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my 1st experience so far; shot down; cheap client?

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  • my 1st experience so far; shot down; cheap client?


    i wanted to relate my first experience in my lawnscaping service company. i have done lots of lawnscaping work for other employers in the past but finally decided to do it myself.

    in a nutshell, here's the deal. i ran about 100 flyers out one late afternoon. the flyers asked people to not throw them away if they are not wanted, but rather to pass them along to a friend, neighbor or relative. i found that this works! when i came home from "flying" i had a voicemail, and it wasn't from a person whom i had flyer'd!

    she explained that she was given my information from a friend that day. we setup a time and i went to inspect her property.

    i drove out to survey the job. the lawn had patches of grass burned out probably from a dog at some point urinating all over the place. the yard is in decent order, but needed work.

    i estimated the square footage of the yard at 25,000 ft.2 thru the following equation: walked number of pace's from north to south and multiplied by 3; pace area east to west and multiplied that by 3. then multiplied the numbers from both equations by each other. i did the same for house, then subtracted the house area from overall property area.

    (my square-footage equation may be incorrect by some of your standards, and i ask for some tips on equating property square footage more accurately without the aid of any tools or hardware)

    so, i figured an estimated surface area to be approx. 25,000 square foot. my actual math was 26,064. i assess yard problems. head to lowe's to start pricing materials needed for the job. in this case i would have aerated/shovel-tilled the bad soil with fresh garden soil and applied new grass seed in the bad areas, then fertilize the rest of the yard. (she asked me initially to fertilize the yard & then for routine lawn mowing)

    when all was done, i go home and call the home owner with the facts & figures. the startup costs didn't seem to bother her, however she was insistent that a local big-boys chemical/mowing company said to her that her yard was only 9,640 ft.2! how they figured the math, i don't know, because even when i used the number 1 or 2 instead of number 3 as a multiplier i still came up with way more than what she was quoting me.

    anyhow, after i told her that weekly lawn mowing would run her 75.00, she decided to end the call rather quickly, and told me that right now, on an acre of land, she pays only 35.00! for a guy with a pushmower on an acre of land! claims he gives her "full yard service" with weedwhacking, lawn mowing and cleanup! for $35.00!

    my frustration led me to think, "well why were you calling me then? do you really think you'll find yard work any cheaper than 35 an acre?!"

    i began looking on google for estimates mowing an acre of land, and from what i can see, 35.00 is a pretty low ball. am i wrong? what i found was that generally, if it takes you 20 minutes to mow, then you charge around 15.00 or 20.00 for the job.

    i would like advice on this. was my equation for figuring the surface area wrong, and is 75.00 a week too much to charge for service in the case of a lawn/property of this size?

    included are links to pictures of the damage and the property.

    the front of the property,

    side of property/driveway #1,

    side of property/driveway #2,

    side of property/driveway #3,

    back of property,

    back of property had 3 of these arranged near each other. possibly from old animal cages or fire pits?

    an old stone walkway, minus the old stones,

    this takes us to the worst part. possibly animal damage? she made mention of moles, but there were no mole trails through the property.

    various points of lawn damage, front and back yard,

  • #2

    i forgot to mention the following:

    here are the notes of my quote to her,

    $100.00 in startup costs (her part. supplies.)
    * scotts turf builder lawn soil = 6.17 per cubic foot; 2 bags needed,
    * scotts turf builder fertilizer = 36.54; 2 bags needed
    * scotts ez seed = 15.00; 1 bag needed

    $75.00 for work to
    * remove bad spots in the yard,
    * apply new soil,
    * apply new grass seed to repaired spots AND
    * apply fertilizer, as her order was for a total fertilization of the whole yard & weekly mowing.

    75.00 for weekly lawn mowing & maintenance/upkeep

    did i undercut myself, or was i on point in my price quoting to her for a property of what i have shown/described?
    Last edited by WeekendWarriorLawn; 05-20-2012, 04:33 PM.


    • #3
      If I were you I would buy a cheap ($32 @ Lowes) Wheel Measuring tool. You know the one I'm talking about? It'll give an acurate sq.ft. number. You can get more expensive ones but the one at my local Lowes, is a small wheeled one but at $32 you can't beat it. The larger wheel ones will work better but they go to around $75.


      • #4
        Its hard to say. Your figure seems really high via pictures but I may be wrong. There are online estimators where you type in an address and then draw lines and vola it tells you the size this may be a quick way. I normally do this first then i measure with the big wheel from home depot. One time cost and it saves a lot of time and guess work.
        Liberty Landscaping LLC
        Woodbridge, NJ


        • #5
          Hard to tell from pictures, but I would think your price for mowing was a bit high? Then again if she is price shopping it when she gets it done for 35, you probably didn't want it anyway.
          Evansville Lawn Mowing
          Newburgh Lawn Care


          • #6
            I dunno... I'm only into season "2", and every area (even different sections of the same city) is different in terms of pricing, but I'd probably charge around $50 to mow that. There's no way I'd do it for $35, by the way - that much, I can say for sure. I get $25 for lawns half the size of that strip along the side of the house!

            I recently did a quote for someone and I asked what they had been paying. "$67 a MONTH" (2 cuts/mo) was the reply. Sheesh... I couldn't do what she wanted for less than $80 per CUT. Whoever was doing it for $33.50 was an idiot - even if he WAS a hack. Either that, or she was lying about the price.


            • #7
              other people have told me to simply count how many steps you take and use those as numbers; count east to west = x, count north to south = y; X x Y = size

              i'll eventually just get a wheel, but since noones calling, i'm not in a huge hurry to spend extra money. i stil have to do the 9 to 5 to make ends, 40 hours a week right now.


              • #8
                I figured out pricing the old fashioned way. Trial and error.
                When you underbid enough you learn pretty quickly how much you SHOULD have charged. Knowing how long it takes to do a job just by looking at it is tricky at first, but I still think it's better than pricing by "square feet".


                • #9
                  i estimated the square footage of the yard at 25,000 ft.2 thru the following equation: walked number of pace's from north to south and multiplied by 3; pace area east to west and multiplied that by 3. then multiplied the numbers from both equations by each other. i did the same for house, then subtracted the house area from overall property area.
                  Why are you multiplying your paces by 3?

                  Are you taking 3ft steps when you say pacing? If so, then would you divide that figure by in order to get a foot?
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                  • #10
                    for real 35 for service for an acre of manicure lawn

                    well the other day a went home depot, i didn't have 50 cent to complete my buy so i went to the truck and decide to drive it to the doors of the garden section and i notice this old couple keep staring at my truck sings, so i finish my transaction went to the truck gave her my card and lawn maintenance plan, flyer, well today i got 3 calls today from another area code 20 miles away from my house i set up the appointment the couple refer-me to their friends, i got there and this people have houses sitting down in the country, on acres does anybody in here knows , how much do you charge for an acre(remember this is brush no manicured lawns ).

                    the biggest lawn i cut is 1/2 acre and its manicure. i charge 75.00 per each service, with at least 2 service per month or every to weeks, will it be ok to charge 150.00 per service on an acre of brush including line edging i think im way to high i want to be fair not cheap.

                    thank you.
                    Last edited by Grass Doctor; 05-31-2012, 11:07 AM.


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