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  • Bidding on Jobs

    Hey y'all. This leathered old Texan needs help. The hardest thing for me is not actually doing the job, it's estimating and getting the job. Example, my lot is 100X180 or 18,000 sq ft. It has a 2500 sq ft house and a 16" X 63" driveway. I'm assuming that I deduct the house and the drive and then time how long it takes. Then there is the trimming and edging. All in all it takes me about 90 minutes to do with a 21" Toro. I called and got estimates for my property and they range from $40 to $80.

    I was not here when they came to give me an estimate, but I'm wondering if they used a survey wheel to measure the property? Or are they so good they can just walk it and tell how long it's going to take them.

    I've been asked by one of my clients on aeration, fertilizing, mulching beds, trimming trees, weeding flower beds. I don't want to work for free, but I don't want to over bid, or under bid either. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    We have Survey wheels that I use for drains, I did use it for lawns when I started and spraying but we do so many I can simply walk the lawn, look for issues and give a quote on the spot, record it in my Blackberry and we almost always get the work.

    Top soil, Mulch, sod and Turf dressing I measure and add 15% to materials and send an email from the truck while at the clients site, I always do a follow up email confirming our conversation, that way there are no questions.

    My Survey wheel stores data as I go, and gives me a sq ft when I am finished.
    Andy
    Halifax, Nova Scotia

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    • #3
      First off, have you played with the online calculators yet?

      http://www.gopherforum.com/showthrea...3299#post43299

      They should be very helpful.

      I'm wondering if they used a survey wheel to measure the property? Or are they so good they can just walk it and tell how long it's going to take them.
      When you are just getting started out, you may want to use a wheel to find the area of the lawn. Yes you want to subtract the house and the driveway to find the sq ft of the lawn.

      You can do this with your property first. Find out your sq footage of your lawn. Find out how long it takes to mow it. Keep track how long it takes to trim it and edge it.

      Then look at the estimates you got.

      I called and got estimates for my property and they range from $40 to $80.
      If you figure in the middle, say $60 for your lawn. Now you will know how long it takes to mow, trim and edge your lawn. You know the average price is $60 for that lawn. You can then break it down into percentages.

      Say it takes 1/2 hr to mow.
      15 minutes to trim.
      15 min to edge.
      _____________
      1 hr total

      Say your property is 1/4 acre (10890 sq ft). You know you can mow this amount in a half hour. When you go and estimate other properties you can compare their property to yours and you can figure out how much to charge

      Here is the equation:

      (30mins to cut / 10890 sq ft) = (X / customer property size.)
      Plug in customer property size and you get the time.

      Say a customer's property after you measure it, you know it is 5000sq ft. You then plug it into your equation.

      (30 mins to cut / 10890) = (x / 5000)
      The above equation is the same as saying (5000 x (30 / 10890)) = X so it comes out to 13.7 minutes to cut 5,000 sq ft

      BINGO!

      Then you can do the same thing for edging and trimming.

      Figure out how long it takes you to edge all the linear feet of edging on your property and you can figure out on other properties how much to charge for edging.

      You can do the same thing for trimming. Figure out the amount of time to trim your property and then use that equation to figure out how much to charge others.

      Does this help?
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      • #4
        figure your hourly rate

        I think you should figure out your hourly rate and then charge by that.

        for example if you come up with $40/hr and it takes you 90 min to do your lawn. then you would charge $60 for your lawn. (for using a 21" mower, $40 per hour is pretty reasonable since your overhead will be very low)

        then you can compare other lawns to yours and you will be able to estimate the time it takes to do them. or you can split it into $ per square feet.

        Example: if your house is about 15000 square feet of lawn and you are charging $60. then $60/15000 sq ft= $.004
        You would charge $.004 per square foot

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        • #5
          Bidding

          Y'all rock out there. I used the formula below and figured I'm making approx .56 cents a minute and I can mow, blow and trim 160 Sq ft per minute. Is that low? I don't want to be known in the industry as a lowballer.

          Comment


          • #6
            On track

            That turns out to be $33.60 per hour. That seems to be much lower than the average company. the average company is charging about $1 per minute or $60 per hour.

            But take into consideration they have bigger more expensive equipment so they have to charge more to cover their costs. your equipment expenses are much lower: a 21'' mower, trimmer, and blower. If you are making the hourly rate you want to work for, then it isn't lowballing Because you charge less per hour but you take longer to mow the lawn so in the end you'll probably be charging close to what the others are charging for the same lawn.

            at $0.56 per minute you would be charging $50.40 for a lawn that would take you 90 minutes to mow..like your lawn. $50 is within the $40-$80 range that the other companies quoted you at, so I think you are in the right range.

            good luck with your season

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            • #7
              Life is one big classroom to learn. Try out the price you feel you can do the job for and as you go, increase your prices. I think you will feel more comfortable increasing your prices as you build up more confidence in the work you are doing.
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              • #8
                That turns out to be $33.60 per hour. That seems to be much lower than the average company. the average company is charging about $1 per minute or $60 per hour.

