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View Full Version : Shrub and Bush trimming Pricing


BOTURF
11-04-2001, 10:26 AM
What or how do most of you guys charge for shrubbery trimming.I charge $35.00 to $40.00 a hr per man for this service and wondered if i was in line price wise. Commercial accounts get charged a little higher price tho than res accounts

Ric
11-04-2001, 10:59 AM
Boturf

Wished I could get that much per man hr. My $25 to $30 is low but in my area I am high. Everybody's market is a little different as is the cost of living. LOL

Three Seasons
11-04-2001, 02:29 PM
From my experiences we started to charge by the bush or shrub we are sitting some were between $10-25/ bush or shrub for us its the fairest way to do this.

BufalinoLand
11-04-2001, 06:14 PM
I get $50 an hour for trimming. You figure you have a hedge trimmer that costs around $400(atleast i do Redmax, would go cheaper next time) and IM worth 25/hour by myself so ad in 25 for the machine also. Then you have to factor in the nice expensive truck that got you there so on so forth. Or bid them out individually. Remember bid em high and tell them theyre getting a deal.

smburgess
11-04-2001, 06:21 PM
You charge as much as you can get, as long as you are making a profit. Naturally you need to factor in your overhead before you know if your making a profit!!

Randy Scott
11-04-2001, 08:06 PM
I look at the amount and what needs to be done, how bad they are and so forth. I guesstimate my time and then give them a total price. I know what I need per hour and want per hour. They don't need to know that number. I have found that not giving hourly prices is better for me and my area. Sometimes people think you may charge too much giving hourly figures. They have no clue what it takes to pay ones bills in this business. They act as though $50 or $60 per hour goes right into my pocket, not!

mowerman90
11-04-2001, 10:57 PM
I've been getting $35.00 per hour here in W Central FL and haven't been getting any complains. Given the fact that the tightest people on the planet live here I'm thinking of raising prices to $40. If they aren't moaning about the price, then it's too low. Rule of thumb for being in business: "when in doubt, overcharge"

Schlepie
11-07-2001, 11:53 PM
This year I'm at 30-35 per hr and that works better for me and my customers for now. Next year I'm going up to 35-40 per hr. But I think my current customers will stay locked in to 30 for a while.

kutnkru
11-08-2001, 01:40 PM
If your basic hourly rate were the $35, here is how I would have charged for the job on an hourly rate.

For you to shear the shrubs I would have charged $35/hr. For you to shear the shrubs if you have to use a ladder, I would charge $40/hr. For your laborer to clean-up after you as you shear, I would charge $25/hr.

The obvious factor for us is the more dangerous/precise the work the higher the rate. When we bill for the laborers to do clean-up work we wont charge clients the same rates we do for operating machinery/equipment. This is only fair in my mind.

Hope this helps.
Kris

scott's turf
11-08-2001, 01:53 PM
Randy I totally agree with you. The customer does not need to know what our hourly wage is. They will usually freak out. I like to make around 50-60/hr but it does depend on the machinery being used.

kutnkru
11-08-2001, 02:03 PM
Randy

I just had this same sort of conversation the other night with a client who was not happy with his bill for some work we did above and beyond our contractual obligations. I gave him the "estimate" and it was about $75 more.

I explained to him that he is the employer and I am the employee. However, what the employer does not have to factor under service agreements such as ours is operating expenses, etc.

I told him that if he takes a gross hourly figure of say $40 that I dont just deduct the $10 for my help and pocket $30. I have to deduct 24% taxes, 10% for operating expenses, 7% for equipment. Then I can add that to the bank and my net salary is deducted from the account.

People all to often figure that if we charge $50 an hour that we pay some jabrone $5 and the rest is ours. They dont factor into account all of the expenses associated with operating a legitimate biz.

Paradise Yard Service
11-09-2001, 01:42 AM
Your $35.00 sounds like a good starting point. Factor in how much you are cutting off. Is it a drastic prune? If so, you will be using loppers instead of gas hedge trimmers as you need to surgically cut each branch. The price goes up as labor is intense on drastics. I mean goes up buy the hundreds of dollars! Also, any shrub above my shoulders automatically gets top dollar. In my area at least $50. per hour. And yes, the ladder situation as Kris mentioned is another factor. So many variables. Did we talk about Bonsai style trimming yet? Thats where artistic flare and labor meet head on. Now we are talking $$$$$$$.

Chaaaarg um bruddah. Surfs up soon!

Aloha,
P.Y.S.

TGCummings
11-09-2001, 10:05 AM
I figure out approximately how long I'll be on the job and plug in a $60/hour rate. $60/hour is a good figure because it can be broken down to an easily workable $1/minute.

If I'm looking at a job I believe will take me 3 hours and 20 minutes, I give a quote for the job at $200. If it's especially strenuous work (moving up and down ladders, quite overgrown, or tight up against a structure), I'll add up to an extra hour.

If I miss my estimate and the job takes me 5 hours instead, I learn a lesson and make a respectable $40/hour on the job.

If I miss my estimate and the job takes me 2 hours instead, I make a very respectable $100/hour.

