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View Full Version : Bidding Leaf removal by the acre???


Southern Pride
11-02-2010, 10:36 PM
Got a big one coming up. Rural 2.08 acre home in the woods. The front yard is a big hill. I can blow all of the leaves down to a pile along the street for the city to come get, and the back yard is most of the land (over an acre). This guy Is loaded. Pool, tennis court, several patios, pet deer, yeah. So anyways I was thinking maybe tarp the backyard and drag down to the street. Or might be able to tarp and dump over the fence because he's surrounded by woods. I'm thinking atleast 6 hrs with two guys but how would you guys go about this bid? Just looking for some help. This is my biggest cleanup yet.

greenbaylawns
11-02-2010, 10:54 PM
Wow the city picks up the leaves? I would have to say hourly

Southern Pride
11-02-2010, 11:05 PM
Yeah, it will play a big factor also If I have to tarp the back and walk it all the way down to the curb and walk all the way back up each time vs. throw it over the fence...

Anybody else got some input?

lukemelo216
11-02-2010, 11:12 PM
$577.50. Its really very simple. Either you tell them that you will do the work at an hourly rate of $xx per hour, in which you explain to them it will take you between 10 and 14 labor hours, or as a business owner, you sit down and figure out your costs, what you need to charge to break even, and what you need to charge to make money. Then if you say it will take 2 guys 6 hours to do you multiple the number you came up with by 12 and give him that, and you bust your ass to get it done as fast as you can, wait thats what should be done either way.

Who can answer this question besides you. It is all over this site, no one knows what to charge besides you. Are there a ton of leaves, very little leaves, what are the beds like? Lots of perennials to cut out, none. Dont just be an operator, be a business owner and develop production numbers, develop price lists with a tiered profit scale (10, 20, 30% profit margins, that way you can work with customers on price, while still making a profit.)

Southern Pride
11-02-2010, 11:28 PM
Then if you say it will take 2 guys 6 hours to do you multiple the number you came up with by 12 and give him that.

This is where I'm confused. Well, I think I got it. My average rate is $35/man hour SO I can either figure it as $70/hr x 6 hrs, or $35/hr x 12hrs, which = $420. What gets me, is I have done 1/4 acre common residentials at $200, but this is 2 acres right around $420...It seems a little on the short side for 2 acres, but it is less labor intensive because there are 0 bags involved. It's really a matter of the backyard. Tarping, and whether or not I have to walk each tarp all the way down to the curb or over the close fence into the forest....Of course I'll round to about $450 for getting there, gas, lunch, everything. Everything sound about right or even close? Man hour pricing for leaves ($35), 6 hours with two guys? Sometimes I like to figure how long it would take me to do it alone, then cut it in half with another helper. This could easily take me an 8 hour day alone, so I may up it to 8 hours, over 6..The beds are not terrible. The leaves are not deep, but they are getting accumulated good. BUT Let me know if I sound completely off on this stuff, I'm always here to learn even though I've been doing this stuff for a decade...sad..lol

I really appreciate any insight, thoughts, whatever. What do you guys typically add to a cleanup job that takes two guys a full 8 hr day gas, food, and more gas-wise? I was thinking $30 ontop of $420 labor costs.

lukemelo216
11-03-2010, 12:01 AM
i dont add for gas and or lunch. Gas is included in my hourly rate. Lunch is on me. It isnt the customers responsibility for me to eat, plus we bring our lunches with us. I also include travel time in my hourly price, I average my unbillable time for the month and break that into the cost.

Yes you are correct about doing a 1/4 for 200 and the 2 for 420 because of the fact that you dont have to haul the leaves just dump them curbside. If you have walked the property and reviewed it call the customer and ask further questions. ask him if you need to bring all the leaves from the back yard into the front with the remaining or if you will be able to just dump them into the woods.

