View Full Version : Maybe picking up another contract, advice please

08-06-2002, 11:14 PM
Okay here is the deal a neighborhood called me about there common areas and they want me to mow them twice a month and its about 5 acres and about a 12ft strip up by the road that is about 500ft long and quite a bit of weedeating theres a small pond and alot of drainage ditches so Im trying to figure out a price. The president thinks 50.00 an hour is fair. I have a john deere Z-trak with a 60in cut with a 25hp Kohloer so what do you guys think and also the grass is about 12in or higher now so its gonna take some work how would you handle this one? Thanks alot for your help!:dizzy:

08-06-2002, 11:24 PM
I would tell him you will do it for $50.00/hr the first time and make sure he knows that it is going to take a lot more time since it hasn;t been mowed in a long time. Are you the only one working on the property? If you have time it is probably a fair deal, if its actual time and not a set amount of time that someone else did it in or a number he has in his head. Figure your expenses and it sounds like it will be pretty tough on your equipment so figure that in too.

08-07-2002, 01:11 AM
i agree.......i would do the 50/hour first time and see what it takes........if it comes out to be more than worth it for ya, then leave it at that price ....if not, then calculate what you feelis fair and present it to him.......just dont cut ur own throat....kina hard guessing at some jobs like that

scott's turf
08-07-2002, 08:46 AM
You can't go wrong if they want to give you $50/hr. Who cares how long it is. The next time cut the lawn at average speed and figure out a set price for him for the rest of the season. It sounds like a win win situation. Good luck

08-07-2002, 09:49 AM
Sorry guys, but this is a potiential losing situation. The president of the homeowners assn is dictating your price and your going along with it. I hate to tell you but if you accept his price this time, it will not be able to be changed. Every 2 weeks is going to be a lot harder on your equipment. Every 2 weeks growth will cost you more in expenses(gas). The HOA is in control of you and your biz. They get the benefit of you having bigger more effiecient equipment.

$50 per hour may sound great, but your running a Z. Most of the time you will be pretty quick, so they will be paying you less for the job. It only cost them more when the grass is worse. Your not doing a job for them, your working for them. They will want to make additions to you and have it done at the same price. IE: Leaves, mulch, shrubs, aerating, etc.

My experience with many hoa's have been the "president" is someone with a desire for some power. He/she can't get it anywhere else, so it makes them feel important in that current position. Now your under their thumb.

It just my thoughts on the subject.

08-07-2002, 10:25 AM
I have some experience with HOA's, and it's wise to understand how they differ from residential and commercial. The person who hires you will, most likely, only be in charge for a year...so it may not be a long term situation. Look over the rest of the neighborhood to get an idea on the general upkeep...is the pool well kept? Is the clubhouse in need of repair. This will give you an idea of the priorities for the HOA in that year's budget. The HOA doesn't produce income so landscaping expense is, more than likely, a fixed line item with little room for growth.

My experience would be that the first rate you work out will be the rate that they stick with so be pretty careful. Having said that, I like HOA's because they're like "billboards" for my company. A well kep HOA is seen byb the whole neighborhood and everyone driving by, put out a "maintained by..." sign now and then...you can put out newsletters to the whole neighborhood and do every wall, sprinkler, and install job in the place. I do a couple and use them as loss leaders...

Good luck

08-07-2002, 10:26 AM
I agree completely with LGF. Where is this "50 an hour" coming from? Is this some number that he just pulled out of his hat? What if you went in and cut it with a 10 hp Craftsman? Would this make you worth more? Because you sure would make more on the job! Also, let's face it, this "2 week" thing is a losing game, period, no if, ands, or buts about it. Even if you DID do it every week in the heavier growth, it would probably be up to HIM to dictate when it needs it or not, (which these guys don't have a CLUE about this stuff) so you'd STILL end up cutting the thick stuff, and wearing on your mower.

08-07-2002, 10:49 AM
I think I'd tell him that $50.00 an hour is lowballing it but that you'll take it if he's willing to cut every ten days and agree to a minimum 2 or 3 hours...

bubble boy
08-07-2002, 10:58 AM
it does seem risky...dealing with this guy could be trouble.

but could be a "fair" risk. do you have the time and equipment? or will you need to invest?

i would myself take this type of risk now, as we could take that work on with no prob. but i wouldn't take the job on if it meant jepardizing getting my existing cuts in, or buying new equip. or hiring...

also i would set my price and be firm. the $ per hr you make is your business. if he doesn't like the price you say, run.

and like everything else, push for a weekly service. but again if you really need the work do biweekly, but don't give him the schedule-you set it.

i guess i think this is worthwhile to look into, but look carefully.

