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View Full Version : Pricing leaf pickups...


JimmyStew
07-21-2009, 11:56 AM
Up until this last year, the municipality I live in did curbside pickup of leaves on certain in town streets in the fall. They have since purchased a fancy new vac truck for cleaning catch basins and don't want to use it on leaves anymore...so they won't! This sounds like a great possibility for me. I'd like to offer curbside pickups to replace the town service but I'm not sure exactly how to charge or market this service. I'll most likely send a targeted postcard mailing in early fall when the leaves start to change. Any ideas on what the card should say? What has worked for you? What about some pricing guidelines for this type of service?

Also, since I'll be purchasing a truck loader to aid in this expansion, how do you guys generally price your fall cleanups considering this type of equipment? In the past I've been a rake and tarp guy and charged accordingly. I am looking seriously at a Billy Goat HTR Debris Loader. or something similar if I find a good deal on something used before fall. Is this an adequate machine for this type of work? How fast can it suck up a pile of leaves, wet or dry?

lawn crafters
07-21-2009, 12:16 PM
i was thinking about doin this. a person in my neighborhood did this at $50 a pile but i dont know how big he considered a pile. just keep in mind nobody enjoys filling leaf bags so i would say $50 for a pile equevilent to 25 leaf bags

Mowbizz
07-21-2009, 01:10 PM
Up until this last year, the municipality I live in did curbside pickup of leaves on certain in town streets in the fall. They have since purchased a fancy new vac truck for cleaning catch basins and don't want to use it on leaves anymore...so they won't! This sounds like a great possibility for me. I'd like to offer curbside pickups to replace the town service but I'm not sure exactly how to charge or market this service. I'll most likely send a targeted postcard mailing in early fall when the leaves start to change. Any ideas on what the card should say? What has worked for you? What about some pricing guidelines for this type of service?

Also, since I'll be purchasing a truck loader to aid in this expansion, how do you guys generally price your fall cleanups considering this type of equipment? In the past I've been a rake and tarp guy and charged accordingly. I am looking seriously at a Billy Goat HTR Debris Loader. or something similar if I find a good deal on something used before fall. Is this an adequate machine for this type of work? How fast can it suck up a pile of leaves, wet or dry?
Then you have to pay to dump this debris..in my area its $12.00 per Cubic yard. I wouldn't touch this kind of debris for less than $75 to $100 per cubic yard depending on conditions.


If you're considering a leaf/truck loader...horsepower is king!
I wouldn't go below 16hp for leaf pickup. When you're dealing with a pile of debris the homeowner has placed near the curb, you may well have lots of "other" debris as well, such as sticks, branches, pine cones and even rocks...these will cause undue wear and tear on the impeller and housing of the unit, sometimes bending the impeller and rendering it un-usable. You need to price higher than normal for this type of pickup. Been there, done that.


Sorry, my last sentence came out at the beginning of the answer when I edited it...

JimmyStew
07-21-2009, 03:46 PM
Actually, there is no fee to dump compost/yard waste here!!

Mowbizz
07-21-2009, 06:12 PM
Actually, there is no fee to dump compost/yard waste here!!

That's fine, but cost of dumping is NOT the problem...it's what the homeowner has "hidden" in his leaf pile that you can't see until it gets sucked into your loader.

JimmyStew
07-22-2009, 11:30 AM
I wasn't discounting the rest of your post, just stating that disposal fees were not a part of my consideration. I hear what your saying as far as sucking up "other" debris. Is there an affordable unit that can handle this better and/or a successful way of detering homeowners from adding it to the piles. I was thinking something along the lines of telling cusstomers when they call that I would be happy to pick up all of there yard debris but that leaves and "sticks" should be in separate piles.

As far as pricing goes, do you have a standard price you charge per yard, assuming an average, or do you pre-price each job, charge by the hour/minute?? I am wondering what customer reactions are to different pricing options.

Mowbizz
07-22-2009, 06:54 PM
I wasn't discounting the rest of your post, just stating that disposal fees were not a part of my consideration. I hear what your saying as far as sucking up "other" debris. Is there an affordable unit that can handle this better and/or a successful way of detering homeowners from adding it to the piles. I was thinking something along the lines of telling cusstomers when they call that I would be happy to pick up all of there yard debris but that leaves and "sticks" should be in separate piles.

As far as pricing goes, do you have a standard price you charge per yard, assuming an average, or do you pre-price each job, charge by the hour/minute?? I am wondering what customer reactions are to different pricing options.

I know you weren't discounting anything...:drinkup:
All I meant was that disposal fees are the least of your costs that you need to build into your price.
I estimate the job when see it. I can quickly determine how many (approximate) cubic yards of leaves/debris there is in a given "pile" by eyeballing it. Write up a proposal with your price for the job and hand it to the homeowner...sometimes they say OK go ahead with it...sometimes they say they'll call you back (price shopping) sometimes they say "can't afford that!"
Move on and forget about it until they call back.
I rarely see a homowner-made pile of debris that is "ready for pickup" most times they have bitten off more than they can chew, and the job is mostly unfinished...you need to treat these like a full leaf cleanup and price accordingly.
You can certainly request the customer to "separate" the debris for you...most times if they know it's going to save them some $$ they will comply.
Every job is different and you'll need to learn how to price according to your needs. If you're desperate for work, then do what you have to do, but if you are professional and offering a service, set your price and move on. Haggling over a proposed price can sometimes win you the job...but offer them a small (5%) percentage off the total price. You don't want to underbid and lose $$ on any job.

ryde307
07-22-2009, 10:23 PM
I had teh same thing year city stopped picking up we thought oh we have a 20 yrd dump trailer and leaf loader more than enough room to dump leaves this is easy money. Well we learned quick its not. There is always junk in the piles piles are always larger than expected and a loader does not suck up nearly as fast as you think it does if you ahve never used one. It also wears you out. Leaf piles are never close enough to the road and so on. Sorry I could go on and on about how much I hate sucking up leaf piles. If your going to do it come up with a price and multiply by 2. You should be close then. Not trying to be a dick at all just telling you from experiance. $100 a pile minimum.

Mahoney3223
07-26-2009, 01:28 AM
curbside pick-up for me is by the load. full scale clean ups are off that sweet hrly rate.

JimmyStew
07-30-2009, 08:16 AM
What are my options for debris loaders? I did a quick google search and came up with Billy Goat, Bear Cat and Little Wonder. I know of a BG dealer close by and an Echo (Bear Cat?) as well but I can't find a Little Wonder dealer. There website doesn't recognize the zip I put in which I assume means there is nobody close by. Who else mfg these units and which one would be well suited for commercial use. I'm not looking to get a larger, tow-behind unit, but rather a 16 - 18hp unit. I have seen the Billy Goat HTR unit for around $3400 which is about what I am looking at as far as cost goes. Are similar units by other mfg in this price range and of equal or better quality??

punt66
07-30-2009, 08:33 AM
i didnt see giant vac in your list

Green Feet Lawn
07-30-2009, 10:12 PM
You can also targer other landscapers. I currently do fall cleanups and sub the leaf p/u. I use 1 guy to vac the leaves. I pay $10 Cu yd and charge $14 Cu yd to customer.