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View Full Version : What to charge for taking care of 73 acre farm


walkermowers
03-19-2007, 08:56 PM
was wanting to know what your thoughts were on taking care of a 73 acre farm price wise. we cut 53 acres every week with three ztr's which we can do in about 10.5 hrs. the other 20 acres is pasture which we bush hog once every other month during the growing season. there is a sand arena which has to be prepared every week with a drag harrow that takes about 1 hr. to do. thanks for the responses.

Precision
03-19-2007, 10:21 PM
what is your hourly rate, times man hours plus drive time if that is a consideration.

for mowing 31.5 hours times $60 or times $75 or times $50 or whatever, gives you the price for mowing
same with all the other things.

meets1
03-19-2007, 10:39 PM
I agree with PRECISION. take hours time your rate = easy answer!

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 07:31 AM
we have been doing it now for three years and the first year we were just cutting 7 acres for $140 which i was basing the price on $80 an hr. he has added on more work the past two years to the full farm now. he told me he would give me $1000 a week to do everything "maintenance" wise on the property. so i guess it comes to just under 100 an hour. i just wanted to know if what other people would charge seeing how in most trade mags you see that alot of the companies are trying to bill out between 40-50 bucks per hour per employee on the job. i just thought that would be stealing the man blind. thank you for your input.

Swampy
03-20-2007, 07:47 AM
seriously thats a steal. I don't know what your using to cut it. But for your acrage that your saying and with our biggest mower ( to charge about 95 bucks a hour to be out there for about 4 hours is close to 388 smackers per week. So long story short if he's giving a grand per week thats well worth it. (Averege 4 wks a month 4K on just one account) go for it. If thats his terms.

MarcSmith
03-20-2007, 07:49 AM
1000 a week.....wow....but then you have to consider how many weeks.... if your gowing season is 38 weeks, you could amortize the payments over 12 months. It would make hims feel like he's paying laess, make you feel like you are charging less, when in fact you are gettingt he same amount over a longer period....

38K = 3166 per month. Keep in mind that in some months there are 5 weeks, and in other months only two cuts or even one. the guy might appreciate a "set" fee every monht to hlep with budgeting...

Sunds like a good deal.

if you ever feel guilty about taking too muchmoney, you could always add some spring /summer flower rotations to a few beds to spice up the joint, and just "forget" to charge him

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 07:52 AM
we cut the 19 acre polo field with an exmark 48" hydro with a velke and a walker 42 ghs mower. that takes about 2.5 hrs. the other mower we use out there is a jd 717 48" ztr. all in all i think it is a good deal it just kills us to ride for 10 hrs straight. we trade off on the mowers to give the person riding the velke some time to sit down and cut.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 07:58 AM
i have mentioned the yearly contract price but he didnt like the idea. he is weird like that. i am out on the property once a week sometimes twice a week every week of the year. we cut all day on fridays. we cut 46 times a year on a yearly deal but all the property is bermuda so we normally stop cutting christmas eve. during the winter we just do clean up on the property that has been overgrowing the past years in the wooded area.

Swampy
03-20-2007, 07:59 AM
seriously guy look at a 60", 72", or even a used 11 footer. A 60 and a 72" are a standard of wide open acreage mowing. They are your smallest mower's for WAM's but the most used. Hell our 580-D being a 97 has only 3500 hours on it and we bought it new to replace 3 of our 4 72" mowers.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 08:07 AM
my only problem with getting the bigger mowers is i can't use them on my other properties. the jd just sits in the garage all week until friday. we have access issues on my other properties. i just cant justify buying a mower of that size if i cant use it more. i know what you mean though. it would cut my time down alot. the owner likes to see the stripes in the field and he cant really tell the difference between the 42 and 48 in mowers but you put a 60 or 72 on there and he will be able to tell.

Swampy
03-20-2007, 08:16 AM
bigger the field the bigger the mower. At our schools you don't think they can tell 16ft to 60in? It gets done and at a lower cost which he'll love. It don't look bad at all. the 60in does hands down a hell alot better job then the 16ft but when you put cost wise in front of them everything is aceptable unless you are not a school or a big fancy Corp. We lucked out with our schools they think lower cost and the job gets done.

As for getting a bigger mower. If you keep this guy around for about a year. Lock on some bigger commercial contracts/ HOA then look into getting one. IMO a 455 or 4100 Toro is basicly your go anywhere mower. You'll be surprised at what you can do with that machine

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 08:25 AM
i even suggested to the guy why didnt he just buy a mower and hire someone to cut the grass for him and pay them an hourly wage. if it took them all week to cut everything he would still come out cheaper than what he is paying us. he said that he wanted a professional company to do the work. he has deep pockets and wants a good job done right. he is a pilot for fed ex and is out of town three weeks a month so i guess it is the trust issue for him. he thinks that if he can trust someone with his property, horses, and tractor that it is wotrh paying top dollar.

Swampy
03-20-2007, 08:29 AM
if thats the case look at getting a nice diesel ZTR with a 60" deck and tag it with your 48", use the the 60in bigger area's. It'll look just as good with less time. One foot from afar isn't bad, its smarter. If your worried about it take the extra time and do it all with a 60in your really not going to lose money if he's giving you a cool 1K for a day of cutting.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 08:35 AM
that is true

LwnmwrMan22
03-20-2007, 08:56 AM
was wanting to know what your thoughts were on taking care of a 73 acre farm price wise. we cut 53 acres every week with three ztr's which we can do in about 10.5 hrs. the other 20 acres is pasture which we bush hog once every other month during the growing season. there is a sand arena which has to be prepared every week with a drag harrow that takes about 1 hr. to do. thanks for the responses.

Are you talking 10.5 hours TOTAL with the 3 ztrs, or are you talking about each ztr running for 10.5 hours, so you actually have 31.5 machine hours to do the 53 acres?

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 09:00 AM
31.5 total machine hrs

Swampy
03-20-2007, 09:02 AM
ouch sry guy but ouch.

LwnmwrMan22
03-20-2007, 09:07 AM
31.5 total machine hrs

Plus then you've got the 20 acre of bush hogging on top of that, plus the dragging of the arena.

I'd be charging about $75 / hour, so my price would be around $2500 / week.

You're WAY too cheap. You're not even at $30 / machine hour.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 09:30 AM
others have told me that i am cheap also for the quality of work. but the way i have looked at it is my actual cost is 25 per hour for labor and 75 for the gas to cut everything. so 300 for actual cost each week. that gives me 700 for myself.

MarcSmith
03-20-2007, 09:48 AM
Are you talking 10.5 hours TOTAL with the 3 ztrs, or are you talking about each ztr running for 10.5 hours, so you actually have 31.5 machine hours to do the 53 acres?

Good catch. I missed that.... too early... in the am...

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 10:37 AM
you know i never really looked at it as per machine hour. i did the math and it comes out to about $31 per machine hour. i still think that is high myself. my normal hourly rate is $80 an hour for three people to do whatever the customer wants.

Metro Lawn
03-20-2007, 10:40 AM
You have a job that pays $38,000 a year and you say you can't justifiy a bigger (faster) mower?????? If you went with a Super Z or a Dixie that can do around 7 acres an hour, think of the time and $ savings just in labor. That alone would pay for the mowers. 3 of those units could cut your time down to under 3 hours per week. The savings would be 7.5 hours x 3 or 22.5 man hours. You said your labor is $25 and hour, so that would be a $187.50 savings per week or about $750 a month. Payment on a new machine is about $200 a month, so you could afford 3 new units and spend less than you already do now.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 10:44 AM
i just dont buy equiptment to use only on one property. i would have to be able to use it on most all my properties(residential). i see where you are coming from on the savings cost part of it but i would rather have the money in the bank than having it sit in a piece of equiptment that only gets used once a week.

Metro Lawn
03-20-2007, 11:18 AM
i just dont buy equiptment to use only on one property. i would have to be able to use it on most all my properties(residential). i see where you are coming from on the savings cost part of it but i would rather have the money in the bank than having it sit in a piece of equiptment that only gets used once a week.

Your not seeing the big picture here. You are already spending X amount of dollars to run your biz. For less than you are paying out now, you can upgrade and make yourself more efficient. Second, you have actually value in the machines if you were to sell them later down the line. Once you spend those same dollars on labor, it is gone forever with no return on your investment. It shouldn't matter if these units are only being used for one job, since you are spending that money anyway. At least this way, you have something to show for the money you spend.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 11:21 AM
i guess in a sense you are correct. i have always just been different in the way that i purchase equipt.

LwnmwrMan22
03-20-2007, 11:22 AM
others have told me that i am cheap also for the quality of work. but the way i have looked at it is my actual cost is 25 per hour for labor and 75 for the gas to cut everything. so 300 for actual cost each week. that gives me 700 for myself.

That may be. But look at it this way.

Even if you charged him $1500 / week, you're more than cheaper than most, probably by $500 / day, and you're able to get $500 more.

Also, that 31.5 hours, that's only for the 53 acres of mowing. You're not even getting paid for bush hogging once / month, OR doing the dragging.

The guy isn't going to get his own mower and hire someone to do it all, because it would cost him more.

No matter how you look at your books, once you're married, have kids that sort of thing, you'll be broke, because you cannot run a machine for less than $50 / hour and make money. Doesn't matter where you live.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 11:33 AM
i just did a post on another thread in the general discussion forum under someone elses thread about "i dont think the lawn business is worth it" you can read it if you want. i am a small operation making 250k a year with a 32% profit margin. i dont have many bills except for operation cost and house payments. i am married and have kids and still live a good life. you can make money you just have to know how to manage your money in my case and make it work. i make most of my money on my commercial jobs being larger properties like this one and a management company that we do hoa's for. the guy if he wanted could hire someone and pay them 12 an hour for 40 hours a week and not be paying that much....that is what he did before he hired me and he got what he paid for. like in my earlier post my total cost for the job each week is 300. that gives me 700 for what...riding a mower for 10-11 hours. i think it is worth it.

cantoo
03-20-2007, 06:22 PM
Okay, I'll play the part of dumb Canadian.
Why are you cutting the "farm"? You said you are cutting 53 acres every week and 20 acres once per month. Does he have any animals? Is this 53 cut acres correct or is it a much bigger "farm" and this 53 acres is the lawn? You said 20 acres of pasture, more lawn than pasture? Seems strange to me.
Who does the chores if he's away 3 weeks per month?
I need to move there.

Flex-Deck
03-20-2007, 07:42 PM
53 acres x $25-35 per acre (depending upon obstacles etc) = $1325-$1855
20 acres bushhoged x $35 per acre = $700 monthly
That adds up to about $1700 per week. You can't make any money charging any less

I am a bit confused where you say you have 3 mowers for 10.5 hrs, then state that your labor costs are $25 per hr. Really your cost is $75/ hr. x 10 hrs is $750 + fuel + depreciation + Truck + + + + - You just lost money.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 08:12 PM
cantoo....the farm is actually 80 acres total. the 53 acres is actual grass. the farm as i call it is a working farm with a regulation polo field that is used on the weekends. he boards horses(4) with two of his own. he has two college girls come and ride the horses twice a week and a live in that stays on the property to watch over the farm while he is out of town. the live in does nothing except security and taking care of the mans dogs while he is away.

cantoo
03-20-2007, 08:29 PM
Two college girls,,,, Pay for my gas and I'll cut the grass for free.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 08:31 PM
flex-deck....i guess that my way of pricing is different from everyone else. i dont charge by the acre. i charge by the hour and try to make at least 80 an hour cutting. that covers my labor and other expenses. there are no obstacles to contend with. the polo field is a flat bermuda 19 acres including the safety zones. the rest is flat with a barn, house and the 300 x 100ft arena. that is all there is to the property. i thought it was a good deal when he approached me with 1000 to cut everything. it did not matter to me if it took me all day or half a day it was still 1000 bucks for a days work. the labor is for two guys at 25 per hour for both at ten hours that is 250. the fuel 75 bucks that still leaves enough left to cover all overhead. the pasture is done on a different day during the week when i can send my crew out to cut our residential yards and i go bush hog by myself. it takes 9-10 hours to do the pasture depending on how fast i get the tractor to go. i guess it was a misunderstanding about the labor. two guys i am paying 12.50 each an hour to ride a mower. i think that is pretty good. when you say that you cant make any money charging any less i dont understand. the 700 that i have left after paying my help is my labor for myself. basically to pay all my bills both personal and business i only have to work 3 days a week. the other two days are profit.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 08:32 PM
cantoo-- one is pretty hot the other not so hot...the only thing is they are out there usually on the days that we are not there.

MarcSmith
03-20-2007, 08:56 PM
cantoo-- one is pretty hot the other not so hot...the only thing is they are out there usually on the days that we are not there.

the ones that not...Beer, the great equalizer........

If you were getting 100 bucks a man hour, you would be doing very well...

I guess if you are comfortable making 10-15 an hour net who are we tell you otherwise....

from an installation a standpoint, a 3 man crew should be grossing around 2500 a day....

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 09:10 PM
marc----yes i do agree on the istallation part of it when we do installs which is not very often i do materials x 2 plus 45 per man per hour. we did one not to long ago which was 600 junipers which took 8 guys 9 hours to do and i billed out 7500 for the job. that was a good day of profit. the junipers were buy one get one free and the labor i was generous on because all the holes they dug by hand with a pick in clay soil so i gave each of them an extra 100 on top of their 12 an hour i was paying them.

cantoo
03-20-2007, 09:12 PM
quote : walkermowers cantoo-- one is pretty hot the other not so hot...the only thing is they are out there usually on the days that we are not there.

And you suppose I look like Kevin Cosner..
I look more like Walter Matthau. Trust me if they're breathing they are good enough for me.

walkermowers
03-20-2007, 09:15 PM
marc---i guess everyone wants to make money off each machine they are running. i look at it different i guess. even if it was 4 or 5 mowers i was running i would still charge him the same price. the way i and alot of others in the industry here in our area see it is that a three person crew on maintenance should gerenate at least 650-700 per day in revenue gross to make it worth while to show a profit at the end of the year. most shoot for 10-15%. i set my goal at 30% which i have met the past three years in a row.

LwnmwrMan22
03-20-2007, 10:25 PM
marc---i guess everyone wants to make money off each machine they are running. i look at it different i guess. even if it was 4 or 5 mowers i was running i would still charge him the same price. the way i and alot of others in the industry here in our area see it is that a three person crew on maintenance should gerenate at least 650-700 per day in revenue gross to make it worth while to show a profit at the end of the year. most shoot for 10-15%. i set my goal at 30% which i have met the past three years in a row.

I'm a solo op that grosses $75 - 100 / hour working myself. I can't imagine paying someone out of that money.

They're going to have to generate their own $50 / hour fee, at least to make it worth while.

A 3 person crew should generate about $2000 / day, not $650 - 700. That's solo op numbers.