Quoting accurately on lawn mowing jobs can be a little tricky, especially if you’re relatively new to the business. The price of your services must strike a balance between what customers perceive as a fair cost and the revenue you need to keep your business growing.
The pricing of lawn mowing services in Australia depends on many factors like the lawn size, difficulty of the work, the time spent, grass condition, equipment required, and the cost of labour. You will also need to consider your own expertise, your current business model and goals, and the going rate in your area of service. As a business owner, you need to identify and understand the costs of operating a lawn care business and factor them into every quote.
This article aims to serve as a guide to lawn mowing service pricing. We’ll discuss some proven strategies that can help Australian small business owners create competitive lawn care quotes, keeping their business profitable at the same time.
Read on to find out how to quote lawn mowing jobs accurately and keep your business profitable.
How Do You Price a Lawn Mowing Job in Australia?
If you are just starting a lawn mowing small business, it is only normal that you might not know how to price your services.
Alternatively, if you have some experience in the industry and you’re wondering if it’s time to change your prices, you may want a touchpoint to help you make that important decision.
When it comes to pricing lawn care services, one rule seems to stand out: there is no one-price-fits-all solution. Even when you’re quoting the same key services over and over, there are always variables that can add to your expenses on the job.
While it’s true there’s no ‘best’ way to price lawn mowing jobs, this article is packed with tried-and-tested strategies to help guide you in the right direction.
Price Per Hour vs Price Per Square Metre?
Experts in the industry recommend pricing a lawn mowing job per hour instead of per square meter. The ideal pricing strategy for mowing services actually incorporates both – you’ll use apply your hourly rate to decide what to charge for a stock-standard, simple mowing job. After that, you’ll be able to scale your quote up for a larger or more difficult lawn.
The size of a lawn does not give a complete and accurate picture of how long it will take to mow. For example, a hilly lot partially occupied by an elaborate garden and winding path will take longer to mow than a flat, empty lawn, even if both have the same area.
It is smarter to calculate your hourly rate based on the time you will spend doing the work. If you’re just starting out and unsure about how long each job will take, time yourself while doing your initial services and use this data to help you with your pricing.
This doesn’t mean square footage is completely unrelated to hourly rate. In fact, there’s a direct connection between the size of a lawn and the time it takes to trim. Once you understand how long it takes you to mow a standard, flat lawn of a certain size, you can work with that figure as a cost base.
However, it’s best not to present the client with a direct per-hour figure to avoid negotiations on the day. Instead, provide each customer with a quote after you’ve done the calculations yourself. You may need to itemise any specific add-ons – for instance, an extra charge for edging or removing lawn clippings – but you don’t need to justify your base pricing.
Free Quotes vs Charging for Estimates?
In general, potential clients expect that quotes for lawn mowing jobs are free. Of course, there are pros and cons to offering free quotes. The reality is it will cost you time and money to provide quotes, and on average, less than half of the clients you give estimates to will be converted into paying customers.
However, putting time and effort into the quoting process is easy to see as an investment, not a loss. By engaging with prospective customers, you can take this opportunity to convince them of your professionalism and expertise. You can also use this time to upsell additional services, helping to recoup the costs of quoting.
For every 100 people you give free estimates to, an average of around 30 to 40 percent will become paying customers. However, if you charge a fee for quotations, more than half of customers will be turned off and decline, especially when competitors are offering free estimates.
A common practice in the lawn care industry is to give a free estimate over the phone, then provide a final quote on the day of the booking, before starting the service. This gives lawn care professionals the chance to evaluate the site in person and account for anything unexpected before locking in a price.
Setting a Minimum Cost
Setting a minimum cost is essential to keeping small jobs profitable. Lawns come in all shapes and sizes, and with a growing trend towards high-density living, there are plenty of teeny-tiny courtyard lawns in cities and suburbs.
Whether you charge per hour or per square meter to mow, chances are that mowing a very small patch of grass won’t cover your travel or operating costs. The solution is to set a minimum cost to ensure you’re never making a loss, and each booking contributes to the overall profitability of your business.
What Is The Average Cost of Lawn Mowing in Australia?
On average, the cost of lawn mowing in Australia is around $40 per hour. An average-sized lawn takes about two hours to finish, so a client typically pays about $80 for a standard lawn mowing service.
This service package may involve grass trimming, sidewalk edging, and debris removal. Anything outside the standard set of services comes at an added cost.
Factors like the size of the lawn and lawn mowing frequency can increase or decrease this median price. The price will also vary depending on the brand and company behind the mowing service – a more reputable and well-known brand can typically charge more for their services.
Research shows that the cost of lawn mowing services in Australia also varies depending on the state or territory. The states of South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland have similar average pricing at $45 per hour. In the Australian Capital Territory, the cost is about $47.50 per hour while Western Australia is at $40 per hour. Tasmania has the lowest average rate at $39 per hour, while New South Wales is the most expensive at around $50 per hour.
What Factors Affect Lawn Mowing Prices?
Here are some of the most common factors that affect how you calculate lawn mowing rates.
