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Guido
09-25-2001, 09:16 AM
Pinpointing Your Equipment Costs


Iíve got asked a lot about this one, so I figured I would throw a little something together to help some of you guys better understand what we mean when we say figuring out your equipment costs.

This should help a lot when trying to figure out what itís actually costing you to run a piece of a equipment on your jobsite. I have heard from more than a few people that it took this method for them to figure out that they really were not making as much as they thought they were (or would like to be) off of some jobs once they figured theyíre costs.

This is definitely the extreme scenario. I donít think everyone needs to get this crazy, but I will just to show you how detailed you can actually get. This is the only way to go for a piece of equipment that is new to your fleet, or that you donít have prior experience with. For most, you have the experience to know what it costs you per year to maintain them, but if you donít, itís not too hard to get a rough figure. It takes some time, and a lot of research, but with all the resources available on the net it moves along pretty smoothly.

The figures Iím using our pretty rough. As most of you know Iíve been (and will be) overseas for a while, so itís hard to keep track of a lot of the prices back stateside. Just bear with the numbers and use this only as an example to help you figure your own equipment.

The piece of equipment Iíll be using for an example is an Echo model PB-650 Backpack Blower. I used Echo because they have an excellent website where you can go in and get parts manuals and operators manuals for most of their equipment made to date, and like I said, the net is basically the only resource available to me for info on American spec equipment and pricing.

Iíll be using 600 hours as the time of death of this machine. I know, I know, I knowÖyouíve had yours for 10 years and it has over 50,000 hours on it. Thatís fine. Iím still going to use a 600-hour life for this machine for a good reason. I went by the Echo service and maintenance recommendations in their operatorís manual to figure out part of this equation. I noticed that its all very minor scheduled maintenance UNTIL the 600 hour mark. At that time, they recommend that you replace the fuel strainer/filter, all the fuel lines, the spark arrestor, and rebuild or replace the carb. Now, that may be worth the money, but if you figure it until then, youíll have paid yourself back for the machine by the time you hit 600 hours on it. That means your costs go down some for that piece of equipment because it now only costs you whatever maintenance is needed to keep it going. This means more profit without raising prices! Another good point that can make for a whole new discussion is you really have to think when it comes time to decide about keeping a machine in the field or not. Is it really worth it? Sometimes it definitely is, sometimes it really isnít. If its costing you the same amount per hour to run as it was when it had under 600 hours on it, you should keep it for parts or sell it and get yourself a new piece. Like I said, thatís a whole different story, so thatís all Iíll say on that.

NowÖ. Lets get down to business. Its very simple (because I did all the leg work! J) so there should be no problems following me so far.

Take the price of the machine, including tax if any and start there. Lets say $450.00.

Next, you have to figure out how much you probably will end up spending on maintenance over the 600-hour life of the machine. I went by the service chart in the back of the manual to start with. I came up with 2 Air Filter Changes and 2 spark plug changes. I also figured in for a little time to mess around with the machine and to replace a lost or cracked fuel cap, and a little bit more just to be safe. Letís say you estimate maintenance costs on the blower at $50.00

Fuel. Some people just include fuel into their general overhead and donít track it. Some people know where every last drop goes. Itís up to you. Iím going to add it, just to show you how far you can take this. It holds 69 ounces of mixed fuel per tank, and it takes about 1.5 hours to burn up a tank of fuel. So that means youíll need about 400 tanks of fuel. And at $1.75 a gallon (including oil) youíll need about $378.00 worth of fuel for the first 600 hours of run time.

Now, like I said before, Iím not going to sit here and argue with anyone about the price of maintenance or gas/oil mix, etc. Itís just a rough idea to help ďpaint the big pictureĒ. Lets see how it looks so far.

$450.00 Equipment Cost
$ 50.00 Maintenance Costs
$378.00 Fuel Cost
-----------
$878.00 Overall Cost for blower over a 600-hour life span

Take the $878.00 and divide it by 600 (life span in hours) and you get an hourly cost of $1.47 to run this blower. You can get even crazier if you wanted to and go to minutes. It costs about $0.03 a minute to have your blower running.

The hard part is finding the time to figure this out for all the equipment you have. The easy part is once you have it all figured out, you can pinpoint your costs much better when trying to estimate a job. When I have time to write a little bit more Iíll talk about how easy it is to estimate direct job costs after you have your equipment costs down to a science.

Thatís about all I have for now on this one. If I left anything out on the subject just ask and weíll try to figure it out.

I hope this is of help to some of you.

MOW ED
09-25-2001, 04:49 PM
Thats about the same way I tracked toe cost of operating my Walker with a little higher number at the end. It is a great way to start looking at some of the little things that add up to alot at the end of the year.

Thanks for bringing that up, I have a few more pieces to figure.

Guido
09-26-2001, 04:33 PM
Originally posted by MOW ED
Thats about the same way I tracked toe cost of operating my Walker with a little higher number at the end. It is a great way to start looking at some of the little things that add up to alot at the end of the year.

Thanks for bringing that up, I have a few more pieces to figure.

Thats the truth!! It takes a lot more time and work for a more complicated piece of equipment. It needs a lot more maintenance then the small 2 cycle piece I used in my example.

It definetly serves as a good business reality check. It doesn't look like many were intrested though??

Maybe my next one will be more popular! :rolleyes:

AltaLawnCare
09-26-2001, 09:19 PM
I'm with ya, Guido..

