Lawn care lowballing lessons learned.

Sometimes lawn care business owners are so focused on getting jobs that they don’t consider they need to be making money with them. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, a landscaper shares with us how this happens, why it happens, and what to do about it. If you catch yourself wanting to lowball a job just to get it, you may need to take a moment and step back to think it through more clearly.

He wrote “I did my first aeration jobs yesterday and I already learned so much! I had 6 aeration jobs in a row and while I was working on them, two people called about the lawn care flyers I hung about two weeks ago. One of the calls asked if I could clean up her yard and her window wells.

Because I was so excited about getting these additional jobs, I tried to do that one clean up job in between my aerating jobs. Let me tell you it was a big mistake. I was in such a hurry and when I got there, the customer requested I perform even more jobs and I had to tell her that I would have to re-schedule them. I figured I was renting an aeration machine at the time and shouldn’t be doing any other work than aeration services!

I now realize I should schedule everything out a few days or a week in advance. I also learned that my prices need to be re-examined. I think business owners who low ball, won’t get far in this business and I caught myself lowballing without knowing it at first.

I know I was charging a lot less than the competition for the aeration services I was offering. In fact I was charging a flat rate per yard and not taking into consideration the size of the yard, it was nutty on my part. So as I reflect back on the day, that will have to change effective immediately. I am also kicking myself for putting out a whole bunch of flyers with flat rate prices on them that I still have to honor!

Throughout the day, I found myself racing against the clock. It was my first day offering aeration and I realized how quickly my day had been filled.
I only had 5 scheduled aerating jobs to perform! Through out the day I was getting nervous because I still had a night job I needed to be at.

Only 2 of the yards I was aerating were straight forward yards that had a simple front and back, while the others were either really big or had a hill or a bunch of crap in the back yards that needed to be moved.

I should have charged these customers a lot more money. I realize now that the goal with aerating is to get as many as possible done in the day as possible. You need to make your money back from the rental if you are renting plus a profit. When I was working on these yards I was not happy with the price I charged them but it is what I quoted them over the phone, so I didn’t want to change the price. Another lesson learned was to not bid jobs blindly over the phone.

While I was aerating my last scheduled yard, a guy walked up to me and asked if I could do his and asked how much I would do it for. I looked him in the eye and told him a price that was double what I charged everyone else that day. To my surprise he said yes without hesitation.

After he said yes, I felt a lot better about myself and I thought I should have done this for everyone else prior. The bottom line though is I lost money today when I include all my expenses and the aerator rental. Next time I do this I need to get as many done in the day as I can so anything that slows down my job needs to be made up for with a higher price.

Why did I underbid all these jobs? I think it’s because I charged a fee that I would be willing to pay for the service. I didn’t want to lose any of the accounts! I’m was scared while bidding that I would overbid and that homeowner would tell everyone on his street how expensive I was and they would all trash my flyer.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I have dealt with all that too when I first got started. Something you may want to consider is set up your aeration jobs just on weekends or days off that you have. That way you can focus and get as many as you can scheduled for one day. Pick a day and tell people Thursday is the day we do aerations or Saturdays or whatever day. Get 15 or 30 of them lined up and you’ll be making money that way. A $90 rental fee for the aerator is nothing when you have 20 properties to do. One good sized property should pay for it.

Now as far as charging, figure the cost of everything including your time, unloading, loading, gas, and labor. Most average sized yards start at $75 to $85 around here anyways and these are smaller properties. So this is all something to consider for the next time.”

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Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
How To Get Lawn Care Customers Vol. 2
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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