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View Full Version : am i ripping my customer off?


slicey
10-20-2005, 01:43 PM
hi, was doing pruning, raking, removing a tree here and there. Plus i had to get rid of weeds amongst some flagstones she had. then cust. wanted a flagstone patio created adjacent to some already existing stones(6ft. by 8ft.). now, i had to pick up all existing stones to smooth the base and raise it a little before getting the whole install underway. where i live, it's crushed granite anyplace you don't see a road or sidewalk. same situation w/ the base i was prepping. i ordered an additional 3100 lbs.(delivered) of rose flagstone, which is covering about 175 sq. ft. total area is about 225sq. ft. i'm doing this at 12hr. so far the labor has added up to 39 hours and i figure when completed, labor will total about 50hrs($600). out of 3100lbs, there are close to 15-16 stones. one of them is 2.5ft. by 5ft. by 2.5 in. i am doing this all by myself, very carefully. when i give her the bill, i'm afraid she is going to freak out and i don't know if i should feel guilty or not? one thing i'm sure of, i had fun cutting some of the stones to shape using some of the proper hand tools for the trade. i'd really appreciate it if you could give me an estimate on what this job would cost. now i know i didn't do this by the "book" but she didn't want to spend the money on materials and labor to build the base the way it is supposed to be done.
thank you!
slicey

cgland
10-20-2005, 03:27 PM
Dude - $12/hr! That's insane! I charge $47/man hour! The way i see it is she is getting a hell of a deal, especially for flagstone work.(although I don't know the quality of your work) Don't be afraid, if anything raise your price.

P.S. In time you will learn not to let customers tell YOU how to do your job. The base is the MOST important thing in a patio installation. It seems as if this project will have a VERY short shelf life!


Chris

neversatisfiedj
10-20-2005, 03:33 PM
I was charging 50.00 per hour per man. Next year its going to 100.00 hr/man. Sorry if they don't like it ,they can go dig. ;) We're in legit business here gentleman. Insurance, mechanical responsibilities, payroll, fuel ,out of control workers comp. Benefits ? It looks like you are making a ton of money until you take everything out of gross. I turn down cheap skate jobs here lately. I only want to work for customers who will pay for my honest , quality work. Just my .02

SodKing
10-20-2005, 04:27 PM
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I typed a whole post and it disapeared.........

treedoc1
10-20-2005, 05:48 PM
$50 per man hour labor...$75 man hour for the crew chief...I bill myself at $150 hour when it needs to be separated out...special plant material selection, pickup of stone and other material that needs my approval, etc.

Come work for me and you get $15 an hour to start, just like the other crew leaders.

NNJLandman
10-20-2005, 07:13 PM
Well the prices you are charging seem extremely low first off and if thats the hourly prices you told your customer about, then you must follow through with your promise. But dude $12/hr how can you make money, gas in the machines + gas in your truck + any misc. business expenses bar chain oil, new chain, tools for the job. There goes your $12/hr....Id get around $40-45/hr when i work by myself $60/hr when i have another guy or 2 working with me then the price just goes up from there.

Anyways give her the bill have no remorse. She needed work done, you did it, top quality, its off her to do list, your a professional, either way, one way or another to have it done she was going to havta pay to get it done. So bill her, if she freaks out, oh well.

In other news, if your billing her hourly I would bill her around $1500 for the hours + any materials or dumping.

Jeff

dantheman984
10-20-2005, 07:36 PM
This is something I have always told myself, "If they ain`t complaining about how high your price is, you ain`t charging enough!!" :eek:
Dan :cool:

mrusk
10-20-2005, 08:38 PM
Man when i screw up a estimate of a job and only end up making 35 bucks an hour i feel like crap. At 12 bucks an hour i guess your using the customers shovels and rakes.

Matt

PAPS Landscape Design
10-20-2005, 08:45 PM
You'd make more working at McDonalds, and get a free lunch...

