Lawn care bid example: Two acres of grass, two feet tall.

A member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum was asked to bid on a job that included mowing two acres of property with grass that was two feet high. Such jobs can go from being relatively simple and straight forwards, to absolute disastrous mine fields of unforeseen obstacles, all ready to destroy your brand new equipment. How you go about scouting out the potential problems and a little luck can make the difference between profit or hefty repair bills. Let’s look at how this job played out.

He wrote “I got a call today to give a price for mowing two acres. I get over there and it looks like ‘amber waves of grain.’ The entire 2 acres is flat and the entire 2 acres is covered with field grass that’s at least 2 feet tall. I can mow it with my Hustler but I’ll have to run over it twice. I estimated 6 hours to mow the place & priced it at $210. I got the job. What would you charge to mow this 2 acres? ”

lawn-mower-tall-grass

lawn-mower-tall-grass

One lawn care business owner suggested “I did a like job last fall. I used Gator Mulching Blades and thought going over twice would be sufficient. It took 4 passes to make it look decent.

I’d figure for 2 passes and then double it. I’ll bet your price won’t even raise his eyebrows.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I did a very similar job. I told then I would have to charge them for the rental of a DR Line trimmer, and a dump truck to haul off the grass clipping. I also had to use a friend’s drag behind rake with an atv. It took 4 hours. The total charge was $400 dollars. Total expenses $200. We had the area rough cut, raked and loaded in about 2 hours, then just run the 60 inch mower.”

A third business owner wrote “I would probably charge around $450.00. It would take about four hours using the 2520 tractor and our 3pt hitch mower or I may have used an 8 foot sickle bar then used the landscape rake to pile the grass and weeds but we do not haul away. That is quite a mess. The big problem with mowing areas like that is hitting something. I would probably opt for the sickle bar as it can take the rocks and crap.”

A fourth said “I just did a similar job to that one. A guy I currently mow for called and told me he bought a summer home nearby that he wanted me to mow. I get to the home and the grass in the back yard is taller than me ( I’m 6′4″)! I have an old 60 inch mower that my dad gave to me and mowed with that. It was approx 1 acre and I did 2 passes and then swept it all. Did not have to dispose of clipping only leave in a pile in the driveway. It took 3 hours total at $500 plus he brought me a set of new blades”

When the original poster of this question got back from mowing the property, I asked him what he thought about the job and if he would have done anything differently? He wrote “So I mowed this property today, well, 6 hours of it anyway. The grass ultimately was a lot taller than I thought it was. When sitting on my mower the grass was at eye level, some of it was even taller! After I had six hours into the job, which is what I estimated for price, I called the client and asked them to come see how much I had completed and tell me if they wanted me to continue at my normal hourly rate. They just had me tell them how much I got done and said that was good enough, all they really wanted was the place mowed down so that they could get to the house and get it ready to rent.

In six hours I mowed 1.5 acres & after all expenses I made $210. Was it worth it? I suppose to me it was because this older couple own a lot of properties…. & have my number on their speed dial!

I mow for them at $35 per hour. This is the same hourly rate I charge for a normal size lawn in the city. I’m not giving them a break on price at all from my perspective. On this job I gave them six hours at $210, that’s $35 per hour. I made more money mowing this lot than I would have mowing 6 regular (1 hour each) lawns in the city because I didn’t have to load 6 times, drive to 6 different jobs, and unload 6 times. So to me this was a good day.

Am I a fool for not charging more, I suppose opinions will vary but here’s the thing….. I find it very hard to go broke when I’m getting paid my asking price. I didn’t realize how long the job would take to complete and next time I will have to increase the amount of time I figure in my estimates.”

In the end, one last lawn care business owner pointed out something very important about this job. He wrote “don’t use a lawn mower to do a brush hog job. You are very lucky you didn’t hit a big rock. You probably put some serious wear on the belts and blades! I get $200 to do a regular 1/4 acre yard with grass that tall. I wouldve charged $500 and spent 3 hrs with a tractor and brush hog.

You need to either get the proper equipment for these big jobs or stick to the small jobs, otherwise you’re gonna get in over your head some time and lose big. You could have just as easily hit a big rock or something halfway through and done $600 damage to your deck. Then you would’ve had more than $10 in costs on this job.

I’m not trying to be mean, I just want you to stop and think before you act. Don’t be afraid to say no to a job rather than trying to do it with out the right tools.”

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