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View Full Version : Curious: How much to mow this jungle?


DFW Area Landscaper
05-19-2005, 09:41 AM
Very small lawn, but I am curious to see how much other LCO's would charge to mow this jungle. We did the first cut hourly, and I'd like to see if our hourly rates are similar to what people would quote on a firm price.

As you can imagine, the front lawn is also very small. The entire lawn is around 2,500 sq ft.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

CleanCutMaint
05-19-2005, 10:07 AM
$70 the first time, $35 after that (weekly)

DFW Area Landscaper
05-19-2005, 10:09 AM
I can assure you that $35 per cut in my market would lead to a cancellation, if they agreed to that price to begin with. We are charging $20 bi-weekly on this one, assuming they comply with our fertilizer restrictions.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Green Pastures
05-19-2005, 10:11 AM
$75 the first time, $45 after that.

I have a $45 minimum.

jpa375
05-19-2005, 10:12 AM
$50 first cut/$25 weekly

daveintoledo
05-19-2005, 10:22 AM
60, three cuts lowering the deck in succession to get it down....
20 per week, or 45 bi weekly

DFW Area Landscaper
05-19-2005, 10:27 AM
We charged hourly. It took two men one hour and fifteen minutes to cut this.

At $36/man-hour, we charged $90 for the for the first cut.

Regular price is $20 and a three man crew should be able to knock it out in 8 to 12 minutes.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Gravely_Man
05-19-2005, 10:35 AM
DFW The price quote would depend of it this was just a one time cut or if the customer signed a contract. Which one was it?


Gravely_Man

Mowingman
05-19-2005, 10:45 AM
We are just up the road in Denton. Our minimum is $25.00, and that applys only where we have several lawns on the same street. If we had to go into another neighborhood, or even just a couple of streets away to do that lawn, we would charge $28.00.
Your first-time cleanup cost sounds about right.

Green Pastures
05-19-2005, 10:48 AM
We charged hourly. It took two men one hour and fifteen minutes to cut this.

At $36/man-hour, we charged $90 for the for the first cut.

Regular price is $20 and a three man crew should be able to knock it out in 8 to 12 minutes.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper


So let's say 12 minutes. You figuring anything for travel time to the job, or to the next job?

Are you not paying your men for windshield time?

That's roughly 15 minutes x 3 for three men, the way I see it you're getting roughly $20 for 3/4 of a man hour.

How do you afford to pay the men?

What about the string trimmer line they use? Sharpening blades?

This is why I don't do any per cut pricing.

I tell the customer what it wioll cost to maintain the yard on a monthly basis and charge accordingly.

Contract must be signed before the first blade of grass is cut.

NO FLAMES DFW and nothing personal......

Pro-Scapes
05-19-2005, 10:51 AM
Without seeing front and how much edging trimming and such I would guess round 75 to get it in shape (no shrubs) and 30 to 35 per cut. Lot of variables tho. (Other lawns in close area...how overgrown were edges etc)

DFW Area Landscaper
05-19-2005, 11:06 AM
Mowingman,

You are lucky if you are still able to hold $25 as the minimum in Denton. We can't do that in Lewisville/Flower Mound. $25 was the minimum when I entered the business in January of '03, but it has not held. I would guess your days are numbered too.

Justmowit plastered the entire area with $19.95 door hangers aggressively last summer. This year, companies that were advertising $25 cuts in the past were advetising $20 cuts this spring. One company said they would do zero line lots for $16 on their door hangers this year. At the same time, justmowit raised the price on their door hangers to $21.95 and they are still winning lots of business.

I don't advertise prices on my door hangers and I've had tremendous success. I wish we could come together as an industry and agree not print prices on door hangers. Everyone gets cancellations during the year and if they come right after someone has been advertising a lower price than you, it is human nature to assume that they stole the customer who cancelled service. The $19.95 door hangers from justmowit have caused everyone to lower prices, just as I predicted in my thread last year, "Is it low balling or is it smart?"

Greenpastures,

I'm not sure how we are able to charge this low amount, but it is working. This is the market price in my area for a lawn this size. The three man crew will work about 12 hours and gross just over $800 in a day, so I guess it's making money, though not as much as I'd like. But it does makes money.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Reliable Lawn Care
05-19-2005, 11:09 AM
$ 50.00 for first time out and $ 25.00 per weekly mow. Bi-weekly $ 40.00 per mow. I do very few bi-weekly mows.

