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Decoding the Landscaping Pricing Snowball

The landscaping industry is highly competitive. There are over 600,000 landscaping service providers in the US, and none have a market share greater than 5%.1 Almost anyone can start a landscaping company but few have the knowledge of how to run a business. This leads to service providers who have virtually no experience and clients who are frustrated with the lack of professional service. When you compare landscaping companies, the services advertised are generally the same but the quality of completed work can be significantly different. This disparity results in what we call the “pricing snowball.”

The Pricing Snowball

Like any industry, the price of services is tied directly to the costs, experience, and quality. When a property manager receives bids for landscaping services, they primarily focus on costs because everyone promises the same basic services. But if you’re not careful, you’ll become a victim of the “pricing snowball.”

Here’s what we mean

A property owner/manager needs work done, multiple landscape service providers submit bids, and from those bids, the client selects the best service provider for their needs. Bidding a few dollars less than the competition can result in getting new business… so landscapers often underbid. Sometimes the client may even ask landscaping companies to beat their current provider’s price. This is how the snowball gets started:

Company A bids $1,000 and gets the contract for a year. Company A is seasoned, so they take care of all bushes, leaves, weeds, and edging issues throughout the year. When that year is up, new bids are submitted for next year.

The client finds that a less experienced Company B is willing to do the seemingly same maintenance for $900.Company B inherits a beautifully landscaped site to maintain, but they don’t provide the level of experience and quality of care Company A was providing.  The client believes they are saving $100 on their landscaping services. The site still looks decent by the end of the year, but leaves were only blown a few times, and some of the bushes were overlooked and in need of pruning. Company B offers to take care of these items but for an additional cost. This leads to financial frustration and a decision to make a change.

The client manages to find inexperienced Company C, who offers to maintain their site for $750 but only after a one-time, costly clean-up. After the initial site clean-up, Company C visits less frequently and weeds become more common on the site. The major areas look fine, but the rest of the site needs additional work. Company C also offers to take care of these issues for an additional cost. The client agrees thinking they’ve saved money in the long run.

Upon reflection, the client has spent enough on special clean-up projects to justify switching back to Company A (who would’ve kept the site pristine all along). In the meantime, the property owner/manager has dealt with unexpected costs and constant frustrations while the overall landscaping quality has lacked consistency.

This bidding system in the landscaping industry is somewhat unique because there are so many unregulated variables. Where a $3 light bulb will work the same regardless of where you bought it, a $150 tree trim can mean anything from a comprehensive pruning to just a few large branches being lopped off – depending on your landscape service provider.

This disparity between price and quality often remains unacknowledged. A client may come to expect the quality services rendered by Company A for the lower bid provided by Company C. Company A may even match the bid provided by Company C to avoid losing the client but can’t honestly provide the same high-quality service at that price point.

The current labor shortage, for example, has caused price hikes across landscaping sectors in the US. However, these price hikes have not prevented underbidding on sites. Clients agree to a lower bid, receive lower quality care, sign an additional one-off contract to correct the problems, look for an even cheaper bid to offset the unexpected expenses…and the pricing snowball gets bigger and bigger year after year!

Landscape Management Companies

Because of these issues, landscape management companies have grown in popularity in recent years. Although management companies are often associated with higher costs, the system of checks and balances provides consistency without unexpected cost spikes. One way landscape management companies prevent these unexpected costs, is by assigning an account manager for each site to ensure quality standards and justifiable costs.

Commercial Property Managers find one of the important benefits is the time they personally save. Because they aren’t having to manage landscaping crews or verify quality work, they can now focus on growing their business. Having a single point of contact who addresses any problems on their behalf reduces stress and frustration. Since “time is money,” landscape management companies often provide a much better solution…allowing property owners/managers to care for their clients.



Providing the client with a competitive price – based on clearly defined goals – is our top priority at ManageMowed.

This approach keeps us competitive when it comes to price, and trustworthy when it comes to service. We are responsive and easy to work with. We manage your landscaping so you can grow your business.

James Jakobsen co-founded ManageMowed, a leading commercial landscape management company, along with former classmate Peter Roberts after graduating from high school in 1999. Since the brand began franchising in 2019, ManageMowed has grown to 19 locations across eight states, bringing positive leadership and professionalism to its segment of the Green Industry.

1 “Landscape Industry Statistics | NALP.” Accessed 1 Nov. 2021.