Lawn care business start up lessons.

Are you new to running a lawn care business and feel like you really have no overhead expenses? Do you feel like what ever you make is profit? In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one entrepreneur who thought that way early on but eventually came around to the fact he did have expenses and he needed to find out what they were in order to charge the right amount per hour.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I am in my mid 40s and started my small mowing business 8 years ago, have learned a lot along the way, and have a lot more to learn.

I was reading a few articles where I found that most of the new lawn guys are going through the same things I did when when I started. Let me go back a bit and share with you some of my experiences.

I’ve only got 3 to 4 guys working for me at any one time and that’s the way I like it. I gross about $200,000 per year. The part that sucks is that it costs about $175,000 to make $200,000.

I think the biggest thing that most of the new lawn guys just getting started don’t fully understand is the real cost of doing business. Until you get 2 or 3 years worth of running your small business under your belt, it’s hard to figure out what the true cost per day or hour really is.

I get a chuckle when I read some online discussions concerning how much to charge to mow a lawn. Before I got a handle on my expenses I was way under charging for everything. I thought if I was busy I must be doing something right. Sure I was busy but not very successful. To some extent I still fall into that trap. It’s something that you need to be on top of all the time.

I think the main reasons a lawn care business owner underbids a job is

  1. You really want the work.
  2. If you’re giving a price on the spot you don’t want them to tell you that you’re out of your mind.
  3. You might be looking at a very large place and it’s tough to guess how long it will take to do the job. That gets you back to #1 & 2.

First you really need to know how much you need to make each day to stay in business. Then on a big job don’t mess around. Will you be there half the day or all day? The bottom line is you need to know how much you need to make every day. Once you know what your expenses are, setting a price is much easier. Plus once you know how much you need to make, you can blame the price on how much it costs to run your business, and that you are not just pulling a price out of thin air.

If you’re a one man show. I’d say figure you need to make at least $350 a day to stay in business. That’s a good place to start. So if you can only mow 6 or 7 lawns a day you better be getting about $50 a lawn.

I run my business out of my house. I’ve got two trucks on the road with one man in each truck. I pay each lawn care employee $12.00 per hour. They work a 10 to 12 hour day. Last week when I checked my expenses per truck it came out to $342.68 per day per truck to break even. Pay roll is a killer. My guys only average about 10 to 12 lawns per day each. My average lawn is $51.41 . My cheapest lawn is free. My mothers. My lowest paying lawn is $45.00 and my highest is $360.00 When I first started I thought there was very little over head. What a joke. If you want your business to grow.

Day to day, I jump in where I’m needed. For the most part I go and do all the trimming jobs, small mulch jobs etc. I run the office, handle the calls, good and bad. Take care of quality issues, fix and repair broken stuff. Sales.

The price I give to mow a lawn is never high. In fact on average I tend to under charge. when I use the calculator on here and compare it to some of the lawns I have. I find that I’m charging less than I should. It’s a very useful tool and we should all be using it as a guide.

You can also take your last year’s expenses and divide them into all of your potential working days for the following year. For me. I start mowing on April 15th and stop on Oct 31st. I don’t count weekends or holidays. I figure we must work at least 10 hour days. After you do that you will come up with your break even number. For me that’s about $ 350 bucks a day. If I wasn’t on top of it I’m sure it would be a lot worse.

With that number in mind and lots of experience looking at jobs and knowing how far you are from your next closest customer and keeping in mind that you don’t really set the price. That’s important to remember, you don’t really set the price, the price is set by our economy. There is always a minimum price you have to get to stay in business. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.

We will always have customers that will price shop. You can’t do much about that. Most of the time you don’t want them anyway. Do a great job every time you mow and you will not have to worry about the price you give. Some of my customers get cards in their door or mail box all the time and have no problem telling me that my competition will mow for $10 or $15 less. Or more. I have yet to lose one because of that.

Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this lawn care business book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.ā€¯

If you need help estimating lawn care or snow plowing jobs, get these lawn care and snow plowing estimation calculators.

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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