Coming up with the proper rate to charge your lawn care customers can be difficult, especially when you are just getting started. It seems that newer businesses tend to underestimate the amount of time a job will take and therefor underestimate the price the job should be bid at.
A member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us some of his tips on estimating lawns especially for beginners. He wrote “estimating a yard is easy. First I measure the dimensions. My estimates also includes weed eating. So, I measure the perimeter of the property to tell me how much weeding I will have to do.
Something else to keep in mind when you are estimating are obstacles in the yard for instance if a family has a trampoline. Every single time I am at the customer’s property, I have to think if I am going to have to move that trampoline. That could add 5 minutes to the estimated time. So, be sure to include it in your calculations.
Also, you have to ask if this family has a dog. As you and I both know, dogs leave messes in the yard. Account for that, too, when you create your estimate.
Next you need an hourly rate to charge. Many lawn care companies use $50 per hour as a base rate. Your rate may be higher or lower depending on your part of the country.
With a 48″ commercial walk behind lawn mower, I can mow at about 1,200 square feet of grass per minute.So say a new customer’s lawn size is 9640 square feet and they have a dog. I would figure it will take about 8 minutes of mowing time.
Other things I have to consider is my trimming minutes. I measure the perimeter of the property to see how many feet I will have to trim. At this specific property there are 311 feet to trim. I can trim at about a foot per second when I am moving fast. That translates to just over 5 minutes. I am going to round it up to 6 minutes. Blowing off the driveway and sidewalk will take about 5 minutes. Travel time has to be included as well. For this property it is 10 minutes round-trip.
If I have to move a trampoline. I will add 10 minutes per week for these other activities.
The total time I would then estimate for this job is 39 minutes. At $50/hour, I would shoot for a price quote of $35.00. So when you are estimating your next lawn remember it’s all about the numbers. Estimating residential jobs is easy once you know how to work the numbers.”
Do you have any idea how many bids the average homeowner will get when they need lawn care? If they know you personally, will they tend to get less bids or maybe just take yours? What is your view on that?
“I don’t have any hard statistics on that topic but I can give you my best guess. The average number of estimates asked for by law care customers is probably around 3. First time customers generally have little idea the price to get their lawn cut. Three estimates give them a low, high, and middle price. There are always the price shoppers who call every lawn care business they can find and then opt for the cheapest price but, most often, I have seen customers choose the middle price if everything else seems equal.
Then there are the customers who will only call for one estimate. If that first estimate results in a reasonable enough price, the customer will contract with that company and not even think about calling for more estimates.
Knowing a bit of customer psychology can help you earn an extra $5 to $10 per week for each customer. Those extra dollars really add up. A customer’s body language and non-verbal communication. Talk to the customer, for several minutes if necessary, to get a feel for what kind of price range he is already considering and look for the non-verbal clues.
If the lawn care business owner’s price quote is way lower than what the customer expects, the customer’s eye will brighten and the customer will almost gleefully accept the bid. This reaction is a sure indication that the customer was willing to pay more.
If this happens time after time the business owner is probably underbidding all his jobs and should consider raising his rates for future customers.”
What is your view on the percentage of bids a lawn care business owner should be winning? Is that a good indicator if they are charging too much or too little?
“A new lawn care business owner can gauge future bids based on responses they get from their customers.
Losing all your bids definitely does not maximize your profit potential but winning every single bid doesn’t maximize your profits either.
Losing 10% to 15% of all bids given probably means the lawn care operator is pricing his jobs in line with his competition.”