Bidding a 16 acre lawn mowing job.

Bidding on smaller residential properties can be relatively easy for the average lawn care business owner after they have performed a few of them. But what do you do when you are called on to give a mowing estimate on a much larger property? How do you give an accurate lawn care estimate and not lose your shirt doing it? That is the question which was discussed on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and a great response came from it.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’ve been in the lawn maintenance business for a while now and seem to do good at bidding regular lawns, but lately I have been getting larger acreage jobs to bid on. One called me with a 16 acre complex. The job would be just straight edge and mow (no hedges). Weekly mowing in the spring and summer, then it would switch to bi-weekly in the  fall and winter. I figured the job will include about 34 mowings in total, throughout the entire year. To mow this property, I will be using my 48 inch ztr.

After looking at the job site, by myself I am estimating it would take at least 7 to 9 hours in total. The mowing alone would take 5 1/2 to 6 hours. I bid the job at $412 per mowing. With that, I was awarded the lawn care contract. Because I got it so fast, I got a little concerned and didn’t know if this was a good or bad deal for me.

Well after performing the job a couple of times, I figured I did get the mowing time right in my bid. It actually takes me between 5 1/2 to 6 hours. But I didn’t estimate the line trimming accurately. The job needed 2 employees trimming for over 5 hours. I guessed it would take me about 4 to 5 hours to perform by myself, but then the business owner usually works faster than the employees.

Knowing what I know now, my lawn care bid will probably go up next year. In general if I have a good relationship with a client then my bid tends to stay the same for years. If things do not work out smooth, then I go up or not bid again.

If I had it all to do over again I would have bid higher.”

A second lawn care business owner shared “here is what we have done a few times when I wasn’t sure how to bid and I did it twice recently. I offer one free service, complete mow, trim and blow so I can time it properly. I tell the client the free one time cut is because we would appreciate their business and we would but that is not really the purpose of it. With that, they always say yes. But the real point of the free one time service is to find an accurate time to perform the job, this way I know I am not bidding on a money losing job. I only do this on very large jobs, such as the private communities we have been picking up more lately.

The standard residential lawns a lot of us have are easy to bid on after we have been in this a while. Early on, I would measure the property just to do mowing quotes. I don’t anymore and haven’t for some time. Instead I give an on the spot quote. We shake hands and we get the job done. My lawn care estimate acceptance rate is about 98% and according to my financials we are turning a 36% net profit, that is really good.”

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