in 20 minutes.”
Steve: “What kind of mower are you using to do this?”
Chuck: “I have a 52″ 23 hp Kohler Yazoo/Kees Mid max series commercial zero turn. Zero turn is the only way to go! Pushing a mower is too tough to do. I won’t even take on a lawn that I can’t get my mower in (fenced etc.) Not worth my time & uses too much energy on 1 lawn.”
Steve: “How do you suggest coming up with a pricing strategy?”
Dave: “My pricing strategy was based off of other companies; I called them to get quotes for my lawn (~2500 sq ft) and came up with a strategy that brought me in below all their prices. I’ve had a couple friends bring in quotes for their properties as well, just to get a comparison, and I’ve always come in near or at the bottom.
I guess based on your market you’d have to adjust…I find with all the trimming and blowing added in, my pricing strategy works out to about $35/hour billed (which is what I charge for most other labor).
I mow all by hand with a push mower…I used to take about an hour or so to do a 2,500 sq ft lawn, but I’ve gotten faster after a couple years of doing it.
I still have the same pricing, but it probably takes me about half an hour or so to do 2,500 sq ft with blowing and trimming/edging.”
Shane: “I won’t cut anyone’s lawn for less than $30.00 a visit and I don’t give any price breaks for annual customers unless they pre-pay for service at least a month in advance. I think you could be making a bit more money if you could differentiate yourself from your competition. I am a new company and have no problem doing this.
Here’s an example:
I did a spring cleanup, 16 yards of mulch, trimmed 60′ of hedges, planted 18 annuals, 5 perennials, and charged $1,485.00. My profit for this job was around $950.00. How did I do it? I played the game and talked the talk with the customer, made them feel like they had found the very best landscaper in town. Don’t get me wrong the job looked great when I was finished but the perception of the customer was far beyond the one man crew (me) that did the job.”
Fernando: “I also started with a 22″ 6hp Yamaha push mower, but my blade was Razor/Chef Knife SHARP! With the blades sharpened I could go a little faster. Manually mowing was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I was doing like 5 houses (only 1 day though). At the end of the day, I was done and totally drained.
But then I bought a 32″ Scag Walk Behind, I love it!
In my area the competition is real tough! I’ve seen a craiglist ad that said “mowing starting as low as $10/cut” I don’t know how they do it either. My cuts go around $30 or $60-$130 a month. So I say that we are around the competitive prices in my area.”
I hope this insight helps you compare your business and see how you are doing. If you would like to join in further with this discussion, visit the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.