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View Full Version : what do you charge for straight labor?


lawnwizards
06-09-2009, 04:53 PM
just manual labor. no running of machines. another question, what do you charge to lay down mulch per bag? i've always bought mulch in bulk but i have a customer who already has the mulch in bags. thanks for the input.

LONEMAN
06-09-2009, 06:55 PM
I charge $40/hr for labor. Everything else is extra including machinery and costs.

Danscapes
06-09-2009, 07:23 PM
More than gay labor.

93Chevy
06-09-2009, 07:27 PM
More than gay labor.

Really? There's at least two of them working at the same time, so wouldn't that be more?

LawnScapers of Dayton
06-09-2009, 08:06 PM
$45 per hour

flames46
06-09-2009, 09:05 PM
More than gay labor.

good one:laugh:

JNyz
06-09-2009, 09:10 PM
60 per hour is the minimum.

lawnwizards
06-09-2009, 09:41 PM
More than gay labor.

what do you charge for gay labor then?

Mowbizz
06-09-2009, 09:56 PM
Depending on the client and the job, $40-50 per hour.

kaferhaus
06-09-2009, 10:04 PM
the value of your time doesn't change depending on what you're doing. your "costs" do but not the value of your time.

Charge the same rate as you would doing anything else.

As many of you are "not legit" and don't pay income taxes or FICA even on yourself much less any "help" you may have you have no clue of the real cost of doing business.

Many guys think this is cool and that they're somehow scammng the system or getting over.... wait until retirement age comes around and you find out your social security is next to nothing because you didn't pay anything or much in.... most people have no ideas that the monthly income you'll draw on SS is based upon your contributions and those of your employer (matching).

For example, say you charge 50 bucks an hour and actually are able to "bill" 6 hours in a day. That's $300. income tax and FICA withholding would be approx $105.00 as being self employed you have to pay the whole 15% FICA not just half and I'm estimating the income tax at 20%. Now if you have state income tax.... add that too.

So now, best case you have $195.00. You spent $20-25 on gas = $175 your truck insurance was about $3 a day (non commercial) =$172... now you've got wear and tear on your equipment (a ZTR is about 5 bucks an hour and figure a buck an hour on each of the handhelds) so saw there's another $40 = $132. Still doesn't sound too bad right? Now add in depreciation (you'll eventually have to replace all that equipment) advertising, postage, cell phone, truck and trailer tags....You actually "made" about $100 IF you're legit.

IF you're not it will catch up to you. The gov't will catch you or someone will get pissed at you and turn you in or you'll go about your merry way and suddenly you're disabled or need to retire and find out your destitute and living on the street.

So if you're netting $600 a week and you can work 40wks a year.... wow man that's a whopping 24K a year.

That's exactly why I have never told a customer how much my "hourly rate" is. I quote a "job" not a time.

ericmcj31
06-09-2009, 10:09 PM
good response, Kaferhaus

JNyz
06-09-2009, 10:28 PM
the value of your time doesn't change depending on what you're doing. your "costs" do but not the value of your time.

Charge the same rate as you would doing anything else.

As many of you are "not legit" and don't pay income taxes or FICA even on yourself much less any "help" you may have you have no clue of the real cost of doing business.

Many guys think this is cool and that they're somehow scammng the system or getting over.... wait until retirement age comes around and you find out your social security is next to nothing because you didn't pay anything or much in.... most people have no ideas that the monthly income you'll draw on SS is based upon your contributions and those of your employer (matching).

For example, say you charge 50 bucks an hour and actually are able to "bill" 6 hours in a day. That's $300. income tax and FICA withholding would be approx $105.00 as being self employed you have to pay the whole 15% FICA not just half and I'm estimating the income tax at 20%. Now if you have state income tax.... add that too.

So now, best case you have $195.00. You spent $20-25 on gas = $175 your truck insurance was about $3 a day (non commercial) =$172... now you've got wear and tear on your equipment (a ZTR is about 5 bucks an hour and figure a buck an hour on each of the handhelds) so saw there's another $40 = $132. Still doesn't sound too bad right? Now add in depreciation (you'll eventually have to replace all that equipment) advertising, postage, cell phone, truck and trailer tags....You actually "made" about $100 IF you're legit.

