Way underbid a craigslist lawn care job.

It’s really easy to underbid yard cleanup jobs, especially one time rush jobs as we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. When you see how badly others can underbid jobs, it can open your eyes to how and why you need to bid more for the jobs you are working on. If you underbid a lawn care job too much, you end up paying to work and that is something you never want to do.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I just got home a little while ago from the craigslist mowing job.

So we showed up. The yard is pretty big, the customer said it was medium sized on the phone, but between the front & back, it was a good, big yard.

Very overgrown. Neglected. I wanted to bid her higher, but I bid the job at $55.00

Honestly, I know the job was worth more due to the strain it put on our mower, but I also knew she was going to be turned off from hearing a firm $60.00, so I told her $55 off the bat.

She didn’t want to pay it! She told us to just do the front, while I told her that would run $25 (realizing at the time that many of you guys won’t even unload for under $30!)

In haste she told us to do it all. We picked up the original bid.

She wanted us to get the yard done before her hubby came home from work. My helper took the mower and I started detailing with the line trimmer. Started with some nice definition edging along the driveway, cleaned out all the cracks in it, made it look super. Moved along the porch, they had some nice stonework installed which was disastrous (we come back to this at the end). Cleaned that up real nice. Moved to an area that was landscaped at one time, has a dying bush in it, and some old stones buried under years of neglect; made the rocks visible.

Trees in the yard had large roots, cut a nice defining edge around the tree and whacked out all the weeds. Edged the root structure of the tree to make him look nice and sharp.

Moved to the backyard - NIGHTMARE!

Out of control weeds under the deck, neglected grass taking over anywhere it could - trees in dire need of pruning, bushes begging for trimming - but that’s not in the bid! So maybe next time. Meantime, I had to line trim the back yard in sections to thin it out.

My helper then came out back, to start mowing. The grass blades were so tall, they retained sooo much moisture that the yard was getting wet from me clearing it out. This bogged the mower A LOT. Used the blower to speed cool it from time to time when it was getting too hot.

OBSTACLES!! picnic table, lawn chairs, a hammock frame! Huge aluminum ladder along the fence of the house - I decided we were going to leave it. Said I’d charge them an extra $15 to move it and clean the lawn under it, like it or not. The customer never asked, but that was my plan.

A nice stone patio that’s over grown. Edged it a little bit, but the best way would be to move the stones and just mow/whack the area and replace them, they weren’t that big a deal. We left them at mowed and edged.

She needed this huge yard done by 5:30pm, we had it done around 5:40. She said hubby was coming home just as we were packing up. Here comes LAST MINUTE REQUEST!!

‘It looks a little long along the area here’ (the stone way I edged earlier) ‘that’s going to be the first thing my husband notices, can you fix that up? (but hurry mind you, he can be home now at any minute).’

No, the first thing he would notice is how great his yard looks.

Anyway, cleaned it up with the whacker - however I had it all nicely blown off. I decided not to go back and blow it again as we were supposedly low on time and I had already packed up the blower. It also made it a little uneven which I was not too happy about, but got over it because the check was in hand. I don’t want to get too jaded but yeah, don’t spring requests or tips on us at the last minute.

So anyway, the job went off without a hitch. We got it done in just over 2:40 minutes. This was our first emergency service/short notice call.”

underbid-lawncare-job

A second lawn care business owner said “$55 for 6 man hours (2 people x’s 3 hours = 6)? You are working for less than minimum wage! You should’ve charged a couple hundred dollars at the very least. The only reason to drop the price is if it was going to be a weekly gig. That way you make it back in the end.”

A third shared “he is right! Even if it’s more than they want to pay, you still need to bid it at least at $1 per minute, per person. If it took you 3 hours and there were two of you, I would have bid it for around $250-300.

I went to a bid today in a lower end area, the guy asked me to bid his yard (overgrown and outta control) plus cutting honeysuckle out of 400 to 500 feet of chain link fence. I told him $800 just for the fence. He about choked. I figure I’m the one taking the time, risking my equipment to either wear out faster or get stolen, yeah $800 and that was a little light if you ask me.”

A fourth added “I don’t know how long you’ve been doing this, but my assumption is that you just started. I worked for peanuts when I first got started too because I didn’t know any better. I have since learned that I don’t have to quote what I think THEY will PAY - I quote what I want/need to be paid. This does not mean that I throw out unreasonable figures, but if you are a legitimate business, paying insurance and any other fees, you MUST charge enough to cover those expenses.

Location does have a lot to do with what you can charge, but you can still charge a fair price and get jobs even if some won’t pay what you are asking.
Wait until your schedule is filled with crap accounts and you realize you aren’t making enough money. At that point there are only two options - work harder and longer hours for more low-pay accounts (remember there are only so many hours in a day), or get accounts that pay more.

I still have some slots I can fill this season and I’m not bringing in what I had hoped for. That said, I’m turning down crap jobs left and right because I know that if I take them, I won’t have room in my schedule for a GOOD paying job when they come calling.

You do what works for you. Just don’t sell yourself short because ‘twenty dollars an hour’ isn’t really $20/hr.”

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.ā€¯

If you need help estimating lawn care or snow plowing jobs, get these lawn care and snow plowing estimation calculators.

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