Should I take on mowing jobs 45 minutes away?

Pricing jobs accurately is tough to do. But when you live outside your service area and you need to make a long drive into town to service properties, your estimate prices can go through the roof. So, how should an entrepreneur handle these situations? Should you take on jobs that are out of the way? That is what one business owner wanted to know when he asked his question on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Although there are different theories on how to deal with this situation, here is one method that works for at least one mowing company.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I got a call from this company that wanted me to look at three properties and give them a seasonal price on taking care of their lawns. Two of the homes are 45 minutes away and the other I think, is about an hour away. As long as I include drive time in my bid, should it really matter how far away the properties are?

I had told the caller that I recently moved about 45 minutes south of where they were talking about, but they said they would be able to compensate for the gas. So I don’t know if they have anyone else doing that or not.

Where I live, it is so spread out, the closest town is 10 minutes away, but the there are really not many high income areas. I have to travel about 30 minutes each way to even come close to get anything that pays decent, and even then I have some trouble. I bid a leaf clean up job today at $210 and the guy just about dropped his jaw when he heard my bid. Then, I had one more that I bid at $125, and he has to think about, which pretty much means politely, ‘No thank you.’

I guess my question is, do you price such jobs as if they were local, as long as you have more than one job in an area to service or…do you calculate your hourly rate as in a round trip, almost to where it would be uncompetitively priced at the point? I don’t want to stiff people, but I am a business, not some teenager next door that works for cheap.

Another idea I have considered is to just charge $.50 per mile and calculate my actual time on the job site. The real question seems to be, how bad do I want the job? My wife thinks I am crazy for considering work 1 hour away, because I am not at all set up with commercial equipment at this point (mostly because of the drive). I got another call from a commercial company that is 1 hour away, but they want a bid for the mowing, mulch, maintenance, and all that stuff. I just hope they don’t want snow plowing because at this point, I would have to turn it down.”

A second lawn care business owner said “as long as you can do all three jobs on the same day and they are in the same direction you might make out all right. I am in the same boat as you are as far as my home versus the distance I need to drive to get to my lawns. The nearest store is a mom and pop store 7 miles away. The nearest town is 32 miles away. I just fill up my schedule one day at a time and make sure that I have more than one job to do in the area.

I do not count my drive time to town when I bid the jobs. If I did so I would be higher priced than anyone else bidding. I chose to live in the middle of no where so I do not have neighbors to contend with.

For me, it’s the price I pay for my piece of mind. It costs me a few bucks in the long run but I stay competitive in my pricing and get about 50 percent of what I bid on. If I was adding in my drive time to my bids, that percentage would drop drastically.

You have to think about it long term. You may not make but pennies on the first job in an area for the day but once you are in that area, you will be back on tract to make a good hourly wage. My farthest job that I started in an area was 45 minutes away but it is also a $90 a week job so it’s still profit then anything else that came along was priced right and the profit was right.”

Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.

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