                But take into consideration they have bigger more expensive equipment so they have to charge more to cover their costs. your equipment expenses are much lower: a 21'' mower, trimmer, and blower. If you are making the hourly rate you want to work for, then it isn't lowballing Because you charge less per hour but you take longer to mow the lawn so in the end you'll probably be charging close to what the others are charging for the same lawn.

                at $0.56 per minute you would be charging $50.40 for a lawn that would take you 90 minutes to mow..like your lawn. $50 is within the $40-$80 range that the other companies quoted you at, so I think you are in the right range.

                good luck with your season
                But does the fact that his 21" push mower is less expensive than, say, a 48" ztr, make up for the lost productivity? He could probably do the whole lawn in less than half the time with that ztr and still charge the same amount. Plus he could do a whole lot more lawns in a day with a ztr. Plus there would be a whole lot less fatigue with the ztr as compared to the 21" push mower.

                Comment


                • #9
                  That is a very good point.

                  The most important thing is to get started. After that, you need to improve your productivity.

                  We see many members on here who get a ztr or a larger commercial mower and just can't believe they didn't get one sooner because of the boost in productivity.

                  Have you found that to be the case? How did your different mower purchases effect things?
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                  • #10
                    That is a very good point.

                    The most important thing is to get started. After that, you need to improve your productivity.

                    We see many members on here who get a ztr or a larger commercial mower and just can't believe they didn't get one sooner because of the boost in productivity.

                    Have you found that to be the case? How did your different mower purchases effect things?
                    We started out with a 46" Husky garden tractor. It served us well the first couple of years. Then we got a Cub Z Force ztr, new, and productivity really rose. Still used the Husky though, in conjunction. Then I bought a couple of used commercial Toro units and have never looked back. Took 8 years though. Still have use for the Z Force as it is lighter and better on hills and in damp conditions. Has almost 800 hours and still going strong. Not to say there haven't been problems. Gaskets in motor, deck has had to be welded and such. Still, all in all a good strong mower.
                    I'd recommend him looking at a good used ztr or walkbehind with sulky to start with. I wish I had. The first years would have been a lot easier.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      When you look back, do you ever wish you got stated with those commercial grade mowers? Would that have made a big difference in how fast you grew early on?

                      Do you feel your early mowers held you back?
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                      • #12
                        When you look back, do you ever wish you got stated with those commercial grade mowers? Would that have made a big difference in how fast you grew early on?

                        Do you feel your early mowers held you back?
                        Well, in a way it held me back because it really was a matter of productivity. On the other hand, I really didn't know how to bid properly or how to really get those better jobs. I have learned a lot and in the long run I feel I learned a lot though the years and I am glad I didn't tie up a lot of money in equipment back then.
                        Besides, I think the kind of customers I attracted back then would not have liked the equipment I use now. I would have gotten done faster and these people would have felt they weren't getting their "money's worth" time wise.
                        Elderly, low income people are a funny breed. But then so are young middle and upper income people. Well, in a different way.
                        The elderly, low income people simply want their lawn and weeds chopped down every couple of weeks just to keep the city off of their backs. And they don't have a lot of money so they want to feel like they are getting their "money's worth" time wise. They can't even fathom $60.00 per hour. They have no concept of expenses or profit.
                        Again, on the other hand, young middle and upper income people want their lawns to be a status symbol and some don't care what it costs and as long as you give a fair rate and make them proud of their lawn, there is no problem. I have, though, run into some that want the status symbol yard at a bargain price. You have to learn how to deal with those people to make them feel like they are getting a bargain and that you, being beneath their status, are making very little money from them. But they still want the nice equipment and nice truck and trailer in front of their house every week for the benefit of the neighbors.

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                        • #13
                          I recently did an estimate for spring yard cleanup and had to measure the back yard only. I don't have a survery wheel and there is no way i was going to deal with a 25ft tape measure. so i walked the yard from end to end. You figure the average pace is about 3 ft. i took the number of steps times 3 ft to get a ballpark estimate of the size. you could also use a pedometer. most likely your wife may have one from when she does her exercise walking. just simple ideas when a survery wheel isnt apart of your inventory yet.

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                          • #14
                            Again, on the other hand, young middle and upper income people want their lawns to be a status symbol and some don't care what it costs and as long as you give a fair rate and make them proud of their lawn, there is no problem. I have, though, run into some that want the status symbol yard at a bargain price. You have to learn how to deal with those people to make them feel like they are getting a bargain and that you, being beneath their status, are making very little money from them.
                            With all these experiences you have had with these different customer types, do you find now that you prefer focusing on one customer type over the other? Or do you still find that you are happy to get who ever you can as a customer?
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