QualityLawnCare4u
10-20-2005, 09:11 PM
Twelve an hour!!?? You need to come to Blackshear, Ga. and I can get you all of these you want! You are doing hard backbreaking manual for nothing. Let the client try it for awhile if she does not like it. My first year in biz (I'm ashamed to admit it) I laid some concrete slabs for 5 bucks an hour and that was a one time I will never in h-ll do it again. Not trying to be insulting but this cheapskate thief uhhh client you are doing this for will tell all her old haggy cheapskates how cheap you are. Do you want to attract these kinds of clients? I learned that real fast my first year. What you are doing should at least be 50 an hour and thats in my cheap area. Make it worth your while or don't do it! Give her a bill for 50 per hour and watch her gasp wheeze and choke.Did you not give her a price before you started and get it signed? Come on and earn what you are worth. When you do it dirt cheap like this it lowers the price for everyone else in your area trying to make a living.

slicey
10-21-2005, 12:52 AM
thank you for your time, gentlemen.
slicey

sheshovel
10-21-2005, 02:06 PM
Sir I suggest you double your hours spent on this job,whether or not you actually spent them doing it.And that's only double because you did not lay a base,it should have been triple if you laid the base too.

UNISCAPER
10-22-2005, 10:25 AM
How much illegal alien labor is standing around the Home Depots in your neck of the woods? The reason I ask is if your client is used to hiring those people, they will feel anything over $20.00 an hour is way out of line.

So, $12.00 an hour being what you can get an illegal alien to work for you for,and they can do anything from yard clean ups to dentistry, you need to educate your client as to the way it is if you are going to work for them. But then, from what I hear about some paver installers in AZ, she may very well feel $12.00 an hour is outrageuos. By the way, there are quite a few paver installers who will lower themselves to working for $3-$4 a square foot in Arizona.

William J. L.
10-22-2005, 10:27 PM
Ever hear of the term "Act Like you've been there?"

You're thinking like any employee instead of a company. Charge what the 'going' rate is in your area ($40 - $50 -$60) per hour. And when
you give her the bill...just keep thinking 'it is what it is'...that is if you believe that you have done quality work!

topsites
10-23-2005, 03:10 PM
Dude - $12/hr! That's insane! I charge $47/man hour! The way i see it is she is getting a hell of a deal, especially for flagstone work.(although I don't know the quality of your work) Don't be afraid, if anything raise your price.

P.S. In time you will learn not to let customers tell YOU how to do your job. The base is the MOST important thing in a patio installation. It seems as if this project will have a VERY short shelf life!Chris

Some things to keep in mind, thou I myself charge $45/hour minimum ($60/hour is nice, too) but then this is the end of my 4th year and ready to start on the 5th here shortly and nobody grabs my ship's rudder, hands OFF d@mm1t heheh...
Still, years... In this time one learns how to get things done FAST, half the secret to earning a LOT / hour is knowing how to do things in HALF the time it takes someone else charging less / hour so then $30/hour for TWO of their hours is actually MORE than $50/hour of MY time.
600 may be too much thou I would agree it is most likely NOT enough and just as likely nowhere NEAR enough but then the guy is learning and education costs money, so this could be a lesson the idea being one can learn from this (oh the comedy of the old-timers lol).
Now I did a LOT of work my first year for $15-$20 / hour but I had no experience and it was all I could do back then to cut 5 yards/day (8 was my record) where today 10 yards/day is standard full production and 13 is my record now and the hourly rate has risen to around 45-60/hour which with windshield time and maintenance on a FULL 10 yard/day adds out to 300 dollars for 12 hours of work (from the time I leave home until the time I'm showering at night) comes out to $25/hour TOTAL, see...
But yes, actual machine time (time spent performing actual work) is billed much higher than 25/hour, I have to get paid for driving to-from, the maintenance costs money in parts, materials, AND labor, got so I like getting paid when I'm making the bank deposit too, etc, etc...
Still, if you're at $12/hour now consider an immediate increase to $15/hour with another incre...Well, just go to $15/hour asap and work from there, you got to go slow, there's no sense in going from $12/hour to $60/hour, it will not work because it didn't work for me, I had to go slow and likely you will, too...
Hope is help.

topsites
10-23-2005, 03:19 PM
How much illegal alien labor is standing around the Home Depots in your neck of the woods? The reason I ask is if your client is used to hiring those people, they will feel anything over $20.00 an hour is way out of line.