Gene $immons
05-19-2005, 11:20 AM
$55 first cut

$25-30 weekly or bi weekly

Eddie B
05-19-2005, 11:29 AM
DFW, I don't see how it took that long for the first cut. You could have cut that time in half easily. What I do in these cases is first rear-discharge on the first pass with my Toro 21, then go over the lawn again with a bagger. Grass will be laying everywhere and it will look like a mess on the first cut, but you will be picking up the mess with the 2nd cut and will actually end up using less bags, and take less time. Most people would blow me off if I said $90 for that. Based on your $20 bi-weekly estimate, I say $55 for the first cut, and 35-40 minutes tops. Just a suggestion for the future.

The C Man
05-19-2005, 11:35 AM
Now that it's been cut down to the correct height, it seems like it would take ONE guy 8-12 minutes, not 3. What am I missing?

DFW Area Landscaper
05-19-2005, 11:55 AM
Yes, I agree, charging by the hour for the first cut can be shocking to the customer. I can also assure you that my crew does not loaf and they don't work inefficiently.

If it takes two men an hour and fifteen minutes, you would only charge $55 for the first cut. You have a six cut commitment from a bi-weekly customer who is paying $20 per cut. Even if he stays on the schedule for a full year, and there is only about a 50% chance of that happening, you gross $320 per year from this client. Why would you charge less than normal for a customer who has committed so little and obviously doesn't care about having a nice lawn?

We charge $36 per man-hour when we do hourly work.

When a customer calls for service, after I've closed them on the service and they've given me their credit card information, I ask them how long its been since the last cut. If they say anything other than last week, I go into a speech that goes like this: "For $20, we can mow this lawn on a regular basis. However, if it hasn't been mowed in a while, and it will take us longer to mow it because it is too thick or tall, we won't be able to cut it the first time for $20. If this is the case, we will leave a note on the door explaining that we can't cut it the first time for $20. After you call us, if you approve of our hourly rates, which are $36.00 per man per hour, we will send the crew back out as soon as possible, which may be another day or two or three. Or, if you're ok with the hourly rates, we can go ahead and get the place in shape tomorrow when we come out. Hopefully, we'll be able to cut it the first time for $20, but sometimes we can't."

Then I shut up and listen. If they play dumb then I usually have a problem, in which case I tell them we will do a $20 cut tomorrow, but it might not look very good, and it could take several bi-weekly mows before the place starts to look nice when we leave.

Most customers are embarassed to have a lawn like this and they feel foolish, so they are usually ok with paying a "penalty" on the first cut. I can't tell you how many on-sight estimates I did the first two years where the customers would start aplogizing for the state of the lawn when I got there and telling me how embarassed they were to have allowed it to get this way. Of course, my first two years, I would have naively mowed this mess for $20 without a six cut commitment from the customer.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

DFW Area Landscaper
05-19-2005, 12:00 PM
++++Now that it's been cut down to the correct height, it seems like it would take ONE guy 8-12 minutes, not 3. What am I missing?++++

A one man crew will always work more efficiently than a three man crew. My one man crews will gross $350 in a day whereas my 3 man crew will gross $800.

FWIW: If a one man crew mowed this lawn in 8 minutes and did a good job, I'd be surprised. I would guess 20 minutes for one man if done on a regular basis.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Eddie B
05-19-2005, 12:17 PM
Yes, I agree, charging by the hour for the first cut can be shocking to the customer. I can also assure you that my crew does not loaf and they don't work inefficiently.

If it takes two men an hour and fifteen minutes, you would only charge $55 for the first cut. You have a six cut commitment from a bi-weekly customer who is paying $20 per cut. Even if he stays on the schedule for a full year, and there is only about a 50% chance of that happening, you gross $320 per year from this client. Why would you charge less than normal for a customer who has committed so little and obviously doesn't care about having a nice lawn?

We charge $36 per man-hour when we do hourly work.

When a customer calls for service, after I've closed them on the service and they've given me their credit card information, I ask them how long its been since the last cut. If they say anything other than last week, I go into a speech that goes like this: "For $20, we can mow this lawn on a regular basis. However, if it hasn't been mowed in a while, and it will take us longer to mow it because it is too thick or tall, we won't be able to cut it the first time for $20. If this is the case, we will leave a note on the door explaining that we can't cut it the first time for $20. After you call us, if you approve of our hourly rates, which are $36.00 per man per hour, we will send the crew back out as soon as possible, which may be another day or two or three. Or, if you're ok with the hourly rates, we can go ahead and get the place in shape tomorrow when we come out. Hopefully, we'll be able to cut it the first time for $20, but sometimes we can't."