Now if your saying it could take you 8 hours alone that means its only going to take your 4-5 hours with 2 people so now your talking again 280-350. I try not to look at jobs in the big picture of acres, especially for the leaf clean up.

Each leaf job is going to be different. Some could have a ton of beds, some could have very little beds, lots or leaves, little leaves, lots of perennials, no perennials etc. Bid each job as it comes. It also is important to clearly explain what your clean up entails. Is it leaf clean up or fall clean up. For leaf clean up is only getting leaves. Fall clean up is cutting back all the perennials, trimming/pruning shrubs, cleaning out all leaves and miscellaneous debris, turning over the mulch, and picking up the leaves from the property.

ME and my employee blew out 3k of beds and 75% of the leaves on the property into the woods in about an hour. Then it took us an additional 35 minutes to cut the property (10,000 sqft) of which 3500 had to be push mowed becasue it is new sod. So thats a total of 1.6 hours. I got $154 for that clean up in which thats what i bid (production numbers).

Later that day we went and blew out 500sqft of beds into the grass, tarped all of the leaves, loaded them into the truck, then bagged the lawn with a 36" and we were there for about an hour, and I charged $96.25 (bid the job hourly) and it was only a 2k lawn. There werent a lot of leaves, but raking them, tarping them loading them takes time not as easy as blowing them into the woods.

lukemelo216
11-03-2010, 12:05 AM
i dont add for gas and or lunch. Gas is included in my hourly rate. Lunch is on me. It isnt the customers responsibility for me to eat, plus we bring our lunches with us. I also include travel time in my hourly price, I average my unbillable time for the month and break that into the cost.

Yes you are correct about doing a 1/4 for 200 and the 2 for 420 because of the fact that you dont have to haul the leaves just dump them curbside. If you have walked the property and reviewed it call the customer and ask further questions. ask him if you need to bring all the leaves from the back yard into the front with the remaining or if you will be able to just dump them into the woods.

Now if your saying it could take you 8 hours alone that means its only going to take your 4-5 hours with 2 people so now your talking again 280-350. I try not to look at jobs in the big picture of acres, especially for the leaf clean up.

Each leaf job is going to be different. Some could have a ton of beds, some could have very little beds, lots or leaves, little leaves, lots of perennials, no perennials etc. Bid each job as it comes. It also is important to clearly explain what your clean up entails. Is it leaf clean up or fall clean up. For leaf clean up is only getting leaves. Fall clean up is cutting back all the perennials, trimming/pruning shrubs, cleaning out all leaves and miscellaneous debris, turning over the mulch, and picking up the leaves from the property.

ME and my employee blew out 3k of beds and 75% of the leaves on the property into the woods in about an hour. Then it took us an additional 35 minutes to cut the property (10,000 sqft) of which 3500 had to be push mowed becasue it is new sod. So thats a total of 1.6 hours. I got $154 for that clean up in which thats what i bid (production numbers).

Later that day we went and blew out 500sqft of beds into the grass, tarped all of the leaves, loaded them into the truck, then bagged the lawn with a 36" and we were there for about an hour, and I charged $96.25 (bid the job hourly) and it was only a 2k lawn. There werent a lot of leaves, but raking them, tarping them loading them takes time not as easy as blowing them into the woods.

I get $55/hour for a one man clean up $96.25/hr for a two man clean up and 137.50/hr for a 3 man clean up. I have found ways to adjust my cost during this economy and figured lowering a second and third guys hourly rate will help. certain costs go down. Now thats for my lowest profit margin the, costs go up as i make more profit.

Mowbizz
11-03-2010, 12:31 AM
Got a big one coming up. Rural 2.08 acre home in the woods. The front yard is a big hill. I can blow all of the leaves down to a pile along the street for the city to come get, and the back yard is most of the land (over an acre). This guy Is loaded. Pool, tennis court, several patios, pet deer, yeah. So anyways I was thinking maybe tarp the backyard and drag down to the street. Or might be able to tarp and dump over the fence because he's surrounded by woods. I'm thinking atleast 6 hrs with two guys but how would you guys go about this bid? Just looking for some help. This is my biggest cleanup yet.

