Charging for lawn care estimates?

If you have been in the lawn care business for a short time, you probably have had potential customers call you to their home and ask you for a bid to improve their property. Sometimes you get the job and sometimes you don’t. Have you ever gotten to the point where you are spending quite a bit of time giving out estimates and not winning them? Maybe to stem this problem you have even considered charging for your lawn care estimates. That is what one entrepreneur was considering doing when he brought this up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

One lawn care business owner wrote “here is my dilemma. If you take time out of your day to measure and survey someone’s property to be mowed, mulched etc. and in the end, the client doesn’t use your services, should you bill them for measuring?

To make a long story short, I went out and did an estimate. After I went home to research the estimate further, draw up the estimate, and then went back to the client with the estimate. After reading through it, he said he would not need my services! It seems something should be done about this and I think I should bill him for the time spent! It cost me time and about $30 in gas to do this estimate.”

Charging for lawn care estimates.

Charging for lawn care estimates.

A second lawn care business owner said “although you can not weed out all tire kickers, I try to weed them out over the phone. If I feel someone is ‘price shopping’ I tell them I am not the highest guy in town, but I am by far not the lowest either. So if their primary goal is the lowest price, I tell them to call someone else. 90% of the time I can spot a potential pain in the ass customer over the phone so I don’t waste my time and gas on driving out and giving them an estimate.”

A third said “giving free lawn care estimates does suck but it is part of the business. Obviously it was the price that kept you from the job. Was it that he didn’t know how much hiring someone to do this job would actually cost and he wasn’t prepared to pay or was he getting lower bids?

When you find yourself in such situations, if it’s possible, try explaining why your bid is what it is. If the customer still seems squeamish, maybe there are certain parts of the job that could be done at a later date to lower the bid price and make it more acceptable to the customer? Being on site at an estimate is your best chance to sell to the potential customer. You can point out and discuss issues in person and create this imagery of what the customer will get when you are finished. The last thing you want to do is start telling potential customers that you charge for estimates. If you do that and your competition doesn’t, your potential customers will bypass you from the start.”

A fourth added “my father has been in business for over 25 years. What he does is he uses a service charge. If he ends up getting the job he removes the fee. Everybody’s time is worth something. You just can’t spend an hour or two giving a free lawn care estimate. You’re charging them for the travel time, gas, and whatever you measure up while your there. The fee can be whatever you need to make per hour. I normally charge $45. The time of you figuring up the job is the estimate and that’s free. Some people won’t like it but the normal ones understand and expect it.”

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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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