1. Lawn Size
The size of the client’s lawn is a big factor when it comes to pricing your service. It will be helpful to do a walkthrough of the property to determine the lawn size. If you can’t do a visual inspection of the site, another alternative is to use a Google Maps tool to calculate a customer’s lawn size.
Based on lawn size, you should be able to estimate how many hours it will take you to mow. This gives you a dollar figure for your (or your employees’) labour on this particular job.
2. Services Required
Aside from basic mowing, other additional lawn care tasks include lawn striping, edging, weed control, soil aeration, and fertilisation. Prices for these services can be an all-inclusive figure or a scale (for instance, greater lawn area equals higher fertiliser costs).
3. Grass Condition
The condition of the property’s grass will affect your final pricing. You can charge an additional fee if the grass condition makes the mowing service longer and more difficult.
You can account for very long grass or overgrown yards by charging a higher hourly rate or charging for more hours of labour.
4. Type of Terrain
Just like grass condition, the type of terrain you will work on can affect the time frame and difficulty of the lawn mowing work. For example, hills and slopes are generally more time-consuming to mow, while working on an even rectangular-shaped yard is faster and more straightforward.
5. Obstacles and Debris Removal
Large obstacles and debris removal you’ll need to perform is another factor to consider when pricing your mowing services. A yard full of trees, garden beds and play equipment will require you to work around these obstacles, making your task more complicated and time-consuming.
A standard mowing service usually includes tidying and cleaning up the green space. If the area is cluttered with a lot of leaves and branches, you will naturally need more time to tidy up the area. In this particular scenario, you can charge more for the removal of any debris before mowing.
Consider both the additional labour time required to clear the area and the cost of green waste disposal.
6. Equipment Required
Different kinds of lawn care equipment have different functions, specialisations, and a price tag attached, especially if you’re just setting up your mowing business.
If the nature of the job requires you to use special equipment, then the added costs of buying and maintaining that equipment should be reflected in the price you charge.
For example, you may opt to use a ride-on mower to service an extra-large area of land, and charge more because the mower is a more expensive piece of equipment. Another example is when you need to use a fuel lawn mower because it offers a cleaner trim than an electric version. To cover the cost of fuel top-ups and added maintenance, you may increase your lawn mowing service charges.
7. Service Frequency
Just like other services, frequent maintenance makes a job easier to complete and offers ongoing financial security for the service provider. The more frequently you mow a lawn, the easier and faster it is to maintain, and you also benefit from having a regular client on the books.
For those reasons, if a client wants regular mowing services, it’s standard practice to offer a cheaper rate. On the other hand, providers usually charge more for a one-time lawn mowing job.
Repeat business is always good business. It’s clever to reward loyal and long-term customers as they will not only give you steady work but they will also be the ones who tend to recommend your business to others.
8. Urgent Jobs
Adjusting your schedule to accommodate an urgent request from a client is always an inconvenience. The same argument can be used if you need to work outside your standard hours or service an out-of-the-way area.
9. Lawn Clipping Disposal
Lawn clipping disposal is part of a standard lawn mowing arrangement. However, if the disposal method will require more time and effort on your part, then you should charge accordingly.
For example, if there’s a green waste bin for lawn clipping on-site, then you won’t need to charge for disposal. However, if you need to drive to the tip and dispose of lawn clippings yourself, then you can include the relevant costs in your quote.
What Costs Do I Need to Factor into My Lawn Mowing Quote?
Aside from factors affecting the price of each lawn mowing service, you need to also consider the fixed costs associated with running a business.
Any pricing strategy should consider four key factors:
- your fixed costs (ie. those that don’t change regardless of how many jobs you perform, like accounting fees and equipment purchase)
- your variable costs (ie. the expenses involved in doing a particular job, like fuel and labour)
- your profit margin
- taxes applicable to your business
Although they may not always apply to your situation, here are the basic costs that you need to identify.
Variable Costs For Lawn Mowing Jobs
Travel Costs – Calculate your vehicle costs per kilometre and factor these travel expenses into the price you charge. This makes it easier to quote an accurate price for an out-of-the-way destination or job outside your usual service area. You may also choose not to charge for travel within a certain radius.
Parking – Find out if you need to pay for parking when you’re on the job and how much it’s going to cost per hour. This particular variable can change on a per-job basis, so you can choose to always include this cost or ask clients about parking availability when quoting.
Labour – If you need extra hands to do a job, determine the labour cost per hour per person. This will be one of the biggest costs to consider if you have multiple people working in the business.
Equipment Use and Maintenance – Calculate the running and maintenance cost per hour of equipment like lawnmowers, whipper snippers, and leaf blowers. This includes both fuel costs and other maintenance or consumable items, like whipper snipper cord. When it comes to petrol or diesel, you should be able to estimate an hourly running cost for each piece of equipment.
Taxes – Consider income or business revenue taxes as well as GST. Research the possible tax deductions for your small business as this will help you minimise your tax payable each financial year.
Fixed Costs For Lawn Mowing Jobs
Equipment Purchase – Whether you’ve purchased mowing equipment upfront and need to recoup your costs or you’re paying off a loan, you’ll need to ensure your ongoing fees cover a portion of those equipment costs.