I had a similar property which I severely under bid 2 years ago. 2 acres and mountains of leaves, tennis court, overgrown plant beds...all full of leaves.
I had bid $800 and he accepted...turns out it was more than I could chew. I enlisted a friend who was in the business to help on the 2nd day...he brought his big mower and blower and we finished the job by dusk. Also had an unexpected breakdown of my leaf loader that cost me 4 hours repair time.
I called the homeowner and told him I had under bid and would need another $400 on top of the $800...luckily, he understood the situation and paid the extra....that does not always happen! Bid high my friend!

Southern Pride
11-03-2010, 12:47 AM
I had a similar property which I severely under bid 2 years ago. 2 acres and mountains of leaves, tennis court, overgrown plant beds...all full of leaves.
I had bid $800 and he accepted...turns out it was more than I could chew. I enlisted a friend who was in the business to help on the 2nd day...he brought his big mower and blower and we finished the job by dusk. Also had an unexpected breakdown of my leaf loader that cost me 4 hours repair time.
I called the homeowner and told him I had under bid and would need another $400 on top of the $800...luckily, he understood the situation and paid the extra....that does not always happen! Bid high my friend!

I can definitely understand that but the great thing on this one, again, is that there are no bag, leaf loaders or anything. Hopefully I can just dump into the woods, which will greatly effect the price due to it being so much less labor entensive.

i dont add for gas and or lunch. Gas is included in my hourly rate. Lunch is on me. It isnt the customers responsibility for me to eat, plus we bring our lunches with us. I also include travel time in my hourly price, I average my unbillable time for the month and break that into the cost.

I understand what you are saying. What are you charging per man hour? Seems like you are right almost at $50 per man hour. This is a big deal too because I'm not sure if I am high or low on my man/hr pricing for leaves compared to cutting. I am averaging about $40/man hour on cuts (2 guys doing 2 $40 yards in a hour) I'm worried because I've heard alot of people say you charge a good bit more an hour for leaves compared to cutting.

So what do you guys think? $35/hr too low, just right or should I be around $40-45/hr

lukemelo216
11-03-2010, 09:33 AM
my break even cost is $50/hr. So I automatically am going to charge 50/hr. Then like i said i have a tiered profit margine of 10% up to 30% meaning I will charge anywhere from 55/hr up to 65/hr.

Sit down and add up all your costs for business, what ever you have in one month. ex....truck payment (100), shop (100), insurance (100), phones (125), fuel (300), admin costs (100), miscellaneous costs (lunch, etc) (100), equipment repairs (125), equipment (200), owner salary (2000), labor (1500) That comes up to 4750/month or 57,000 Annually (12 months). Then if each week two guys are working 30 hrs a piece that means you have 60 hrs of work per week for a total of 240 hours per month. I dont know how long of a season you work, but in the north we run april-november thats 8 months so, you need to realistically make that 57000 in 8 months so 4750 actually becomes 7125. Now you divide that 7125 by 240 and you get $29.69/hr rounded to $30/hr as your cost of doing business. Meaning you need to charge a minimum of that just for you to break even. Then you figure in your profit, so id be charging some where in the neighbor hood of $35-$45/hr. This is just an example for you. That is one of the first things you need to do to determine what to charge. If you have less costs, you can work on a higher profit margin because you will still be in line with your competition. But dont just say ok so and so is charging 60 an hour so i should too. at 60 an hour you might be only turning 2% profit, or you might be doing 35% profit. You just need to determine that break even number.

