Underbid my first lawn mowing bid.

There are a few things most new lawn care business owners do when they get started that really negatively impact their bottom line. The first thing they do is they underestimate the amount of time they will need to complete a job and follow up by underestimating the amount of money they need to charge the customer to make the job profitable. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear some initial start up problems one new business owner ran into, and how to resolve them in the future.

One new lawn care business owner wrote “so here is my back story. I am an active person and thought it would be a good idea to start a lawn care business, not only that but thing are tight as well. I am starting very small, I’ve got a craftsman 6.5 mower, a stihl fs 106 line trimmer, a craftsman blower, and an old edger. I just had my first mowing customer the other day and it went well, I think I underbid a little but it’s ok, just learning.

That’s why I’m here though. I need to learn how to bid and any other tricks you all may have to share. To market my services, I got myself a few business cards and an ad on craigslist. Right now, this is just a side job but I would be happy to see it grow.

The problems I ran into on my first mowing job were I really didn’t do a good walk around. Instead, I just stood in the main part of the yard and talked about what they wanted me to do. The yard was pretty overgrown, some parts were at least 6 inches long and the edging had not been done for a long time. I would say 4 inches or so over the sidewalk and walk way. I had a small weed wacker at the time and there was a fair amount of that to do.

I figured to get the property into shape I would need 2.5 to 3 hours tops @ $25 an hour. Now mind you the bidding thing is something I need to learn, at the time though it seemed fair. Once I did my initial mowing, I realized I had to go over at least half of the yard twice at different heights and the old craftsman mower just was not up to par for a job like that.

When it was all said and done it took me 4 hours total and I made $75 bucks. Now, we agreed on $75 from the beginning so I felt it was right to uphold the deal we made. I learned a few lessons through the job. I feel I should have made at least $100 for the time no problem. I am going to play around more with the mowing estimation calculator, they are very interesting. I’m going experiment by using it on my yard and my inlaws two yards and see how I do at estimating job time. My goal is to do good work and be fair to people with my pricing, my biggest worry is I will continue to underbid mowing jobs and lose more money.

Underbid A Lawn Mowing Job

I am planing on putting out some flyers and ads on craigslist that say the following.

• First spring mow- $45.00 (Includes edging,and blowing off walk way/drive way etc. disposing of clippings add an additional $5)

• Weekly spring mow- $35.00 (Includes edging, and blowing off walk way/drive way etc. Disposing of clippings add an additional$5)

• Bi-weekly mow during summer months $35.00

• Weeding, pruning, trimming etc, Will be bid upon arrival.

This is a basic price sheet for a standard sized yard, all of this is subject to change depending on size and difficulty of your yard. I look forward to serving you and working hard to make your yard look the best that it can look. If you already have a lawn care provider please pass this on to a friend or family member as I am trying to build a clientele. Thank you for your time and consideration. Please call anytime for a bid or discuss what you need me to do.

This is what I have come up with for the time being until I get out there and and learn a little more. Is there anything you all would recommend? I feel pretty good at this time that it is going to work out.

Around here it seems that word of mouth is very effective. Hopefully going door to door with these flyers will help get the word out faster. I will also be asking friends and family to get the word out for me as well.”

A second business owner said “it is real easy to underbid your first mowing jobs. In this situation, you charged about 75% of what your target price was. So next time, trying bidding a bit higher and see if by increasing your estimated time by 25%, you get closer to your actual time spent on the property.

Keeping track of your estimated times and your actual times will help you find trends in the way you bid. You may see in general you consistently underbid by a certain amount. Adding to your future bid times will help correct that.

Also when it comes to advertising, it usually is better to not include prices in your adds. Invariably, a customer will get your flyer and have a yard that is bigger, or more overgrown than you had initially considered in your price. When you try to go up on the price, the customer may balk.

Advertising your price makes you lead with a price. If you instead advertise your quality service, you may find you can charge more and make more money per hour.”

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

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Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
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A rebellious teenagers guide to starting a landscaping & lawn care business
The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
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