One of the most challenging things about mowing lawns professionally in today’s market is that there is constant competition over who can offer the cheapest rates for a job. This can put pressure on anyone just starting out, as they have to adapt to the market to get customers and still be profitable.
Because more well-established services might not have to worry about pricing as much due to having a devoted fanbase, start-ups have to take care to make sure that they’re welcoming customers with reasonable prices.
At the same time, though, you still want to be adequately paid for your work, begging the question, how much should you charge to mow a lawn?
The Line Between Quality and Accessibility
One of the more discouraging things to consider when creating a lawn mowing start-up is that the current market is always fluctuating. This is due in part to people creating temporary businesses, offering incredibly cheap rates while home from school or for short periods of time.
The phenomenon of having teenagers mow your lawn for cheap during the summer makes these businesses even more dubious, often paying under the table and not factoring in the price of equipment, as these people are most commonly borrowing/renting their equipment.
There is also the factor of businesses that close soon after opening, showing that there is seemingly a dissonance between lawn mowing businesses and significant profit.
Most of the businesses mentioned above end up not being sustainable due to underpricing. By underpricing their work, they eventually find out that they’re not able to make back the money they’re spending on equipment and labor, causing them to either raise their prices or shut down their business.
Even though many of these businesses come and go frequently, they can still have a significant impact on the market of a certain area. For example, if a business is created in a specific town offering incredibly low prices but then closes after a few months of operating, then people who were once customers of this company will expect similar prices in the future.
Even though the business wasn’t stable, they still created a demand for a certain price point, leading to many people paying more lower-quality services based solely on price.
Professionals are Professionals
This might seem like a redundant phrase, but it’s really not; the only tangible way to combat a market that continually is looking for the “best deal” is to re-assert your professionalism. No matter the price you put on your services, it is essential to distinguish yourself from the competition.
This can be achieved by asserting the professionalism of your service, highlighting specific equipment that you use, or even stating any specific training you have in your description of services.
By highlighting what you can offer that others don’t, you can help strengthen the notion that it’s not about the price, but the quality of the service you offer. Others who are looking for more than just a cheap, quick service will understand this, adding value and increased loyalty to your customer base.
In other words, no matter how many lower-end businesses there are in town, getting a professional job done still requires hiring a professional. If you have any experience in this regard, it will be a massive asset to your business.
Finding the Right Pricing
Another aspect of the mowing business that is hard to change is the set prices of each town you’ll work in. Depending on the specific area, some people already have specific prices in mind when paying for a service.
It’s difficult to change these notions, but you can be somewhat flexible if you’re able to justify it. For example, if people in a town are paying an average of $50 for someone to mow an entire lawn, you could get away with raising it to $60 by justifying it with advertisements regarding the professional nature of your high-quality machines or expertise. However, if you were to charge over that, such as $70, people may take up an issue with your business and seek lawn care from other, cheaper businesses.
A safe rule to follow when increasing the price, in general, is to have a maximum increase of 20% of the market average. In the previously mentioned example, this meant adding $10 to the price, as it is 20% of $50. You can use this technique to adjust for any particular market, allowing you to have a greater grasp on how to adjust your price.
Taking into Account Your Costs
Once you’ve taken into account the current prices of the market, it’s important to know how much cost you must consider. Finding the pricing model that works best for you is a matter of knowing the local market you have to compete with and then understanding what affects your operational costs.
Operational costs can be anything from the rent for the building you run your business out of to the amount of fuel you need to mow someone’s lawn. These must be factored in to adequately assess how much you need to charge for your service because if you only charge based on the time you put into it, you’ll lose money after having to invest in the materials, transportation, and business upkeep.
It’s worth stating that newer businesses encounter more trouble covering all of their operational costs. This is because the cost of purchasing all of the equipment and storage is much higher than the cost to maintain it week after week. So, keeping this in mind, understand that your profits won’t be as high for the first month of providing services.
Factor in Difficulty
Something to consider when charging people for their lawns is the amount of difficulty the specific lawn is to mow. Being able to accurately assess how long it takes you to mow a lawn based on elements such as foliage and grass height will save you time and money in the long run.
Using lawn size as the sole factor is not a good idea when determining the length of time a service will take. For instance, if you charge the same price of $60 for two yards that are both 1000 square feet, but it takes the second yard an extra hour to mow due to a large number of trees, something is wrong. Because of this, you won’t get as much money as you did with the first yard, despite the sizes being the same.
A good way around this is to ask the owner of the yard about the consistency and proximity of trees. In certain situations, it also makes sense to have a photo of the yard in question to make sure that it won’t take longer than you might think.
Your Time Matters
Part of the trick in pricing a lawn mowing service is that you have to keep track of all the time you spend on any given project. For example, if it takes 30 minutes for you to drive to someone’s lawn but one hour to complete it, you should bill the person for 2 hours.
It can be useful to distinguish a difference between time spent driving and time spent mowing, but accounting for each second that you are spending on a job can help you find the most suitable rate to charge your customers. This statistic is often underestimated because many forget all that goes into a specific job. Preparing your materials and writing emails takes up your time, too!
Depending on how frequently you do jobs and travel, you should set your rate similar to what the market is at first and adjust as time goes on, taking note of which jobs took longer than others, the overall difficulty levels of some, etc.
The only way you’ll be able to say with confidence how much your service costs is if you’re able to prioritize and label every element of your work. Without a grasp on this, you won’t be able to look at what you do efficiently.
Watch Out for Mistakes
You will make many mistakes in the course of launching your lawn care business. Now, it’s useful to watch yourself with high scrutiny so you can avoid making a lot of them, but it’s also important to understand that you’re going to make a handful of mistakes no matter how hard you try.
An example of a mistake commonly made is overestimating the resources you will need to finish a particular project. Many people begin their lawn mowing start-ups not because they got gifted some lawn care tools. Because of this, it seems like a no-brainer to start a new business, use the materials you have, and get some quick money, right?
Well, sometimes it’s more complicated than that, and all-of-the-sudden you’re mowing a lawn that needs a specific tool to let you mow the grass underneath an oddly-shaped bush. Next thing you know, you’ve had to purchase a push mower for $300 to finish the job, making you lose a significant amount of money on the job.
Being able to prepare yourself for these mistakes by having a financial buffer is an excellent way to help price your service at first. If you’ve already come to terms with the fact that you will likely lose a bit of money when starting, you won’t be as disappointed later when it happens.
Being realistic about making mistakes at first also allows you to price your services more accurately, something that helps you find new customers that are accustomed to a specific area’s market prices.
Being Smart About Your Equipment
You can maximize the profit from your services by keeping operational costs down. You’d be surprised by how many people spend far too much money on the machines they use for services.
This is often because new machines are purchased as they’re needed, meaning that it’s easy to need something immediately and therefore purchase the most accessible product you can find. More accessible typically correlates with more expensive, forcing you to spend more money than you would otherwise on any given mower.
To avoid this, we recommend using online services such as Craigslist and eBay to find cheap equipment. If you’re on social media, keeping an eye on Facebook Marketplace can also be an excellent way to find good deals.
It’s also advisable to buy your fuel and other replacement parts in bulk to save money on operational costs. If you live in a town that has a good variety of yard sales and auctions, you’d be surprised at how many good deals you can find by making the most out of those.
We hope this guide to pricing your lawn business has given you an idea of how much should you charge to mow a lawn. Have any questions? Has this worked for you? Let us know what you think!