Southern Pride
11-03-2010, 07:28 PM
I understand. I would like to PM you and throw around a few numbers because I know for a fact my cost of doing business is way less. First year, tiny overhead, etc. So, if it's okay with you I'll come up with some realistic numbers and maybe you can help me a little. I should have done this in the beginning but it took a good first season to really tell where I land.

mowZ06
11-03-2010, 07:55 PM
I just did a job like your today. Two workers @ 70-80 an hour x 3.5 hours. It sounds cheap but I do this at least 3-4 time in the fall and some times it takes more hours.
The back yard has a killer hill that lead down to a golf course and I dump on the tarp with my lazer with an ultra vac then hook the tarp up and pull out to the street which is a long distance.
http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc178/1fstws6/landscapepics031.jpg
http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc178/1fstws6/landscapepics032.jpg
http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc178/1fstws6/landscapepics036.jpg
http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc178/1fstws6/landscapepics040.jpg

http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc178/1fstws6/landscapepics035.jpg

Southern Pride
11-03-2010, 08:04 PM
MOWZ06, that doesn't sound cheap to me. @ $70-80/hr you are making your money. If it takes longer, more money right? I'm guessing you paid your help around $10/hr to help?

How do you handle it with the customer? Do you always just tell them the exact price it will be? I am planning on telling my customer between $400-500 depending on how long it takes, $500 being if it takes an 8 hour day and $400 if it takes around 6hrs. I would also say it could be even less if we finish before 6 hrs...would any of you suggest this strategy or to pick an amount of hours and a set price?

Btw mowZ06, excellent work.

mowZ06
11-03-2010, 08:36 PM
I would let them know your hourly say 35 per person or just tell them 70 an hour for two people and the job would take roughly six hours give or take one hour since it will be your first time you do not know for sure the exact amount of time. Also be sure to tell them if it does take less they will only be charged for the amount of hours on the yard. This way you are being honest with them and not holding yourself to a set time and not over charging them up front, after you do it a few times you get better at knowing the yard and what short cuts you can make to save some time and still do a good job. My job above is a little harder because of the back yard being so far from the street and that fun hill side that we usually end up sliding down so I charge a little more on this one and by the way I have no employees its just me and my wife. When I do have extra help which is rare I do pay around 10 an hour. Hope this helps.

Southern Pride
11-03-2010, 09:01 PM
mowz06, it's eary how similar my 2 acre property is to yours. Front yard is a bit more steep on mine. and the back yard is flat but loooong with tennis courts and all kinds of crap. I was thinking between $35/hr and $45/hr, so I'll take middle. $40/hr, 2 guys (so $80/hr, and estimating roughly 6 hours) This is based on me thinking the yard would take me atleast a 12 hour day to do myself w/ a blower, rake, and tarp. The reason I think ONLY 6 hours is because.
1. All the leaves in the front yard we just blow all the way down the hill, into a long pile along the street. City comes and picks it up.
2. IF he lets me. We push all leaves to one side near a fence in the back, tarp them, and just dump over the fence.

If I had to bag this entire yard it would easily be in the $900-1000 range. Think of the difference in time bagging smaller portions, versus immediately eliminating bigger portions with the tarp. So, if this all pans out I'll have the job estimated right at about $500, but I will tell him that is the MAX it can go to, and relistically give him a $400-500 window. I think that is the right way to go about and especially to talk to him in person at the property. 2 acres of woods is a big deal. If this guy honestly expects me to bill $200-300, then I don't want anything to do with him.
Currently, I have come on Fridays and just blown all his concrete (ALOT) and tennis court off. This take roughly 1 hr 15 mins and I charge $40. So I think he understands the pricing of about $40/hr

mowZ06
11-03-2010, 09:58 PM
Sounds like you have the pricing under control. Sounds to be at least a $400 job depending on where you can put the leaves. Has he had it done professionally in the past ? This a one time clean up ? No follow up to finish it out for the year ? I find it easier and more profitable to do the clean ups a few times rather then just one big one but this all depends on if the customer wants a clean yard thru out the season and if the grass is still growing while the leaves are falling. Anyway let us know how it comes out .