Then I shut up and listen. If they play dumb then I usually have a problem, in which case I tell them we will do a $20 cut tomorrow, but it might not look very good, and it could take several bi-weekly mows before the place starts to look nice when we leave.

Most customers are embarassed to have a lawn like this and they feel foolish, so they are usually ok with paying a "penalty" on the first cut. I can't tell you how many on-sight estimates I did the first two years where the customers would start aplogizing for the state of the lawn when I got there and telling me how embarassed they were to have allowed it to get this way. Of course, my first two years, I would have naively mowed this mess for $20 without a six cut commitment from the customer.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper


Either that front yard is big, or I am missing something. That lawn would take me 35-40 minutes tops solo on the first cut, two passes, period. 2 man crew shouldn't spend more than a half-hour on that, which means with your hourly pricing, that would be $36 for the first cut. Your crew took too long on that cut. I stand by my $55.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-19-2005, 12:38 PM
Bailey's,

You are a better man than I. No way in the world I could mow this lawn and have it looking nice in 35 minutes solo.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

MO LAWNCARE
05-19-2005, 03:28 PM
If There Was A Gate 6ft Wide I Could Spin My 60inch Toro In There
And Be Done In 2 Minutes And Leave Some Nice Stripes On The Way Out ! 2 Minutes For $50 Bucks Hows That Sound?

nelbuts
05-19-2005, 04:51 PM
I would not cut the place.

First they don't care. Look they have a kid and they let their yard get like that before calling you.

Second, there will be a lot of junk in yard. Just look now.

Fareway Lawncare
05-19-2005, 06:23 PM
We charged hourly. It took two men one hour and fifteen minutes to cut this.

Regular price is $20 and a three man crew should be able to knock it out in 8 to 12 minutes.



I Think the Real Question is Why did it Take 2 Men 1hr 15min to Cut That Postage Stamp....I Don't Care How long that Grass is I Could Have Had that Cut..Solo... in 20 min...

& Why are You Using 3 Man Crews on those Postage Stamps ? A 2 Man Crew could Knock That Out in 8-12 Min. Easy.

HighGrass
05-19-2005, 08:55 PM
We charged hourly. It took two men one hour and fifteen minutes to cut this.

At $36/man-hour, we charged $90 for the for the first cut.

Regular price is $20 and a three man crew should be able to knock it out in 8 to 12 minutes.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper
Interesting. I would say around here, I would have charged about 70-80 for the first cut and about 30 after that. I just got a lawn that can only be cut with a push mower. It takes me about 40 minutes total and I charge 52 bucks. I would also depend on access, at least for me anyway. Getting into or onto a lawn can be half the battle.

grassmanvt
05-19-2005, 08:57 PM
If There Was A Gate 6ft Wide I Could Spin My 60inch Toro In There
And Be Done In 2 Minutes And Leave Some Nice Stripes On The Way Out ! 2 Minutes For $50 Bucks Hows That Sound?

Thats what I was thinking too.

HighGrass
05-19-2005, 08:57 PM
I Think the Real Question is Why did it Take 2 Men 1hr 15min to Cut That Postage Stamp....I Don't Care How long that Grass is I Could Have Had that Cut..Solo... in 20 min...

& Why are You Using 3 Man Crews on those Postage Stamps ? A 2 Man Crew could Knock That Out in 8-12 Min. Easy.

20 minutes. I doubt it. You can unload a puch mower and do a patch 50 by 50 with trimming and blowing and back on the truck in 20 minutes. I'll take ten bucks on that :)

Todd's lawncare
05-19-2005, 09:29 PM
Mowingman,

You are lucky if you are still able to hold $25 as the minimum in Denton. We can't do that in Lewisville/Flower Mound. $25 was the minimum when I entered the business in January of '03, but it has not held. I would guess your days are numbered too.

Justmowit plastered the entire area with $19.95 door hangers aggressively last summer. This year, companies that were advertising $25 cuts in the past were advetising $20 cuts this spring. One company said they would do zero line lots for $16 on their door hangers this year. At the same time, justmowit raised the price on their door hangers to $21.95 and they are still winning lots of business.

I don't advertise prices on my door hangers and I've had tremendous success. I wish we could come together as an industry and agree not print prices on door hangers. Everyone gets cancellations during the year and if they come right after someone has been advertising a lower price than you, it is human nature to assume that they stole the customer who cancelled service. The $19.95 door hangers from justmowit have caused everyone to lower prices, just as I predicted in my thread last year, "Is it low balling or is it smart?"

