I made a lawn mowing pricing mistake! Now what!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you bid a lawn for mowing at one price, only to find out after you mow it that it took a lot longer than you expected and you underbid the job? What should you do if this happens and you bid the job for an entire year? Should you suck it up and just deal with it or should you immediately contact the customer to reprice the job? That is what one entrepreneur wondered when he shared his story with us on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I recently quoted a new customer $35 per week to mow their lawn. After cutting it twice, I realized I under priced this job severely. I think I should have quoted it more in the $55 or $60 range. I have no idea what I was thinking when I went on the estimate. I must have been tired or something.

I don’t want to lose the client, so I’m trying to come up with a way to handle it. Maybe I could bite the bullet for the year because it’s a good neighborhood to be in. Or I could be honest and tell her my mistake. I feel like if I try to up the price to $55 from $35, it will be a shock. She might be more comfortable with $45. I’d still be too low, but it would be better than the current price. Then I guess I’ll see how she feels from there. If she’s agreeable, great. If not, I’ll tell her I understand that she’s upset, but that I cannot continue to cut that lawn for $35. The lowest I could possibly do it for is $45. I could just finish out this month at the $35 price, but after that, either I would up the price or stop mowing the lawn.

To avoid this from happening again in the future, I need to stop being an idiot. I will  purchase a measuring wheel so in the future I can measure the square footage of the lawn and develop a general price per 1,000 sq ft formula instead of just guessing how long i’m gonna be there.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I was in this exact situation my first mowing season. I was bidding a friend’s yard when it happened. She told me the current the company mowing it was doing it for $30. Based on the previous price and what I saw, I figured I could fairly mow it for $25. She agreed and after the 2nd cut, she informed me that the mowing included the common area down the private drive as well.

Based on the low ball price she told me, I would have never guessed it included the common area. So what did I do? I kept mowing it for the season. During the year, I was lucky enough to picked up the yard across the drive for $60. Before the next mowing season started, I informed her of my mistake and that I had honored my quoted price but it was definitely a $40 cut with the extra mowing. I told her I completely understood if she wanted to go back to the $30 cut of her previous company but I couldn’t, as a business, cut this for $25. She came back and said the $40 was fine and also gave me her office building to mow as well.

The husband and wife are both self employed, understood my business decision and luckily saw the value in the work I performed and my honesty with the situation. Sure you could either let them know now or finish up the season and maybe get lucky and pick up a nearby customer.

Looking back, if I had to do it again, I would say the sooner you let them know the better. Be polite but be honest too. Decide what you want the outcome of the conversation to be before you have it. Have 2 options - 1 for if they react well and 1 for if they don’t. If you get stuck doing it for the price you originally quoted, an option is to let them know that they cannot tell anyone else what you are charging. Waiting until next year and springing a big price change isn’t ideal. They may think that because you did it for that price for a year that they will be able to find someone else that will too.”

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