How are my bid prices on this big lawn care account?

Some landscape jobs will come along that might just seem outside your scope to accurately bid. When that happens, it is best to break the job down into smaller sized projects that you can more easily price. As we will see from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, smaller pieces are a lot easier to estimate time to complete than one large project.

One lawn care business owner said “I am waiting to hear the final word on one of the biggest lawn care accounts I have been approached about. A local property management group contacted me with over 80 properties they wanted mowed on a biweekly basis. Most of the properties are bare, flat land. Less than 10 have homes on them, some of those with only foundations poured.

The properties have been neglected for some time with small growth pines popping up everywhere. Maybe 10 of these on each lot. Some have no trees but most have at least 5 to 10. All of these trees are less than 10 feet tall and random boulders/large rocks are spread across the property too. Most of the rocks are easily handled. I could fit 5 or so in a wheel barrow.

I bid this job out at $30 per lot. The lots on average are .25 acre in size. I bid each clean up at $100 per lot (removal of the small growth trees, rocks, and any other brush).

All the properties are on three streets in one subdivision. There will only be one unload and then I need to work like hell. I don’t feel as though I bid too low or too high. But I wanted some opinions on how I did.

I feel as though it will be a fair rate, as far as I am concerned. It may take an hour, maybe, per lot to clean up and prepare for mowing. That’s a big maybe. In total it would be $130 per lot for first time and cleanup. I have 3 people cleaning up. At 3 lots cleaned an hour, I figure with me and two other people, we can easily do 20 lot clean ups per day. It will take 4 days to clean. With my two ztr’s, it shouldn’t take any time to mow while another is weedeating as we go.

I am comfortable with the profit margins and time spent. Just sketchy on whether my bid price will kick me out of the pool. Some companies kick out the highest and lowest bids and shoot for the middle.

This is really a rather large contract and I could really use the extra income from this type of contract.”

A second lawn care business owner said “based on the specifics you mentions, here’s what I came up with on the mowing part:

  • 80 lots with an average of 1/4 acre each, equals 871,200 sq ft total to mow.
  • With a ztr that has a 48 inch cutting width (as I am not familiar with your machines) X 2 units, with a mowing overlap effectiveness of .80, mowing at 5 ft per second, this will give you a mowing time of 907.5 minutes.
  • I then figured 100 linear ft to trim, at 1′ per second. (each lot)
  • Travel time to job site 45 mins. (3 men, 15 mins. each)
  • 25 minutes to unload, get machines running, find lost gloves, get drink of water, text message girl friend, ask for Friday off, etc. re-load machines (boss 5 mins, helpers 10 mins)
  • Blowing debris, cuttings, etc. from all 80 lots, 90 mins total.
  • Additional 120 minutes total for lunch, break, helper to send text message to girlfriend to tell her he can’t get Friday off, send another text message to girlfriend, trying to make her quit being mad. (Boss 30 mins, helpers 45 mins. ea.)

Throw it all together and out comes the final results of 22.01 man hours.

With 2 helpers and 1 boss, it should make this job doable in a day.

Now take that time and multiply it by your hourly rate to get a final price and compare my estimate with yours. You can plug in different times/variables as you see fit. But this is how I would have set it up to bid.”

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