PDA

View Full Version : Leaf clean-ups


Varsity L&G
09-14-2005, 05:42 PM
How do you price them right?

By the tree, by the hour, by the footage? What is a good universal way of pricing them.

Getting ready to do some leaves here. Putting the add out next couple weeks.

mcwlandscaping
09-14-2005, 05:57 PM
I do it by the hour. Just my 2 cents!

smullen
09-14-2005, 06:01 PM
How do you price them right?

By the tree, by the hour, by the footage? What is a good universal way of pricing them.

Getting ready to do some leaves here. Putting the add out next couple weeks.

Well depending on the yard and if they want the leaves Gone or just Mulched up... I usually charge 2-3 times a regular cut as it usually takes me 2-3 times as long....

I should really start timming and see how close I am... Also, I am keeping my eyes open to see how others are pricing this....

Varsity L&G
09-14-2005, 06:12 PM
Do you use the 55 to 60 an hour price for by the hour?

If you blow the leaves do you also include a cut?

6'7 330
09-14-2005, 06:16 PM
Average sized city lot, double the weekly mow + 30 for each bagger full of leaves. On the city lots that usually comes out to 120- 150 bucks a week for 30 minutes.

The big suburban lots that are more labor intensive, with a lot of trees, landscaping and beds to clean out, we charge by the man-hour.

walker-talker
09-14-2005, 06:27 PM
By the hour. This year the hourly rate will go up and there will be a dump fee included.

nobagger
09-14-2005, 07:47 PM
You have to go by the hour. The amount of leaves can change from week to week. You could have a yard full of leaves and it's taking you 5 hours to clean up and on the day you quoted him you saw maybe 3 hours worth of work. I tried going by the job on a few last season and NEVER AGAIN!

Varsity L&G
09-14-2005, 08:11 PM
So what do you use per hour? Same as the mow rate or less? 45$, 60$, 90$?

kc2006
09-14-2005, 09:49 PM
I always go per man hour. Give them a ball park figure if they want it, and explain that it is ONLY a ball park figure.

Around here it was 30-35 per man hour about 2-3 years ago. This year I'll be at 45-55 per man hour depending on the job. I always charge to haul it away. Its free for me to dump the leaves but still the fact that I'm hauling and unloading so I'm not unloading and not getting paid for that time wasted.

BTW, this is for cleanups using blowers and the truck vac. If i were using vacs on the mower(s) I would do as some have said and charge 2 or 3 times the normal price plus however much extra.

cantoo
09-14-2005, 10:00 PM
We always price by the job and say that the amount can vary depending on the leaves. We decide how good the job needs to be, we state upfront that not every leave will be removed. They have to trust our judgement as to how clean it will be, if they have a problem with that then we skip the job and tell them to go elsewhere. Most of our work is by referral so they have an idea of the type of job we do and the prices we charge. Like I have said a hundred times we don't like to work for fussy people, we are in and out no time to sweat every detail. That's for Professionals, we do this to make money and because we want to.

l1011100
09-15-2005, 02:09 AM
2 years ago I tried pricing by the job and screwed myself too many times. Last year I charged by the hour ($40) and came out alot better. I had a few complaints about the hourly rate mostly from the pita's. This year I am charging $45 per hour, maybe more for the people that wait till January to call me. I do this by myself with a rednax 7001 and leaf loader on a gooseneck dump with 8 foot sides.

topsites
09-15-2005, 02:28 AM
I always go per man hour. Give them a ball park figure if they want it, and explain that it is ONLY a ball park figure.

Around here it was 30-35 per man hour about 2-3 years ago. This year I'll be at 45-55 per man hour depending on the job. I always charge to haul it away. Its free for me to dump the leaves but still the fact that I'm hauling and unloading so I'm not unloading and not getting paid for that time wasted.

BTW, this is for cleanups using blowers and the truck vac. If i were using vacs on the mower(s) I would do as some have said and charge 2 or 3 times the normal price plus however much extra.

This is the first reasonable post I've seen concerning leaves, not to say the rest are lying but in my own experience, the money isn't that good and the above sounds about right... I do NOT have a vac truck but I charge $35/hour with the backpack blower and this year $45/hour with the turbine (10hp billygoat pushblower), the turbine cleans 4-6 times the leaves than the backpack does but the turbine is heavy and on wheels it won't go every place. MOST yards I can clean in 2-4 hours per visit and 2 visits takes care of it, so figure 3 hours each $125 / visit, they're looking at $250 to clean up on average, some will get it done for a bit less, most are looking at 200-300 this year because I have my money SAVED this year and don't care if leaves get done, or not.

