Should you use Google Earth to bid lawn care jobs?

As a lawn care business owner, you are probably always trying to figure out ways to get the most bang for your buck and bring in the most return for your time. Which leads me to this question posted on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum on whether you should bid lawn mowing jobs based on satellite images of a property. What are the pros and cons of doing so? Would it be worthwhile to experiment with?

One lawn care business owner wrote “I was wondering if anyone has ever tried using google earth to help create your lawn care estimate? I personally have not but I do know that it’s ruler tool is pretty damn close to right on when compared to a measurement that I took of my own back yard.

It seems using such an internet service would be a great way to bring up a new potential lawn care customer’s property if you were not near it and be able to give a customer an estimate without having to waste your time driving out and then giving the bid. This could provide for a great way to save the trip and time and also would also be a huge improvement on response time. You could give a customer a lawn care a bid within a half hour compared to the time it would take to physically drive to location, talk to the customer and walk the property.”

A second lawn care business owner said “Google Earth is great as one tool in your quiver. I find it very helpful in helping me get property dimensions instead of having to bring along a surveyors wheel to the job site and walk the property perimeter out. This is especially helpful with estimating the dimensions of large mowing areas. A key point to realize is you should not give a quote based solely on this information. However it will help you hone in on a price.

One of the big problems I have seen others run into from doing this is you can’t get a real-time view of what is going on with the property. Furthermore it is not a good idea to give lawn care estimates over the phone. If you do try to experiment with using this method only to create your estimate you will inevitably run into the problem where one day after you give the estimate and have your bid accepted, you will show up to mow the lawn and the grass will be 4ft tall and the yard will be full of obstacles.

It is always better to view the property, walk the property with the homeowner and point out the issues. Then use your sales skills to sell the price you need to make a profit on the job.

I know one lawn care business owner who uses Google Earth for estimating cookie cutter type lawns. The big issue he runs into is the people who call and ask for a quick bid are more often than not, simply tire kickers. They call many different lawn care business owners looking for the cheapest price.

Going to a property and talking face to face with a property owner allows you to look for certain warning signs these tire kickers will give off and from the experience you get interacting with the homeowner, you can then decide it if you want this person as a customer or not.

In lawn care as in life, it’s the details that kill you. Are you bidding on trimming a slow growing shrub row like an Azeala or a much faster Hibiscus? Are there wet areas on the property after rain that will need to be raked and double cut? Is there a wash out area constantly stacking sand on the parking lot? I’ve never known a lawn care client that can tell me every plant on site. Nor every tree. Without this information in front of you when you are bidding on property maintenance, you are wasting your time.

If this was a perfect world and the property you were bidding on was a clear field then I think Google Earth would be more useful. But if you are talking about taking care of plants, beds and unlevel terrain, you might find that you really have a good chance to screw yourself on price.

Use Google Earth wisely as one tool to help assist you in creating a bid but don’t fully rely on it to blindly bid a property. Don’t look for cheap short cuts to bid as many customers as possible. Go out there and meet your potential customers. Let them put your face and wonderful personality to a name they hear on the phone and sell them on why they should choose you. Remember first impressions are so very important. What way do you think would help you sell better, a simple bland email response to a potential customer or an on site meeting where you set the stage to show off your knowledge and professionalism? Go to the site and make the sale in person.”

Use these lawn care and snow plow estimators for your Android phone.

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The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
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