Should you give your mowing price per sq. ft. to a customer?

Lawn care customers come up with the craziest of requests at times. This seems to happen more so when the economy is down. Then they want to come up with their own methods to fine a way to lower their costs while increase the amount of work you are putting into their property. As we will see from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, sometimes it’s simply better to say no than to put yourself and your lawn care business in a bad spot.

One lawn care business owner wrote “so I was charging a company a flat rate of $65 per property for mowing, and $35 to trim/blow/weed around porches -beds for a couple of years now. Most of the properties that I service for this company have hedges all the way around the border that I need to line trim under neath. All of them have porches and ramps as well.

This year they want me to submit my bid with a per square foot price of mowing and a price with a linear ft charge per trimming and edging. One property is 20,195 sq ft and another is 33,000 sq ft. There is also a smaller one that is around 13,000, but it has a lot more trimming and edging needed.

I have no idea what the going rate is per square foot or linear foot in my area. Furthermore I have to drive 40 minutes to get to the job sites. I have no idea what to charge for linear foot for the trimming either! Why do they want me to do this? Is this normal?

I tried to explain that to the company, since we did snow removal for them at a flat rate, we had flat rated the larger /smaller lawns too. We mainly based this price on the amount of time it took to perform and charged by the hour. They informed me that this year their budget was cut by half, therefore they wanted to know why we charged them the same for one smaller property as we did for the other three larger ones. I told them I gave them a break and charged less for the larger properties while I charged a fair price for the smaller one. But now they think I should charge per square foot and linear foot. If i did it that way, I am sure it would cost them more, not less. So I don’t know how to explain it any clearer that they are getting a break already.

I am starting to get a feeling there’s a lowballer that is wanting in. I just don’t know what to do.”

Another lawn care business owner said “there isn’t a way to just give a company a price per sq. ft. that covers all situations. Each property could be bid on and then broken down to show a price per linear foot and square foot but that wouldn’t be giving them what they want.

What if one property has a flat lawn and the next one has a hill with a 25 degree slope in the backyard with 50 trees and then a drainage ditch that needs to be manually trimmed? The price at each property would vary per unit of measurement.

Knowing a price per square foot when all things are equal is one thing but there has to be a fudge factor allowance to be used when you deem it to be.

It sounds to me like someone in accounting is attempting to understand your mowing lawn estimation formula. They are probably doing this to either pigeonhole you into doing more work for less money or they are (like you said) probably shopping work out to lower priced competitors.

Either way, it is your prerogative to decline giving them your formula. Tell them you only give prices on a per property basis and let that be the end of it.”

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