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StartALawnCareBusiness
07-17-2008, 01:07 PM
Hi everyone.

There are constant questions on this board about how to estimate lawns.

Today I will show you how to give a price estimate on a residential lawn.

Estimating a yard is easy. First we measure the dimensions. This estimate also includes weedeating. So, I will measure the perimeter of the property to tell me how much weeding I will have to do.

Something else to keep in mind when you are estimating are obstacles in the yard. This family has a trampoline. Every single time we come out here, we are going to have to move that trampoline. That is going to add 5 minutes to your estimated time. So, be sure to include it in your calculations.

Also, this family has a dog. As you and I both know, dogs leave messes in the yard. Account for that, too, with the difficulty index.

Figuring a price quote is easy with the StartALawnCareBusiness.com estimating calculator.

First you enter your hourly rate. Many lawn care companies use $50 per hour as a base rate. Your rate may be higher or lower depending on your part of the country.

With a 48" commercial walkbehind lawn mower, I can mow at about 1200 square feet per minute. That number is generated with the productivity calculator available from StartALawnCareBusiness.com.

The job size for the lawn in the video is 9640 square feet.

The difficulty modifier is 55 because the family owns a dog.

Already, the estimating calculator has told us that it will take about 8 minutes of mowing time.

There are other things to consider.

Trimming minutes: I measured the perimeter to see how many feet I will have to trim. There are 311 feet to trim on this property. I can trim at about a foot per second when I am moving fast. That translates to just over 5 minutes. I am going to round it up to 6 minutes.

Blowing off the driveway and sidewalk will take about 5 minutes.

Travel time has to be included in your schedule. This property is 10 minutes round-trip.

As we see in the video, there are often other things to consider such as moving the trampoline. I will add 10 minutes per week for these other activities.

The lawn care estimating calculator tells us the total time for this job is 39 minutes. At $50/hour plus the difficulty index, that gives a price quote of $35.00.

Estimating residential jobs is easy once you know how to work the numbers.

Steve
07-17-2008, 02:34 PM
Great post Keith.

I certainly hope everyone is reading this post and watches the video.



Keith, do you have any idea how many bids the average homeowner will get when they need lawn care?

If they know you personally, will they tend to get less bids or maybe just take yours?

What is your view on that?

connor
07-18-2008, 03:52 PM
Hey Keith that was a great video. That calculator looks very helpful, I plan to use it in the future. Thanks.

Connor.

StartALawnCareBusiness
07-23-2008, 10:34 AM
Thanks Connor.


Steve, that is a good question.
I don't have hard statistics but I can give you my best guess.

The average number of estimates asked for by customers is probably 3. First time customers generally have little idea the price to get their lawn cut. Three estimates give them a low, high, and middle price. There are always the price shoppers who call every LCO then opt for the cheapest price but, most often, I have seen customers choose the middle price if everything else seems equal.

Then there are the customers who will only call for one estimate. If that first estimate results in a reasonable enough price, the customer will contract with that company and not even think about calling for more estimates.

In my lawn care business program I list a series of questions which will help a LCO determine what kind of customer he is dealing with. Knowing a bit of customer psychology can help you earn an extra $5 to $10 per week for each customer. Those extra dollars really add up.

Keith

Steve
07-23-2008, 12:37 PM
Very interesting!

Also, what is your take on what percentage of bids a lawn care business owner should be winning?

Is that a good indicator if they are charging too much or too little?

StartALawnCareBusiness
07-23-2008, 09:03 PM
Very interesting!

Also, what is your take on what percentage of bids a lawn care business owner should be winning?

Is that a good indicator if they are charging too much or too little?

Steve, that is a great topic. Thanks for bringing it up.

I really suggest new LCO's gauge future bids based on responses they get from their customers.

Steve, in one section of my program, I talk about learning how to read customer's body language and non-verbal communication. Talk to the customer, for several minutes if necessary, to get a feel for what kind of price range he is already considering and look for the non-verbal clues.

If the LCO's price quote is way lower than the customer expects, the customer's eye will brighten and the customer will almost gleefully accept the bid. This reaction is a sure indication that the customer was willing to pay more.

If this happens time after time the LCO is probably underbidding all his jobs and should consider raising his rates for future customers.

Losing all your bids definitely does not maximize your profit potential but winning every single bid doesn't maximize your profits either.

Losing 10% to 15% of all bids given probably means the lawn care operator is pricing his jobs in line with his competition.

Pricing is a great subject and I can go on and on.

Maybe we can do a podcast or GopherHaul episode on pricing sometime.

