My first lawn care bidding experience. Shot down.

Is this your first season and are you out looking to get mowing jobs? The first few jobs you bid on are usually the toughest to get because you don’t have the infrastructure in place to properly estimate how much a property should be charged. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear a few of the trial and tribulations one new business owner went through and the advice he was given to improve.

One new lawn care business owner wrote “I wanted to share my first experience in my new lawn and landscaping service company. Ii have done lots of lawn care work for other employers in the past but I finally decided to do it myself.

In a nutshell, here’s the deal. I printed out about 100 flyers out one late afternoon. the flyers asked people to not throw them away if they are not wanted, but rather to pass them along to a friend, neighbor, or relative. I found that this works! When I came home from handing out the flyers, I had a voicemail, and it wasn’t from a person whom I had visited!

She explained that she was given my information from a friend that day. We setup a time and I went to inspect her property.

I drove out to survey the job. The lawn had patches of grass burned out probably from a dog at some point urinating all over the place. The yard was in decent order, but needed work.

I estimated the square footage of the yard at 25,000 ft. through the following equation: Walked number of paces from north to south and multiplied by 3. Paced area east to west and multiplied that by 3. Then multiplied the numbers from both equations by each other. I did the same for house, then subtracted the house area from overall property area.

My square-footage equation may be incorrect by some of your standards, and I ask for some tips on equating property square footage more accurately without the aid of any tools or hardware.

So, I figured an estimated surface area to be approx. 25,000 square foot. My actual math was 26,064. I assessed the yard problems. Then I went to a local big box store to start pricing materials needed for the job. In this case I would have aerated/shovel-tilled the bad soil with fresh garden soil and applied new grass seed in the bad areas, then fertilize the rest of the yard. She asked me initially to fertilize the yard & then for routine lawn mowing.

When all was done, I went home to call the homeowner with the facts & figures. The startup costs didn’t seem to bother her, however she was insistent that a local big-boys chemical/mowing company said to her that her yard was only 9,640 sqft.! How they figured the math, I don’t know, because even when I used the number 1 or 2 instead of number 3 as a multiplier I still came up with way more than what she was quoting me.

Anyhow, after I told her that weekly lawn mowing would run her $75.00, she decided to end the call rather quickly, and told me that right now, on an acre of land, she pays only $35.00! for a guy with a push mower on an acre of land! Claims he gives her full yard service with line trimming, lawn mowing and cleanup! all for $35.00!

My frustration led me to think, well why were you calling me then? do you really think you’ll find yard work any cheaper than $35 an acre?!

I began looking on google for local mowing prices for an acre of land, and from what I can see, $35.00 is pretty low ball. Am I wrong? What I found was that generally, if it takes you 20 minutes to mow, then you charge around $15.00 or $20.00 for the job.

I would like advice on this. Was my equation for figuring the surface area wrong, and is $75.00 a week too much to charge for service in the case of a lawn/property of this size?”

A second lawn care business owner said “if I were you I would buy a cheap surveyor’s wheel measuring tool. You know the one I’m talking about? You can get more expensive ones but the one at my local big box store is a small wheeled one but at $32 you can’t beat it. The larger wheel ones will work better but they go for around $75.

Use that to measure the property and you will get an accurate area. Once you get that right, you will then be able to figure out how long the job will take and multiply that by the amount of money you need to make per hour.”

A third shared “I figured out pricing the old fashioned way. Trial and error. When you underbid enough you learn pretty quickly how much you SHOULD have charged. Knowing how long it takes to do a job just by looking at it is tricky at first. I think it’s more scientific to pricing by square feet.

Based on what you are telling me, I’d probably charge around $50 to mow that yard. There’s no way I’d do it for $35, by the way - that much, I can say for sure. I get $25 for lawns that are just a strip along the side of the house!”

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