08-07-2002, 11:16 AM
Heck, if they will pay you by the hour why not pussy foot around all day and charge him the $50.00 per hour. Its a fact that when people get paid by the hour they work slower. He is not very intelligent if he is telling you $50.00 per hour and not stipulating how many hours you have to get the job completed.

Lets say you take his $50.00 per hour offer, and down the road you spend $10000.00 on a larger piece of equipment (to get done faster) will he still want to pay you $50.00 per hour based on the new time figure. How will you ever pay for your equipment.
Another scenerio would be if you wanted to get a helper to get done faster. Would he still want to pay you $50.00 per hour based on the new "reduced" time. If so, you will lose your shirt!

Base it on the job, and when you have that figure you can divide it by how many hours it takes and give him an idea of what it breaks down to per hour (the figure might even be $50.00).
That way if you buy better equipment or hire a helper you will get paid the same amount but get done in less time (which will automatically equal more $ per hour).

Price by the JOB!!!


Alan Bechard
08-07-2002, 12:53 PM
We are only on the price by the job routine. As Jimbo says, what if you have 2 helpers the day you go to do it?

We have done a couple of HOA deals and have pretty much gotten burned on every one in some way or another. Made a contract with the folks, cleaned up a mess and made everything look good at a low price based on our "contract" that we would have it a year, another guy became president of the HOA and gave the work to his Nephew told us to get stuffed and sue the HOA if we did not like it.

It would have cost us more to sue in time trouble and aggravation than we were truly out so we just chalked that one up as a loss.

Remember too that you are going to have to satisfy a whole bunch of customers on that same job. Sometimes that can be dang near impossible. If you have two homeowners that think differently about how high the bushes should be or how the grass should be trimmed you end up in the middle of a loosing battle.

I do not mean to come across so negative but everytime Hanna brings one of these home I try and discourage her and remind her of the other times. TOOOOOOOO many "cheifs" usually in an HOA for my taste.

We try and never price hourly, we might do it that way in our minds when doing the bid, but the whole idea of working for yourself is to keep from just working for the hourly wage in my opinion.

My 2c Al B

08-07-2002, 04:38 PM
I don't know but around here you can make anywhere from $75 to $100 ( or more ) just cutting residentials, why would you want to waste your time for all of the negative that have been mentioned in the above threads in this post?

08-07-2002, 07:42 PM
Originally posted by Runner
I agree completely with LGF.

LGF? :confused:

AGG Lawn Maintenance
08-07-2002, 10:29 PM
I wouldn't do it. But if you do draw up a contract. Doing the hand shake and a smile thing doesn't work. If he doesn't sign a contract run as fast as you can. Good luck.

08-07-2002, 10:44 PM
Originally posted by 65hoss

LGF? :confused:

65 Hoss.... Must be the Lil yellow smiley face dude?????

I guess?????

08-07-2002, 11:21 PM
Alright guys heres the deal, I used the weedeater on it and it took me about an hour and a half I told him Im not gonna do it hourly and its gonna be between 200 and 250 a shot and he seemed to think that was fair its just me doing it and this winter Im gonna buy a Kubota 72in diesel so it will go even quicker. Im gonna cut it tomorrow so I will let you know how long it took and he seemed to think when its really growing Ill cut it once a week I told him Im not gonna wait till its high and then cut it and trash my mower and he agreed well tell me what you think thanks for all the input! Jason

08-08-2002, 12:24 AM
1-1.5 hours work for $200.00-$250.00 thats good money. Getting paid by the job is the only way to go.

Now if you used the weed eater and it took 1.5 hours when you buy that 72" Diesel it should take 20 mins. $200.00 for 20 mins (Thats real good money)!

I dont think your times are right though because you originally said 5 Acres, plus some trimming and drainage ponds. Theres no way you could have cut 5 Acres by hand in anywhere close to 1.5 hours. Try 1.5 days maybe.

Or am I reading this all wrong?

Good Luck!

08-08-2002, 02:09 AM
well i stick to what i said.....cut it first time with the 50/hour deal under the fact that this is only to base the price for future cuts(to see what its worth)....who knows, it may wind up being a good deal in the long run..........did u weed eat for hour and half and then cut the grass with a mower........i, too, was under assumption that this was a good bit of grass.......anyhow, i hope it works out for ya

08-08-2002, 01:49 PM
$200-250 an hour????? Tell me where do you people live that clients bend over so easily and say "Gee Thanks??!!!":confused: