My landscape company made $200,000 last year.

In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one landscaper who has been in the business 8 years and has finally figured out how much he needs to make each day to break even. From that figure, we learn how it makes it easier for him to know how much he has to charge for each lawn he mows. Try some of his examples with your own financial figures and see how much you should be charging per landscape customer. Then compare that to what you are currently charging them.

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

I’ve only got 3 to 4 lawn care employees 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 guys that are 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 landscape business, it’s hard to figure out what the true cost per day or hour really is.

I get a laugh when I read some posts concerning how much to charge to do something. 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. 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 landscapers underbid a job is:

  1. You really want the work.
  2. You’re giving a bad price on the spot and you don’t want them to tell the customer you need to charge more.
  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.

To correct this 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? Bottom line is you need to know how much you need to make every day. Once you know that, setting a mowing 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 your not just pulling a price out of thin air.

If you’re a one man show.

Figure you need to make $350 a day to stay in the lawn care 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 bucks 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 them $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. Payroll 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. At some point you will need help. That’s when the government thinks you’re rich. It can’t be much different where you are. If I was only pulling in $1,750 a week I’d be broke.

Day to day, I will 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 thing I like to do best is tell my guys I have a very busy day and they’re on their own so don’t call me. Then when the leave the shop. I hop on my motorcycle and take off for the day. I call it wind therapy.

As a lawn care business owner, you must be somewhat of a salesman, but it’s more important that you know how much running your business really costs. It’s not hard to figure it out either.

Take last years 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 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 potential lawn care customers that will price shop. I 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 mowing 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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