Telling lawn care customers your hourly rate.

When you are bidding jobs for lawn care or landscaping projects, should you let your customer know how much you are charging them per hour or should this be something you keep to yourself and simply bid on the job as a whole? That is a question that was brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum when a lawn care business owner asked “has anyone in the landscape construction field doing residential, bid a job by telling the customer the cost of materials and told them your rate per hour to prevent yourself from underbidding? It just seems like an easier way to bid to me.”

One lawn care business owner said “most lawn care customers don’t understand the total amount of work and costs involved in a lawn care business. They only see the time you spend working at their property. They don’t see equipment maintenance time and costs, office work, drive time, load and unload time, etc.

I have always steered away from giving hourly rates to customers. When customers hear your effective rate per man hour they have a tendency to balk at the price.

I lost a customer once when she calculated my hourly rate. She was a great customer and always left a check on mowing day since she was at work. One day, after two years of her being happy with my work, she was home sick. I could see her watching me from her livingroom window.

When I got my check, she complained I had only been in her yard for 20 minutes and said she thought I was spending a couple hours in her lawn each week.

Later that evening, she called and said she had calculated how much I was making per hour and that she wasn’t going to pay anyone that much money for 20 minutes work.”

Another business owner shared “for me, excavation and tree work is by the hour, by the machine and by the operator, everything else for the most part I just bid. I even bid “normal” french drains by the foot and I generally make a 40% profit net.

By the hour can scare some people as excavation is one field you can waste a pile of time and make a pile of cash. I will not stand for employees wasting time when we are working by the hour for a customer. I am very easy to work for. All I ask is that you get the job done and do it. I go to great lengths to explain to the client they can stop us anytime they wish. I don’t think it has ever happened, in fact we generally stay longer than requested. It is rare we do not get a job I bid and if we don’t, it honestly doesn’t matter that much to me mainly because we have so much on the books to do, it might be different if we were looking for work.

Most people have a budget and I respect that as I would to. You will run into things on 90% of the jobs no one expected. Only the big guy above knows what is under the soil you are looking at. These issues that pop up have an effect on the cost. I always involve the client every step of the way and some even help which I think it excellent. If they are part of the process, that makes them part of the problem if one should happen. It’s the cheapest insurance going and I have great confidence in my staff and our work.

It is very important you remember to educate your lawn care customers and it doesn’t take long. If you take the time to explain the process, the equipment and so on they will not balk at the price.

I had a lady call me this morning, I was on a site doing a drain but she was not far away. She had 6 trees, not all that large and ready to fall on a neighbors boat. I decided to go over at lunch, I spent 30 min explaining the process and she wrote me a check. We haven’t even been there to do the work yet. It will work out to be $160.00 an hour. That is big bucks but she understands the risks and the process and that we do everything by the book. She said I was the most expensive but because I took the time to explain everything to her, she wanted us.

This process works and I have a financial balance sheet to prove it. I sometimes wonder why we are afraid to explain we can cut that lawn in 20 min for $85.00. It’s simple the machine you are looking at set me back $21,000, people are smarter than we sometimes give them credit for.”

That is a very interesting point. Your view would be to explain to the customer how your expenses factor into their price? By pointing out equipment and the price of it, it should show to the customer why the bid is what it is? Possibly with the theory behind it being, if they know what some of your costs are, they will be more understanding of the price?

Do you think it’s best to just come out and explain it to them like that or do you wait to see how they react to the bid price first and then explain the expenses to help them understand better?

“I am straight up and I do not hesitate to explain the cost of any equipment, education is critical. If you want a trunk slammer job then by all means hire one with the equipment to match. If you want a professional job it comes with a price. I educate every client, I even show them the blades on the tractors for lawn care and explain why we use them. Knowledge is power, tell the customer the facts, you gain a lot of trust and respect, it works.”

In such situations does the homeowner ever try and nail down a ball park length of time you think the job will take? How do you handle it when they do try to get a length of time?

“Yes and I would personally want a ballpark too. I can tell you based on experience I have seen these jobs run from $x to $x, if you have a budget, you know our rate, just tell me when to stop, it honestly doesn’t happen all that often.”

Should you tell lawn care customers your hourly rate. - GopherHaul 53 Lawn Care Software Show Video

Should you tell lawn care customers your hourly rate. - GopherHaul 53 Lawn Care Software Show Podcast

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