Greenpastures,

I'm not sure how we are able to charge this low amount, but it is working. This is the market price in my area for a lawn this size. The three man crew will work about 12 hours and gross just over $800 in a day, so I guess it's making money, though not as much as I'd like. But it does makes money.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper
WOW everyone else is raising there price and your lowering it ?????? just because justmowit did ???????? you can't run like him or cant you see that yet ??? i mean you don't run legal trucks or trailers and what not .... ANY WAY i would charge 100 to clean it up and 55 Bi-weekly ...

all degree
05-19-2005, 09:37 PM
We charged hourly. It took two men one hour and fifteen minutes to cut this.

At $36/man-hour, we charged $90 for the for the first cut.

Regular price is $20 and a three man crew should be able to knock it out in 8 to 12 minutes.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper


I have seen you complaining about the fact that you cant make any money. Maybe its b/c your employees took over an hour to cut it!!! Anything over 45 minutes would have been too long judging by the pic

Fareway Lawncare
05-20-2005, 12:54 AM
1.15 hrs-2Men...For that is Insanity.

Are You Using Black and Decker Electric Mowers ?


For you Crazy Kids Who would Cut that w/a 60" ZTR....Even if you Got your 60" Montrosity into that Yard You Have no Real Grip on Reality.

griffy77
05-20-2005, 02:47 AM
Man thats nothing.
We do work for the county and cut stuff down that hasnt been cut for at least a year. I will cut it down first with a redmax weed eater thats a beast then go over it with a gravely and bagg it up. Doesnt take long. We will be managing substations for gas wells next year that are back in the woods. I will post a pic of some of the crap we have had to cut this year. I would charge $40 to cut it and bag it up and haul the grass away then $25 for regular cut. You aint no jacklag, you are a buisness and need to set your prices accordingly. Dont take less than a set amount say $30 if they say noway thats too high, move on because two other people will pay it. This isnt charity.

greeneakers04
05-20-2005, 09:35 AM
Knock it down with the trimmer very fast = 15 minutes
Trim and edge (this is first only because the grass is so long against the fence) = 10 minutes
Mulch or bag with 21" mower front and back = 18 minutes
Blow areas clean = 2 minutes

Solo, total time max= 45 minutes on the job

Weekly $22 +$1 for fenced in backyard = $23
Bi-weekly $33
One time (when it looks like that) $43 for what looks like three weeks of growth
First time cut (when it looks like this) for someone who agrees to six cuts minimum $35

DFW, there is something we are missing. Why did it take so long? :waving:

DFW Area Landscaper
05-20-2005, 11:30 AM
Why did it take so long? I can't believe you guys are thinking this could be done in a half hour to an hour solo. The back lawn has not been mowed all year...the customer admitted that. Look at how succulent those weeds are. Do you really think one pass with a Ferris 32 would leave a clean cut? You're looking at two to three passes to cut that stuff. Very slow passes for us, because we always keep the mulch plate on...we're not going to remove the mulch plate for one cut...it would take too long...we just keep the mulch plate on at all times. There is time raking and bagging all the stuff, then a final pass to clean up with a final cut. In the front, there were clumps of weeds, some around a foot in diameter, growing in between the cracks of the sidewalks and drive way. The edges along the sidewalks and curbs were severely overgrown with bermuda and soil.

Those of you who are saying you could mow this in 45 minutes solo are nuts. Superman couldn't do a nice job on this mess in 45 minutes solo.

We all have a lot of experience mowing lawns that are mowed on a regular basis. We don't have a lot of experience cleaning up jungles like this one. If anyone has a lot of experience with this kind of crap, they've been unlucky. How can you guys say with the certainty that you are eluding that you could mow this in X amount of time? If you have a lot of experience cleaning up places like this, either you have been doing this for decades or you have been getting a lot of really lousy customers.

Either way, we left a note on this guy's front door, indicating the number of men in the crew and the start and stop times. He knows our labor rate is $36/man-hour. He hasn't called to complain, so unless he's playing dumb and waiting for the credit card statement to come in, he knows this cost him $90. Besides, we did this one after 7:00 on a week night, so he was probably home and saw us do the labor.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

greeneakers04
05-20-2005, 11:36 AM
After reviewing the picture a second time, I am going to raise me total time to 1 full hour, solo, due to the extra edging and trimming DFW mentioned. Why would you be using a rake and bagging by hand? And I was under the impression that you were using 21"'s...?

DFW Area Landscaper
05-20-2005, 11:49 AM
Greenakers,

It took my crew 2.5 man-hours to clean this mess and I know they don't loaf or goof off. If I suspected that, it would be different. But these guys have the work ethics of a horse. I have no reason to question the time spent.

If you're positive you can do this in an hour, fine. Bid a firm price and charge accordingly. We will never bid a firm price on a mess like this for two reasons: 1.) It doesn't make sense to drive out on a free estimate for such a low revenue opportunity and 2.) Even with a sight inspection, it is very easy to understimate. As I said above, we have very little experience cleaning up messes like this one. The vast majority of what we do is lawn mowing (on a regualr basis)...not cleaning up sh-holes.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

greeneakers04
05-20-2005, 11:57 AM
I agree with you totally, and no, I'm not sure I can do it in an hour. If it took your guys 2.5 man hours to it, and they work like you say they do, then I doubt I can do it that fast. My thing is that it just looks very small, and from the way it looks in the picture (to me) it shouldn't take more than 2 passes with a 21". First a knock down pass, and then a bagging pass.

But my wife can attest to the fact that I tend to underestimate times :blush: . The grass is probably way thicker and longer than it looks from here, and the lawn area is probably worse than it seems too. All my comments come from the way that the picture looks to me, and in no way, whatsoever are meant to be offensive to you or your crew. I am sorry if I came across like that. You would be one of the very, very last people on this site that I would feel the need to be nasty to.

Have a great day, DFW.

coastallandscapesolutions
05-20-2005, 12:58 PM
How about an after shot?

DFW Area Landscaper
05-20-2005, 01:02 PM
The crew leader was supposed to take an after shot, but he forgot.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

lawnguyland
05-20-2005, 04:24 PM
45 minutes solo piece of cake.

Fareway Lawncare
05-20-2005, 05:19 PM
The Problem is Your Equipment...32" Ferris w/Block Off Plate....You Need the Right Tools for the Job....Why Should the Customer Suffer a $90 Charge because You Don't Have Them... I Would have Charged regular Mow Price and Been Gone in 20 min...

txlawnking
05-20-2005, 10:35 PM
I don't think an Hr and a half is too good a time for that kind of deal. However, in Dfw's and his crews defense, I've had properties probly about that size take about 25-30 minutes just to get the edge in shape... And that was with a powerful walk behind edger, don't forget scraping the over hanging turf and bagging it off for removal, after youve cut the edge..

I think the initial price maybe a bit high, but your maint. quotes are spot on for the Market here in Houson, too..

I would really like to see a pic of the front, after it was cut...

mower_babe
05-20-2005, 11:34 PM
Around here, we would charge around $50 for a lawn that looks like that. That is using 21"s and bagging it at 3". Regular weekly around $25. I don't know anyone around here that offers bi-weekly. I don't. ;) But we are not in your area. I do not believe that you could mow it and make it look good the first time w/in 30 minutes total man-hours. :dizzy: I believe you can mow it w/in that time, but not as I described. No way.

dwc
05-20-2005, 11:40 PM
Many of the replies on here are from Northern states where fescue/bluegrass is the main grass. In our part of the world down here, cutting overgrown bermuda and dallisgrass is not a breeze. I have a few fescue yards here, mainly used for shady lawns, and I am always glad to get to them because I know it is some EASY mowing!
Bermuda is much harder to cut than fescue, so yes I could see it taking longer to do than what some may think.
But $20 biweekly? I don't think I would mow my own lawn if I could get it done for that here. :) I do not take on biweeklys....too hard on equipment and takes longer since the edging and trimming are not kept in shape as well.
I agree with DFW, lowballing DESTROYS the lawn market! I don't care if you have 20 of them in a row, why be a scrubby lowballer? It sure makes it harder for the rest of us who have families to feed to make a decent living.

Precision
05-21-2005, 08:12 PM
DFW

the way I would have done that is brush blade starting in the middle and working out towards the fence. Then weedeat along the fence line, then do all the edging. By the Time you get done all that then run over it with the 32". Alot of the moisture would have gone from the cut grass and you could one (maybe two) pass it but quickly.

A brush blade is a godsend on stuff like that. Just take the head off an old weedeater and buy one of those 3 point metal brush blades. I would guess that using this technique would save 20% or more on time.

work4green
05-24-2005, 09:53 PM
We all have a lot of experience mowing lawns that are mowed on a regular basis. We don't have a lot of experience cleaning up jungles like this
Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

I'll bite...

I'm in the business of 'Taming Jungles', so I'd cut it for $150, then come back and cut it again for $150 every 6 months. What's all this business about bi-weekly? Oh wait, that's not a retention pond, never mind... :rolleyes:

Andy
Turner's Brush Cutting

edit: just finished reading all the posts, those 3-point brush blades are great! Especially when mounted on a Stihl FS550, and razor sharp. :cool2: