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View Full Version : What to charge for leaf cleanup??


iamthelawnbarber
09-08-2007, 12:13 AM
What is the going rate for leaf cleanup on a 1 acre property? I have 1 property with about 30-40 trees. Do you charge per hour?
Thanks!

lawnprosteveo
09-08-2007, 12:54 AM
I think it varies quite a bit depending on what part of the country you are in. It seems the Northern fellas/gals get more per man-hour than us Southern boys/girls. In my neck of the woods...it averages $25 to $50 per man-hour.

Brianslawn
09-08-2007, 02:29 AM
hourly. whatever the minimum wage is in your area... charge about $2/hr less. thats how these "Southern boys/girls" charge.

now if you think you ought to make a $1 minute a driving your $10k mower over the yards in the summer, then shouldnt you charge at least that much to drive it over the yards in the fall? or do you like to give yourself a demotion when the temps cool down?

now, if youre one of the many "professionals" that uses a $5 fischer price rake from walmart... then please refer back to the first paragraph of this post.

lawnprosteveo
09-08-2007, 12:09 PM
Well...Brian....no, I dont want to....what was it..."demote myself". But I havent met anyone who charges over $50 per man hour...of course we are just dumb Okies. The real problem is ALL the guys who charge about $10 per hour. Thank God I dont have one of those $10,000 mowers to pay for this off-season.

Brianslawn
09-08-2007, 01:41 PM
Well...Brian....no, I dont want to....what was it..."demote myself". But I havent met anyone who charges over $50 per man hour...of course we are just dumb Okies. The real problem is ALL the guys who charge about $10 per hour. Thank God I dont have one of those $10,000 mowers to pay for this off-season.

you could always be the first. we were. at least charge whatever the highest rate in your area ($50 if thats what someone else is charging). then tell all the $10/hr guys how they aint gonna make a that $million a year they keep dreaming of.... but since youre charging 5x as much you might make it.

lawnprosteveo
09-08-2007, 02:13 PM
I lost the leaf business of one of my mowing customers this past year. When I saw him in the spring to mow, he said he used a mexican crew. There were four of them and they worked four hours...16 manhours...they only charged $150. I dont know how they stay in business.

Brianslawn
09-08-2007, 02:29 PM
they prolly wont for long and the guy will call you back. weve had several customers quit for someone cheaper. lots have called back within a year wanting us back. they were even willing to pay a slightly higher price to get back on the schedule. if he dont call you back then you prolly dont want him for a customer anyways. go find customers that appreciate you and are willing to pay you what it cost you to stay in biz.

lawnpro724
09-08-2007, 03:40 PM
If they do good work and the customer is happy with it he will probably stay with them. They will be in business for a long time since there not like most Americans. We were raised by are parents to be independent, go to school, College, and move out and get are own place. They live like **** roaches 15 or more in a 2 bedroom apartment or house. So if you look at it the way they do thats $37.00 for each of them or $9.25 an hour about $7 an hour more than the would make in Mexico where the average rate of pay is $2.50 an hour. Split your rent 15 way's and you can see how they will stay in business. I don't like it anymore than the rest of you but that's how it is.

The Cutting Edge
09-08-2007, 05:12 PM
What is the going rate for leaf cleanup on a 1 acre property? I have 1 property with about 30-40 trees. Do you charge per hour?
Thanks!

You definately need to be charging 60.00 an hour if you are skilled... Everyone that is skilled should be charging that... Thats what is wrong with this business people should charge the same so we all make money and theres no lowballers..

LTL
09-08-2007, 06:10 PM
Lawnprosteveo
I've heard of guys charging 65-75 here in Tulsa. I know that sounds ridiculous but I've heard it a number of times. I only charged 35 and I thought that was a lot until I heard what some of the others were charging. Also, if you or anybody you know needs a good Billy Goat leaf vac, I have one for sale.

jimmyzlc
09-08-2007, 07:03 PM
You charge for your skills, my hr. labor rate is $30.00. Which I think is low here, but it's what I feel the market here will bare. If your experienced don't cheat yourself because some guy charges $10, the guy charging 10 will not do the job you will do.

lawnprosteveo
09-08-2007, 09:07 PM
I agree Jimmy...thats why I charge what I do. And in my town, like yours, people arent going to pay much over $50 per man hour. Also, my customers arent exactly loaded. Alot of them are little old widow ladies. Sweet, but they watch those nickles and dimes.

