Bidding a flower bed weeding job.

When you are used to bidding lawn mowing jobs, you can find yourself caught off guard when a customer asks you for a bid to perform another service. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one contractor who way underbid his mulch bed weeding job and ultimately spend double the time he initially thought it would take him. After reading through this, you will see the importance of realistically bidding such jobs so you don’t find yourself in a bad spot.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I got a call last week from a customer asking if I could rescue their flower bed from all the weeds that have grown up in it. There are 12 beds in all and I had to take 47 big bags of weeds off the lot by the time I was done.

The new home owners think they can handle the maintenance of it now but I left a business card with them just in case. I charged a flat fee for the entire job. It turned out however to be a bit more work than I first thought but I came out good on the whole deal. I have to say, I learned some things about time management from doing this job.

I also figured out how long it takes to weed an over grown flower bed and that you really have to look at these jobs before you bid them. It is so easy to under bit and get yourself into a money losing situation.

How to bid a flower bed weeding job.This job took me 24 man hours to do, spread out over four days of work. As I was doing this job, I was also trying to keep up with my regular mow customers. I think next time I estimate a mulch weeding job like this I might look at hiring a helper. It was a very tough job, hard on the back. With a helper I could have done it in 1-2 days, paid the helper, and still made good money. Lessons learned for next time.

At first I estimated 1 hour per flower bed. So 12 beds at 1 hour each, that’s 12 hours but it took me double, so I basically cut my profit in half. The good news is I priced it high enough that I still made a profit. Luckily.

I now understand how easy it can be to get in over your head, but I didn’t panic. I kept my cool and worked as fast and as best as I could to get myself out of the spot I was in. I am chalking this one up to lack of experience in this kind of job and will not make that same mistake again.

Mowing is higher profit work for me but the flower bed jobs was more rewarding as it gave me a break from pushing a mower for 10 hours a day. All in all, work is work and you do what you have to in order to pay the bills.”

A second lawn care business owner said “as a small outfit, I find that mowing is always more profitable in the long run. I usually only provide this kind of landscape work for existing customers or commercial accounts or where lawn work will follow.

For instance I manage the lawns for a local fast food franchise. One store was in terrible shape, mulch bed wise, as the previous landscape contractor let the property go. I parlayed that into a nice mulch bed reinstall and lawn maintenance contract with my customer for ALL the properties hey owned. It worked out like this: the owner paid separate rates to get the mulch beds back into maintainable shape and now pays a monthly maintenance fee to keep them that way.

The formula that works best for me is to hire (experienced) help for larger bedding jobs so that I can finish quickly and still make a decent profit without breaking my back. I bid probably more than than average outfit because I don’t typically want these types of jobs. So when it works out, I am not left wishing I had not taken the job or underbidding myself which is easy to do as we all know. The trick is not spending too much time on the estimates so that my time is wasted. Thankfully, this does not happen very often.”

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