IF you're not it will catch up to you. The gov't will catch you or someone will get pissed at you and turn you in or you'll go about your merry way and suddenly you're disabled or need to retire and find out your destitute and living on the street.

So if you're netting $600 a week and you can work 40wks a year.... wow man that's a whopping 24K a year.

That's exactly why I have never told a customer how much my "hourly rate" is. I quote a "job" not a time.

Correct.

That is exactly why landscaping is not beneficial to sole proprietors.

Runner
06-09-2009, 10:45 PM
Bingo. You guys just hit on the magic formula. It is not what everyone wants to hear,...as a matter of fact, - to the extent that some will even try to tear it down and state their own "facts and figures". But it is the hard truth. And the thing about it is, is that Kaferhaus only TOUCHED on the expenses. He didn't even mention a shop - with it's utilities bills, property taxes, and maintenance on the facility...let alone all the shop expenses that go in (fluids, hardware, supplies like welding rod, etc.). The vast majority of the outfits on here are working out of their home garages (or their parents), and do not have a dedicated bldg.. Myself, I am right between the two, as my shop is built out back behind my house. I like the last sentence of JNyz's post. It goes with what I have always said...the only way to do it in mowing, is to do it in numbers. You have to make a little bit off of a whole lot of accounts and area.

Mowbizz
06-09-2009, 11:17 PM
the value of your time doesn't change depending on what you're doing. your "costs" do but not the value of your time.

Charge the same rate as you would doing anything else.

As many of you are "not legit" and don't pay income taxes or FICA even on yourself much less any "help" you may have you have no clue of the real cost of doing business.

Many guys think this is cool and that they're somehow scammng the system or getting over.... wait until retirement age comes around and you find out your social security is next to nothing because you didn't pay anything or much in.... most people have no ideas that the monthly income you'll draw on SS is based upon your contributions and those of your employer (matching).

For example, say you charge 50 bucks an hour and actually are able to "bill" 6 hours in a day. That's $300. income tax and FICA withholding would be approx $105.00 as being self employed you have to pay the whole 15% FICA not just half and I'm estimating the income tax at 20%. Now if you have state income tax.... add that too.

So now, best case you have $195.00. You spent $20-25 on gas = $175 your truck insurance was about $3 a day (non commercial) =$172... now you've got wear and tear on your equipment (a ZTR is about 5 bucks an hour and figure a buck an hour on each of the handhelds) so saw there's another $40 = $132. Still doesn't sound too bad right? Now add in depreciation (you'll eventually have to replace all that equipment) advertising, postage, cell phone, truck and trailer tags....You actually "made" about $100 IF you're legit.

IF you're not it will catch up to you. The gov't will catch you or someone will get pissed at you and turn you in or you'll go about your merry way and suddenly you're disabled or need to retire and find out your destitute and living on the street.

So if you're netting $600 a week and you can work 40wks a year.... wow man that's a whopping 24K a year.

That's exactly why I have never told a customer how much my "hourly rate" is. I quote a "job" not a time.


Yes a good answer, and you no doubt know a lot about being in business, but please realize that some of us are at a point in life where we needed to go to work for (hopefully) more than a minimum wage for a few years before we can retire. In my case I worked 35 years in the defense industry for a gov't contractor...I amassed my 401k and my pension and paid in to my social security then got outsourced and laid off at the age of 57.
So I took some savings, bought good equipment and am doing something I have always loved to do (mowing lawns) for my "living."
Thank God I do not need to amass my fortunes from this work because it will never happen. I play by the book, submit my numbers to my accountant for taxes, have 2 million in liability insurance and commercial insurance on my truck and my equipment. I know nothing about business but I do know that I am making my clients happy (all 15 of them but hopefully a few more as I go along) I chat with them and wave to them in passing... and thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing. What's wrong with that? Last time I checked, this was the United States of America. Well sorry for the rant, but you really attempted to "burst" some bubbles with that post you made...It's really, not all about "the numbers" sometimes...:drinkup:

kaferhaus
06-09-2009, 11:22 PM
Kaferhaus only TOUCHED on the expenses. He didn't even mention a shop - with it's utilities bills, property taxes, and maintenance on the facility...let alone all the shop expenses that go in (fluids, hardware, supplies like welding rod, etc.).

Yes, many of these guys get "sensory overload" though. thought I'd keep it short. Most are clueless, are in debt up to thier eyeballs and think they're making money charging $50 an hour. Add to that that they're very inefficient so that their "billable hours" are not what they should be.

And a "billable hour" and a hour on your watch are two entirely different things.... I tried to explain to one guy that it's kind of like a mechanic shop's "flat rate manual"... if you're at a average level of efficiency you should be able to perform "x" job in "y" amount of time time "z" rate per hour and here's your bill.... now if you're super efficient you don't "bill" less time you charge the same "rate" and "net" more money.

I always get a kick out of "solo's" who think they can do a job for less than a large LCO running a bunch of crews because their "overhead" is less.... maybe dollar for dollar it is. But per man hour the larger operator's overhead is actually much smaller...

I read many posts on this site and just shake my head at how smart some of these guys think they are.

When I retire and start drawing from that 401K I've been building for 25yrs and drawing a decent SS check AND still living off of the income the business is making I'll think about these Einstein's while I'm out in the gulf fishing somewhere on my paid for boat that I keep in the boat house at my very nice paid for home with the pool and manicured lawn that my employee's keep that way for me.

I'm not knocking Solo's, I was one a long time ago but I put that degree in business/accounting to good use while running and building my business into what it has become.

You can do things the right way, obey the law and be successful IF you do the right things. Everyone wants to take the shortcut to mediocrity or failure.

Hawg City Lawns
06-10-2009, 12:48 AM
depends on the job i try to average $35-$45 per hour

tacoma200
06-10-2009, 12:55 AM
More than gay labor.

I knew that was coming....:laugh:

BadRancher
06-10-2009, 12:58 AM
the value of your time doesn't change depending on what you're doing. your "costs" do but not the value of your time.

Charge the same rate as you would doing anything else.

As many of you are "not legit" and don't pay income taxes or FICA even on yourself much less any "help" you may have you have no clue of the real cost of doing business.

Many guys think this is cool and that they're somehow scammng the system or getting over.... wait until retirement age comes around and you find out your social security is next to nothing because you didn't pay anything or much in.... most people have no ideas that the monthly income you'll draw on SS is based upon your contributions and those of your employer (matching).

For example, say you charge 50 bucks an hour and actually are able to "bill" 6 hours in a day. That's $300. income tax and FICA withholding would be approx $105.00 as being self employed you have to pay the whole 15% FICA not just half and I'm estimating the income tax at 20%. Now if you have state income tax.... add that too.

So now, best case you have $195.00. You spent $20-25 on gas = $175 your truck insurance was about $3 a day (non commercial) =$172... now you've got wear and tear on your equipment (a ZTR is about 5 bucks an hour and figure a buck an hour on each of the handhelds) so saw there's another $40 = $132. Still doesn't sound too bad right? Now add in depreciation (you'll eventually have to replace all that equipment) advertising, postage, cell phone, truck and trailer tags....You actually "made" about $100 IF you're legit.

IF you're not it will catch up to you. The gov't will catch you or someone will get pissed at you and turn you in or you'll go about your merry way and suddenly you're disabled or need to retire and find out your destitute and living on the street.

So if you're netting $600 a week and you can work 40wks a year.... wow man that's a whopping 24K a year.

That's exactly why I have never told a customer how much my "hourly rate" is. I quote a "job" not a time.

:eek: Well 5 minutes ago I charged 30.00 per hour, but now I think it will go up 10.00-20.00

Thanks Kaferhaus. If you have any more useful info don't hesitate to pass it along.

Florida Gardener
06-10-2009, 01:35 AM
kaferhaus, i always enjoy reading your posts. Very insightful and come from true(and long) experience. When i first started, my mindset was to just get accounts which i had to do since i had no name. I had that same mindset of oh i can charge less b/c im a solo and im not paying salaries,etc. I soon learned i first wasn't grossing a good hourly rate, and that I was just lowering the industry standard and economy. I trimmed a lot of fat so to speak. I am still learning though. I met a guy who has about 30 accounts all of which are full maintenance. In his opinion, this is the way to go. The problem is, he is solo and a full maintenance account in florida means trimming at least twice a month in the summer( we have tons of ornamentals and shrubs down here that need constant trimming) spraying roundup every 2-3 weeks in the summer,etc. I then thought this was the way to go. It is if you have a crew. If you are a solo, you have to charge a lot for a full maintenance account to keep up good quality. It is my experience that only a select few people really nitpick their yards and are willing to pay that much more than someone who comes in and does a pretty good job for a pretty good price. I'm def. still learning and i will for a long time. I really think the way to go is offer mow/blow/go and everything else is extra. I may be wrong, but that is what my experience so far has shown me. I need to put my business degree to use and start crunching my numbers to see what my costs are that way i know for a fact where i need to be. I def. want to be successful in this industry, and knowing how your business needs to be run is the key. Thanks again for your insight Kaferhaus.

kaferhaus
06-10-2009, 07:47 AM
I really think the way to go is offer mow/blow/go and everything else is extra. I may be wrong, but that is what my experience so far has shown me. I need to put my business degree to use and start crunching my numbers to see what my costs are that way i know for a fact where i need to be. I def. want to be successful in this industry, and knowing how your business needs to be run is the key. Thanks again for your insight Kaferhaus.


The growing conditions here on the Gulf Coast of Alabama are nearly the same as yours, with the same issues, same varieties of grasses and weeds.

The business model you are comtemplating is EXACTLY how I run my business and you seem to have discovered it quicker than I did. Mow, blow and go is where the money is and you CAN make money on the other "extras" by treating them as such.

We sell "Lawn service" and offer "gardening services" ala carte. Will I sell a "full service"? Yes, but the when a customer requests a price on that (which we avoid giving...LOL) I give them the price and then "sell" them on ala carte. I explain that to give them a full service price I have to make assumptions. With the "ala carte" plan, THEY are in control of when something needs to be done extra. One of my employee's isn't deciding that it's time to trim this or that or that this plant needs cutting back, pesticide or herbicide needs spraying etc. AND they MAY be able to save money by not getting those things done as often.

The company issues with full service is that now the customer thinks they've hired a part time gardener instead of someone to keep the grass cut and walks/drives edged. They make assumptions that you've agreed to do things that you didn't.

The "mow, blow and go" concept instills a "value" to the customer that things like fert, pest control, weed control and ornamental maintenance are things of value. they'll want things done when they actually need it instead of every time you cut or every other time you cut. If they're paying for full service they don't think twice about telling you to trim more often, weed more often, or apply pest control more often.... they're "paying for it" right?

If you do a time study for just one week on the accounts you have now I would wager that you'd be shocked at how much time you spend doing "extras" vs cutting grass. Take out the time it took to do the extras and see how many more lawns you could have cut that week. Then figure the loss of income from cutting the full service prices a little to compensate for just cutting the grass, and add the additional revenue from the additional lawn you could have cut..... it's NOT a wash. You've made more money in the same amount of time. AND you've now created "extra work" which means more revenue that you can charge more for as a "extra".

Like I've said in many other posts. I'm in this business to make money. and time is money. Figure the fastest way to cut each and every account, keep a card on each property showing the mower height settings, and a little diagram of the "cut path" that's most efficient, etc.

Well this post is getting too long but I could go on and on.

Danscapes
06-10-2009, 09:00 AM
Kaferhaus you are the man, very good post. Your only flaw is, you rely so heavily on your stance that you pay into all of the government retirement systems (social security) and you will be able to live off of that later. Well I believe we are all sheep being led off the mountain, social security will be dried up in 12 years and leave all of us with our hands out.

