Yard Work - How to Estimate a Quote for Yard Mowing
When pricing your lawn mowing charge, you must understand that your price should be based on the time it takes to service the yard. The lawn service business is essentially a labor business, which means that the most important consideration is the time it takes you to get to the yard and the time it takes to complete the job. If you always remember that your most important consideration is labor, you will quickly learn to price jobs accurately at a glance.
Determine the hourly value of the yard service. Because you are selling a service, the true value proposition is your time. Whether you are pricing your time of the time of an employee, you need to establish an expected retail rate for that labor. You should plan to see a return of around 5.5 times minimum wage (prices vary by area). At this rate, you should be able to cover employee labor costs, fuel, and equipment depreciation while leaving yourself a reasonable margin.
Determine how the yard fits into your current geography and schedule. If a prospective yard is in an area in which you are currently servicing or along you current service route and you can fit it into your schedule, the incremental costs associated with driving to that yard is mitigated. In fact, if it is along your current route, it can actually increase the efficiency of the route by decreasing the miles driven per yard. If, however, the yard is not in your current area, you must consider the costs associated with both your drive time to and from the yard, as well as the millage costs (Fuel and wear and tear) to reach the prospective new location. For example, an incremental 10 minutes of drive time must be added to the costs estimate if the yard does not fit into your existing route.
Review the size of the prospective yard and look closely for vagaries that might make it complicated. Again, the issue is the time it will take to complete the job. If you have a half acre yard with very little trim work, you would expect to complete the mowing and trim work in around half an hour. If however, that same half acre has significant trim work or obstacles that would be impossible to mow with your standard equipment; you should expect a time premium. This is an area where experience will help. Over time, you will be able to determine almost exactly how long the job will take.
Calculate your estimate using the criteria outlined. Now that you have determined your hourly rate, take the drive time and add it to the estimated mowing time to determine you bid for the job. The calculation is as follows:
Hourly rate*(drive time + mowing time)/60
Once you have the calculated estimate, it usually makes sense to round up to the nearest $5 for ease of pricing.
Don’t be afraid of your prices being too low or too high. If a small yard fits into your route well, don’t be afraid to price it low. Remember, the efficiency gained will not only earn some extra money for that yard, but may also improve the economics of the route in total. Conversely, if a yard does not fit into your current schedule, you should charge more. You may lose to another provider, but your goal should be to maintain you average rate per hour.