How to bid lawn mowing jobs when the property is in bad shape.

How important is it to you that a property you are servicing looks top of the line? Do you care if you are hired to mow a lawn weekly and the hedges are out of control? What about if the property needs edging but the customer only requests lawn mowing? How do you handle this and does it matter? That is what one entrepreneur was concerned with when he discussed his predicament with the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I am wondering how to approach the idea of a complete job. For instance, if I put in a bid to mow a place for say $35 (which is my target price for one hour labor) but I find the bed edges are in bad shape, or the bushes are overgrown etc. If I give the potential customer an estimate price to complete the job including edging the property which would cost around $130 (three hours labor plus $25 dump fee) and the customer doesn’t take it, I just don’t feel I would be comfortable putting my name on the job with the property in disarray. I am really unsure of how to approach the topic of getting the complete property up to the level of quality I am striving for.

How to bid lawns.

How to bid lawns.

Ultimately every mowing account in a perfect world would be a weekly account. My area is very saturated with competition so my fear is that even a small dollar amount increase in price to do the extra work might make the difference between getting the job or not. Maybe if I took my total price that would include all the services needed and I spread it out over the season it wouldn’t be that much.

At $35 an hour am I am kind of concerned that I am lowballing my jobs. It is not my intention at all to do so. I am just getting started really with my business and trying to be priced competitively without over pricing myself on jobs. I have very low overhead, for now. Is $35 and hour a reasonable figure to shoot for or should I raise it up to around $50? Can I charge that much even if I have no quality reputation at the moment? I am just trying to get it right.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I feel the same way you do about only doing quality work. When I show up to such properties that are in disarray I consider a number of factors. I ask if this is going to be a one time mow or a monthly contract? If it’s a one time mowing job, I do what they want or politely pass, telling them I am not comfortable putting my name on a half-a*s job. If my price is overwhelming to the customer, then I suggest breaking the services it into parts and charge an extra $15-18 for the first 6-8 times I mow to get the yard back under control.

If that is my plan, I have the option of doing all the work at once, but I will still spread out the costs over time when billing. You can consider even do a section of the edging work during the first mow to show the customer how much better the lawn looks with it done.

As strange as this may sound, I have found it’s never a bad idea to have a few of your competitors business cards in the truck for such situations where you and the customer can’t meet for an agreed upon price, then I just tell them this competitor may be more of the type of company you are looking for. I also have business cards of people I recommend for jobs I don’t offer like tree work and stump grinding.

As far as your price goes, I think $35 is a bit on the low end. The national average is around $45 a hour and I charge $40-60 depending on the service. Remember you may have low overhead now, but what happens when you want to buy new equipment or expand? You will need cash to do that and that  cash comes from your profits. So price accordingly.”

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