View Full Version : Charge by the SQFT or charge by the time???

10-11-2002, 12:57 AM
Charge by the SQFT or charge by the time???

10-11-2002, 01:28 AM

10-11-2002, 01:41 AM
For mowing I try to stay between about $1 and $1.25 per 1000 sq/ft. I can keep my hourly rate near $60 a man hour on open ground doing this.

Minimum is $27 no matter how small it is.

I have a PITA factor also which will add to the total price.

Does it have a lot of trees to trim?
Does it have a lot of sidewalks to edge?
Does it have a lot of beds to edge?
Does it have a lot of ????????????

These all get added to the sq/ft total price.

10-11-2002, 08:19 AM
We use a straight time method.

I understand what LGF is saying bout a PITA factor. But if I am getting the hourly rate I want, I really don't care how big of a PITA the lawn is. I'm getting the $$$ I want to get the job done...simple.

Green Pastures
10-11-2002, 11:17 AM
Ditto what Lawngodfather said, only my minimum is $30.00.


10-11-2002, 11:49 AM
I only do landscaping -- but it seems the philosophy would be the same. When i first started out in the business _ charged strictly by the hour. Safer for me because I always got my hourly pay. However, as I got better -- and faster -- I began making less money. it didn't seem right just because I was becoming more efficient that I should make less money per job. Especially when the quality of work was going up so much!

Anyway -- I started charging by the job and not by the actual time. I think it is a much more equitable way to do it. Plus.. sq. ft never change -- time can and you don't want to have to bill the customer a differnt amount each week.

- jeff

10-11-2002, 01:37 PM
Actually, I think the answer to your question is to use both. For me, the square footage indicates how much time (taking into consideration obstructions) it will take. I know how much area I can mow given a average number of obstructions per hour. From that I work out a cost per 10,000 sq. ft. for the average yard, including overhead. From that information I can work out relativities both upward and downward to account for less or more difficulty (more or less time). JD

10-11-2002, 01:46 PM
This issue always makes me chuckle......the bottom line is that all we have to sell is our time....or billable hours if you are large enough to have crews working, etc.

Square feet, linear ft. of edging, etc. are only tools that we can use to estimate how much TIME it will take to do the job. Other factors such as slopes, access, quality of turf, etc., etc., are factors which affect TIME, and become part of the billing equation.

After being in this business for a while, and if you keep good records, you can develop TIME factors associated with sq. ft., linear edging, etc., which is something you can use to develop an average estimated price, but once you use the estimating tool to develop a TIME, you then apply the HOURLY rate you need. This rate has to include overhead (the figure scrubs have no concept of), and then you have to add the profit rate you need on top of that to make a living.

I am at the point where I can look at a property and estimate the time it will take to mow, edge, trim and blow to within 5 minutes. I then use that time figure to determine a price, with a $30/mow, or $110/month contract minimum. $60/hour is the figure I am currently using. I only measure when figuring mulch jobs, etc.

Again....bottom line is that we are all billing based on TIME!!!

Randy J
10-11-2002, 04:48 PM
I built an "estimate" sheet in Excell that does pretty much what LawnGodFather is talking about. I calculate the square feet, and multiply by a difficulty factor, depending on obstacles, hills, and other obstacles. So the longer it would take me, the more the difficulty factor, the more $$.

Fantasy Lawns
10-11-2002, 05:30 PM
"bottom line is that we are all billing based on TIME!!!"

I could have not said it any better .... Westbrooklawn nailed that one on the head ....

Billable hours .... measuring is great learning tool to help develope the experience to give a proper estimate ... this given with actual working jobs based on that estimate

If it's a big job I break it down into sections .... using an hourly estimate sheet for the sections .... add it up ....n that's what we base our price on .... adding in additional hours for time spent thru the year weeding .... picking up trash ... hedging ....drive time ....etc.

10-11-2002, 05:36 PM
I start with sq.ft. than add difficulty and P.I.T.A. factor.

10-11-2002, 07:15 PM
It's all about TIME. Charging by the square foot is fine, as long as it's really based on time per square foot.

10-12-2002, 01:50 AM
You don't charge by the time or the sqft. You charge by the job, based on an estimate of how long it takes (based on your experience) to do X sqft, factoring in variables. Don't ever, ever tell a client "We charge $X per hour." Just estimate as well as you can how long it will take and tell them what the fee is.

10-12-2002, 02:54 AM
Donít tell the hourly rate, donít tell them this, and donít tell them that donít tell them bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla!!!
Can you see the clear pattern that everyone runs his or her business differently?

Mowing, Flat Rate

Lawn Applications, Flat Rate based off of SQ/FT

Aeration, Flat Rate based off of SQ/FT

Dethatching, Flat Rate based off of SQ/FT

Seeding, Flat Rate based off of SQ/FT

Mulch, Flat Rate based off of Cubic Feet

Flowers, Flat Rate based off of amount

Trimming/Pruning, T&M

Leaf Removal, T&M

Weeding, T&M

Landscaping, all depends

Can you see a pattern that has developed? Most things that include a product, or a specific machine has a flat rate, and the straight labor that has unforeseen obstacles has a Time and Man Hour charge.

10-12-2002, 05:04 AM
As stated by so many above. Do measure, of course, in order to have a reference to calculate time necessary for the job. If you want to bid by the area always, or even just wing it and "bid by the job", you will initially have some good paying jobs and some poor ones. But in time, you will gravitate to the poor ones, because you are underpricing them, and many people will take your lower price.

As far as your experience making you more efficient and faster, you should be charging more for those two items. If everyone in town is charging $60/hr, and I have a trick or expertise that allows me to accomplish twice as much as anyone else, you can bet your bippy I'll be charging close to $120/hr.

If you're afraid to quote your hourly rates to clients, you need to work on your education and confidence. I am selling my experience, skill and expertise, not just labor with a particular machine or tool.

Be patient. It just takes a few years to get the clientelle who pay to have the job done properly, rather than those who want to pay the cheapest price.