There are going to be times when you are so fixated on getting a lawn care job, for what ever reason, you will not pay attention to what your costs are when figuring the price. When this happens, you run the risk of breaking even or losing money on a job. With such low priced customers on your schedule, you can work yourself ragged and come the end of the month, find there is nothing in your bank account as your expenses ate all your income up. Let’s check out this story from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum on how one entrepreneur battled with himself over the importance of getting another customer close to one he currently mows.
One lawn care business owner wrote “I got a call from a referral yesterday so I went to measure the lawn. The lady isn’t happy with her current lawn service and I cut her neighbor’s lawn who is happy with me.
My price came to $31 + tax. When I told her, she seemed a bit startled, so I asked what she’s paying now. She told me ‘$25 even.’ So, I lowered the price to $27. I didn’t think of it at the time but since the guy isn’t charging tax then he probably isn’t insured either which is a good selling point. Plus I obviously do a better job that the lawn hack.
I’m a legitimate business, registered federally and locally, certified and insured. But I’ve got to stop lowballing myself. I didn’t really mind lowering this price as I don’t have to drive to the job, I’m already there doing the neighbor’s lawn and I’m surely not going to complain about new work.
I find that having more than one lawn at the same stop is the key to making money. It adds to your efficiency.
I charge a $13 stop charge for each property. Basically, when I give an estimate I measure the property, multiply the size of the lawn by what I want per square foot and add the stop charge.¬† I also add for extra long driveways that need string trimmed or ditches that I can’t put a mower in or if they have 300 trees that need trimmed around.
The stop charge is basically what I want to get me there and unload/load my equipment so if I only have to drive to one place and unload/load once to do two or three lawns then I can play with the 13 bucks. I’ve never had to go more than -$4 though and so far I’m at 100% on selling at an estimate.
I really need to watch myself with my pricing in the future. If I am getting 100% of my sales, it concerns me I am leaving a lot on the table.”
A second business owner said “I did several bids this spring on $40.00 lawns that people wanted to pay only $25.00. Most of those people said they were getting estimates for $25.00 $30.00 for these 1/2 acre lawns. I was getting $30.00 for lawns in that same subdivision 15 years ago. Sometimes you gotta stick to your guns. Hopefully when the economy turns
around these lowballers will be gone.”
A third shared “I just got back from an estimate for a 39,000 sq ft lawn a senior citizen owned. He wanted weekly mowing. This property involved a lot of trimming and edging. I quoted him $190.00 ($200.00 minus 5% senior discount) a month. He told me I was crazy. The last quote he got was $90.00.
I told him that was only $22.50 a week. That would just barely cover my gas to and from the job and for the mower. I asked if the quote was from someone licensed and insured? He didn’t know.
The job would be 32 miles round trip. That is 2 gallons of gas or about $6.00. Another $3.00 for gas for the mower. Leaving $13.50 for the mowing.
As I was leaving he said, ‘how about $125.00 a month?’ I said, ‘$190.00,’ thanked him for the opportunity to bid, and left.
I doubt he found someone for $90.00 per month and the job was too big for him to do (he is in his late 80’s early 90’s). The house is probably in the $250,000 range and he had a Escalade and a Lincoln Town Car in his 3 car garage. I spent over an hour walking the land, figuring the estimate and $6.00 in gas. I need work, but I am not going to do it to break even!”
A fourth added “when you start out, you are not making much money but as business grows and your routes tighten, you finally become more profitable. If there is a discount to be given, you should be giving it to your existing customer who referred the neighbor. If you ‘give’ the service away because you’re already on the block, then how are you ever going to start making any money to speak of? I don’t recommend discounting new customers especially if it means they get a lower price than the established client you already have.
What happens when they talk and the client you’ve had for years realizes you gave the new person a better price than they have been paying all this time?”
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