Giving a kickback to get a lawn care bid.

Is it a good idea to give a kick back to get a lawn care bid? It seems when you start to go down this path, it has a tendency to get messy and the end results may become undesirable. This is a situation that was brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. A lawn care business owner shared with us an interesting situation that you may at one time find yourself considering.

He wrote “this guy recently called and asked me to mow his neighbors yard. He told me that the neighbor is abroad and asked him to take care of it for him. I get out there and give an estimate. He gives me the go ahead. I do a great job on it. Before I can finish he calls me and asks me to do his yard too.

Well, it was dark when my buddy and I were finishing up so I tell him I’ll get to him the next day. I do it for same price as his neighbor. Mind you, I still haven’t met this guy, we keep missing each other, but I did meet his wife. She said I was such a gentleman.

Well, a few days later the guy calls me and asks if I’m licensed and bonded.

I’m honest with him and tell him, “not yet.” With no excuses or stories to tell him. I’m just still growing and hustling up on my business. The conversation then goes as followed:

Me - Why do you ask?

Him - Well, I wanna offer you something. The contract for doing the entrances to the subdivision is coming to an end and the Home Owner’s Association is no longer making the decision on who gets the contract. Since the community is established now, we have a board of directors that will choose. The HOA is just gonna accept bids and pass them to the board of directors. Now, there are three people on the board of directors and you’ve already cut 2 of our yards.

Me - I have?

Him - Yes. Mine….. and the other gentleman across the street.

Me - Oh.

Him - Now this is one hand washes the other, you understand?

Me - Yeah, I gotcha.

Him - You get licensed and bonded and we’ll get you this contract. It’ll be some guaranteed work for you for 12 months.

Me - Ok. What’s the criteria?

Him - Just keep the entrances cut and trimmed, plant some flowers, keep it looking pretty. It pays about $5k for the year, and they cut every 10 days.

*main entrance is about the size of 1.5 times his yard. Other entrance is less than the size of his yard. Just to give you guys an idea I charge him $55.*

Him - When can you come by to go over it?

I went and talked with him and he seems cool, but here’s the catch.

He wants me to throw in the three board of directors yards as well. So both entrances and 3 yards for the same price that they are paying the current people with the contract??

What I’m thinking is that I’ll try to edge up the bid to about $6k and do it, considering I’ll be doing more work and essentially not getting the revenue from it that I was getting before. Also, their 3 yards together are more than the entrances so I would be doing double the work for the same amount as the guys that have the contract now… I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot.

I’m also afraid that once I’m in bed w/ these guys that they’ll start to ask for more extra stuff like fertilization, aerating, etc. These are things that I charge extra for and I need the revenue that it generates. I don’t want them holding them getting me the contract over my head in order to get more free work.”

Another lawn care business owner suggested to “make sure that your contract is specific. Make sure that you are very detailed and specific to each job that you are going to be performing. Attach a price to each job, be it a monthly price or a yearly price. You could add the extras that you offer and at what cost they would be mthly/yrly. Make sure that if you are to do an extra job that you do up a work order and have all the directors agree and sign said document. Then it is binding and legal. There will be No waving a piece of paper over your head.

As for doing the 3 houses, that is your call, but if it was to take me just as much as time to do the entrance as their houses without any extra money, then I don’t think so. You have 3 extra lawns there and you could build on them and add more to your list of clients. Maybe you would lose the one but make out better in the long run.

You said that he would like it cut every ten days and you are cutting year round? At a yearly price of 5k and you cut every 10 days that equates to 37 cuts per year. That is about $135.00 a cut for about 1.5 the size. I’m thinking not bad. But if you do the 3 lawns also every 10 days than you would make $34 per cut for the entrance and 3 extra lawns plus he stated some flowers? Hmmm, I plant flowers about 4 times a year and it is always an extra charge.”

Some other things to consider as well are right now you are operating without insurance so you don’t have to include that in your overhead and can operate at a cheaper cost per hour. When you add that in along with the bonding fee that might be involved, how much will that increase your hourly operating costs?

How many hours per week would you have to spend maintaining the entrances? How many weeks per year? In total how many man hours would be spent doing this?

How many many weeks and man hours per week would be spent maintaining the three board of director properties?

You also have to keep in mind what you feel you would need to charge the Home Owners Association per week to maintain the entrance and what you would have to charge each of the three property owners to maintain their lawns. These situations may seem like a good deal at first but once you start crunching the numbers, you may come to the conclusion that it’s not such a good deal after all.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Check out the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum for great prices on new and used lawn care equipment:

Chain Saw


Garden Tools

Hedge Trimmer

Lawn Aerator

Leaf Blower

Leaf Vacuum

Mower Blades

Mower Ride On

Mower Walk Behind

Multi Attachment Trimmers

Pole Saw

Pressure Washer

Salt Sand Spreader

Shop Tools

Snow Blower

Snow Plow

Stick Edger

String Trimmer

Stump Grinder


Tractor Attachment


Trailer Landscape Racks

Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
How To Get Lawn Care Customers Vol. 2
The landscaping and lawn care business plan startup guide
A rebellious teenagers guide to starting a landscaping & lawn care business
The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
Stop Lowballing! A Lawn Care Business Owner\'s Guide To Success