lawnprosteveo
09-08-2007, 09:13 PM
Lawnprosteveo
I've heard of guys charging 65-75 here in Tulsa. I know that sounds ridiculous but I've heard it a number of times. I only charged 35 and I thought that was a lot until I heard what some of the others were charging. Also, if you or anybody you know needs a good Billy Goat leaf vac, I have one for sale.That is surprising...I wonder what kind of equipment they have. What I mean is...if you have a couple of helpers, a leaf loader, big blowers...things that will make you go fast, then you can charge more per hour and be competitive..plus you will make more money due to more volume.
But a solo guy mulching or tarping the leaves will take alot longer. His price per hour must be lower to be able to compete with the bigger guy. The same applies to mowing.
If you are solo with a 21" mower trying to compete with a 3 man crew with ZTR's to bid on a large property, your not gonna be able to charge as much per hour since you will spend alot more hours on the job..
Is that skewed thinking or no?

Tyler7692
09-08-2007, 09:30 PM
That is surprising...I wonder what kind of equipment they have. What I mean is...if you have a couple of helpers, a leaf loader, big blowers...things that will make you go fast, then you can charge more per hour and be competitive..plus you will make more money due to more volume.
But a solo guy mulching or tarping the leaves will take alot longer. His price per hour must be lower to be able to compete with the bigger guy. The same applies to mowing.
If you are solo with a 21" mower trying to compete with a 3 man crew with ZTR's to bid on a large property, your not gonna be able to charge as much per hour since you will spend alot more hours on the job..
Is that skewed thinking or no?


Yeah, but look at the overhead of having a leaf loader, helpers, big blowers, ztrs, ect.... versus having basic equipment. You HAVE to charge more when you bring thousands in equipment on a job site.

Ren
09-08-2007, 09:45 PM
I've been doing cleanups for 5 years and I do them at $70 per hour up here in New Engalnd (Mass). An average yard (1/2 - 1 acre) will pay on average $200 - $250. I do it alone with a Hustler Z, a trimmer, a leaf blower and a Lesco leaf vac to load the truck. Don't forget any disposal fees or time for disposal when you do your bill. Good luck. I'm not positive, but I believe that up here most landscapers are billing out at $60 - $70 per hour for maintenance work.

Lawnut101
09-08-2007, 09:57 PM
You definately need to be charging 60.00 an hour if you are skilled... Everyone that is skilled should be charging that... Thats what is wrong with this business people should charge the same so we all make money and theres no lowballers..

So, is this 60 per man per hour or 60 for a crew of 2 or 3 per hour?

TheBigGW
09-08-2007, 10:05 PM
Yes he would bill it out at 60 a MAN hour thats how its done around here but also i read all of the previous posts and it look like the are all from OK, TX and that area well i dont think that you have EVER seen what a 1 acre of solid full maple and oak trees that are 40 t 60 feet tall. And then on top of all them you can add every freaking leave from all the neighbors trees to have blown in your clean up area. Once you see how much comes out of a yard, you will then understand why we charge what we do up in New England.

Ren
09-08-2007, 10:11 PM
$60 per man hour.

Ren
09-08-2007, 10:28 PM
The BigGW is right when he talks about the area of the country you are in. How much an hour is a much bigger question than the amount of work or what a competitor charges. You need to figure out what you need to live like the mortgage, insurance, food, truck payment, beer, you know then you need to figure out your week of 40,50, 60 hour work week for only 6- 8 months of the year and then come up with what your hourly rate needs to be. This business gets to be the best, when you can walk away from a bid knowing you cannot afford to do it for the other guys price. The best part is it is your decision to take it or not.

TheBigGW
09-08-2007, 10:33 PM
Ren you are rite lots of beer money. Especially if we have another winter when you only get 3 inches of snow. 3 inches for the whole winter how the hell are you suppose to make any money to buy beer and place bets on the Patriots to win the whole thing this year.......But it is very messed up up here with the seasons we cant cut all year long like the south ........

Ren
09-08-2007, 10:43 PM
Why do we ever pick trying to earn a living with Mother nature. Last winter no snow plow money, then April/May comes along with the rains so we can't get started mowing or mulching, then we can't mow in Sept because of the drought. Go Pats, Go Red Sox, Go Beer, Go Falling leaves.

Lawnut101
09-08-2007, 10:53 PM
Yes he would bill it out at 60 a MAN hour thats how its done around here but also i read all of the previous posts and it look like the are all from OK, TX and that area well i dont think that you have EVER seen what a 1 acre of solid full maple and oak trees that are 40 t 60 feet tall. And then on top of all them you can add every freaking leave from all the neighbors trees to have blown in your clean up area. Once you see how much comes out of a yard, you will then understand why we charge what we do up in New England.

$60 per man hour.

Thanks guys. I'm new to this too, and that's what I figured. I'm thinking of charging somewhere around there this fall. But I don't think that there is much of a market for 60/hr. But the local repair shop charges 60/hr for mower repairs, so I guess I could try it.

jimmyzlc
09-08-2007, 11:48 PM
Charge only what your market will bear, do a little homework. People would look at me like I was nuts if I charged 60-75 an hour for a job. What a engine mechanic and a LCO can charge are two totally different things. Don't get caught up in that game you will get burned.

Big Bad Bob
09-09-2007, 01:39 AM
I lost the leaf business of one of my mowing customers this past year. When I saw him in the spring to mow, he said he used a mexican crew. There were four of them and they worked four hours...16 manhours...they only charged $150. I dont know how they stay in business.

They all live in the same house and send $100.00 of that $150.00 back to Mexico. When they get $20,000.00 saved in Mexico, one of them goes back to Mexico to live the rest of his life as a king. Then he sends his cousin to take his place. They rotate by seniority so they never run out of workers. Most are illegal also. But nooooooooooooooo. We shouldn't round them up and send them back. After all, the southwest is just a USA occupied state of Mexico and they are working on the rest of the US as revenge. But I digress.
In short they do it for less because they need less to live on.

Big Bad Bob
09-09-2007, 01:51 AM
The BigGW is right when he talks about the area of the country you are in. How much an hour is a much bigger question than the amount of work or what a competitor charges. You need to figure out what you need to live like the mortgage, insurance, food, truck payment, beer, you know then you need to figure out your week of 40,50, 60 hour work week for only 6- 8 months of the year and then come up with what your hourly rate needs to be. This business gets to be the best, when you can walk away from a bid knowing you cannot afford to do it for the other guys price. The best part is it is your decision to take it or not.

I don't understand how your mortgage, insurance, food, truck payment, beer and such has anything to do with what you charge.?? You should charge what you need to maintain your business and what your time is worth. By this theory, when your house and truck are paid for, you should lower your rates. You HAVE to charge what your service is worth. Not for less than $50.00/ manhour including cost of equipment and overhead. (many people out there have no idea what overhead is, it ain't your mortgage, insurance, food, truck payment, beer costs) I will just work at the local sweat factory for $20.00/ hour and go home after 8 hours and have a real life.
Am I making sense here??;)

Big Bad Bob
09-09-2007, 02:01 AM
Charge only what your market will bear, do a little homework. People would look at me like I was nuts if I charged 60-75 an hour for a job. What a engine mechanic and a LCO can charge are two totally different things. Don't get caught up in that game you will get burned.

Always charge by the job, not by the hour. The customer has no idea you are charging based on manhours. I always class a job by, difficulty, as in leaf cleanup, amount of leaves, hours to do the job - (on and off the jobsite, travel to and from disposal site, billing and paperwork office time, etc), equipment needed, and sometimes by pita factor of the customer. Works for me. Yes, you do have to maintain a "what the market will bear" concept but that should also take into account quality of service. I feel, and my clients feel, and have expressed that the quality of service we provide is top notch and therefore worth more. The only time I have lost a customer to price was when they didn't care about quality of service and I'm not aiming at that level of clientelle anyway.

Big Bad Bob
09-09-2007, 02:10 AM
Charge only what your market will bear, do a little homework. People would look at me like I was nuts if I charged 60-75 an hour for a job. What a engine mechanic and a LCO can charge are two totally different things. Don't get caught up in that game you will get burned.

