The lawn care business comes down to selling time. The more accurate you are with estimating job time length, the better your chances are of profiting on each job. But where do you start to learn how to estimate the amount of time it will take you to mow a lawn? The easiest way is to start by measuring and mowing your own lawn as we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
One new lawn care business owner wrote “the hardest thing so far for me is not actually doing the job, it’s estimating and getting the job. As an example, my yard is 100 ft x 180 ft or 18,000 sq ft. It has a 2,500 sq ft house and a 16″ X 63″ driveway. I’m assuming that I deduct the house and the drive and then time how long it takes. Then there is the trimming and edging. All in all it takes me about 90 minutes to do with a 21″ push lawn mower. To get an idea of what others in my area are charging, I called and got lawn mowing estimates for my property and they range from $40 to $80.
I was not here when they came to give me an estimate, but I’m wondering if they used a survey wheel to measure the property? Or are they so good they can just walk it and tell how long it’s going to take them?
I don’t want to work for free, but I don’t want to over bid, or under bid either. Any lawn mowing bidding suggestions would be greatly appreciated.”
A second business owner said “we have survey wheels that I use for lawns when I started. But we do so many lawns now I can simply walk the lawn, look for issues, and give a quote on the spot. I almost always get the work this way.
Top soil, mulch, sod and turf dressing I measure and add 15% to materials and send an email from the truck while at the client’s site. I always do a follow up email confirming our conversation, to ensure there are no questions.
My survey wheel stores data as I go, and gives me a sq ft when I am finished. I’d suggest picking one up as they are an invaluable tool. If you know how big your yard is in sq ft and know how long it takes you to mow that sized lawn, then all you need to do is measure a new lawn and you can figure out how long it will take to mow that one with a ratio of your lawn.”
A third added “another thing you have to keep in mind is productivity. A 21″ push mower is less expensive than, say, a 48″ ztr, but with a 48″ mower you will increase your productivity. You could probably do the entire lawn in less than half the time with that ztr and still charge the same amount. Plus you could do a whole lot more lawns in a day with a ztr. There would be a whole lot less fatigue with the ztr as compared to the 21″ push mower.
I started out with a 46″ garden tractor. It served us well the first couple of years. Then we got a ztr, new, and productivity really rose. I still used the garden tractor though, in conjunction. Then I bought a couple of used commercial mower units and have never looked back. All of this took 8 years though.
I’d recommend looking into getting a good used ztr or walk behind with sulky to start with. I wish I had. The first years would have been a lot easier.
Not having commercial mowers in the beginning in a way it held me back because it really was a matter of productivity. On the other hand, I really didn’t know how to bid properly or how to really get those better jobs. I have learned a lot over the years. Looking back, I am glad I didn’t tie up a lot of money in equipment back then.
Besides, I think the kind of customers I attracted back then would not have liked the equipment I use now. I would have gotten done faster and these people might have felt they weren’t getting their ‘money’s worth’ time wise.
Elderly, low income people are a funny breed. But then so are young middle and upper income people. Well, in a different way. The elderly, low income people simply want their lawn and weeds chopped down every couple of weeks just to keep the city off of their backs. They don’t have a lot of money so they want to feel like they are getting their ‘money’s worth’ time wise. They can’t even fathom $60.00 per hour. They have no concept of expenses or profit.
On the other hand, young middle and upper income people want their lawns to be a status symbol and some don’t care what it costs and as long as you give a fair rate and make them proud of their lawn, there is no problem. I have, though, run into some that want the status symbol yard at a bargain price. You have to learn how to deal with those people to make them feel like they are getting a bargain and that you, being beneath their status, are making very little money from them. But they still want the nice equipment and nice truck and trailer in front of their house every week for the benefit of the neighbors.”
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