Losing my shirt on a landscape bid.

You can be caught off guard in your landscape bids when you don’t have enough experience bidding and performing the jobs you are asked to do. Sometimes, what seems like a quick and easy job can become a great big time sucker. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum we hear from one landscaper who underbid a weeding job. As we will see from this discussion, there usually more than one way to perform a job and knowing the various ways can mean the difference between making money and losing money on a job.

One new lawn care business owner wrote “I just started up about 2 months ago and am doing fairly well gaining mowing customers. The problem is I think I’m not bidding my labor charges correctly. There’s just two of us working the business right now but as an example, we weeded (roots and all where we could) a flower bed that was about 20′ x 10′. It took a total of 5.5 hours and I charged $50.00. That was nuts in hindsight but I learned. Now I have to fill it with flowers. My questions are, what would you have charged for the weeding? Keep in mind  it was FULL of weeds and how would you quote the planting. I’ve been buying the plants and getting reimbursed without mark up but I’m really considering adding about 10%. Any help or thoughts you can offer are appreciated!”

A second lawn care business owner shared “it took the 2 of you 5.5 hours? That seems really long for a small bed. In that case $550. If it was 1 person $275.

With plants I mark up 50%. I know some that mark up 100%. This covers you if you have to replant something. It’s hard to tell you how to bid this. I normally  look at the root ball and judge how much labor it will take. Then charge per plant.”

A third added “11 man hours to weed 200 sq ft seems long. I always apply some type of herbicide a couple of days ahead of time when weeding. It speed up the process. The pricing seems close to right for the sq ft. It should have taken about an hour. I charge $40/hr for labor. I mark up mulch or supplies 25% and any plant stock I buy at wholesale I mark up 50% - 100% depending on how hardy the plant is. You don’t want to be caught short if the plant doesn’t survive.”

A fourth said “I used to manually remove weeds at $12/hour but now I offer a ’spray and obliterate’ service. I charge about $10-$35 spray it with herbicide and on the next scheduled mowing I just use the trimmer more or less the same way I would normally and bam! no more weeds and probably the best deal anyone could ask for. I make far more than $12/hour but at the same time end up charging them less too. It’s a Win-Win.”

One last business owner responded “Well at least you got some experience out of it! Over time you will become more confident with charging your clients more. I’m sure when we all started, we felt that charging a lot couldn’t be justified - but it’s alright to do so!

For example, I made $100 today by spreading 10 tiny bags of earth - it took us 20 minutes to do, and I didn’t supply anything for this client.
I overcharged and I am alright with it. I could have went home to relax after mowing all day, but the client insisted that she needed it done, so that was my price.

I suggest taking a picture of your next job, and posting it here on the forum so we can all assist you with the pricing and more.

I used to work in gardens, removing weeds. Basically I’d go in there and take a guess at to how long the job was going to take me, I’d add $15 for every hour, but even that was LOW so I recommend charging more.

I also recommend for you to charge a minimum price. This way you are guaranteed a decent amount of money for your time even if a job takes you 5 minutes to do.”

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.”

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