Florida Gardener
06-10-2009, 09:11 AM
Kaferhaus, great points. There are about 3 areas in my area where you can be a "gardener", charge the customer the price to be a "gardener" and make great money. These are people that don't want to be bothered if the cost of anything is less than 30k lol. However, the majority of people here won't pay for that as much as some may want it. There is another guy on this thread that is in Florida and I like his approach as well. They only take on irrigated St. Augustine yards. If its bahia,unirrigated,or a weed patch, they won't do it. I'm not saying i agree with that 100%, but i do like it.

ron mexico75
06-10-2009, 10:16 AM
Kaferhaus.................Thumbs Up


Nice....veeeeeeery nice.

bighaydenslawn
06-10-2009, 10:44 AM
That was a real good post Kaferhaus, that really opened my eyes to all of the expenses in the business.

I can't charge what ya'll get as I am only 14,
and my area is EXTREMELY dry and cheap right now.

I bid all hedge trimming by the bush or job.
I bid all mulching by the bag, yard or job.

I never just give an hourly rate, as it might scare the
customer off for me only being 14.

I average a gross of $18-$20 per hour on hedge trimming
(been getting tons of calls lately)

And maybe closer to $13-$15 per hour for mulching and simple cleanups.

Cleanup prices go up if I have to use the chainsaw.

mdlwn1
06-10-2009, 10:47 AM
More than gay labor.

I was soo excited to say this untill I saw you beat me too it..............

Florida Gardener
06-10-2009, 10:48 AM
^i can understand that. I dont know your status meaning is your equipment paid off, etc. But 18-20 at the age of 14 is pretty good. I was making 5.75 bagging groceries at that age which was back in 2001.

Kaferhaus is right though, you have to look at all expenses and do what works in the end. Giving the customer the option to choose what kind of service they want is the best way to go. This is all a learning curve and nobody gets it overnight.

kaferhaus
06-10-2009, 02:21 PM
Your only flaw is, you rely so heavily on your stance that you pay into all of the government retirement systems (social security) and you will be able to live off of that later. Well I believe we are all sheep being led off the mountain, social security will be dried up in 12 years and leave all of us with our hands out

Well, you may be correct about SS and I can't say that I disagree that it may indeed dry up. The way the gubment is spending our money with total and complete reckless abandon it could happen.

However, that has nothing to do with my 401K which I both own and control. I assure you I can live very well off of that income alone. add the fact that I've been debt free for nearly 15yrs and will NOT be selling the business when I retire... I'll be just fine.

And as a legitimate business I HAVE to pay into SS, I have no choice. If I did I would have added that 15% to my 401K.

TQ Lawn Service
06-12-2009, 05:58 AM
I've been reading the threads on this site for a while now, looking especially on what to charge per hour/job. I just joined the site as I'm considering starting in this business shortly. I'm going to be out of my job at the end of August, hoping to get another job and start a business part time to get started. Anyway...the mow/blow/go posts were great. I was wondering how full service contract knew what to charge, as there is always extra work being performed and you're basically guessing on the time allotment. I agree with the mow/blow/go concept and charging al a carte for the additional services, it show added value in my opinion.

Thanks guys, keep up the great post. By the way, I plan to be fully legit, licensed, insured, pay my taxes and charge accordingly.

topsites
06-12-2009, 09:52 AM
My minimum is $30

More than gay labor.

No way, I'm solo and it costs a whole LOT for that !

lawnwizards
06-12-2009, 10:10 AM
My minimum is $30



No way, I'm solo and it costs a whole LOT for that !

thanks. do you have any idea of what to charge to lay down mulch per bag? i've never done it that way.

Florida Gardener
06-12-2009, 10:13 AM
just double the per bag price.....

greenred
06-12-2009, 01:05 PM
Around here gay labor is free is you go to the right public park

milkie62
06-14-2009, 02:48 AM
I make just shy of $30/hr at my regular job so I have to make at least that or I should just stay at work and do OT.

JNyz
06-14-2009, 07:48 AM
Wouldn't OT be time and a half?

milkie62
06-15-2009, 01:28 AM
Yes it would be.Plus I am not using any of my equipment just doing my repair work at my job.