Always charge by the job, not by the hour. The customer has no idea you are charging based on manhours. I always class a job by, difficulty, as in leaf cleanup, amount of leaves, hours to do the job - (on and off the jobsite, travel to and from disposal site, billing and paperwork office time, etc), equipment needed, and sometimes by pita factor of the customer. Works for me. Yes, you do have to maintain a "what the market will bear" concept but that should also take into account quality of service. I feel, and my clients feel, and have expressed that the quality of service we provide is top notch and therefore worth more. The only time I have lost a customer to price was when they didn't care about quality of service and I'm not aiming at that level of clientelle anyway. I get 1 out of 4 bids I make but they are always profitable. I don't worry about filling a schedule book with customers. I concentrate on filling a schedule book with good paying customers so I can work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and make enough to have a life and survive the winter and to put some away for retirement.


PS...Sorry about the double post. I got a database error the first time.

supercuts
09-11-2007, 10:45 AM
Well...Brian....no, I dont want to....what was it..."demote myself". But I havent met anyone who charges over $50 per man hour...of course we are just dumb Okies. The real problem is ALL the guys who charge about $10 per hour. Thank God I dont have one of those $10,000 mowers to pay for this off-season.

i dont understand how anyone doing moderate to large lawns wouldnt want a $10K machine. to me it shows lack of understanding. if you have the work, you realize you can double your productivity. so if you could cut 6 $35 lawns a day with a WB, $210 a day, now you double that so your at $420 a day. if you do that 5 days a week, that is $1050 a month extra. of that, maybe $250/month ZTR payment, so your left with $800 a month extra. and this is not a huge leap. 60 lawns a week for a solo guy should be easy with a ZTR. so why would you be happy to make less??? and work harder with a WB??

speaking of making less, that is what you appear to be promoting. i know each area warrants a different amount but you also need to concider how much your business costs to run. if i was charging $50/hr solo, id be making $10/hr. that is less than i pay my help. so why are telling him to make charge a certain amount.

my advice, add up all your normal monthly business cost, add in a bit extra for unforseen repairs/cost, and divide that by 160(40/hrs/week). that give you your monthly cost to run your business. than figure out how much you wnat to make, add that on top, and throw in a few extra dollars since you dont work a full year round but still have business bills in the off season.

Ren
09-11-2007, 11:46 AM
Perfect answer. Right on the mark. I chose to stay solo and in my first year I worked with a used Lesco WB. Then as I grew I still chose to stay solo, got up to 40 mowing/cleanup customers and bought a brand new HustlerZ
ZTR and stopped the urge to buy a newer truck. I easily do the work of 2 people and the Z only cost me $250 a month. You ought to see this ZTR grind down the leaves to something to deal with when doing a fall cleanup. This all comes down to what area of the country you work, but up in New England, I base all the work that I do on $60 - 70 per hour. If you can't get that in your area of the country, then maybe get a good used ZTR to get started. That way you're not dead and dragging the next day. Sometimes you don't want to win every bid. If the potential prospect can't pay you your rate, Walk away. The per hr needed vs. competitor bids and winning /losing customers will all work out with some experience. This is the greatest business in all the land, but if it is not paying your bills, you'll never be happy.

JeffW0011
09-11-2007, 08:56 PM
I lost the leaf business of one of my mowing customers this past year. When I saw him in the spring to mow, he said he used a mexican crew. There were four of them and they worked four hours...16 manhours...they only charged $150. I dont know how they stay in business.

because they spend about 1/16th of the money you do on rent and utilities. have no insurance....pay no taxes

THEGOLDPRO
09-11-2007, 09:04 PM
well i charge failry high for fall cleanups, but it all depends on the customer really, i usually charge by the customer not the job if that makes sence. but usually i charge $35 per hour per guy. and have never really had anyone complaine, the biggest cleanup we do i charge roughly $1,100 bucks, as it takes 4-5 of us all day, usualy 3 on backpacks and two on toro grounds masters with leaf blowers.

Brianslawn
09-11-2007, 09:45 PM
i dont understand how anyone doing moderate to large lawns wouldnt want a $10K machine. to me it shows lack of understanding. if you have the work, you realize you can double your productivity. so if you could cut 6 $35 lawns a day with a WB, $210 a day, now you double that so your at $420 a day. if you do that 5 days a week, that is $1050 a month extra. of that, maybe $250/month ZTR payment, so your left with $800 a month extra. and this is not a huge leap. 60 lawns a week for a solo guy should be easy with a ZTR. so why would you be happy to make less??? and work harder with a WB??

speaking of making less, that is what you appear to be promoting. i know each area warrants a different amount but you also need to concider how much your business costs to run. if i was charging $50/hr solo, id be making $10/hr. that is less than i pay my help. so why are telling him to make charge a certain amount.