I mean I hate to have that attitude but I been burned so many years by the folks think this leaf business is 15-dollars/hour crap, so now for hauling, it's 60 dollars / 6x12 trailer load in addition to the above labor, most yards will take 3-4 loads, some as little as 1-2, some as many as 5-6 TOTAL between visits.
So to HAUL leaves, they're going to love 400-500 dollars total, I can see it already.

SOME (a few) of my regular, ALL year grass customers will get their leaves done for LESS than the above IF I think they're worth it (well if they always paid on time and definitely want me next year). Yes, a 100-dollar or so one-time loss IS worth it for a good year-round grass customer because I still get paid so it covers cost ...(and the funny guys like to jump onboard in september can feel free to kiss my arse).

They won't like it... I can already hear the hollering, the crying, etc, etc...
That's the part I hate, everything else isn't really that bad, the work is doable, it's not as easy as grass-cutting but it's not killer, either... But the whining and the crying, omg...

I think you are in your first year and there isn't much I could do in my first year about it so I wish you the best of luck but NEXT year, start saving your winter survival money right off the bat, start in spring and get it saved priority number ONE because that helps you have the right attitude towards leaves :)
Again it is important, always save your money.

Varsity L&G
09-15-2005, 02:31 AM
I will be doing this myself as well.
That is what I was thinking 45 an hour. My BP blower, a tarp, leaf rake and the trailer. The sides will go on the trailer this next week along with the add in the paper. Just wish I had the decals on everything. Guess that is what I can use the leaf money for. I already have a place to dump the leaves. 3 acres of woods and a dump that lets me drop them for free.

topsites
09-15-2005, 02:38 AM
2 years ago I tried pricing by the job and screwed myself too many times. Last year I charged by the hour ($40) and came out alot better. I had a few complaints about the hourly rate mostly from the pita's. This year I am charging $45 per hour, maybe more for the people that wait till January to call me. I do this by myself with a rednax 7001 and leaf loader on a gooseneck dump with 8 foot sides.

Oh yeah, that brings up an important point:
Once it rains, the leaves are slightly harder to clean up. The first rain isn't too bad but let it come down 3, 4 or half-a-dozen times and it gets to be a real pita. The rain (and also gravity and people walking on it) embeds the leaves into the turf, I swear to you they STICK in the dirt and it gets so bad that only a full-throttle wind almost straight down unwedges the stupid things, they get all matted in there.
Alas, I can reasonably do 1-2 yards/day so not everybody who calls right away gets done in time and I don't charge extra so long they DID call and I did agree to do it and all that. But those who have NOT called by Xmas, as far as I'm concerned, leaves are not important to them.

The ONE good thing about leaves, and remember this: It is a SELLER's market! One thing I did my first year (lol) is I cleaned ONLY yards that did NOT require hauling... Yup, you got it, blow them in the woods or someplace in the yard they got a spot for a pile of leaves... Don't got one / need them hauled? Sorry, can't help you... And I STILL had more work than I could shake a stick at. So don't be too afraid, the one thing about leaves is YOU are in total control, if you even THINK you're doing leaves, they'll come running to you, begging you oh please, sir, help me, help me.
(sorry i had to)

freddyc
09-15-2005, 08:39 AM
Do any of you guys collect the leaves and turn it into a compost pile??

It would turn into residual cash later on when you sell it in the spring for gardens.

walker-talker
09-15-2005, 09:36 AM
Last year I charged $60 and hour.
This included:
Backpack blower
Walker GHS
Grain truck with leaf loader mounted on front bumper
Sometimes I use tarp and rakes, but only if needed.

Not many people asked if about prices...actually only one. I gave them a ball-park figure of around $250. Ederly couple and on fixed income. They freaked and said that was too much. I then explained to them my hourly rate and that is what I THOUGHT it would come out to. I told them I am very efficient and don't take breaks. They where ok with the hourly rate, but only wanted to spend $150. I said fine, when I hit that amount I would stop. I finished the job and was still under $150 by $20, so they were happy and so was I. This year my hourly rate will go up 7% and there will be a dump fee. Since my grain truck is large and can hold 23 cubic yards (6000 pounds of leaves), I can collect 4 or 5 lawns worth of leaves before dumping. Before I was not making any money for my time actually dumping the leaves. Even though it takes less than an hour to drive to the dump and back and only cost $25 for dumping, I need to be compensated for my time.

walker-talker
09-15-2005, 09:40 AM
Do any of you guys collect the leaves and turn it into a compost pile??

It would turn into residual cash later on when you sell it in the spring for gardens.I have enough land to keep grass and leaves and would love to turn it into compost, if for no other reason than my own personally garden, but have no way to turn the pile. Someday I might have a skid steer and might give it a try. All my stuff goes to a recycling center, so I guess they are the ones making the money on it.

Mack77
09-26-2005, 12:35 AM
Are most of you guys working solo doing fall-cleanups? I will be working solo this year and am looking to charge $40/hr plus the cost of a grass cut per leaf cleanup. I think that is a fair price for both myself and the customer. If a grass cut goes for $40, and one given week takes two hours for a leaf clean-up, the price for that week's service would be $120. (I will be using a backpack blower and a trac-vac on my ZTR) What do you think about this rate?

Also, how many visits do you normally make to a customer? Last year I waited till all the leaves have fallen, but i do not think that will be the case this year, due to the fact that it looks sloppy. I was thinking perhaps 2 or 3 visits for leaves spaced every other week. Is that a good plan?

Thanks :)

mosmgras
09-26-2005, 12:46 AM
By the hour plus a dump fee if I have to haul them off. I always give an estimate price before hand and explain that it is only an estimate. Most of my accounts, I've had for several years so I know about what it will take to clean them up.

topsites
09-26-2005, 01:22 AM
How do you price them right?

By the tree, by the hour, by the footage? What is a good universal way of pricing them.

Getting ready to do some leaves here. Putting the add out next couple weeks.

Yeah by the hour but it's a real b!7ch, at least in my book. From my experience, it can take twice as long as I thought or half as long, even 4 years into it, I never know for sure.
It wouldn't be so bad but if I quote 4 hours and it takes 2, then I'm 2 hours ahead and GREAT but if it takes twice as long, I'm out FOUR hours (TWICE what I'm over when it takes half the time). Some (and today more than a few) of my customers are real cool, they tell me to do what it takes and they pay (and that is phewieee awesome) but not all folk are like that and NEW or first-time customers are LEAST likely to give unlimited credit thou it's not really unlimited anyhow...
It's hit-and-miss, I do the best I can, yet another reason to do leaves for my better and regular customers FIRST, if I take a beating, the fact they've been with me all year makes up for this AND it helps getting them for next year but it's not for sure, it just helps.
dass just me...

topsites
09-26-2005, 01:25 AM
Are most of you guys working solo doing fall-cleanups? I will be working solo this year and am looking to charge $40/hr plus the cost of a grass cut per leaf cleanup. I think that is a fair price for both myself and the customer. If a grass cut goes for $40, and one given week takes two hours for a leaf clean-up, the price for that week's service would be $120. (I will be using a backpack blower and a trac-vac on my ZTR) What do you think about this rate?

Also, how many visits do you normally make to a customer? Last year I waited till all the leaves have fallen, but i do not think that will be the case this year, due to the fact that it looks sloppy. I was thinking perhaps 2 or 3 visits for leaves spaced every other week. Is that a good plan?

Thanks :)

2 or 3 visits is what I do, some fall under the 1-visit plan but I like to be in-and-out of a yard in short time, after a few hours I get to slowing down and can never seem to finish those BIG jobs, so yeah, 2-3 visits RULES but:
I always make sure the customer knows that it will NOT be more expensive if I come out 2-3 times, I charge by the hour and in my experience, 2-3 visits takes just as long than one long visit (and you really kinda need to do it that way, I think that keeps it fair plus then you don't breed the one-visit monster). I think 2-3 visits is easier than ONE so since they're so kind as to allow it, I make SURE it doesn't cost more than ONE visit, yes, even if I lose a few dollars but I really don't think I lose any.

topsites
09-26-2005, 01:30 AM
We always price by the job and say that the amount can vary depending on the leaves. We decide how good the job needs to be, we state upfront that not every leave will be removed. They have to trust our judgement as to how clean it will be, if they have a problem with that then we skip the job and tell them to go elsewhere. Most of our work is by referral so they have an idea of the type of job we do and the prices we charge. Like I have said a hundred times we don't like to work for fussy people, we are in and out no time to sweat every detail. That's for Professionals, we do this to make money and because we want to.

You bring up a good point: On those first visits where you KNOW there are more leaves coming, there is no sense in leaving it spotless. Get the WORST of it up and keep going, I usually go until I feel I'm wasting time and usually by then, I've gotten 90 percent of them up so it's MOSTLY clean. The FINAL clean-up should be a bit more thorough but there will be a FEW leaves left, it gets to a point where it literally takes twice as long to be real nit-picky and once I get to that point, it's time to cut out.
Keep in mind come spring, you'll have a few left to clean and that's why the first grass-cut of the season is a bit of a pita but it shouldn't be too bad.

topsites
09-26-2005, 01:37 AM
Do any of you guys collect the leaves and turn it into a compost pile??

It would turn into residual cash later on when you sell it in the spring for gardens.

I have no other choice, the guy used to let me keep my equipment on his 16-acre farm started charging me $120/month rent, so this year leaves are going on MY 1-acre lot. I know from experience if I pick a good spot and back EACH trailer in the SAME spot, I'll get ONE big pile but it won't be too outrageous.
Now:
A regular pile of leaves takes a WHOLE year to decompose! Don't even THINK they'll be gone in spring, they MIGHT but you need to dump 5 or 10 bags of lime (by the way, lime went from $3/bag to $4.50/bag) on top of the pile and THEN later (like march) rent a loader for around $200 for the day and use the loader to WORK the pile. Or you can just let them sit until next season, heh.
Then it will take several years AND a few leaf seasons until you have a reasonable amount (cubic YARDS) of topsoil that yes, you can then sell for $15/yard plus delivery and other fees. In the end it's a bit like firewood, a LOT of work for the trouble, but what choice do I got?

walker-talker
09-26-2005, 02:52 AM
I only do leaf removals once. I just discharge the leaves when I mow on their regular visit. I then wait until around December, after all the leaves have fallen and then do the removals.

GarPA
09-26-2005, 04:25 AM
we also charge by the manhour and if customer wants a hard number we'll give them a low to high swag with the provision that this is a guesstimate at best. We also count the Z with the bagging system as a "person". So if 2 guys spend 2 hours on a property, the total manhours billed will be 6 hours.
2 guys plus machine = 3 x 2hrs = 6 manhours.

Reason we charge for machine is that we get it done much faster than the guys who show up with rakes and tarps and thats all.

jpmako
09-26-2005, 08:59 AM
I charge a flat rate.
Many people in my area have tried to do hourly and I have not seen it work out. You will always have people arguing over the hourly rate + how many hours you claim to have spent cleaning up the leaves.

This is directly from my UPDATED contract.

H.) Fall Clean-up will include: Picking up debris and leaves from all landscaped beds and turf areas on the above mentioned property and placing in an area designated by the client as suitable for dumping debris. Fall Clean-up services will commence around October 15th and continue until Approximately December 1st. This service will be conducted approximately every 7- 14 days at the discretion of the contractor. The cost for this service is based on the estimated time spent per visit. In the event of excessive leaf/ debris coverage on the clientís grounds, additional charges may apply. If the client elects to have the debris removed from the property the charge(s) for this service are as outlined under the section titled: Additional Services. Debris will be placed on the street in front of the property and will be taken at the time of the last visit.

Most of my Clean-ups are in the $300 and up range (not including removal)
This year I had anticipated fuel prices going up and have increased everyone's rates for the clean-up by about $50.00

Good luck to everyone with Clean-ups I know it is my favorite time of year. :dizzy: payup


Jason

Meg-Mo
09-26-2005, 09:06 AM
Put the MEG MO blades on your mowers and cut your time in 1/2 but do not cut your price. You will only haul away about 20% of what you do now also saving time to do more jobs. Then you will have the blades for next spring.

lqmustang
09-26-2005, 10:10 AM
My pricing method is unique but works well for me, solo. I charge the price of a grass cut, plus $2 per bag of leaves pulled off the mower, either 1 bag at a time off the wb or 3 at a time off the ztr triple bagger. Disposal is included in this pricing. I normally maintain weekly visits thru the end of leaf season to keep on top of the leaves. Usually don't do much in the beds until the final cleanup, but I will blow off all the hard surfaces into the lawn before I start picking up. The selling point for this is, the customer is only paying for the volume of leaves that are on the property. Houry, I usually end up around $70/hr.

lawnguyland
09-26-2005, 01:34 PM
My pricing method is unique but works well for me, solo. I charge the price of a grass cut, plus $2 per bag of leaves pulled off the mower, either 1 bag at a time off the wb or 3 at a time off the ztr triple bagger. Disposal is included in this pricing. I normally maintain weekly visits thru the end of leaf season to keep on top of the leaves. Usually don't do much in the beds until the final cleanup, but I will blow off all the hard surfaces into the lawn before I start picking up. The selling point for this is, the customer is only paying for the volume of leaves that are on the property. Houry, I usually end up around $70/hr.
Same way I do it. Weekly visits to clean leaves off turf only (no beds). Takes the same amount of time as weekly mowing service. Leaves go to street for town pick up. After thanksgiving the clean-ups start when I get all the leaves out of the beds, final mow if needed and lime. For this final clean-up I charge about 8-10X weekly price and may do it in two trips.

A Finer Cut
09-26-2005, 07:43 PM
We usally come in at 2x the cut rate but I attempt to get them collected more than once per season. I usally try to collect them twice before the mowing season ends and once again after they have all fallen. Of course that is here in NOVA and my customers are used to the "Finer" things in life.

l1011100
12-13-2005, 10:55 PM
The guy that I buy my topsoil from lets me dump all my leaves at his property and he mixes them up maneur so they compost faster, I also get a discount on my topsoil. He just got a small tub grinder so I might never have to pay disposal fees again.:)