I've got a sheet somewhere that my dealer gave me with numbers of cost per hour like that. If I can find it, I'll email it to you to compare to.:cool:

gusbuster
09-26-2001, 11:49 PM
Good piece guido


I hate when I have to figure out all my machines, including the 2 trucks I run. Would scare alot of people.
John

guntruck
09-27-2001, 09:51 PM
The great GUIDO comes through again!!! Thanks for that great info sir, it was most helpful. I pretty much use the same mehtod, to a point but i love reading the stuff on that subject. You can never learn enough and i cant wait till you chat about direct job costs i think im a little sketchy here so i can sure use the help. Looking forward to it and thx again!!!

Guido
10-01-2001, 11:13 AM
Our posts got deleted or lost or whatever during the server change so if you want to start that discussion again please re-post.

I still couldn't understand that burden cost you were telling me about. It seemed with the hours you were using, it only returned the original equipment cost. I didn't see where you accounted for fuel and maintenance.

Loosestrife
10-02-2001, 08:10 AM
The example was a pretty good outline. I think that the repairs/maintenance costs/items may have been a little skinny, but the example gave a good pattern to be followed.

The one thing that was not accounted for was the salvage value of the equipment at the end of its useful life. When that piece of equipment is retired, it has a value. It could be sold, it could be set aside as a spare, it could be kept as a parts machine, or it could be regulated to the trash bin. In any of these cases, a value has to be entered into the equation for that salvage value, even if the salvage value is zero.

This may not be a large deal on smaller items, but on a $10,000 piece of equipment, it will affect your numbers.

Guido
10-02-2001, 11:05 AM
Originally posted by Loosestrife
The example was a pretty good outline. I think that the repairs/maintenance costs/items may have been a little skinny, but the example gave a good pattern to be followed.

The one thing that was not accounted for was the salvage value of the equipment at the end of its useful life. When that piece of equipment is retired, it has a value. It could be sold, it could be set aside as a spare, it could be kept as a parts machine, or it could be regulated to the trash bin. In any of these cases, a value has to be entered into the equation for that salvage value, even if the salvage value is zero.

This may not be a large deal on smaller items, but on a $10,000 piece of equipment, it will affect your numbers.

Your absolutely correct. I just figured once you put that many hours on that blower is was not worth your time to sell. It would be kept as a spare and it would only cost you whatever maintenance and fuel was needed to keep it going.

Henry
10-05-2001, 09:50 PM
How many of you have an hour meter on your backpacks? Raise your hands.

But seriously, when you say 600 hrs how do you keep track on small items?

I've been thinking about this stuff for a while but just don't have the time to figure it out.

Guido
10-06-2001, 05:01 AM
Just figure roughly how much you use it each week......the numbers don't have to be exact.

kris
10-06-2001, 10:37 AM
We do this..

Personally I don't think it matters if it is being used or not..if it is on the job you have to acount for it..

example only... if I figure it cost $5.00 per hour for the truck... the job takes 1 hour to mow....15 min travel .... truck is charged out at $6.15 and is added.

Island Lawn
10-08-2001, 10:05 PM
GREAT POST GUIDO!

You're doing a great service here!

I've got my Equipment Costs per hour figured the same way.
I alotted 1250 hrs for my eXmark. Just an educated ballpark guess. Now you've got me considering decreasing that seemingly arbitrary figure.

It seems I have put more effort in researching my costs than my hours. That fact decreases the confidence I have in my entire formulations!
...but it's better than nothing.


I have wondered about "replacement costs".
Anticipating expenses rather than simply reacting to them.


kris, I have often wondered about "if it's on the job, we have to account for it".
But, I was taught to break down the hourly cost of each piece of equipment. It is a variable cost that is dependent on the tools used to do the job.
I would like to hear more input about this.

Equipment costs per hour
Overhead costs per hour

kris
10-09-2001, 02:43 AM
True Island Lawn,

I was referring mostly to the maintenance crews where it is almost always same equipment going out on the truck daily.

Also I refered to the truck... we have the cost figured per day and that needs to be accounted for in each site we visit. So, it is broken down to so much per hour we need to recoup that moneys.
typical estimate may go something like this.... ( made up numbers here)

property is 5,000 square ft.... can mow 2500sq/ft per hour = 2hours
1 man mowing=2 hrs
1man trimming=2hrs
travel= 30 min. ( 2 guys 15 min )
total 2.5 hrs x hourly rate needed to cover overhead etc.

truck 2.5 hrs x whatever that truck costs you
mower & trimmer, blower 2 hrs x whatever those costs are
add last section with first plus whatever % profit = per cut rate x so many cuts per season= x amount of dollars then add last section divided by however many months = per month rate

(last section)fert. spraying ,cleanups if you want or bill separate =
whatever for season

probably missing something here as it is late but hopes this gives you a bit of a idea how I bid maintenance jobs

grassyfras
10-11-2001, 10:41 PM
quick question i hope i dont get off topic, but what if you were to use a smaller sized echo blower suchas a handheld would this reduce the amount of cost per hour of would the less purductiveness of the blower cost you more.

Guido
10-12-2001, 06:27 AM
Originally posted by grassyfras
quick question i hope i dont get off topic, but what if you were to use a smaller sized echo blower suchas a handheld would this reduce the amount of cost per hour of would the less purductiveness of the blower cost you more.

Overall, the smaller blower would probobly hurt your bid (not that much) but when you start talking about other equipment it will be much more noticible.

If I were talking to you it would be much easier to explain, but I'll try typing it accross the best I can.

People that use just a 22" mower have much less maintenance costs than someone using a 60" more right.... BUT they are much less productive on large jobs. To bid the job for a profit with the 22" you would have to charge much much more than someone who is using a 60" cut thats faster and wider so he can be in and out of there in no time.

You know what I mean?? If not let me know and I'll try to explain it better for you.