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Sensible Lawns
03-27-2008, 03:08 PM
Hi all! My name Is Jason, and Ive just recently started getting a Mowing and Landscaping business together. Ive been in the industry working under somebody for roughly 8 years now, and the business I was working for moved out of town which left me with nothing. They gave me the option to take their client list of names and numbers to get started, so thats exactly what I did. I just bought my first pickup truck (95 Chevy Silverado EX-Cab), to tow my trailer. I also got approved for my loan of $5000, and am looking to disperse this money well enough to get all of my advertisement and equipment paid for. I will be working with one other guy who Ive been working with for years now on the job. I will also have one other guy maintaining my website and keeping all the paperwork, clients, and daily job lists up to date. He will also be the one working my Gopher Pro software, which seems to be a one stop program for anything you need! I hope I get off to a good start and look forward to talking to other owners who have been in the business much longer than I have! Thanks for the great site...
-Jason ...Owner of "Sensible Lawns"

I will be adding pictures to my profile of equipment, and work I've done as soon as I get them!

musician/lawnman
03-27-2008, 03:16 PM
Welcome Jason!
Wow, what a great way to start, So your old boss just up & left his customers? Did he give you the client list or give you the existing accounts? Either way it's a nice kick in the butt to get a new business running quick.
Where are you located?

lawnindustryconsultants.com
03-27-2008, 03:59 PM
Welcome aboard. Anything feel free to ask.

Steve
03-27-2008, 04:00 PM
Hi Jason,

Welcome to our forum!

WOW What a situation. I think this is the first I have heard of this! It really puts you in a great spot! How many clients did they leave you with? Have you contacted them yet? Are they going to be staying with you?

You might not need to do any advertising at first!

Sensible Lawns
03-27-2008, 05:53 PM
Hey guys, Thanks for the responses!
Yeah, they did leave me their clients list (which I already know most of them), and phone #'s as well. As far as advertising go's...I now am living in Traverse City, MI, but the clients are all in Charlevoix, MI where I am originally from. I do have to do some advertising in Traverse City, but probably not too much in Charlevoix...Depending on how many of the clients stick with me. Most of them I know on a first name basis, which helps a lot. Charlevoix is a relatively small town, so everybody knows everybody. I ran the show as far as mowing and landscaping went, but this will be my first shot at doing all the bids and what not. I will most likely have a lot of questions once the season kicks in...which in northern Michigan can be almost anytime between middle of March to middle of May! Spring cleanups are what I will advertise at first...what is a standard for pricing on those? I figure if I throw in a free mow after all the yard cleanup...I can get an idea on how long it will take me to mowe, and be able to give them a good estimate?? any better ideas will be very much appreciated, but for now...thats where I stand! Thanks again guys for the support!

oh yeah, as far as how many they left me...
When I was with them, we we're mowing an average of 15-20 lawns per day. We also had a cemetery that was generally a 3-4 day bi-weekly job! about 1/4th of the everyday lawns were commercial, and the others were residential.

Steve
03-27-2008, 06:12 PM
Quote[/b] ].I can get an idea on how long it will take me to mowe, and be able to give them a good estimate?? any better ideas will be very much appreciated,
With your previous business, how much did they bill usually per hour?

Sensible Lawns
03-27-2008, 06:39 PM
how much did they charge? thats the tough part. The mowing was their P.R. part of the business. They did a summer promotion of like $10 lawns on all small in-town lawns, which with gas at almost $4/gal...there is just no way I can do it for that cheap. I expect to lose majority of those customers for that reason only. generally they were around $25/lawn for just the mowing on average sized lawns, and up from there depending on size and time. I'm fairly new to this bid thing, so if there is a standard price for a standard size lawn..please give me an idea on like an equation or something like that to plug numbers into.

Steve
03-27-2008, 06:41 PM
Ok so with a $25 lawn, how long did it take you?

Sensible Lawns
03-27-2008, 09:55 PM
Half hour or less? They liked a flat rate for their name to get around...like I said, their mowing crew wasn't their main source of income, so sometimes they profited, but a lot of time they just broke even. Thats why I sort of feel a bit crippled in the wonderful world of bidding, because I know we really low-balled people sometimes. The owners had a cleaning crew as well with mainly commercial clients such as schools, office buildings, ect. That is actually why they dropped their mowing crew, they landed the bid as cleaning crew for MSU.

hotwired
03-28-2008, 04:50 AM
I price mowing at $1 a minute per man. Very simple, very easy, very ACCURATE. This gives me $60 per man hour which is what I have decided to get for my services. Now I use a mix of methods to estimate each lawn. We work in Maine, and every yard is a little different. In fact, Id go so far as to say that there is NO typical yard or lawn! I start with a $30 minimum if we can do the whole lawn with a commercial walk-behind or z, $50 if we have to even THINK about breaking out a rear bagging push mower. From there, I take an educated guess as to how long the job will take based on "comparing" it to other lawns we have. Now if you don't HAVE any other lawns yet, this method won't help. So here's a quick bullet list of times based on size of lawn.

Follow these and you won't get in MUCH trouble and you can tweak as you go. I STRONGLY recommend that you put a clause in your agreements stating that you can increase mowing price with 30 day notice. Finishing a "one time" job that you underbid is one thing. Showing up week after week to mow a lawn for $25 that you should be getting $40 for is quite another and I don't personally believe you should be locked into that. 30 days is plenty of time for them to decide to keep you or find someone else.

- 1/4 acre: Min. $30.00
- 1/2 acre: Min. $40.00
- 3/4 acre: Min. $50.00
- 1 acre: Min. $60.00
Trimming and blowing should run approximately 50% of mowing time. So figure:
mowing time PLUS
trimming, weedwacker edging and blowing (50% of mowing unless there's ditches you need to mow, fences, more than 5-6 trees, etc.) PLUS
travel (5-10 minutes - any more and you need to question whether the account is worth doing) TIMES hourly rate equals mowing price.

There are so many variables that frankly, it's impossible to give you a clear formula. But trust yourself. A BUCK A MINUTE PER PERSON, $30 minimum period, $50 minimum if you're going to start a push mower. For HUGE lawns, you can literally measure and use this formula:
75% efficiency rating is representative of actual mowing conditions, as it allows for turns and overlapping.
Formula for calculating acres per hour: % efficiency = (mph x width of cut)/99
44-Inch Deck 52-Inch Deck
MPH 80% 80%
3.0 1.06 1.26
5.0 1.78 2.10
7.0 2.49 2.94
I personally think it's a good idea to do ALL your lawns at LEAST once or twice by YOURSELF so that you have an idea of how long mowing vs. trimming and blowing should take. You might record both mowing and trimming time on all or most of your lawns just once, so you have a ballpark. It's good to really be clear how long things should take so you can properly assess how your helper, if you have one, is doing time and efficiency wise, or even another crew!