Lawn Care Estimates: A Step-by-Step Guide for Making Accurate Lawn Care Quotes
Providing accurate and consistent estimates to your clients is essential as a lawn care service provider. Not only does it help you to make sure you have realistic profit margins, but it also helps clients to understand exactly what they’ll be paying for.
Eventually, you may get a feel for estimating jobs, but when you’re first starting out, it can be a challenge. We spoke to lawn care pros Jason Creel from Lawn Care Life and Ed Ramsden from Enviromasters Lawn Care to make a step-by-step guide on how to estimate lawn care jobs.
In this resource, we’ll cover:
- The core steps to making accurate estimates
- How to estimate property sizes
- Converting estimates into quotes
5 steps to providing accurate, consistent lawn care estimates
It’s true that every lawn care job is different, but how you go about providing an estimate to a client should almost always be the same. Follow these steps to provide accurate, consistent, and fair lawn care estimates:
1. Have a pricing sheet
Pricing out your lawn care services and having a reference sheet can help you to make estimates quickly and easily. Simply reference your pricing sheet for the services a client is requesting and make adjustments based on the property size, condition, and any additional materials.
2. Do a walkthrough of the property
Providing an estimate over the phone can be difficult. Without being able to see the condition of the property or accurately determine the size, you risk providing an estimate that’s either too low or too high.
Use this as an opportunity to assess the lawn’s condition and whether you’ll need to do any extra work, like service an area a customer forgot to mention or do a mini clean-up before you start a job.
3. Separate different services into different estimates
For example, fertilizer estimates need to include extra costs for products that can vary for each job, whereas mowing does not.
As Jason Creel explains,
“The main thing I’m concerned with when doing a fertilizing job is how big the actual yard is, and the actual amount of turf that I’m going to be applying the fertilizer or herbicide to.
The bigger the yard, the more of the product I’m using.
I need to get an accurate measurement of the square footage of the lawn so that I know how to price it.
Then I use a pricing chart that shows square footage from 2,000 square feet all the way up to 30,000 square feet. I can look at my pricing chart and estimate a price quickly.”
4. Consider extra costs
A client may ask you to use specific materials that cost more. Or they may ask you to remove a shrub, haul away leaves, or dig or fill a hole. You may even need to move lawn furniture or a playset, or clear brush and debris before you can even start a job.
Costs for outlier tasks like these should be estimated the same way you’d figure out the cost of a job.
Consider the time it will take, labor required, and material needed to complete the job. Then, add in your overhead costs and profit margin and you have an estimated price.
Don’t forget travel time. If you have a client who lives a considerable distance from where you usually work, you can consider charging extra for the added travel time.
Most business owners will bake this cost into the overall price. If you decide to tack on the additional cost, you should be upfront with your client about these additional costs. If they live outside of most service areas, chances are they’ll be understanding.
As a rule of thumb, travel time should be included in your service pricing, and not added as a separate cost.
5. Include your profit margins
Your profit margin is what makes sure you earn money from each job and that you make enough to cover costs. If you forget to account for your profit margin, you risk:
- Undercutting yourself and paying out of pocket to finish a job
- Having to increase your pricing for the next job
- Not making enough to cover your expenses or to pay yourself
Including your profit margin in your estimate ensures that you are making a profit from each job.
Add it to the total cost of a service after your expenses, like overhead, labor, and materials.
How to estimate property sizes
Figuring out how the size of the property is essential for an accurate estimate. While you may be tempted to guesstimate square footage, it’s best not to. A miscalculation could result in you getting underpaid and end up setting unrealistic client expectations down the line.
Ed Ramsden offers his advice for accurately measuring a property:
“You can buy software to calculate square footage of the property. Most of the time, these options just use Google Maps satellite data to give you the information.
If you’re using Jobber, you can actually get the property size right inside your client profile page to help you estimate more accurately.
When you’re in a client profile page in the CRM and have put their address into their profile, simply click on the map icon, and Jobber will open the property in a new tab.
Make sure that the map view is in satellite mode, drop pins around the property to draw a box, and Google will automatically tell you the square footage of the property without even being there!
It can measure the distance around the perimeter too.”
Knowing the size of the lawn also allows you to determine how much material, such as fertilizer or weed killer you’ll need to cover the area too, so it’s not just about mowing area.
As with equipment, most fertilizer manufacturers will provide you with use estimates that you can reference to figure out how much product you’ll need for the area you’re servicing.
Using a lawn care estimate to make a quote
An estimate usually is a verbal agreement that gives your client a general idea of the cost to service their property. Estimates don’t generally include taxes or additional fees, and instead, just cover the basic costs of the requested services.
Quotes, on the other hand, are much more detailed. They should include job specifics, exact prices, taxes, fees, discounts, and any additional costs. Most of the time, the price given in a quote should be the same or very close to the invoice the client receives at the end of a job.
An estimate should be given to a client shortly after a walkthrough.
A quote can be given after an estimate has been accepted and approved by a client.
Once you’ve sent an estimate to a client and they’ve given you the go-ahead, you need to put together a quote. At this point, the customer’s contact information should be in your CRM so you can email or text a quote to them that includes the following:
- Your company name and logo to emphasize your brand and professionalism.
- Your company’s contact information so the client can get in touch when they’re ready.
- A detailed list of each product or service you will provide with their associated costs to show the client what they’ll be paying for.
- Additional notes, like if the quote is only valid for a certain period of time or if a discount is only redeemable until a certain date.
When you’re ready, send your quote to the client. If you don’t hear from the client back, you can always follow-up to see if they have any questions or concerns.