You’ve just set up a new lawn mowing business and a prospective customer has called you around to their property to quote on a price for mowing their lawn. Pricing a mowing job is one of the most important aspects of the lawn care business yet it can take time and knowledge before you can get your pricing right.
Start by walking the property at a leisurely pace to get a true impression of its size and contour. Try to visualize yourself on the job, getting your equipment from your truck to the lawn and back, mowing the lawn and getting around any obstacles.
The next step is to mentally calculate the time that it would take an average worker to complete the lawn.
Many lawn care operators then quote at a rate of $1 per minute to achieve an average rate of $60 an hour. Quoting at a rate of $1 per minute is seen by lawn care professionals in the US as a healthy and profitable rate to charge however it will vary depending on the state or city. You may have to alter the per-minute rate to anywhere between 60 cents and $1.20 depending on market conditions in your area.
Whatever you do don’t let your customer know that you are pricing a lawn by the hour. If you have said that it will take you fifty minutes to finish and they then catch you leaving after 30 minutes they may insist on a lower price.
As pricing is one of the main ways that you can position yourself in the market as being different from your competitors many new businesses feel that the best way to become established is to undercut all the other industry players in price. Don’t be scared to ask for the full market value for your services as price-cutting is negative for the industry overall. If you start off pricing at a level that is hard to make a decent profit you will have trouble putting prices up at a later date to a level where you can make a decent living. And when you do finally get your prices up then someone else will end up undercutting you (possible one of your employees).
It is much better to try to compete on the quality of your services than it is to compete on price.
Quite often the customers that are constantly looking for low prices are the worst kind anyway and won’t be loyal to you like customers that appreciate your service for its other positive aspects.
Being able to come out with a price reflecting a premium service that is higher than market value can take experience, confidence and salesmanship. It helps here if you can demonstrate a superior knowledge of your customer’s lawns and prove to them why your services come at a premium. Having a respected brand is a huge advantage so your ability to call a premium price will increase over time as you become more established.
Take along a photo album with ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of jobs that you have done to help to sell the customer on your services. This is also a great opportunity to up-sell other services, as the customers will see the full range of services that you offer in the photos.
As some lawn jobs will be very small yet still involve your travel and loading time it is important to have a minimum rate.
Pricing a lawn job is a real art that requires careful consideration of many factors and lots of testing over time.