So, $12.00 an hour being what you can get an illegal alien to work for you for,and they can do anything from yard clean ups to dentistry, you need to educate your client as to the way it is if you are going to work for them. But then, from what I hear about some paver installers in AZ, she may very well feel $12.00 an hour is outrageuos. By the way, there are quite a few paver installers who will lower themselves to working for $3-$4 a square foot in Arizona.

Oh I didn't see the part about hiring mexicans... If they want to pay that kind of hourly rate then I can't compete fairly because:
1) Customer does NOT pick me up / drop me off before/after work.
2) Customer does NOT provide the equipment, does not FIX it when broken, is NOT responsible for maintenance.
3) Customer does NOT supervise the job, does NOT have to THINK about how and what is to be done.
4) Customer does NOT provide lunch (or any food or drink, for that matter).
5) Customer does NOT provide insurance (run me to the hospital if I get hurt).
And so on... See, ALL of this above is worth money and even thou 12/hour is cheaper than 45/hour, it isn't THAT much cheaper once you consider in all the factors... IF the customer does not pick you up/drop you off, that alone is worth 20-30 dollars flat (one fee, but per day). IF the customer does not provide the equipment, that's worth a percentage of the cost of the equipment per hour (a 3 thousand dollar lawn-mower is worth about $5-$10/hour extra, the weedtrimmer and backpack blower another 5 or 10 bucks flat rate or per hour, a shovel and wheelbarrow isn't as expensive but it still costs money).
etc, etc...

Lets not mention 'Customer does NOT provide bathroom' when I got to go, I NEVER relieve myself in or near their property, no not even in the woods behind their house. *I* go find a bathroom like at a gas station, thou more likely I make SURE I don't have to go before I go out there OR I wait until I am finished and can leave to go find a place (doing this brings me near to tears somedays but I NEVER go in or near their property, it's very uncouth).

By the way, LET them find those mexicans... Most the time this is at least part bluff because if they COULD've found someone to work so cheap then what are you doing there and WHY did they call YOU if they can just hire illegals, why aren't they doing so?
As a general rule, once a customer even mentions mexicans, it's usually over, a no-go deal.

Green-Pro
10-23-2005, 05:42 PM
thank you for your time, gentlemen.
slicey

Don't let all the responses get ya down, yes you are way undercharging, but the only true way to know what you need to charge are to know your costs of remaining a viable player in business. Also ensure you are charging enough on top of that to put money in your pocket, use this job as a hard lesson learned, do some deeper research into what jobs go for in your area, a good point of reference for this is your local material supplier, they will generally know what the prevailing rate for hardscapes/landscapes are. Don't let this drag you down use it to build from. This is very quick down and dirty info so please do a lot of research into this, use all available resources to help you.

Good Luck

-Geoff

QualityLawnCare4u
10-23-2005, 08:13 PM
Don't let all the responses get ya down, yes you are way undercharging, but the only true way to know what you need to charge are to know your costs of remaining a viable player in business. Also ensure you are charging enough on top of that to put money in your pocket, use this job as a hard lesson learned, do some deeper research into what jobs go for in your area, a good point of reference for this is your local material supplier, they will generally know what the prevailing rate for hardscapes/landscapes are. Don't let this drag you down use it to build from. This is very quick down and dirty info so please do a lot of research into this, use all available resources to help you.

Good Luck

-Geoff

Slicey, Greenpro is right, dont let the "reprimands" discourage you. Like I said I did a job for 5 bucks an hour and a shrub job for 8 per hour the next week. These dont take long to learn real fast from! Now just use this one as a learning experience and charge what you are worth an you will attract the kind of clients that can afford you, not the cheapskates still living in the 1950,s and 60,s.