While it is good to try something a bit different to attract customers to your new lawn-care business, you may want to stay a bit closer to the center line when it comes to the amount you’re going to charge. You should also make sure your estimates and quotes are accurate, and compensate you for your time and expenses.

Before you say, “Of course,” to that last statement, keep this in mind: All businesses start with an idea. Usually one or two individuals take this “seed” and help it grow through a period of time. In basic terms, there are two types of new businesses, one built on an idea that is already in the market, and one that is built on a completely new product or service.

Traditional Business

If you are preparing a lawn care estimate, you are doing it for a traditional business. This is a positive factor, because you have plenty of information from the industry on which to base your numbers. What makes the numbers so important? Capital (money) for a business is probably the most complex element you will encounter as you get started. –

You may not be the type of person who puts together a detailed business plan, but you should take some time in the early days to get some type of business outline in place (along with some short-term goals and long-term goals). This will help you stay focused.

You should also remember, when preparing a lawn care estimate, the capital/money you need is probably going to be twice what you think it will be. That shouldn’t scare you away, however. Just plan for it.

As a balance to the need for plenty of start-up money, you should expect to get half the revenue you believe you are going to bring in. Put these two pieces together and you will not be crushed by too much debt and too little income. Of course, you should also avoid pricing yourself too low.

Business fail because the owner sets the price extremely low to attract customers, only to find that there isn’t enough revenue to sustain the company over a period of time.

Future Costs, Budget

You should also take into account increases in costs for equipment, gasoline, etc. as your business grows. For example, even if your business settles into a comfortable period with solid, regular customers, you should be prepared for costs to increase. Try to understand the concept of inflation, so you can use this in make your lawn care estimate.

With this preliminary information in place, you’re probably ready to get into some estimating details. Take a few minutes to search online to see if there is a program available that will do most of the figuring for you. Chances are you’ll find something easy to use and effective.

Rule #1 for all lawn care estimates: Walk the property. Don’t hurry. If you rush through, you may miss a detail that will be the difference between profit and loss. When you prepare your estimate, give the potential customer details. Don’t say you’ll work for an hour at a certain price. Base your estimate on specific tasks you will perform and make sure your numbers will cover those jobs.

Per Foot? Per Hour?

Determine how long the entire job will take, and break it down into segments if you need to. You may even use something like cost per a thousand square feet of mowing, or for fertilizing the same area, if it’s part of the project. If you’re trimming bushes or hedges you may want to charge per foot rather than guessing how long it will take and charging by the hour.

It may take some time to become comfortable with the lawn care estimate process, but you will develop a method that can work for nearly every customer. Some of the veterans of lawn care suggest beginning your business with a per-hour rate. It’s easier to give estimates in this way.

As your business grows, you may develop a way to figure your charges that will be more accurate. You can use this formula for a lawn of any size. It also allows you to keep a close watch on profit margin.

Remember, this is a business. You’re not an hourly-wage worker for someone else. Do your lawn care estimate like a business person.