Thanks:

Keith

Steve
07-24-2008, 08:42 AM
Great stuff!

Maybe we can do a podcast or GopherHaul episode on pricing sometime.

Oh absolutely that would be awesome.

XtreemGreen
10-06-2008, 04:35 PM
Losing all your bids definitely does not maximize your profit potential but winning every single bid doesn't maximize your profits either.



Keith

I lose most of my bids because Im generally too high. But yet Im giving the same bids I was giving 10yrs ago in the next county over and was very close to everyone else.
The last couple years have been real tough and IM not sure what the future will bring if I stay in the area Im in currently. Its a cut throat business down here.

Steve
10-06-2008, 06:52 PM
I lose most of my bids because Im generally too high. But yet Im giving the same bids I was giving 10yrs ago in the next county over and was very close to everyone else.
The last couple years have been real tough and IM not sure what the future will bring if I stay in the area Im in currently. Its a cut throat business down here.

What kinds of jobs are you talking about here? Commercial lawn care, residential, landscaping or what?

XtreemGreen
10-07-2008, 07:32 AM
All residential.. I havent touched a commercial job in years. Dont want to either. Nothing but bad luck for me. IMO commercial are the worst paying out of them all.

jvegas
11-28-2008, 02:36 PM
hi i'm new to the site i just watched the estimating calculator video that was great. i was looking to sign up for keiths channel canyou tell me how thanks

StartALawnCareBusiness
11-28-2008, 05:35 PM
hi i'm new to the site i just watched the estimating calculator video that was great. i was looking to sign up for keiths channel canyou tell me how thanks

Hello:

Welcome to the forum.

Thanks:

Keith

landonkade
11-28-2008, 06:51 PM
Keith can you give us a example qoute for the below property on a estimate on mowing, weeding, edging, blowing, and all using your program

This is a apartment complex 6 unit complex with pool and entrance way. There are to major hills on the corners, one far left and one far right, straight aways all though out

StartALawnCareBusiness
11-29-2008, 01:37 AM
Thanks for the challenge. ;)

I will tackle this mowing project with a few disclaimers.

1) Never give an estimate based strictly on a Google Earth photograph. It can give you a general idea of your bid but you have to visit the project site yourself to understand the lay of the land, obstructions, gradients, type of grass, desires of apartment management, etc.

2) I can't see the slope of the hills you describe. Also, there looks to be a drainage problem in the upper left corner of the complex. Problems like these can add hours to your work and you simply cannot plan for them based on a photo.

3) I never give quotes on this forum but since so many people read this forum and each person has different needs and expectations it's better for each person to use the software for assistance on their own particular projects.

3) There are other aspects I can't take into account due to it being only a photo.
Weeding - I can't even see the beds. So, I'm going to leave them off.
Travel Time - Umm...no way for me to determine this. :confused:

4) For this example, I am assuming 1 person running a 61" lawn mower with ~20hp motor, 1 weedeater, and 1 backpack blower. The equipment operator is proficient and mows with a 80% efficiency (the software takes into consideration overlaps, inefficient turns, etc). I am also going to assume this area is 40% more difficult to mow than a "normal" area this size (once again, the estimating program helps you determine this).

Okay, now that all that is out of the way, I crunched some numbers based on your photo. Here is what I have come up with:

1) Mowing: I calculated the size of the entire project is approximately 16 acres (outlying trees not included). Taking out buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, etc, the actual mowing area is almost 11.5 acres. Using the productivity/estimating calculator software I believe you can mow that area in an estimated 5 1/2 hours taking into account for the difficult terrain and the equipment described above.

2) Trimming/Edging: My calculations for trimming accounted for buildings, walk paths, pool and other public areas but it did not account for the outside perimeter or the perimeter at the outside of the parking lot. Taking this into account, I came up with 6220 feet of string trimming that needs to be done every week. At 1' per second, trimming will take 1 hour 43 minutes.

3) Blowing: Blowing is subjective. By minimizing the amount of grass your mower shoots onto walk areas, you should be able to blow off the area in 1 hour. Size of blower and number of cars in the way will have a bearing.

Alright, let's add all this up:
Mowing: 5.5 hours
Trimming: 1.72 hours
Blowing: 1.00 hours
Total: 8.22 HOURS

Based strictly on one photograph you sent and some assumptions I programmed into the estimating software, I came up with an estimated 8 hours 13 minutes to do this job.

Once this number is calculated, the actual software goes further to help a LCO determine a bid for this type work. I won't go into that here.

Matt, I am sure you have physically looked at or performed this particular piece of work. How close did I come?

Keith