Business and Admin Costs – This includes business registration fees, licensing fees, office supplies, software and bookkeeping costs. For these expenses, you can calculate the cost per year.
Marketing and Advertising – In order to expand your lawn mowing business, you’ll need to spend a portion of your revenue on ongoing advertising and marketing. Add up your monthly marketing costs through different platforms like Google Ads, social media ads, newspaper or newsletter ads, and lead generation sites.
Franchise Fees – If applicable to your scenario, you’ll need to factor in any fees you pay to your franchisor. Franchise fees are usually paid per year.
Insurance Costs – Determine the cost of insurance per week or year.
The last variable to consider – but certainly not the least – is profit. You want a profit margin that will enable you to stay in the business, make an acceptable income and re-invest some of the proceeds to grow your business.
Competitor Analysis: What Do Other Lawn Mowing Businesses in Australia Charge?
By researching what your competitors are charging in your area, you can understand where your business stands in comparison.
If your prices are lower, you’ll gain a reputation for being the budget choice – which means plenty of work, but you should be certain you’re covering your costs. If you’re charging too much, the average client may quickly dismiss your services and you may find yourself struggling to fill the books.
A competitor price analysis can reveal the middle ground in terms of pricing your service. This analysis is especially helpful if you’re relatively new to the business. However, it’s not enough just to copy the going rate.
If you aren’t running the numbers for your individual costs, you may find yourself making a loss or charging more than you need to. A lower price can help you get a foothold as a new business, but if you’re consistently losing money, you won’t be able to keep operating for very long.
At the very least, researching what your competitors charge will help you come up with a price list that suits your level of expertise but also won’t turn away potential clients.
You will most likely adjust your pricing as you gain more experience in the lawn care industry. Going through a learning curve is normal, and you may make mistakes along the way.
If you’re a franchisee, make maximum use of the resources given to you by your franchisor. These resources are intended to help you succeed, and it means you don’t have to figure everything out from scratch. Your franchisor is there to help you work out all the details, and you get the backing of an existing brand rather than needing to find your way from scratch.
Creating Your Own Lawn Care Pricing Sheet
Having your own lawn care pricing sheet can help you create quotes and estimates for clients quickly and easily. The pricing sheet can serve as a reference for the specific services a customer is requesting.
After figuring out the base prices of these specific services, you can just adjust the final cost to include other considerations like lawn conditions, lot size, and equipment needed.
There will always be different ways to calculate lawn mowing rates, but the pricing formula below is one of the simplest ways.
For each lawn care service you offer:
- Start with the hourly cost of labour (if applicable – this may be your own!)
- Add a portion of business operating costs (overheads or fixed costs)
- Add variable costs for this job (eg. fuel and maintenance)
- Add your preferred profit margin
- Add taxes
= Total price for a particular service (per hour or per. You can then add this amount to your price sheet
You may prefer to cover your overheads with your primary service – for instance, mowing lawns – and calculate prices for add-on services purely based on extra costs on the day.
Again, the prices on your sheet are meant to be adjustable. If a particular job will be more difficult or if a client asks for additional tasks to be performed, these should be factored into the quote.
Using a Lawn Care CRM
A CRM (Customer Relation Management) software can help you generate and store a digital version of your lawn care pricing sheet.
The right CRM software can also eliminate excessive paperwork and automate administrative tasks. It is especially helpful when you’re employing a few people in your lawn care business, or managing several teams.
Other lawn care CRM program capabilities include storing and organizing customer and employee data, invoicing, job scheduling, sending reminders to customers, tracking jobs, and sending quotes.
When Should I Adjust My Lawn Mowing Prices?
Now and then, you may need to adjust your prices for lawn care services. However, you need to think twice before increasing your regular rates if you already have a solid customer base. Make sure that you can justify any price increase to your clients.
An increase in rates is justifiable if there is a significant and unavoidable rise in business operating expenses, equipment maintenance costs, and employee wages as mandated by law.
It is also reasonable to raise the estimate with a client if there are unforeseen costs that emerge from doing the job. For example, if a client wants you to restore a lawn’s former pristine condition, you may have to do extra work like fertilisation or lawn edging. This is why many lawn care professionals provide an estimate over the phone and only quote a concrete figure once they inspect the site in person.
In some instances, it makes sense to lower your rates to stay competitive or as a deliberate marketing strategy – for instance, giving discounts during summer when competition is toughest. Targeting community groups or neighborhoods and offering special rates and promos can also help you pick up extra work quickly.
When calculating a discount, be sure it won’t undermine your profitability in the long run. This is where offering discounts on a customer’s first mowing service can be worthwhile, as you have the opportunity to make a greater profit through ongoing bookings.
How Can You Estimate Land Sizes for Mowing in Australia?
Modern technology has made land size calculation in Australia so much easier even for owners of small lawn mowing businesses. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or dedicate so much time as there are websites and online tools that are designed to calculate land sizes. Some of these tools like the Google Maps Area Calculator Tool are free, readily available, and easy to use.