Apples to oranges:
Every year we get many new potential clients asking “How much does lawn care cost?” Easy enough question but the answers are not so easy. In reality, there are MANY different variables between not only the property itself, but the company that’s doing the work as well.
The truth is you can pay anywhere from $1- to $5,000,000 (yes, 5mil, I’ll get to that later). At the end of this article I’ll go through some hard numbers of actual clients we have.
Let’s look at a few things that go into how much a lawn care service will charge.
Size of lawn
Amount of services
Quality/Type of services
Size of lawn
Far and away, this is going to be the biggest decider in what your lawn program is going to cost. A service such as lawn care is going to have set costs such as materials and labor for a certain service. Any company worth a grain of salt will know EXACTLY how much there applications actually cost in materials. That cost is typically measured in square footage. Some newer companies eyeball a property and go off of “big, small, medium.” Big No-No. The other end of this is that companies will intentionally use wrong property sizes to give cheaper pricing.
For instance, without saying names, I’ll use a huge national company as an example . Like clockwork, each year we will get calls wondering about pricing from people who have used them, 95% of the time we are more expensive AND our measurements of your property are higher. Why? Sales. Some salesmen will measure a lawn much smaller to give the customer a lower price because they get commision from them. Why is that bad for you? Next years price increase! How many times have you looked at your cable bill to find that good good price went up 50% this year? Same idea.
Amount of services
When someone calls in asking for pricing, I love to hear “how much does your PROGRAM cost”. Number of services is right up there with the size of the lawn. 2 lawn applications? 3? 5? 8? Is an aeration included? What about grub control? It VERY important you look at the whole program and not just what 1 of the services or applications costs. For example:
Customer A receives 3 turf applications from a company and pays $150/year for their lawn “program”.
Customer B receives our basic program, which is 5 applications and an organic aeration/soil feeding. They may pay $350/ year for their lawn program.
The difference is customer B is essentially getting double the # of visits to your lawn and more then just fertilizing. Can you guess which lawn is going to perform better?
Number of services does not always mean what you think however. While one company may be doing 5 fertilizer/ weed control applications with another Co. doing 8, does your lawn really need 8? If your in MN, and we are talking about ONLY fertilizer and weed control, the answer is 100% no. This is a little sales tactic that some companies may use…”We do 8 applications while they only do 4, or 5, or 3”. Really other co.? If you look deeper you may actually find they are doing what we do in 5 applications only charging for 8. While we may include weed control with multiple applications, they have a seperate visit for it, same with fertilizer. Why? More visits means more $$! No beuno. We’ve found that with the fertilizing/weed control end of things, 5 visits throughout the year is the sweet spot.
Quality of services
“Better ingredients, better pizza”
Papa John’s slogan “Better ingredients, better pizza” is 100% right. When it comes to lawn care material cost is one of the bigger factors that goes into our pricing. Using low amounts of fertilizer, along with quick release, is one of the easy ways for a company to save money on materials. The only problem is you will see subpar results. Which, as a customer, you never want. Using more expensive, slow release fertilizer at the correct rates will cost more but provide a much better end result.
Let’s say 2 companies are applying the exact same products, on the same square footage with the same # of services. One company is 15% more expensive. Why?
Reputation- Is the company “Tried and true”? Do they have great reviews from the community? If a company has a VERY good reputation, they may be able to charge a little bit more. Chances are, if you sign up with a highly reviewed or referred company, they are going to do everything in there power to make sure things are to your liking, like offering a guarantee of sorts.
Time in business- A company that has been around a long time, such as FERTILAWN (40 years!), has seen all kinds of things and gained all kinds of experiences. What products work, don’t work, and even worst, products that can cause damage to the environment. For example, Imprelis was toted as this wonderful new herbicide that was eco-friendly and did not pose risks to animals. This was very short-lived as it was found to cause groundwater seepage and tied to massive amounts of evergreen damage. Needless to say Dupont, the chemical company, faced tons of lawsuits over this.
My point is that we never even THOUGHT about using this product. We’ve seen many different products come and go and until something has been truly proven, we won’t look into it. That EXPERIENCE, is part of what you are paying for with long standing companies.
Knowing their prices- Sometimes you’ll be tempted by new companies offering low prices. Why are they so low? Do they know exactly how much each services costs them and what they need to charge to make a profit? (Yes PROFIT is not a bad word! It is what keeps companies around!) Will they go out of business mid season because they didn’t know these costs and just thought “Low prices= more customers, more customers=more $$”? This is a bad mindset, really bad. We know our costs and know what it takes for us to stay around for another 40 years.
Employee pay- Labor is a big cost for companies but how does that affect you? Let’s say we (these are truly off the cuff #’s) pay our technicians an average of $20/hour and a different Co. is paying $15/hour. Assuming company culture/benefits is the same for both, which employee do you think is going to stick around longer? Employee turnover is huge, as a customer you WANT the same employees that know your lawn year after year, right?
Enough talk, how much will my lawn care cost?
I could go on and on about how different company characteristics make a difference, but I’m guessing you just want some cold hard numbers by now.. Amirite?!
Johnny New-Homeowner wants the bear minimum program, he’s got a smaller Richfield lawn. He’s going to be paying roughly $210/ season for Turf Applications. Will he see an improvement? Absolutely. Will his lawn look the best it could? Most likely not!
Ms. Jesse Newport wants the whole schabang. “Fertilawn, I want my lawn to look the BEST it can” No problem Ms. Newport. Her yard is a medium sized Bloomington lawn that is very weedy and thin, she also had grub damage last year. She’ll be paying $850/ season and be getting 5 applications along with an aeration/overseed, spring grub treatment and organic aeration/soil conditioner. Come next spring, her lawn and soil will make huge improvements.
How about a middle ground customer? Let’s say Thommy Newport, Jesse’s brother, saw her lawn and wants something similar but may not need the whole schabang. Thommy lives in Bloomington as well and has a lawn the same size. I’d recommend he goes with our 5 lawn treatments along with an organic aeration/soil conditioner. He’s going to be paying $440/ season. I’m NOT going to push him to do a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need but AM going to let him know that grubs have been a huge issue around here and that we need to keep an eye on it.
Last scenario. Let’s say our president has heard about FERTILAWN and wants us to take care of the Whitehouses’ Lawn. No Problem. Without even measuring anything, I’m going to charge him $5,000,000 for the season. Why? Because I’m going to fly out there every week to make sure that thing is looking pristine. Seriously though, Mr. President, give me a call at 952.884.7331. Let’s get that lawn up to par.