Because trimming is not an exact science, I find this way works best. I get about 50% of my quotes at this rate now, maybe a little less. I used to quote at a $40/hour rate and get virtually every bid but when I missed low I walked away with less than $30/hour and felt bitter. Not only that, but I had too many trimming jobs lined up all the time and the business I'm primarily in is lawn care. That being said, I may up the above figures in the coming months. ;)

-TGC

kutnkru
11-09-2001, 10:35 AM
Originally posted by Paradise Yard Service
... Did we talk about Bonsai style trimming yet? Thats where artistic flare and labor meet head on ...I have been looking for some very nice specimens to add to a water feature for our front foyer. I am looking for something besides the traditional "Japenese Juniper".

Ken could you possibly give me a quote on what a Hawaiian Umbrella would run and possibly throw in one or two hand tools for upkeep???

Heres my list: Garden Cut Shears, Concave Cutter, 8" Tweezers, Leaf Trimmer, Spherical Knob Cutter. I have the Ashinga Shears, 10" Root Rake, Wire/Cutters, and the Cut Past -LOL!!!

Thanks
Kris

kutnkru
11-09-2001, 10:53 AM
Originally posted by TGCummings
... I give a quote for the job at $200. ... If I miss my estimate and the job takes me 5 hours instead, I learn a lesson and make a respectable $40/hour on the job. If I miss my estimate and the job takes me 2 hours instead, I make a very respectable $100/hour. ...I think that the principal to what your saying makes sense and I understand where it is your coming from.

HOWEVER. I think that we need to educate clients and they need to understand the opposite. We should not be submitting a quote, we should be offering them an estimate so they have an idea how long we think the job will take and what they can expect to pay for our services. This gives them an idea of what they are complying with for a "Ball Park" budget.

If we "estimate" that a given site should take us 3 hrs and 20 minutes thats $200 for services. They have agreed to give us the $200. They are not asking for a refund because it takes less time, and we are not pro-rating their bills either -LOL!!!

If this same site actually takes us 5 hours to complete then we have to adjust our invoice. The thing to do in my mind is not "EAT" the additional labor expense, but when we reach that point where we say to ourselves "G-D-M-F-S or whatever" because we know that its taking longer to do we must address this with the client that its going to be a couple hours more and this means the bill will be more as well.

We arent perfect, and anyone who has done a full season of shrubs knows that theres always that one site when you think its a haymaker and it turns out to be the site-from-hell, LOL!!! We are no different than any other service. If your having your car repaired and its going to take them longer they tell you - its not going to be done (and we pay for it -grrr!!!).

I think that if we take the approach that this is an estimate and the clients know upfront it could be off either way, they are not going to rock the boat because they want our service and they know that they have to pay for our quality.

Kris

TGCummings
11-09-2001, 03:15 PM
I see what you're saying here, Kris, but I'm not sure...

If I set a rate I can usually make out by delivering in the amount of time I estimated and once that rate is set, I can find ways to do the job better and quicker and make more for the service. Although mowing is a different animal, I follow the same principal there. If a lawn takes me longer or shorter sometimes the rate is still where I set it. Sometimes I make out unbelievably well, sometimes I feel I've spent too much time, but mostly I make the rate I want and need.

However, if I'm doing a big trimming job one time only I might set the rate the way you say, or deliver an estimate. I generally do not like giving estimates, however, but quotes. I give them a price the job is going to be, making sure I'm making enough minimum to make out alright if the job takes too long or making out great if the job takes less than anticipated. I don't want to set my rate and have to charge less because I found a better way to get the job done. ;)

-TGC

kutnkru
11-09-2001, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by TGCummings
... I don't want to set my rate and have to charge less because I found a better way to get the job done.Just to clarify and I see your point, too. Im not implying that if we can get it done faster to charge less. We WANT to be able to render services more efficently to raise profit levels. ;)

The point that I was trying to make was that if we give a price that is based on a time factor and that factor turns out to be too low, that we need to raise the final amount of the invoice to compensate for the extra time. Its not about lowering costs by any stretch if the imagination, but recouping them.

The problem is unlike Lawn Care (which is basically averages) we dont have the other 27-30 cuts to make up the difference -LOL!!! So if the service takes longer than we anticipated, regardless of why (within reason of course) we have to charge more than what we "estimated". Thats why I too like to quote people a price so they know what to anticipate. By giving them something to base their decision on and if they arent willing to pay more, then I might have to trim a little looser or cut back on structural pruning while Im there so to keep within the timeframes Ive established.

Bottomline in my book is its a fancy "guesstimate" and I have found that by telling clients upfront that once in a great while we encounter a job that takes us a little longer than expected, they are not as hesitant to pay the difference and they can tell if weve been milking the clock too. I have yet to pro-rate an estimate backwards but ALWAYS reserve the right to increse it and by salesmanship or whatever means of communication it works in my favor.

Nothings ever cast in stone and we need to work diligently to stay within our schedules, and clients need to understand that nobodys perfect and some sites take longer. Hope this clarifies some what I meant.

They dont work for free or for less pay so why should we???
Kris

TGCummings
11-09-2001, 03:42 PM
Now I see your meaning, Kris, thanks for clearing that up. I like the idea of "never less, sometimes more". I think I might incorporate that into my "estimate quotes" from now on. ;)

-TGC

Randy Scott
11-09-2001, 05:47 PM
I guess I just don't feel comfortable telling a customer I need more money on a job than what I estimated. I can see everyones point but we are professionals and should be pretty close on our estimates. Then you take the good with the bad. I think your idea, kutnkru, of not giving them a refund if it takes less time then anticipated, yet charging them if it takes more is quite unfair. It's a win win situation for you and nothing for the customer. On the same token that you need to get payed for extra time there, then they should get money back if it takes less time. That is only fair don't you think? If you give someone an estimate, and they decide to have you do the work, and then halfway through the job you tell them it will be x amount more, maybe they would have went with the other company. Different people work for different amounts of money and they may get a great job from someone who is charging a little less than you.
I know we all have our own opinions and ideas and they all work different for everyone. I had one customers neighbor this year hawk me on some shrub trimming and installations. I gave my customer a qoute and I beat the time. Neighbor told my customer and I got a call wondering why it took only 3 hrs. instead of 4. So it wasn't a big number but they were concerned. I explained to them that it is an estimate and sometimes you beat it and sometimes you don't. I told them the neighbor didn't see the time I spent going to the nursery to get the stock, and the time spent emptying my truck that was full of the excess trimmings and so on. I told the customer that I actually had more than 4 hrs. with all that stuff the "neighbor" didn't see me doing. From then on, it's being qouted by a number and not a time. If the customer has an understanding of what is to be done, then comparing qoutes will not be a problem if they see the bottom line price, whether it's in hour form or total dollar numbers.
Maybe I am wrong or not seeing something else here, but it works for me and until something better comes along, this works. Comparing pricing to other areas of life such as mechanics, or dentists or whoever, doesn't matter. This industry has had it's standards and practices set years ago and it will be hard to change what customers are accustomed to. Nobody really likes to here that something is costing more than what you told them. Some, few, people don't mind that, but most will not be overly happy.

TGCummings
11-10-2001, 11:06 AM
Randy,

I think if you tell the customer up front what the minimum price will be, and then add that in rare cases a job will be more involved than appearances, you should be fine. Tell them that if it looks like it'll be much more than quoted (or estimated) you'll let them know before proceeding. Like I said, tell them it's a rare case when something like that occurs.

All you're being is honest. Some jobs simply end up fooling us by appearances. However, you can't go under your quote because you've already set aside the estimated time for the job. That block of time is worth that set price ... minimum.

If it means I get one or two large trimming jobs less, well good for my back. ;)

-TGC

ron
11-10-2001, 11:06 PM
Just did a job today cutting shrubs and trimming up some small trees charged her 35.00 per hour for three hours of work.That is a good hr rate when you consider wear and tear on your equipment. what I do is charge them 25 call fee also iif it was not a scheduled time to come out.
http://ronslawncare.50megs.com

kutnkru
11-10-2001, 11:33 PM
I think your idea, kutnkru, of not giving them a refund if it takes less time then anticipated, yet charging them if it takes more is quite unfair.
On the same note, if you price a lawn and it takes you 40 minutes in the spring are you going to refund them the balance because it only takes you 25 minutes during the summer???

I dont think so, and this too is not fair because it hasnt taken you the same amount of time. In all actuality we are making what the property's worth under the heavier growing seasons and the slower times off-set that extra effort and workmanship to keep them looking good in the spring.

If you give someone an estimate, and they decide to have you do the work, and then halfway through the job you tell them it will be x amount more, maybe they would have went with the other company.
I guess that I just dont think that its right to have to take less for any given job because of unforseen factors. I am not saying that this is the norm or even 1/3 of the time. This is primarily speaking of that one job where no matter what we do its just going to take longer than expected.

... it's being qouted by a number and not a time.
I do the same thing. I give the clients a price but that figure is based on time. I just try to make people who are not full service clients understand that if it takes a little longer than they are going to pay a little more. This mainly applies to clients who we are "referred to for the work".

I am pretty much able to pinpoint how long a site will take and have been able to keep clients happy this way because its not "OMG - look at this bill" when Im finished -LOL!!! If the first season a site takes 5 hours and the second season they ask us to come back Im going to bid it at 5hrs regardless of the inital consultation price the year before. Then I can pretty much gage how long the work will take on a yearly basis and that number is what they will get quoted year in and year out.

This industry has had it's standards and practices set years ago and it will be hard to change what customers are accustomed to.
I dont think that the standards of yesterday are here today. There was a time when this profession was primarily considered gardners, and today its nothing but retired blue collar workers and guys who think they can make $10/hr pushing a mower over flipping burgers for $7 when the market can bear $75/hr.

I just also find it to be very difficult with shrub work in general to pin point just how long something will take. Im thankful to usually be within 30 minutes of my estimate +/-.

Kris

TGCummings
11-12-2001, 10:44 AM
I just also find it to be very difficult with shrub work in general to pin point just how long something will take. Im thankful to usually be within 30 minutes of my estimate +/-.

Amen to that, brother! ;)

-TGC