my advice, add up all your normal monthly business cost, add in a bit extra for unforseen repairs/cost, and divide that by 160(40/hrs/week). that give you your monthly cost to run your business. than figure out how much you wnat to make, add that on top, and throw in a few extra dollars since you dont work a full year round but still have business bills in the off season.

at least someone has common sense around here.....


it is $60/hr per person. most our mowing customers that we go by every week in the fall to pick up the leaves as they fall only end up paying $60 cause the guys are only there 30 min. one blows out the beds while the other picks them up with the walker. we spend about same time as mowing and charge about the same price as their weekly mowing. even the multi acre properties with a crap load of trees on a one time clean-up, as long as we got a place to dump on site, a couple guys can knock out in half a day and for under $500. we are actually cheaper at $60/hr/person with our equipment than people charging half as much per man hr, but take 4 times as long with their stuff.

like whats been said... you aint gettin $60/hr with a rake, but when you show up with a couple walkers, you need to get at least $60.

as for mechanics gettin $60/hr and lcos not. mechanics usually got to invest about $500 in tools. lcos $50,000 invested. do the math.

the general public has gotten this idea over the past 10-20 years that mechanics are skilled (which they are) and lcos are a bunch of high school drop out running around for beer cash.... and therefore unskilled and not worth as much.

Lawnut101
09-12-2007, 10:18 PM
i dont understand how anyone doing moderate to large lawns wouldnt want a $10K machine. to me it shows lack of understanding. if you have the work, you realize you can double your productivity. so if you could cut 6 $35 lawns a day with a WB, $210 a day, now you double that so your at $420 a day. if you do that 5 days a week, that is $1050 a month extra. of that, maybe $250/month ZTR payment, so your left with $800 a month extra. and this is not a huge leap. 60 lawns a week for a solo guy should be easy with a ZTR. so why would you be happy to make less??? and work harder with a WB??

speaking of making less, that is what you appear to be promoting. i know each area warrants a different amount but you also need to concider how much your business costs to run. if i was charging $50/hr solo, id be making $10/hr. that is less than i pay my help. so why are telling him to make charge a certain amount.

my advice, add up all your normal monthly business cost, add in a bit extra for unforseen repairs/cost, and divide that by 160(40/hrs/week). that give you your monthly cost to run your business. than figure out how much you wnat to make, add that on top, and throw in a few extra dollars since you dont work a full year round but still have business bills in the off season.

You make a really good point, and while I really want one, I just can't afford a $10K piece of equipment. Right now for my business I'm in the hardest stages, which is getting good jobs, slowly they are finally starting to come. But I think that that is what's holding some back from spending the big bucks. My next purchase is gonna have to be something less than $4K, and probably another walkbehind.

lawnprosteveo
09-13-2007, 10:12 PM
i dont understand how anyone doing moderate to large lawns wouldnt want a $10K machine. to me it shows lack of understanding. if you have the work, you realize you can double your productivity. so if you could cut 6 $35 lawns a day with a WB, $210 a day, now you double that so your at $420 a day. if you do that 5 days a week, that is $1050 a month extra. of that, maybe $250/month ZTR payment, so your left with $800 a month extra. and this is not a huge leap. 60 lawns a week for a solo guy should be easy with a ZTR. so why would you be happy to make less??? and work harder with a WB??

speaking of making less, that is what you appear to be promoting. i know each area warrants a different amount but you also need to concider how much your business costs to run. if i was charging $50/hr solo, id be making $10/hr. that is less than i pay my help. so why are telling him to make charge a certain amount.

my advice, add up all your normal monthly business cost, add in a bit extra for unforseen repairs/cost, and divide that by 160(40/hrs/week). that give you your monthly cost to run your business. than figure out how much you wnat to make, add that on top, and throw in a few extra dollars since you dont work a full year round but still have business bills in the off season.I do have a zero turn...I just bought it with some hours on it and got it for under $5k
I also do 60 yards per week solo....that is in addition to my 52hr per week full time job as a firefighter.
Yes, I believe in a Z...I dont charge $50 per hour...I am at $40...but that is why I come on this site to learn better ways to do and to charge.
So I guess what I am saying is I agree that a Z is worth the money....I just chose to buy used.:dizzy: