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Flex-Deck
10-12-2004, 06:36 PM
Here is a pic of part of a 17 acre every two week mowing job.
http://Mall

environment
10-12-2004, 06:39 PM
wow there invisible

Flex-Deck
10-12-2004, 06:44 PM
http://Mall-East Side-Long View-Full Size Let me try again

environment
10-12-2004, 06:49 PM
very nice
any chem control or fertilizing in that deal

Flex-Deck
10-12-2004, 07:00 PM
Not yet - this is out back, and they only want it mowed, but we have done such a good job of trimming, and mowing straight lines with level decks and sharp blades, that they have invited us to bid on the large areas that are in front. Those will be weekly mows. Those will involve fertilizing and weed control unless they either keep chem-lawn or keep it in house. Have not really gotten to specifics with the manager on that yet. Thanks Brad

ElephantNest
10-12-2004, 07:28 PM
Man, a guy could do some great daydreaming,..... I mean thinking on a job like that! Looks nice, keep it up and good luck with getting the rest.

~Nest

ALarsh
10-12-2004, 07:39 PM
Nice. How much do you charge for a job like that?

Flex-Deck
10-13-2004, 04:30 PM
I charge $15 per acre - takes 2 hrs 40 min. Out front will be a little more as there is more trimming. I shoot for $75 per hr. Hopefully the front will net more like $80-90.

Turfdude
10-13-2004, 04:51 PM
I charge $15 per acre - takes 2 hrs 40 min. Out front will be a little more as there is more trimming. I shoot for $75 per hr. Hopefully the front will net more like $80-90.
Do you make ANY money at that price??

Lawnworks
10-13-2004, 05:31 PM
How did you get the job?

LwnmwrMan22
10-13-2004, 05:47 PM
Do you make ANY money at that price??


If that's $75 / man hour, how can you NOT make any money at that rate?

I've got people around here that think I'm nuts because I'll charge $20 / acre or so, but if it's just flat field, VERY little trimming, I can mow 4 acres / hour +.

I'm happy making my $75-100 / hour working by myself.

Flex-Deck
10-13-2004, 06:59 PM
If that's $75 / man hour, how can you NOT make any money at that rate?

I've got people around here that think I'm nuts because I'll charge $20 / acre or so, but if it's just flat field, VERY little trimming, I can mow 4 acres / hour +.

I'm happy making my $75-100 / hour working by myself.


Thanks LwnmwrMan22 - I have talked about this deal before. Get efficient - I am a one person show - One mower and me - and when I get done at nite I have made some money - Heck the welding jobs around here pay $16 per hr. Which hourly rate would you want considering overhead is about 25%. $75 per hr. with 25% overhead or $16 per hr. and still have to drive to the job?

JKOOPERS
10-13-2004, 06:59 PM
man that would be at least a $700 cut here in st. louis

rodfather
10-13-2004, 07:07 PM
Do you make ANY money at that price??

In Iowa where Brad is from, that's probably great TD. For us her in joysee, it's peanuts. Period

Flex-Deck
10-13-2004, 07:11 PM
man that would be at least a $700 cut here in st. louis
JKOOPERS - year before last, I bid 17.50 per acre and lost. In SE Iowa, if you want to drive your mowers rather than leave them in the shed, you have to be bid competitive.

Since this is my first year actually mowing three large areas, I am starting to get a reputation of mowing straight lines with level decks that have sharp blades, and in the next year or two, I feel that I will be in a position to sell the quality at a slightly higher bid than the lowest, and still land some jobs.

Here is a Target store we mow with bunches of curbs and poles to trim, and we do it I feel very well, and it is highly visible.
http://TargetLS

Flex-Deck
10-13-2004, 07:43 PM
Another try at the Target pic to show curb trimming
http://TargetLS-Front Square-Full Size

Flex-Deck
10-13-2004, 07:52 PM
One more try
http://TargetLS-Front Square-

HOMER
10-13-2004, 08:10 PM
If at first you don't succeed........................try again!

ALarsh
10-13-2004, 08:39 PM
Flex, the problem with target posting is that you are probably not using a server. You typed in "http://targetls-front%20square-/" for one attempt at direct linking.

You have to host the image on a server first (I use http://photobucket.com , its free and easy to use). Once you get the image on a server then you take the link that they give you and paste it in the provided formula at this site (it should like something like [*img]http://serveryouarehostingtheimageat.jpg[/img*] (the * will not be there, I had to put them in so you can see the formula) )

Soupy
10-13-2004, 08:44 PM
Flex-Deck, I have asked you this before, but I never got an answer. If an Acre goes for $17-$20, how much for a 8-10,000 sq. ft. lot? I'm guessing $3-$5?

It's you and your competitors stupitity (sorry, I couldn't think of a better word) for biding so low. You can talk about your profit until you are blue in the face. The bottom line is, you and your competitors are leaving a bunch of money on the table. Your out of state customers have got to be laughing their buts off while righting the check for lawn maintenance.

I believe that you have found a great way to save time, but how can you answer the question above and still think you are not leaving money on the table. In my area, not any lawn company can handle the large work, so that makes the price higher, not lower. Even though some use mowers twice your size, they don't pass the time saving investment of their equipment onto their customers.

I'm not saying that it is your fault the prices in your area is low, but somebody made the stupid mistake of under cutting themselves and the industry as whole. I also don't think you are stupid, by any means. I know you are very intelligent, because it takes an intelligent person to come up with the inventions that you have. I just really really disagree with your areas pricing of large acreage. An then to try to brag about it makes me even want to pull my hair out more.

Now, back to the million dollar question, How much is the lawn care companies getting for 8-10K turf?

LwnmwrMan22
10-13-2004, 09:09 PM
Flex-Deck, I have asked you this before, but I never got an answer. If an Acre goes for $17-$20, how much for a 8-10,000 sq. ft. lot? I'm guessing $3-$5?

Now, back to the million dollar question, How much is the lawn care companies getting for 8-10K turf?


Not in my book.

As "I" stated, and granted I cannot speak for Flex-Deck, but if it's completely flat, VERY little trimming, as in county park, township park, school grounds, I charge $20 or so an acre.

I have a $50 minimun charge / stop.

Your 8-10,000 sq ft lot is going to cost you $50.

It'll take 1/2 the time, because there'll probably be trimming to do, maybe some blowing.

It'll still take about 20 minutes, 30 minutes by the time I load back up and drive 10 minutes to the next account and unload. Here in the Midwest, we have space. We're not jam packed into each other for blocks upon blocks upon blocks of 1/4 acre lots.

Once you get to the rural areas, most city / house lots are 1 - 2.5 acres.

If I can go to a 4 acre park, and sit on my butt for an hour and make $80, and have no drive time between 3 other accounts, not to mention I only have to deal with one customer for that hour's work, not 3, why wouldn't I?

There are definately accounts that I have that are 10K next to each other, that I take my time on, get my $50 minimum on and that's where I get my $100+/hour on.

cantoo
10-13-2004, 09:13 PM
soupy, he doesn't bid 8-10,000 square foot lots. Just like I very seldom bid them, I don't want to cut small lots even though the money is the same or very close to it. We like to cut bigger properties where can use the Bobcat that has a lower dollars per hours cost to run than the Walker. For the most part those bigger properties also have very few things to mow around or worse yet crap to move out of the way. We also hate the thought of using a wbh mower so unless we can change the property to get the bigger mowers on it we refer them to another guy.
I still couldn't cut an acre for $15 though, there aren't many properties that big around here that aren't cut for hay instead.
Two years ago a local tender went for $34 for 3 acres and had to be bagged. We bid it at $225 another company bid it at around $200 and another small guy at $150 or so. The guy that bid the $34 lives across the road and likes to cut grass, worse yet instead of bagging it he cuts it at least twice a week during the growing season. We never lost any sleep over it.

lawnman_scott
10-13-2004, 09:27 PM
Do you make ANY money at that price??well according to his numbers it comes to $95.63 per hour, so I would say that yes he is making money on it.

J&R
10-13-2004, 09:28 PM
Flex Deck- As long as you and others in your town bid low the price will stay low. Wise up start charging more means more money in your pocket.

Turf Medic
10-13-2004, 10:03 PM
Flex Deck- As long as you and others in your town bid low the price will stay low. Wise up start charging more means more money in your pocket.

Flex Deck these guys are right, you need to raise your prices, my guess would be at least 3 to 4 times what you are charging. Then you can take the money from your last mow and buy you a nice big tarp to cover your equipment with. :cool:

I can't understand if it figures out to $75 per hour, that being 125% of the magical $1 per minute, how can you say he's not charging enough.

LwnmwrMan22
10-13-2004, 10:13 PM
Flex Deck these guys are right, you need to raise your prices, my guess would be at least 3 to 4 times what you are charging. Then you can take the money from your last mow and buy you a nice big tarp to cover your equipment with. :cool:

I can't understand if it figures out to $75 per hour, that being 125% of the magical $1 per minute, how can you say he's not charging enough.


Whoa... a John Kerry sighting.

Or is it all just tongue in cheek??

Soupy
10-13-2004, 10:52 PM
Not in my book.

As "I" stated, and granted I cannot speak for Flex-Deck, but if it's completely flat, VERY little trimming, as in county park, township park, school grounds, I charge $20 or so an acre.

I have a $50 minimun charge / stop.

Your 8-10,000 sq ft lot is going to cost you $50.

It'll take 1/2 the time, because there'll probably be trimming to do, maybe some blowing.

It'll still take about 20 minutes, 30 minutes by the time I load back up and drive 10 minutes to the next account and unload. Here in the Midwest, we have space. We're not jam packed into each other for blocks upon blocks upon blocks of 1/4 acre lots.

Once you get to the rural areas, most city / house lots are 1 - 2.5 acres.

If I can go to a 4 acre park, and sit on my butt for an hour and make $80, and have no drive time between 3 other accounts, not to mention I only have to deal with one customer for that hour's work, not 3, why wouldn't I?

There are definately accounts that I have that are 10K next to each other, that I take my time on, get my $50 minimum on and that's where I get my $100+/hour on.


Your missing the point, Why would you charge $50 for a 80-10k lot but charge $80 for a 4 acre lot. It doesn't make since. The customer is reaping the benefits, not you. That 4 acres is putting more wear and tear on your mower then the 10k lot is. I finished up my last aeration job today, It took me 1 hour to cut the property then aerate it and the total was $215. Should I have charged the customer $80. I think not. I get what the job is worth.

Soupy
10-13-2004, 10:55 PM
soupy, he doesn't bid 8-10,000 square foot lots. Just like I very seldom bid them, I don't want to cut small lots even though the money is the same or very close to it. We like to cut bigger properties where can use the Bobcat that has a lower dollars per hours cost to run than the Walker. For the most part those bigger properties also have very few things to mow around or worse yet crap to move out of the way. We also hate the thought of using a wbh mower so unless we can change the property to get the bigger mowers on it we refer them to another guy.
I still couldn't cut an acre for $15 though, there aren't many properties that big around here that aren't cut for hay instead.
Two years ago a local tender went for $34 for 3 acres and had to be bagged. We bid it at $225 another company bid it at around $200 and another small guy at $150 or so. The guy that bid the $34 lives across the road and likes to cut grass, worse yet instead of bagging it he cuts it at least twice a week during the growing season. We never lost any sleep over it.

$225 for 3 acres is not what he is charging. Your comparing apples to oranges. I know he doesn't bid on 10k lots, but at his priceing structure they would be $5.

LwnmwrMan22
10-13-2004, 11:08 PM
Your missing the point, Why would you charge $50 for a 80-10k lot but charge $80 for a 4 acre lot. It doesn't make since. The customer is reaping the benefits, not you. That 4 acres is putting more wear and tear on your mower then the 10k lot is. I finished up my last aeration job today, It took me 1 hour to cut the property then aerate it and the total was $215. Should I have charged the customer $80. I think not. I get what the job is worth.


Soupy -

You and I have 2 different ways of getting the same fee.

You are not reading my posts.

The 10k lot, as I stated before, most likely has more trimming work, more blowing, more time-consuming work than the 4 acre park, therefore, the same amount of time. The bigger area you can do at a cheaper per acre rate, since you don't have trimming work.

The other day I did a 4k Blockbuster movie store, 4k sqft that I get $250 / month. I charged the owner $150 to aerate, which is an add-on.
Now, that would be $65 to mow, $150 to aerate, total cost $215, total time, 1.5 hours.


Now, about your comment to Cantoo, you're the one comparing apples to oranges when you threw in the comment when we were discussing price per acre. "I finished up my last aeration job today, It took me 1 hour to cut the property then aerate it and the total was $215. Should I have charged the customer $80. I think not. I get what the job is worth"

Of course I wouldn't charge $80 to also aerate a 4 acre parcel of land.

Soupy
10-13-2004, 11:13 PM
I can't understand if it figures out to $75 per hour, that being 125% of the magical $1 per minute, how can you say he's not charging enough.

There's no doubt he is making money. But to come on lawnsite and repeatedly say that we are all nuts for not buying into his idea of being more proficient is nuts (You have to have read his past threads to know what i'm talking about). Don't get me wrong, being proficient will benefit your business if you charge by the job, but not by the hour like he figures it. He might not actually charge by the hour, but he is figuring by the hour.

Flex Deck has a great product, but it doesn't make him any more money per hour, and that is what i'm trying to get across to him. If I were to cut my time in half, that would mean I would double my gross profits per hour. I sure wouldn't cut my price to make up for the time saved.

Maybe Flex Deck already knows all this and is just doing what he can to compete in his area. But every time someone like me ask him about it, he just disappears without answering the question.

I just want to have a civil debate with him. I in no way dislike flex deck.

Soupy
10-13-2004, 11:32 PM
Soupy -

You and I have 2 different ways of getting the same fee.

You are not reading my posts.

The 10k lot, as I stated before, most likely has more trimming work, more blowing, more time-consuming work than the 4 acre park, therefore, the same amount of time. The bigger area you can do at a cheaper per acre rate, since you don't have trimming work.

The other day I did a 4k Blockbuster movie store, 4k sqft that I get $250 / month. I charged the owner $150 to aerate, which is an add-on.
Now, that would be $65 to mow, $150 to aerate, total cost $215, total time, 1.5 hours.

Now, about your comment to Cantoo, you're the one comparing apples to oranges when you threw in the comment when we were discussing price per acre. "I finished up my last aeration job today, It took me 1 hour to cut the property then aerate it and the total was $215. Should I have charged the customer $80. I think not. I get what the job is worth"

Of course I wouldn't charge $80 to also aerate a 4 acre parcel of land.

My aeration example to you, was to get the point across that just because you are making $80 per hour doesn't mean you should be jumping for joy. It's your client that is jumping for joy. It all boils down to why buy a faster mower if you are not going to reap the benefits. You spend more money to make the job faster, but than lower the cost to the customer because it only took you an hour to do the job.

What I meant to Cantoo, was he is charging a lot more the than $20 per acre. He mentioned that he likes cutting the big areas because it is less work and that it allows for a small cut in price. I already understand that. And I agree with Cantoo. He just mis-understood what I was getting at by asking how much a 10k lot goes for in flex decks area. So I said that it was apples to oranges. I didn't mean any disrespect to Cantoo.

Geezer
10-13-2004, 11:37 PM
As long as your aware of all your costs - Wages, payroll taxes, Licenses, business taxes, liability insurance, worker's comp, vehicle fuel, equipment cost (truck, trailer, mower, line trimmer, blower, etc.) equipment operating expense (oil, filters, belts, blades, grease, replacement parts, maintenance time ...to do all of the above), vehicle operating expense ( insurance, tires, oil, service, etc.) travel time to and from the jobs, overhead ( facility rent, utilities, phone, advertising, sale expense, billing expense) debt service on your loans, etc., etc., etc.

How is your cash flow? Are you saving any money from your operation to pay cash for your next round of equipment purchases? If not, you'll just have to go back into debt to reload.

Is mowing your main income? Are you generating enough revenue during your mowing season (?in your area...what 24 - 26 weeks?) to make it through the off season ? Do you have insurance, vacation, retirement or any other sort of benefit ?

What is your gross margin on this job ... what is it on your entire book of business? Are you aware of which of your jobs are under producing YTD? Have you analyzed them as to why they are losers? Do you know which jobs are the most profitable ...and why ... so you can repeat that elsewhere? Do you have accurate job records so you can compare production times to your job estimates to see if your decimating model is accurate?

If your gross of $94.44 is enough to cover all of the above and you have enough profit to justify all the effort, continue mowing at your $15.00 per acre.

The point of my essay that there is alot more to this industry that many of people in it recognize. If you are a knowledgeable business person who has a more efficient operation and is kickin' my butt ...MORE POWER TO YOU !!!

It is very distressing to those of us in the industry who have businesses that are providing careers to people, that the public's perception of the cost/value of our service is driven down by those who do not take the time and effort to educate themselves on how to run a profitable operation.

There is always a segment of the consumer market who will opt for the cheapest thing out there and there is a never ending stream cutters that will try to supply them.

I sincerely hope that you have continued success in your business venture. However, I am thankful that you are several hundred miles to the northwest!

Soupy
10-13-2004, 11:44 PM
LwnmwrMan22, I forgot to say that I agree with you on the part about cutting a deal on the larger areas, just like agree with Cantoo. I think he has a better understanding of it than you do.

I just think charging $50 for 10k. then only $30 more for a piece of property that is 17 times bigger is nuts. I bet if the 10K customer knew this he would throw a fit.

The main thing is that you and flex deck are happy. That is the bottom line. It doesn't matter that we have different views on pricing. I just like a good debate every once in a while.

I still want to know how much a 10K lot goes for in flex decks world :)

Ryan Lightning
10-13-2004, 11:53 PM
Its not how long the job takes you, Its what is it worth?

out4now
10-14-2004, 12:15 AM
If it was me I think I would charge more because like someone said you may need the stockpiled cash in the future. Sure less windshield time is great. Equipment takes a lot of wear though. I'd be putting money into building a back up machine if he hasn't already. One day mower goes down and you're i trouble. That's a lot of grass to cut with a rental mower! If there are a lot of properties like that there then it makes sense to do it and you don't have to worry too much about loosing a customer, but if there are few of these types of lots and someone takes the inclination to try and fabricate a competitive machine he could be in trouble. That's part of the problem with innovation, eventually there will be copy cats that enter the market. Whatever the market will bear in the area really determines the price. In Arizona a machine like his wouldn't be profitable. Too much distance between any decent sized lawns to cut. Most yards here can be cut with a 21 or aren't flat and have obstacles.

LwnmwrMan22
10-14-2004, 07:56 AM
LwnmwrMan22, I forgot to say that I agree with you on the part about cutting a deal on the larger areas, just like agree with Cantoo. I think he has a better understanding of it than you do.

I just think charging $50 for 10k. then only $30 more for a piece of property that is 17 times bigger is nuts. I bet if the 10K customer knew this he would throw a fit.

The main thing is that you and flex deck are happy. That is the bottom line. It doesn't matter that we have different views on pricing. I just like a good debate every once in a while.

I still want to know how much a 10K lot goes for in flex decks world :)


Soupy -

I THINK you and I have the same pricing, just completely different ways of getting the money out of it.

As I've said, the 10k lot has just as much work as the 4 acre one, it's just not that you're on your butt on a rider, you're trimming or push mowing a fenced in yard, etc. At least here in MN.

I've got a Wal-Mart and a strip mall that are together, between the two about 2 acres of turf. Mostly just islands and strips of grass around the parking lots.

$1600 / month for the two of them, takes about 16 hours / month to maintain them. This would come out to a charge of approx. $50 / acre / month.

Soupy
10-14-2004, 12:04 PM
Soupy -

I THINK you and I have the same pricing, just completely different ways of getting the money out of it.

As I've said, the 10k lot has just as much work as the 4 acre one, it's just not that you're on your butt on a rider, you're trimming or push mowing a fenced in yard, etc. At least here in MN.

I've got a Wal-Mart and a strip mall that are together, between the two about 2 acres of turf. Mostly just islands and strips of grass around the parking lots.

$1600 / month for the two of them, takes about 16 hours / month to maintain them. This would come out to a charge of approx. $50 / acre / month.

Do you keep track of time, materials, hours logged on equipment etc. for each customer to find out which ones are more profitable at the end of the year?

Don't forget that larger areas are logging more hours on your equipment that will shorten the life of it. 4 hours of straight cutting is more costly then 3 hours of cutting and one hour of trimming and blowing. Granted the work is easier, but is the profit? I don't disagree with pricing by degree of difficulty, but I think the price should go up on harder lawns. I don't agree with lowering the price for easy lawns. Which seems to be the case with your 4 acre, $80 property.

Green-Pro
10-14-2004, 01:03 PM
I charge $15 per acre - takes 2 hrs 40 min. Out front will be a little more as there is more trimming. I shoot for $75 per hr. Hopefully the front will net more like $80-90.

I really don't want to step on toes since you are an active business owner with accounts, but since you and I are in the same neck of the woods I feel compelled to respond.

I will be going full time next spring and have sat on this site as mainly an observer to pick up as much godd/pertinent info as I can. That being said I am still actively planning my business start up, meeting CPA next week, got insurance quotes, demoed machines, writing and revising business plan, etc. etc. I have watched, asked, researched and slightly amended plans due to good/sound advice from others on this board with much more experience than myself, both in the public forum and in several PM's, big thanks to all for info and encouragement.
Now to address your pricing and the "point that this is the going rate for our area" I have checked with several LCO's that operate out of Muscatine, 30 miles north of you, Iowa City, 40 miles northwest of you, Davenport, 50 miles north of you(have seen their company vehicles coming back from Burlington, 15 miles south of you, on their way back to Davenprot), Washington, 30 miles northwest of you, and Mt. Pleasant, 20 miles southwest of you. My findings through all this dillegint research and your quoted price per acre? It would seem you indeed are underpricing, I have talked with several of these above mentioned folks and they seem to agree on an industry standard $35 per acre residential, and $45 per acre commercial. This is not to say they do not run across residential lawns that will only bear a $25-$30 basic cut(mow, trim, and blow).

As I stated I really don't intend to step on your toes but you need to look at the underlying reasons for choosing this as a way to make a living:

A: You enjoy the work, and being for the most part your own boss.

B: To put food on the table, pay your way, and future security God willing(i.e. DO NOT LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE) and do not destabilize the local industry.

GP
;)

Flex-Deck
10-14-2004, 03:59 PM
Soupy - page two of this thread wonders if I only charge $5-7 on a 10K deal since we are at $15 per acre on large jobs.
No - I have a $35 minimum - for unload lets mow.

BTW - That is a good question.

Flex-Deck
10-14-2004, 04:05 PM
Flex Deck- As long as you and others in your town bid low the price will stay low. Wise up start charging more means more money in your pocket.
Like I said earlier in this thread, I am in the ball park for large areas, except I think I am making more per hr. Reputation, Quality, and Timely mowing and trimming will allow a slight increase, but I am dealing with people that mostly want the grass cut, and they tend to accept the lowest bid. Around here if you bid much more, you just as well not buy mowers because you will have no mowing to do. (Like I posted just before this one, we do have a $35 minimum for the small res.)

orangejbird
10-14-2004, 04:31 PM
Its not how long the job takes you, Its what is it worth?

Try telling that to your wifey-poo. :blob3:

I'll do a 1 acre job (with trimming) and charge $x and it may take me an hour.
I'll do a 3 acre job with no extra work, takes 1 hr, and charge 3x $x.
That's the only way I can make enough to keep the bills paid and (do a worthwhile job) for the wifey-poo.

Happy Wife=Happy Life :)

Flex-Deck
10-14-2004, 06:16 PM
I charge $15 per acre - takes 2 hrs 40 min. Out front will be a little more as there is more trimming. I shoot for $75 per hr. Hopefully the front will net more like $80-90.

I really don't want to step on toes since you are an active business owner with accounts, but since you and I are in the same neck of the woods I feel compelled to respond.

I will be going full time next spring and have sat on this site as mainly an observer to pick up as much godd/pertinent info as I can. That being said I am still actively planning my business start up, meeting CPA next week, got insurance quotes, demoed machines, writing and revising business plan, etc. etc. I have watched, asked, researched and slightly amended plans due to good/sound advice from others on this board with much more experience than myself, both in the public forum and in several PM's, big thanks to all for info and encouragement.
Now to address your pricing and the "point that this is the going rate for our area" I have checked with several LCO's that operate out of Muscatine, 30 miles north of you, Iowa City, 40 miles northwest of you, Davenport, 50 miles north of you(have seen their company vehicles coming back from Burlington, 15 miles south of you, on their way back to Davenprot), Washington, 30 miles northwest of you, and Mt. Pleasant, 20 miles southwest of you. My findings through all this dillegint research and your quoted price per acre? It would seem you indeed are underpricing, I have talked with several of these above mentioned folks and they seem to agree on an industry standard $35 per acre residential, and $45 per acre commercial. This is not to say they do not run across residential lawns that will only bear a $25-$30 basic cut(mow, trim, and blow).

As I stated I really don't intend to step on your toes but you need to look at the underlying reasons for choosing this as a way to make a living:

A: You enjoy the work, and being for the most part your own boss.

B: To put food on the table, pay your way, and future security God willing(i.e. DO NOT LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE) and do not destabilize the local industry.

GP
;)

A year ago I bid $25 per acre on 4 accounts ranging from 6 to 6.5 acres, and did not get one of them. (All the Burlington area) If as you say that in my area people are getting $45 per acre on commercial properties, and you think you can do that, I would be glad to subcontract with you at $30 per acre, then you can just pocket the extra $15 and sit at your computer and sell. Thanks Brad

Flex-Deck
10-14-2004, 08:27 PM
Green Pro - Here is a curbed property we do - note that we do trim curbs, chain link fences etc. (Target in Burlington) - If you can get the bid for $45 per acre next year, like I said, I would do it for $30 as a subcontractor and you can just make the extra $15 and we will both be happy.
http://TargetLS

wriken
10-14-2004, 09:01 PM
Do you make ANY money at that price??
I thinks that around 1.59 per minute, thats pretty good. I have one prop, I make 2.95 per minute.

Green-Pro
10-14-2004, 09:03 PM
Flex,

As I've stated I have not officialy started full time and my intent was not to p!$$ you off if I have I apologize, again I fully acknowledge your position in the local market area versus my yet to be seen, and I hope to be able to do as well in gaining commercial accounts as you appear to. I am merely trying to make sense of what the market in this area will bear and your post intrigued me. I do not want to sound self inflated but when I approach something such as starting a full time LCO I take pride in the fact that I do my homework, research, plan and try and cover as many bases as possible because the good lord knows there will still be plenty of surprises. I go into as much fact finding and detail as I can as I will the company I work for to undertake this start up. While doing some investigating I have found that there are indeed several local ( Muscatine, Iowa City, Quad City area) that are making at or about these rates and I am curious as to how that is possible? I have personally seen the paid statements from one LCO with a large commercial contract, $150,000 last year, he rebid this year and was the highest bid but still recieved it due to his excellent work (friend of mine) so I hardly think this to be untrue. True he did provide more than simply mow, trim, and blow, he also areates, ferts, mulches, etc. In any case as I stated and maybe was not totally clear my findings have all been in this per acre range give or take as in my point obviously some res. properties will not be $35 per acre same as some commercial propeties will not be $45 per acre. So as you can see I'm a bit perplexed when you speak of a commercial prop. at $15 per acre.

Again I did not mean to insinuate anything and I would be right proud myself as you obviously are to count such nice properties to mow among my own.

Best of luck to you and hopefully shortly after the first of the year I can get out from behind this 'puter and sell.

GP
:)

wriken
10-14-2004, 09:11 PM
I'm differant that alot of LCO's, I bid comm/res the same, grass is grass to me. Around here some of the residential people are better of then business. I look at the job and give either a fair price. :)

Flex-Deck
10-14-2004, 09:46 PM
Green Pro - You did not Pizz me off at all. I am sorry if I came across that way. I think you will find that if you are just in the mowing business (that would include fert. - weed control - and by the way I charge extra for those services) but let us just talk mowing-trimming for now. the prices I have been talking about are what people are bidding for mowing and trimming.

Your friend is doing the whole show and the $150,000 contract you say he has and I believe you, probably includes mulching, bush trimming and the whole bit, and how he breaks down the different parts is his and your business. I hope you make it and make it well, but I do believe that all the research and preplanning may be ok, but you still have to land the jobs to make it all work.

Good Luck. Thanks Brad

LwnmwrMan22
10-14-2004, 09:54 PM
Do you keep track of time, materials, hours logged on equipment etc. for each customer to find out which ones are more profitable at the end of the year?

Don't forget that larger areas are logging more hours on your equipment that will shorten the life of it. 4 hours of straight cutting is more costly then 3 hours of cutting and one hour of trimming and blowing. Granted the work is easier, but is the profit? I don't disagree with pricing by degree of difficulty, but I think the price should go up on harder lawns. I don't agree with lowering the price for easy lawns. Which seems to be the case with your 4 acre, $80 property.


It isn't that I'm lowering the price for 4 acres @ $80. Around here, guys will do a 10k lawn for $25-$30, some even at $20. I'm raising my prices for the 10k lawn, because I don't want to do them. That's why it's $250 / month, minimum, for 6 months.

Now, I could target 10k lawns, and work into that market @ $250 / month, but I don't want to, I don't want to deal with the increased customer base. Right now I have 38 "stops", and 21 people I have to deal with, since most of my clients have more than one property that I maintain for them.

Next year I'm dropping 10 accounts, and they'll be the ones where I'm making less than $65 / hour on.

pcnservices
10-14-2004, 10:19 PM
How did you get the job?
He charges $15 an acre! :dizzy:

pcnservices
10-14-2004, 10:39 PM
Flex, I would like to agree with TurfMedic, J& R and some other replies here. You mentioned competitive bidding in one of your posts. It's not! It's lowballing and you lco's in your town/area have underbidded and lowballed each other so bad in the past that you have now created a president for yourself. If you would start to adjust your service fee now and raise it, you're out. Like you said you much rather have the mowers mowing than having it sit in the shed. I'd much rather have mine sitting in the shed then working for nothing. For that size property you should at least get ± $40 per acre.
There is nothing as good for your business as good strong competition. Compete with strong competition that will grow you and your business. Don't compete with the guys driving the prices down just to have a contract.
Good Luck
PC

musselman
10-14-2004, 11:04 PM
Im not sure whos side Im on here...I think flexs price is fair and he says he is makin money Im sure he is. I would also be called a low baller I guess, but $700 for 2 hours and 40 minutes....my opinion thats ripping people off... I dont think I could charge that if it was the going rate...I dont want to put in the same catagory as a used car salesman...some of you call people low ballers when in reality you are overcharging...they are competive and fair. Now are there lowballers out there yes...could flex get a bit more maybe...will the low baller make it...no, will flex Ill bet he will do just fine at his $1 a min. job. Just my opinion

Lawn-Scapes
10-14-2004, 11:42 PM
17 acres in 2.75 hours? Doesn't anyone else find that hard to believe? Someone do the math and tell me if it's possible...

Soupy
10-15-2004, 12:33 AM
17 acres in 2.75 hours? Doesn't anyone else find that hard to believe? Someone do the math and tell me if it's possible...

He claims this mower will do it. I might think Brad's prices are low, but he has never given me a reason to think he is dishonest.

http://www.lawnsite.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=26413

Soupy
10-15-2004, 12:45 AM
Your missing the point, Why would you charge $50 for a 80-10k lot but charge $80 for a 4 acre lot. It doesn't make since. The customer is reaping the benefits, not you. That 4 acres is putting more wear and tear on your mower then the 10k lot is. I finished up my last aeration job today, It took me 1 hour to cut the property then aerate it and the total was $215. Should I have charged the customer $80. I think not. I get what the job is worth.
OK, who dinged me for this reply? I didn't bad mouth anyone and didn't give false information. I was just debating with a lawnsite member. I have given 2 dings out in the past, but I had the courage to sign them also. LwnmwrMan22, I hope I didn't insult you in anyway. Even though I have some disagreements with Flex Deck and LwnmwrMan22, Doesn't mean I don't respect them. If they were ever in my area, I would be the first to invite them out for a nice dinner.

I'm not the only one that doesn't understand the purpose of pricing low on acres. Does that make me a bad person.

Envy Lawn Service
10-15-2004, 01:49 AM
17 acres in 2.75 hours? Doesn't anyone else find that hard to believe? Someone do the math and tell me if it's possible...

Oh I wouldn't doubt it much with Flex-Deck's contraption of a mowing setup.
I think he mentioned having a lot of money, maybe 15K invested.
I have always thought Brad had some sharp ideas with the Flex-Deck.
But for the life of me I can't see why he doesn't get a frountmount w/contour batwings.
The Flex-Deck is slick but for big-big acreage purpose built WAM's make more sense.
Or a pair of 60" or 72" Lesco ZTR's and a helper....



Now Brad... listen to me buddy...

Man maybe you are happy right now with what you are doing. But man you are leaving a lot of money on the table, and at some point, you have got to stop, ask why that is, and a whole lot of other questions...

Believe me, I know exactly why you are mowing for $15 per acre. I got a whole lot of first hand experience in that field during spring '04. I will go into detail and get you some links. Invest the time....

As far as the rest, you have to ask yourself, why invest so much money in equipment, like 1.5 times more than the flagship 60" ZTR, use your noodle to gain all that productivity, then pass all the benefit to the consumer and gross 1/3 or even less than the average Joe with less invested?

Look man, I don't care if you can cut 7 acres in 2.75 hours and make a decient hourly rate... that's still 7 acres of turf, 7 acres man, 7 acres of wear and tear on equipment. Even if you are only logging 2.75 hours on the engine/engines, you gotta accept the 7 acres worth of wear and tear. That stuff adds up! It seems to me it would eventually start to eat away....

Anyways, $15 per acre would be a hard pill for me to swallow. Even with your wide area cutting ability, I'd still be looking to commute, relocate or pack it in.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 08:26 AM
OK, who dinged me for this reply? I didn't bad mouth anyone and didn't give false information. I was just debating with a lawnsite member. I have given 2 dings out in the past, but I had the courage to sign them also. LwnmwrMan22, I hope I didn't insult you in anyway. Even though I have some disagreements with Flex Deck and LwnmwrMan22, Doesn't mean I don't respect them. If they were ever in my area, I would be the first to invite them out for a nice dinner.

I'm not the only one that doesn't understand the purpose of pricing low on acres. Does that make me a bad person.


Just letting you know, it wasn't me dinging ya. ;)

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 08:30 AM
Guys. I do not charge $15 per acre across the board - I have a one acre account that is $60 - It has a lot of curb trimming, a tough ditch to mow with telephone posts - guy wires at both ends etc. It is a 40 minute job. I basically start a bid with
1. $35 minimum on 15K or less yards
2. $20 unload fee + $25 for first acre with minimal trim - More if there is more to trim.
3. $20 per acre for the next 4.
One the very large wide open jobs, I try to make $75 or more per hr.
Thanks, Brad

And BTW, a ZTR will not work for me. I have too many steep ditches to do that are usually muddy in the bottom.

I see where the new articulator (Lesco) ZTR is out, and it looks like a very fine machine, and I think that is the mower that was hinted at in a previous post, but if I remember correctly, the price on it is about $16,000 - Don't quote me on that. I have ditches that require my 4 wheel drive 595 JD.

DLCS
10-15-2004, 08:33 AM
The Flex-Deck is slick but for big-big acreage purpose built WAM's make more sense.
Or a pair of 60" or 72" Lesco ZTR's and a helper....



Why do they make more sense? Lets say $15,000 invested in Brad's mower. Now you go out and buy a wide area mower and the costs is $40,000 or more. His market still gets $15 an acre for large acreage jobs. How does buying a wide area mower help him, just because you have an expensive machine doens't always mean you can charge more. Seems to me he is doing fine with his hourly rate and his Flex Deck machine.

A pair of Lesco ztrs is another silly move cause you now have a helper that is going to need a pay check and insurance on him. My thinkng is always mow more and keep overhead at its lowest. Sure you might look good out there on that WAM or with 2 new ztrs but I think Brad's way of doing it is very smart. He can charge $15 an acre and still make good profits because his overhead is low.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 08:43 AM
Oh I wouldn't doubt it much with Flex-Deck's contraption of a mowing setup.
I think he mentioned having a lot of money, maybe 15K invested.
I have always thought Brad had some sharp ideas with the Flex-Deck.
But for the life of me I can't see why he doesn't get a frountmount w/contour batwings.
The Flex-Deck is slick but for big-big acreage purpose built WAM's make more sense.
Or a pair of 60" or 72" Lesco ZTR's and a helper....



Now Brad... listen to me buddy...

Man maybe you are happy right now with what you are doing. But man you are leaving a lot of money on the table, and at some point, you have got to stop, ask why that is, and a whole lot of other questions...

Believe me, I know exactly why you are mowing for $15 per acre. I got a whole lot of first hand experience in that field during spring '04. I will go into detail and get you some links. Invest the time....

As far as the rest, you have to ask yourself, why invest so much money in equipment, like 1.5 times more than the flagship 60" ZTR, use your noodle to gain all that productivity, then pass all the benefit to the consumer and gross 1/3 or even less than the average Joe with less invested?

Look man, I don't care if you can cut 7 acres in 2.75 hours and make a decient hourly rate... that's still 7 acres of turf, 7 acres man, 7 acres of wear and tear on equipment. Even if you are only logging 2.75 hours on the engine/engines, you gotta accept the 7 acres worth of wear and tear. That stuff adds up! It seems to me it would eventually start to eat away....

Anyways, $15 per acre would be a hard pill for me to swallow. Even with your wide area cutting ability, I'd still be looking to commute, relocate or pack it in.


First point, about the hiring of another helper and using 60 or 72" mowers. Personally, I cannot stand having employees anymore. I'm just fed up with it.

I went out and bought a 4330 Kubota 4x4 tractor, cab, air conditioning, radio, cruise, the works with a 11' Bush Hog Tri-Deck, just so I can cover more area. $40,000. Now, alot of people look at me like I'm absolutely nuts. $40,000 for a lawn mower? Well, if you go buy a Toro WAM, or the new John Deere, they're going to run you close to the same money, new, to cover that same amount, and you have a dedicated machine, just a grass cutter. At least with the tractor, you can use it for snowplowing, I use it in my firewood business, some small landscaping jobs, etc.

I'd rather put the money into equipment, something that I can sell down the road, rather than just giving an employee a check and never seeing that investment again.


Second point. It keeps getting mentioned on here, about the wear and tear. Envy's post emphasizes the "7 acres man". What I don't get, is if you're buying quality equipment, and you're doing your maintenance on, what difference if it's 7 acres? or 1 acre? By the time you sell your machine, with whatever hours you put on it, it's still covered the same amount of acreage.

I'd say that Flex's set up, is probably cheaper to run than another whole ZTR, since you don't have to have the WHOLE machine. Plus, you're not paying someone else to run it.

This is why, back to my first post, I can, and probably Flex to a point, compete with the cheaper guys, on large open turf areas, since we're covering 2+ times the area with one guy.

Now, please bring on the lectures about how there's no way I can make a profit, using a $40,000 setup to mow @ $20 / acre. It's all about the acreage. Kinda like if you go to the gas station to buy a gas can @ $10 / can, but you can go to Wal-Mart and buy it for $4.99. Is Wal-Mart a lowballer? Some people think so, they think it's driving other business out of town. Does Wal-Mart make a profit? I'd say so.

DLCS
10-15-2004, 08:55 AM
First point, about the hiring of another helper and using 60 or 72" mowers. Personally, I cannot stand having employees anymore. I'm just fed up with it.

I went out and bought a 4330 Kubota 4x4 tractor, cab, air conditioning, radio, cruise, the works with a 11' Bush Hog Tri-Deck, just so I can cover more area. $40,000. Now, alot of people look at me like I'm absolutely nuts. $40,000 for a lawn mower? Well, if you go buy a Toro WAM, or the new John Deere, they're going to run you close to the same money, new, to cover that same amount, and you have a dedicated machine, just a grass cutter. At least with the tractor, you can use it for snowplowing, I use it in my firewood business, some small landscaping jobs, etc.

I'd rather put the money into equipment, something that I can sell down the road, rather than just giving an employee a check and never seeing that investment again.


Second point. It keeps getting mentioned on here, about the wear and tear. Envy's post emphasizes the "7 acres man". What I don't get, is if you're buying quality equipment, and you're doing your maintenance on, what difference if it's 7 acres? or 1 acre? By the time you sell your machine, with whatever hours you put on it, it's still covered the same amount of acreage.

I'd say that Flex's set up, is probably cheaper to run than another whole ZTR, since you don't have to have the WHOLE machine. Plus, you're not paying someone else to run it.

This is why, back to my first post, I can, and probably Flex to a point, compete with the cheaper guys, on large open turf areas, since we're covering 2+ times the area with one guy.

Now, please bring on the lectures about how there's no way I can make a profit, using a $40,000 setup to mow @ $20 / acre. It's all about the acreage. Kinda like if you go to the gas station to buy a gas can @ $10 / can, but you can go to Wal-Mart and buy it for $4.99. Is Wal-Mart a lowballer? Some people think so, they think it's driving other business out of town. Does Wal-Mart make a profit? I'd say so.


Very good post! :)

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 11:18 AM
Thanks Lwnmorman - you are on the top of the bubble - you are seeing things clearly.

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 01:07 PM
Lawn Scapes - page 6 - You are wondering if it is possible to mow 17 acres in 2.5 hrs.

Not only is it true, but if the terrain was even close ot smooooth, I would do it in 1.75 hrs. Thanks for your input

Soupy
10-15-2004, 01:13 PM
I can see you guys point. I still think that you should be making $150/hr with your setups, but I wouldn't be complaining either if I was in your shoes. My whole point was, Your market should demand a higher price because every guy with a lawn mower can not compete in the large acre arena. This should get you more money. A lot of guys are cutting properties the same size as you with a couple of 72" ZTR's and getting paid more per Acre then you are. Granted they still aint making more then you guys. But you have found a way to work smarter, not harder. But if the guys with more overhead can get the higher price, then why can't you? Just because you can do it more efficient doesn't change the fact that the property goes for x amount of dollars no matter how fast it can be done.

Example: A lot of guys say to charge $60/hr. This is based on average lawns with 52-60" ZTR's. The same lawn that these guys make $60 on takes them say 45 minutes. Another guy cuts the neighbors lawn for $60 also, but uses a 21" push mower and it takes him 3 hours. The job pays the same, but one is more efficient. The efficient guy makes more money, but his customer pays the same. Did any of that make since?

If you guys are getting all you can, then you are doing the right thing. But somewhere someone gave away their efficiency and brought prices down in your market. That guy was not a smart business man.

Soupy

Turf Medic
10-15-2004, 01:41 PM
But somewhere someone gave away their efficiency and brought prices down in your market. That guy was not a smart business man.

Soupy

I am quite confident that the Walton family will be crushed to hear this, it may dim the fact that they hold 3 or 4 of the top 6 spots when it comes to wealth in America. The whole Wal-Mart concept was based on efficency and knowing what profit you need and working within that. And I realize that Wal-Mart is retail and this is a service industry, but businsess is business.

Brad is quite possibly taking more to the bottom line than another LCO would with the 2 ztrs, employees, and the higher rate. And to be quite honest with you, I am concerned with what is left over on the bottom, not what the gross is.

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 01:57 PM
I can see you guys point. I still think that you should be making $150/hr with your setups, but I wouldn't be complaining either if I was in your shoes. My whole point was, Your market should demand a higher price because every guy with a lawn mower can not compete in the large acre arena. This should get you more money. A lot of guys are cutting properties the same size as you with a couple of 72" ZTR's and getting paid more per Acre then you are. Granted they still aint making more then you guys. But you have found a way to work smarter, not harder. But if the guys with more overhead can get the higher price, then why can't you? Just because you can do it more efficient doesn't change the fact that the property goes for x amount of dollars no matter how fast it can be done.

Example: A lot of guys say to charge $60/hr. This is based on average lawns with 52-60" ZTR's. The same lawn that these guys make $60 on takes them say 45 minutes. Another guy cuts the neighbors lawn for $60 also, but uses a 21" push mower and it takes him 3 hours. The job pays the same, but one is more efficient. The efficient guy makes more money, but his customer pays the same. Did any of that make since?

If you guys are getting all you can, then you are doing the right thing. But somewhere someone gave away their efficiency and brought prices down in your market. That guy was not a smart business man.

Soupy
Soupy - you just confirmed what I have been trying to say for 6 years - Thank You - Thank You - Thank You - PLEASE READ THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH - "Example: A lot of guys say to charge $60/hr. This etc etc---Did any of that make since?"" Read this post very very carefully all of you lawnsite members because this is what business is all about.!!!!!!!

Remember when in 1974 the first digital calculator with paper readouts came on the market - most of you members were not born yet, but the cost $780. Now you go to your true-value store and get them for $15.

It is all in efficiency and volumn. They now crank out calculators by the millions, not by the 100"s. I mow sq. ft. of grass by the millions, not by the 100's, and I have no employees, no Workmans comp - no hassles - one machine. AMEN

Soupy
10-15-2004, 02:15 PM
I am quite confident that the Walton family will be crushed to hear this, it may dim the fact that they hold 3 or 4 of the top 6 spots when it comes to wealth in America. The whole Wal-Mart concept was based on efficency and knowing what profit you need and working within that. And I realize that Wal-Mart is retail and this is a service industry, but businsess is business.

Brad is quite possibly taking more to the bottom line than another LCO would with the 2 ztrs, employees, and the higher rate. And to be quite honest with you, I am concerned with what is left over on the bottom, not what the gross is.

I never said he wasn't making great money, I just think it is ridiculous that someone with 3 acres can get their lawn cut for the same price as someone with one acre. If they want all that turf, then they should expect to pay a higher price.

I agree with part of your comparison to Wal Mart, But less face it, Wal Mart is an exception. Were talking about a totally different amount of Quantity here. Sure they guy with a 100 acres is going to get a discount, but most of the time the guy with 100 acres will find it more reasonable to keep lawn care in house. So When comparing quantity by customer, the level of quantity for flex deck is low in comparison.

Also you can judge success all you want on what you can make in an hour, but that all means squat when you are stuck not working all week because it is raining like it is here. My profits are washing away as we speak. Does the fact that I might be able to work tomorrow and make $80 per hr going to change the fact that I am losing money now. We need to make it any way we can. It's the yearly total that counts, not the hourly.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 02:26 PM
Soupy - you just confirmed what I have been trying to say for 6 years - Thank You - Thank You - Thank You - PLEASE READ THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH - "Example: A lot of guys say to charge $60/hr. This etc etc---Did any of that make since?"" Read this post very very carefully all of you lawnsite members because this is what business is all about.!!!!!!!

Remember when in 1974 the first digital calculator with paper readouts came on the market - most of you members were not born yet, but the cost $780. Now you go to your true-value store and get them for $15.

It is all in efficiency and volumn. They now crank out calculators by the millions, not by the 100"s. I mow sq. ft. of grass by the millions, not by the 100's, and I have no employees, no Workmans comp - no hassles - one machine. AMEN


In this market, to realize a nice profit, one must find a niche. The niche that Flex and I have found, is to market towards large, relatively flat areas that one can use a larger than 72" machine on, yet most won't make the investment to the WAM. They think that having a crew is the only way to go.

Most can't see the market bearing someone buying a $20,000 - $50,000 piece of equipment to mow grass.

Like my first post on this thread, if it's large, flat, erlatively no trimming, I'm all over it. The previous 2 years ( once I conviced the school district that it would be cheaper to farm out the mowing, rather that pay custodial guys to do it, plus the benefits that they get including retirement ) the first guy was doing it Standers. The second guy had himself, and a guy trimming, using 2 60" John Deere ZTRs.

The first guy actually quit in August, lucky for the school district, so did the grass that year because it was dry.

The second guy would take 4 days to mow 5 schools, 5, IF he trimmed.

I do 5 schools in 2 days.

Now, I have the extra 2+ days to go and do 6 parks for the township, which is about 1/2-3/4 of a day.

So, now I've done all the work that the first guys did, in 1/2 the time, did another $250 / week of mowing in another day, give or take, and I'm still done faster than the first guys.

All this is contracted work, you get paid regardless of how long it takes you.

I figure, here in MN, about 22 weeks of mowing, if you're not doing a cleanup as well.

SO, back to Soupy's comment, about who's making more profit, the guy doing a 10-12k lawn with a 60" mower, compared to the guy using a 21" mower. Well, on that ONE lawn, if you only had ONE lawn, then yes, the guy using the 21" mower most likely would have the higher net profit.

BUT, when you're talking millions of sq ft, then the WAM will get you the better bottom line, especially when you're the only one running.

Soupy
10-15-2004, 02:29 PM
Soupy - you just confirmed what I have been trying to say for 6 years - Thank You - Thank You - Thank You - PLEASE READ THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH - "Example: A lot of guys say to charge $60/hr. This etc etc---Did any of that make since?"" Read this post very very carefully all of you lawnsite members because this is what business is all about.!!!!!!!

Remember when in 1974 the first digital calculator with paper readouts came on the market - most of you members were not born yet, but the cost $780. Now you go to your true-value store and get them for $15.

It is all in efficiency and volumn. They now crank out calculators by the millions, not by the 100"s. I mow sq. ft. of grass by the millions, not by the 100's, and I have no employees, no Workmans comp - no hassles - one machine. AMEN

Yes Brad, I do think you are a smart man and fully buy into your efficiency plan. I think we all do at least we should. But my example was also suppose to show that the guy with the ZTR isn't charging the customer less then the guy with a 21" mower. He hasn't taken his efficiency and lowed the price. I used that example to compare your mower to the popular ZTR's. The ZTR's of course being the 21" mower in comparison.

I have made a huge mistake and will admit to it. I had you pined as a low baller and I now believe I was wrong in that assumption and I deeply apologies to you. I can see that you are not the one that lowered the prices in your area and you are doing what anyone would do just to stay in business. You are matching prices and using your efficiency to stay profitable. I just don't know why a 10k property can go for $35 but a one acre property which is over 4 times the size goes for $45. The property owner has got to expect to pay more then $10 for 4 times the size. So I still say your area is under priced.

I finally got to get some questions answered by Flex Deck and now I can sleep better at knight :) Thank you.

Soupy
10-15-2004, 02:41 PM
In this market, to realize a nice profit, one must find a niche. The niche that Flex and I have found, is to market towards large, relatively flat areas that one can use a larger than 72" machine on, yet most won't make the investment to the WAM. They think that having a crew is the only way to go.

Most can't see the market bearing someone buying a $20,000 - $50,000 piece of equipment to mow grass.

Like my first post on this thread, if it's large, flat, erlatively no trimming, I'm all over it. The previous 2 years ( once I conviced the school district that it would be cheaper to farm out the mowing, rather that pay custodial guys to do it, plus the benefits that they get including retirement ) the first guy was doing it Standers. The second guy had himself, and a guy trimming, using 2 60" John Deere ZTRs.

The first guy actually quit in August, lucky for the school district, so did the grass that year because it was dry.

The second guy would take 4 days to mow 5 schools, 5, IF he trimmed.

I do 5 schools in 2 days.

Now, I have the extra 2+ days to go and do 6 parks for the township, which is about 1/2-3/4 of a day.

So, now I've done all the work that the first guys did, in 1/2 the time, did another $250 / week of mowing in another day, give or take, and I'm still done faster than the first guys.

All this is contracted work, you get paid regardless of how long it takes you.

I figure, here in MN, about 22 weeks of mowing, if you're not doing a cleanup as well.

SO, back to Soupy's comment, about who's making more profit, the guy doing a 10-12k lawn with a 60" mower, compared to the guy using a 21" mower. Well, on that ONE lawn, if you only had ONE lawn, then yes, the guy using the 21" mower most likely would have the higher net profit.

BUT, when you're talking millions of sq ft, then the WAM will get you the better bottom line, especially when you're the only one running.

LwnmwrMan22, I agree that you can make more money then me, but I also think if you were in an area were prices were higher you would be the Wal Mart and I would be Kmart :) I will still stick to my claim that someone lowered the price in you guys market and has caused money to be left on the table. I doubt even the national companies (which would be the true Wal Mart's of our industry) are cutting for $20 per acre, at least not in most areas.

Out of curiosity, what is the largest property you guys maintain? I am curious to find out what the quantity cap is before it is more feasible for the work to be done in house.

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 02:46 PM
Soupy - read my post on page 6 -= I do have $35 minimums - I do have unload fees - This thread is really about mega acre accounts. These accounts are the type that you unload and mow for a couple of hrs. not just 15 minutes. It is about making $75 or more per hr on you machine.

Heck - Lawyers only charge a little more than that, and they have fancy offices, secretaries and the whole bit in overhead. I just have one machine.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 02:55 PM
LwnmwrMan22, I agree that you can make more money then me, but I also think if you were in an area were prices were higher you would be the Wal Mart and I would be Kmart :) I will still stick to my claim that someone lowered the price in you guys market and has caused money to be left on the table. I doubt even the national companies (which would be the true Wal Mart's of our industry) are cutting for $20 per acre, at least not in most areas.

Out of curiosity, what is the largest property you guys maintain? I am curious to find out what the quantity cap is before it is more feasible for the work to be done in house.

The school district that I maintain, is 80 acres of turf, between 5 schools.

The biggest is the SR. High of course, then the Middle / Junior High, then there are 3 elementary schools.

I agree, the national companies are not charging $20 / acre, but they also aren't targeting the properties that I do. Again, a national company is not going to have WAM's, they're going to have a crew of 3-4, with a walkbehind, and 2 or 3 zero turns, targeting townhome complexes, properties where you NEED 2-3-4 guys because of the trimming, bed maintenance etc. If you're running 2-3-4-5 guy crews, you cannot mow at these rates because the windshield / work comp time will kill you.

Anybody can have those properties as far as I'm concerned. I'm not targeting those. Again, it would be if you were going to spray or fertilize a Wal-Mart. You COULD use a $20 Scott's push spreader and a bp sprayer for the weeds, OR, invest in a PG Ultra, or ZSpray and get it all done at one time.

I'm glad we could get our point across. I must say, this has been a better thread than most on here. :) Good debate.

Better than some of the threads that people say, even replies to this one before, "You have to get your prices higher", and the people never debate or ask how in the world can you do that?

Soupy
10-15-2004, 03:20 PM
Soupy - read my post on page 6 -= I do have $35 minimums - I do have unload fees - This thread is really about mega acre accounts. These accounts are the type that you unload and mow for a couple of hrs. not just 15 minutes. It is about making $75 or more per hr on you machine.

Heck - Lawyers only charge a little more than that, and they have fancy offices, secretaries and the whole bit in overhead. I just have one machine.

But with hourly gross set aside. Don't you agree that the guy useing a ZTR mower should charge the same as the guy with a 21" push mower? Lets face it the customer is going to pay what he is going to pay no matter who can do it faster or cheaper. Why is it any different in your situation? I understand that the mega acre is going to get a nice discount, but we can't measure our service by the hour. If that was the case the more efficient you become the less money you will make. This was always my argument to you. You preach to members about getting with the efficiency of the Flex Deck but under your pricing you don't make any more money per hour using it. I believe now that your lower prices isn't because of you and your efficiency.

I have always thought you had a great product with your Flex Deck, but I just don't have a need for it. I do believe it would be great for guys that maintain properties with small gates. They can take a 32-34" walk behind and add the 18" flip up flex deck to it to create a awesome back yard mower. If I had a need for a mower like this, I wouldn't be waiting for the new inventions of gate mowers to hit the market. I would buy your product in a heartbeat.

I hope now you can understand where I have been coming from. You have answered all question I have ever had about your pricing. Like I said a couple of post back. I had the wrong impression that you were creating these prices solely on your ability to mow more efficient. Again, I apologize for that assumption.

Efficiency does equal more profit, but only if the price remains the same.

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 03:53 PM
Soupy - I Now Have to Yell - YOUR [POST ABOUT EFFICIENCY AND PROFIT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR 6 YEARS. Yes. you are right right right. Thanks Brad

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 03:57 PM
I can mow a cemetary with 26" stones or a property with trees within 4 feet of the landscaping with a 9 1/2 foot mower. If you do not believe this, I will send a video. thanks. Brad

Soupy
10-15-2004, 04:16 PM
Soupy - I Now Have to Yell - YOUR [POST ABOUT EFFICIENCY AND PROFIT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR 6 YEARS. Yes. you are right right right. Thanks Brad

Brad, You don't have to yell at me :cry: :p . I now realize that you are not charging your low price because of efficiency. I now understand that. I always thought you were charging the low price because you found a way to mow faster. I didn't realize until now, that you live in an area with crappy prices (even though you found a way to be profitable).

I will always back you, and I believe that everyone on this forum will back you when you say efficiency = profit. But not when you charge by the hour which is what I (am others) believed you were basically doing even though you had a flat rate. Because you always compare your low prices to what you gross per hour.

Best wishes to you...

J&R
10-15-2004, 05:27 PM
Flex Deck- The bad reputation point you gave me for my post was uncalled fore. Don't never get mad at someones post and you Sir acted like a child because of what you did.

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 05:52 PM
Flex Deck these guys are right, you need to raise your prices, my guess would be at least 3 to 4 times what you are charging. Then you can take the money from your last mow and buy you a nice big tarp to cover your equipment with. :cool:

I can't understand if it figures out to $75 per hour, that being 125% of the magical $1 per minute, how can you say he's not charging enough.


Flex Deck- As long as you and others in your town bid low the price will stay low. Wise up start charging more means more money in your pocket.
__________________
GOD BLESS AMERICA This is a quote from J&R

I give up. I only want to make what lawyers make..... Don't want to be a Walton, Don't need to run a 60 ZTR, Don't need multiple crews. Thanks.

Turf Medic
10-15-2004, 06:07 PM
So now I am confused, how is it that you guys bid? Is it by the hour or is it by the square foot? I have seen here time and time again, "You gotta get that $60 per hour. Now Brad tells you he is making 75 per hour and that is not enough. Do you acutally bid by the hour or do you bid by what you think the customer is willing and able to pay? ie If you do an estimate, decide it should take you 3 hours the bid is $180, then you go do another estimate, same type of work same 3 hours but there is an Hummer in the drive you bid $300?

Do you know how much per hour it costs you to operate, and how much profit margin you want to make and charge accordingly, or do you just fly by the seat of your pants and try and get as much as you can from each customer?

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 06:17 PM
So now I am confused, how is it that you guys bid? Is it by the hour or is it by the square foot? I have seen here time and time again, "You gotta get that $60 per hour. Now Brad tells you he is making 75 per hour and that is not enough. Do you acutally bid by the hour or do you bid by what you think the customer is willing and able to pay? ie If you do an estimate, decide it should take you 3 hours the bid is $180, then you go do another estimate, same type of work same 3 hours but there is an Hummer in the drive you bid $300?

Do you know how much per hour it costs you to operate, and how much profit margin you want to make and charge accordingly, or do you just fly by the seat of your pants and try and get as much as you can from each customer?


I charge $75-100 / hour, including drive time. After 16 years of doing this, you get to be somewhat okay at bidding.

Turf Medic, I think what you're seeing in the last comment from Flex-Deck, was a quote from J&R when J&R said that Flex-Deck needed to wise up and charge more, that means more money in Flex's pocket.

I don't think that Flex was saying that $75 / hour wasn't enough, I think he was saying that he gives up on trying to persuade people, that Flex himself doesn't want to get rich, run a lot of crews, that he'd be happy making $75 / hour, "what lawyers make" and go home at night.

Turf Medic
10-15-2004, 06:33 PM
I wasn't questioning Flex-Decks program, and the comment I made about charging 3 to 4 times as much was sarcasm, thus the comment about the tarp to store the equipment. IMO Brad knows what his overhead is, knows what type of profit he wants, and uses that information to bid accordingly.

I think a lot of others try and squeeze every penny they can out of every customer, no set policy for bidding, ie hourly or sq ft, just try and read the customer and nail them. Society has changed too much over the years for that to work anymore, people are more informed than they were a few years ago. I don't know your age, but do you remember when you would go onto a used car lot and none of the prices would be displayed, the salesman would attempt to get a read on the customer before getting the price sheet, usually in code out of his pocket. Five different people could walk onto the lot, talk to the same salesman and walk away with five different prices. That doesn't work anymore, the car lot knows how much they have to make on each unit, dislpays the price, you might be able to negotiate some but nothing like you used to be able to.

IMO that is what Justice Mowing out of Dallas has done, a lot of people will call it lowballing, but he knows his costs, bids accordingly, and doesn't waste his time trying to figure out what everyone else is doing, or sit around sweating, wondering if that big account he landed is going to get taken away from him, due to price. He has his costs and his prices cut to the bone, possibly that is what Brad has decided to do with his business.

Would it be more or less money in Brad's pocket if the equipment was sitting still. In a solo operation, my guess is the cost's are just about the same if you are out mowing generating cash flow or if you are sitting in front of the television with your equipment out in the driveway.

Flex-Deck
10-15-2004, 06:44 PM
I wasn't questioning Flex-Decks program, and the comment I made about charging 3 to 4 times as much was sarcasm, thus the comment about the tarp to store the equipment. IMO Brad knows what his overhead is, knows what type of profit he wants, and uses that information to bid accordingly.

.

Would it be more or less money in Brad's pocket if the equipment was sitting still. In a solo operation, my guess is the cost's are just about the same if you are out mowing generating cash flow or if you are sitting in front of the television with your equipment out in the driveway.

Turf Medic - you probably are closer to right even though is seems an insult to think you are about as well off with equipment sitting as when mowing. It really boils down to the fact that the per hour cost of running good equipment is minimal. Thankyou for the insight. Brad

Turf Medic
10-15-2004, 07:41 PM
All things being equal, the equipment will deteriorate faster sitting than mowing. However payments, insurance, interest, go on if you are working or not. I don't think you should work for free, but you know your overhead better than anyone else, if you are happy at $1 per acre it shouldn't be anyones business but your own. You have taken the time to become more efficient and a lot of people could learn from that. I find it funny when people will get on here and tell some one you are a lowballer, you need to raise your rates, never do you read "you need to figure a way to become more cost effective in the way you do business" Instead of whining about the "lowballers" in your neighborhood, study them, learn how they are keeping costs down. You will make more money by cutting costs than you ever can by raising prices.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 08:47 PM
All things being equal, the equipment will deteriorate faster sitting than mowing. However payments, insurance, interest, go on if you are working or not. I don't think you should work for free, but you know your overhead better than anyone else, if you are happy at $1 per acre it shouldn't be anyones business but your own. You have taken the time to become more efficient and a lot of people could learn from that. I find it funny when people will get on here and tell some one you are a lowballer, you need to raise your rates, never do you read "you need to figure a way to become more cost effective in the way you do business" Instead of whining about the "lowballers" in your neighborhood, study them, learn how they are keeping costs down. You will make more money by cutting costs than you ever can by raising prices.


This is true to a point, but even then, when your fixed costs, ie fuel, rise over a period of time, you're going to have to raise your prices. Next year, everyone was raised 10%, with a cap at $50 / month for those accounts that are over $500 / month, which I have 4, from $525 to $900.

The school district that I mow, it was already in a 3 year contract.

Most people on here will run their mower into the ground, they figure they can get the most "cost of goods used". I on the other hand see it as I can trade a ZTR in every two years for $4,000 difference. I know that I could keep that $4,000 every two years, increase my profit margin for that two years, but then two years beyond that, it's going to cost me $6-7,000 difference.

Now, I've calculated that cost, and have a decent dealer that I work with, that knows every year, I'm going to trade one of my ZTR's in on a new one, at the end of the mowing season, late August anyways, when he wants to start bailing on that years product. It's just another way of keeping costs down, even though I'm not going to get a full year's use out of the mower, I will in 2 years time.

To me, it's a fixed cost, I can completely include it in my cost of doing business, and since there's 2 year warranty, don't have to worry about having a medium to large amount of money set aside for repairs.

I have everybody on contract, I can completely make a budget for the entire year, including snowplowing. I'm basically a salaried employee, with 20 or so different bosses. Now, I COULD get by with doing everything with either push mowers, or 60" ZTRs, but, I would MUCH rather enjoy my life, get things done as fast as possible, and therefore invested in the mowers that I have.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 09:11 PM
FYI, my personal break even point, if I were to break it down in acres, would be $12.50 / acre, that includes paying a wage of $10 / hour. If I were to break it down by the hour, it's $23.50. The wage of $10 / hour, is what I figure in as my wage. Everything else is complete profit.

I know most people won't see this the right way, that I'm out there making $10 / hour. What they don't see, is when I make $75-100 / hour, my company's profit is $51.50 - 76.50 / hour. Since I'm a sole proprietor, I essentially make approx. $70 / hour.

Turf Medic
10-15-2004, 09:31 PM
FYI, my personal break even point, if I were to break it down in acres, would be $12.50 / acre, that includes paying a wage of $10 / hour. If I were to break it down by the hour, it's $23.50. The wage of $10 / hour, is what I figure in as my wage. Everything else is complete profit.

I know most people won't see this the right way, that I'm out there making $10 / hour. What they don't see, is when I make $75-100 / hour, my company's profit is $51.50 - 76.50 / hour. Since I'm a sole proprietor, I essentially make approx. $70 / hour.


If I am reading your posts correctly, and admittedly I am reading a bit between the lines, you have based your pricing structure on a given set of variables. Not just because bob says you should be charging X amount of dollars because bob doesn't want to take the time to examine his costs, figure in a decent profit margin and charge accordingly. Some people believe it is much easier to brow beat others in to charging more so they can charge more. You mention that the gas has risen, and you have raised your prices accordingly, however it sounds like you are maintaining your profit margin based on costs, not out trying to artificially raise your prices just because.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2004, 11:02 PM
Turf Medic -

You are correct.

I take into great consideration the degree of difficulty in a property.

If I can get all wide open, flat properties, make my margin +, and still charge for clean-ups, both spring and fall, even with few or no trees (garbage and such still needs to be cleaned up in the spring), then those are the properties I shoot for.

I'm in the belief that as long as I make my profit margin, beyond my business paying for 90% of the things in my life, then I'm doing well. Again, like you've stated before, everyone shoots for that "1 buck / minute" goal. Flex and I have done it, 25-50% more, with no extra help, which, most would agree, is your biggest cost.

Soupy
10-15-2004, 11:55 PM
Turf Medic, I don't base my price off of my cost. Well I know what I need, but I base my price off of what the market will bear. Why would I cut a lawn $10 cheaper then what the customer is willing to pay just because my #'s say I can. If the customer will pay it, then that is what I charge. It is important to be efficient and important to keep overhead low. But at the same time you don't lower your price because your #'s say you can. If I make 50% now and find away to operate 25% cheaper, I am going to raise profits by 25%. I'm not going to lower the price because I found a way to operate cheaper.

I'm sure you have heard of supply and demand. Well this basically means that the price is reflected by what the consumer is willing to pay. As long as the demand is profitable, then your #'s don't really play a role in pricing.

I apologized to Flex Deck for thinking he was lower prices. Brad is charging what his market will bear.

Brad, Lawyers on the bottom of the food chain charge $150/hr here. A good lawyer will make twice that and some lawyers that charge by the settlement make thousands an hour. I don't think your hourly wage is any where near comparable to a lawyers wage.

David Haggerty
10-16-2004, 06:36 AM
Soupy;
Thanks for all your defense of logic and reason.

To me it seems that LwnmwrMan22 and Flex are in the cutthroat markets in their respective areas. They write about bidding retail stores and mowing for school districts. I used to have to mow those kind of jobs.

My wake up call came when a lawn I'd just been mowing and trimming for $175/cut went to a "better" cutter for $600/cut with full service. The added costs couldn't have been more than an additional 10% for weed & feed and a few yards of mulch!

No more "down-in-the-dirt" customers for me. In fact I consider it a disservice to the client if I don't include a few of these extra services in an estimate for just-the-minimum service. It just doesn't cost that much more to do the job right.

Dave

Envy Lawn Service
10-16-2004, 09:32 AM
Dave,

Your dad must have been a carpenter... cause you hit the nail square on the head I think. Your point was the one I was going to post some "links" to. The point is, they are not in any sort of 'niche' market like they fool themselves into believing they are in. But what's the point of 'linking'... trying to point things out... trying to lend a hand??? What's the point when they think they already know everything? A waste of good time if you ask me.....

I figured out such was a waste of time on another forum. A guy over there basically dreamed up the same concept and applied it to aquiring tight routes of very small properties. Ironically, he's no longer around to try to talk some sense into.... Waste of my time....

LwnmwrMan22
10-16-2004, 10:22 AM
Soupy;
Thanks for all your defense of logic and reason.

To me it seems that LwnmwrMan22 and Flex are in the cutthroat markets in their respective areas. They write about bidding retail stores and mowing for school districts. I used to have to mow those kind of jobs.

My wake up call came when a lawn I'd just been mowing and trimming for $175/cut went to a "better" cutter for $600/cut with full service. The added costs couldn't have been more than an additional 10% for weed & feed and a few yards of mulch!

No more "down-in-the-dirt" customers for me. In fact I consider it a disservice to the client if I don't include a few of these extra services in an estimate for just-the-minimum service. It just doesn't cost that much more to do the job right.

Dave

Dave -

It isn't that I HAVE to mow these kind of jobs, it's that I WANT to mow these kind of jobs. The accounts that I have, I've had for 6-7-8-15 years. I have no advertising expense. I know these accounts like the back of my hand. If I have to skip a week, or it rains on their day, I can skip the account, catch it next week, and the client doesn't care, I still get paid.

You guys can rag on us all you want.

I know there are guys charging a little more than me in my area, I know there are guys charging a LOT less than me in my area.

I bid alot of public work, so I can see the bids, copies of them. Usually they go to the lowest bidder, but I have been able to draw up some bids where I wasn't the lowest bidder, but I was able to give them the best deal. I'm usually in the top 25% of the totals.

I also know there are a lot of guys cheaper than me, since they don't stick around. I've been in business for 16 years here now, there's one guy that's been in business for 18 years, another for 13 years, another for 10 years, the rest all about 2-4 years. And those that are in business for 2-4 years, they're in a revolving door. It'll be someone else in business for 2 years next year when they're packing it in.

LwnmwrMan22
10-16-2004, 10:53 AM
Soupy;
Thanks for all your defense of logic and reason.

To me it seems that LwnmwrMan22 and Flex are in the cutthroat markets in their respective areas. They write about bidding retail stores and mowing for school districts. I used to have to mow those kind of jobs.

My wake up call came when a lawn I'd just been mowing and trimming for $175/cut went to a "better" cutter for $600/cut with full service. The added costs couldn't have been more than an additional 10% for weed & feed and a few yards of mulch!

No more "down-in-the-dirt" customers for me. In fact I consider it a disservice to the client if I don't include a few of these extra services in an estimate for just-the-minimum service. It just doesn't cost that much more to do the job right.

Dave


Also, my retail store, I DO add those on, as extra charges. This thread had evolved into a cost / acre debate, so I was stating what I can charge per acre.

The school district that I mow, if anything else is to be done, it's either the boosters for the football team that throw in some bushes, the backers of the baseball team to put irrigation in the field, etc.

They hire Chem-Lawn for spraying weeds one time / year, if a coach wants their field fertilized, they have to get the boosters to hire or pay for it.

After 9/11, schools have been on a budget crunch here in MN, and the grass isn't too imperative for the kids to learn.

NOW, if I was cheap, wouldn't care about what profit I'd make, I'd bid Chem-Lawns price just so I could get it, but I know, after running my numbers, that there's no way I can make any money doing it for what Chem-Lawn does, therefore no bid on the weed spraying.

LwnmwrMan22
10-16-2004, 09:30 PM
Soupy;
Thanks for all your defense of logic and reason.

To me it seems that LwnmwrMan22 and Flex are in the cutthroat markets in their respective areas. They write about bidding retail stores and mowing for school districts. I used to have to mow those kind of jobs.

My wake up call came when a lawn I'd just been mowing and trimming for $175/cut went to a "better" cutter for $600/cut with full service. The added costs couldn't have been more than an additional 10% for weed & feed and a few yards of mulch!

No more "down-in-the-dirt" customers for me. In fact I consider it a disservice to the client if I don't include a few of these extra services in an estimate for just-the-minimum service. It just doesn't cost that much more to do the job right.

Dave


You know, I've been thinking about this one paragraph that I highlighted. Something doesn't add up. For one, I'm going to assume that Dave MEANT $175 / MONTH to $600 / MONTH, because if he didn't, that property went from $700 / month to $2400 / month. Actually, either way, I guess it doesn't really matter. That's a $1700 price increase, more than 200%. Now, if it would have only taken 10% more cost to do that work, why wouldn't you have just done it, taken the contract for, say, $1700, and told the company that you'll do it, since you're already doing the mowing, and still save them $700 / month?

$175 / cut, as was stated, if you were to get $45 / acre. it would be roughly 4 acres. Now, to spray that one time, I charge .0005 / sq ft. per chemical, or .001 since I have to spray and fertilize. Total for 6 apps, $500. Now, this is where I'm stating that Dave's prices had to have been per MONTH, because you're not going to do 6 applications of fertilizing or spraying EACH time you cut, it'll be once / month, or an additional charge of $83.33.

Now, if you include aeration, say, 2 times, at a rate of 3x's your normal cutting price, that's $525. Say you have some mulch work, $1000. Bushes to be trimmed, $1000. Again, most likely you're not doing these jobs each week.

Now lets add this together. $175 / cut, for.... 30 weeks. Total $5250.
6 apps of chemicals, total $500.
Total to aerate $1050
Bush work, mulch work, $2000.

Now granted I have no idea what this property looks like, just like Dave nor Envy nor anyone else has any idea what the properties that I do look like, or my market area.

Now add all that up. Total 8800. Divide that by 6 months, just under $1,500.

Even if you trimmed the bushes once a month for $1,000, now these added costs are more than just an "extra 10%".

Maybe the customer did, in their eyes, choose a "better cutter".

Soupy
10-16-2004, 10:26 PM
6 apps at $500 will get a 1/2 acre done around here. Maybe an Acre if TGCL bids it from their office (they are good for that).

I'm just curious as to how much you or your competition pays for an employee per hour? I know you guys might not have any employees, but somebody probably does and you guys say that they compete at these prices.

How do you price aeration at 3 x a cut? Totally different services, with different equipment? Can you aerate as fast as you can cut? Aeration brings in 3 or 4 times our hourly rate for cutting, but I would never measure it by the size of my mower.

LwnmwrMan22
10-17-2004, 12:06 AM
6 apps at $500 will get a 1/2 acre done around here. Maybe an Acre if TGCL bids it from their office (they are good for that).

I'm just curious as to how much you or your competition pays for an employee per hour? I know you guys might not have any employees, but somebody probably does and you guys say that they compete at these prices.

How do you price aeration at 3 x a cut? Totally different services, with different equipment? Can you aerate as fast as you can cut? Aeration brings in 3 or 4 times our hourly rate for cutting, but I would never measure it by the size of my mower.


3 x / cut, should have said 3 x hourly rate. Sorry.

As for the price TG/CL is charging here in MN, the 80 acres they spray for the schools that I mow, they're charging $2400, I've seen the bid, I have insiders.

Actually, the head custodial guy showed me the fax, he hates dealing with TG/CL and is doing anything he can to get rid of them. That's $30 / acre, just for weed control, no fertilizing.

LwnmwrMan22
10-17-2004, 12:23 AM
As for the wage my competition is paying, I was paying $10-15 / hour 4 years ago when I gave up on employees.

I know one guy, that's been around for awhile is paying $12 / hour, the other guy, that's been around for 13 years, I know he's paying $12-17 / hour.

The guy that's been around for 20 years or so, he's paying $8-9 / hour, but he's on the downslide too. Used to have 4-5 crews working every summer, but now is down to 1.

The school district that I mow, he bid 3 times what I did, yet is only paying $8-9 / hour. I have no idea where he came up with his bid.

Soupy
10-17-2004, 01:01 AM
I had a long post ready to submit. But I decided I debated long enough on this topic. Good luck to you all. It was fun :)

LwnmwrMan22
10-17-2004, 10:10 AM
I had a long post ready to submit. But I decided I debated long enough on this topic. Good luck to you all. It was fun :)

I agree, my wife told me to get off that "youknowwhat" computer.

I'm ready to pack "Lawnsite" in with the leaves and heading to an icefishing forum. :)

Flex-Deck
10-18-2004, 09:01 PM
Green Pro - I like your preparation. I am only 40 miles from you - give me a call 877-353-9335 - Would like to discuss some LCO strategies with you - I can not email you or PM you on this site, so I am sticking my neck out giving you this # here. Hope it is within the rules. Thanks, Brad

Green-Pro
10-18-2004, 09:05 PM
Flex Deck got your # will give you a call sometime this week.

G-P

LwnmwrMan22
10-19-2004, 02:13 AM
Soupy and I had finished this discussion with PM's.

For those of you following this discussion, this is how we figured out how to word it as simple as possible.

"I think I finally figured out where you were coming from.

What you're saying, is, so what if I can mow 5 acres / hour, I shouldn't charge less with the WAM, just because it takes an hour or so.

Figure out what to charge with the normal equipment, ie, 60" ZTR, trimmer, yada yada yada, since the majority of the properties are going to be used that way.

Figure out a price / sq ft, then charge at that rate. Therefore you get a higher charge per hour with the larger equipment, since more is being covered.

Whereas, I charge by the hour, I'm selling myself short because I'm able to cover more ground with more cost. In order to be the same, I should be at, say $150-$175 / hour with the WAM as, $75 - $100 / hour with the 60" ZTR."

Basically, remember, as you get bigger / faster equipment, remember you're going to have to raise your hourly rate as well, at least for that piece of equipment.

OR, figure out a price per sq ft, and charge that rate, so no matter which piece of equipment you're using, you're still making the same rate on each property.

Soupy
10-19-2004, 12:50 PM
LwnmwrMan22, Figured out what I was trying to get at.

I agree with you guys that you have to compete with the competition. But charging by the hour is a bad way of pricing with larger equipment.

The $60/hr everyone talks about on lawnsite is achieved using a 52-60" mower. Someone using a 21" mower can not expect to achieve this. Thus, the larger the deck, the higher the gross profit per hour should be.

rodfather
10-19-2004, 12:53 PM
Thus, the larger the deck, the higher the gross profit per hour should be.

Should be? Yes, but that doesn't alwys happen due to the increasingly diminishing return as the job gets larger.

Soupy
10-19-2004, 01:05 PM
Should be? Yes, but that doesn't alwys happen due to the increasingly diminishing return as the job gets larger.

I understand that the larger the property the lower the price. But the lower price is only to make up for drive time etc. You should still bring in the same amount in an 8hr day no matter if you are cutting 5 different properties or just one. The 5 different properties being slightly higher priced to make up for loss time on the road.

rodfather, Do you agree that 4 acres being cut with a wide area mower shouldn't go for the same price as 1-2 acres cut by the local ZTR guys? Also, are you rained out today too, or are you on your lunch break :)

rodfather
10-19-2004, 01:08 PM
Same price. Hell no, it should be more. But...that doesn't happen as I well know. Rained out bigtime.

Soupy
10-19-2004, 04:54 PM
Soupy - I Now Have to Yell - YOUR [POST ABOUT EFFICIENCY AND PROFIT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR 6 YEARS. Yes. you are right right right. Thanks Brad

Brad, now I have yell. YOU ARE NOT FOLLOWING WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR 6 YEARS. You are still earning the same profit as the guy that is less efficient. You have found an easier and faster way to cut large areas, but you are not reaping the benefits. EFFICIENCY = CHEAPER PRICE FOR YOUR CUSTOMER!

lampeslawnservice
10-19-2004, 06:18 PM
Flex-deck, just wondering, do you have any other source of income besides lawn care. Just curious.

rodfather
10-19-2004, 06:24 PM
If my memory serves me right, Brad is a dentist.

Flex-Deck
10-19-2004, 08:18 PM
Brad, now I have yell. YOU ARE NOT FOLLOWING WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN ADVOCATING FOR 6 YEARS. You are still earning the same profit as the guy that is less efficient. You have found an easier and faster way to cut large areas, but you are not reaping the benefits. EFFICIENCY = CHEAPER PRICE FOR YOUR CUSTOMER!

OK guys - I have just experienced something that I think all of you have at one time or another.
1. The bids I put in last year to land the 17 acre job, and another job next door (target) were based on being lower than the bids I had put in the year before when I did not get them.
2. I had to get my foot in the door to show what I can do. Show that we mow straight lines, mow timely, have level decks, sharp blades, - and keep all curbs - sidewalks etc trimmed.
3. The 17 acre job was a biweekly mowing of just rough terrain but still required trimming of about 10 stop signs-light poles, and about 5 electric transformers, etc. (minimal trimming - I carry the trimmer on a rack on the tractor and trim each item as i come to them as they are about 400 yards apart) - This job is the picture I showed at the beginning of the thread.

Now that I have mowed for one year in the commercial end of it in a 32,000 city, here is what is transpiring.

1. The mall where I mow the 17 acres out back are so impressed that they invited me to bid 5 sections out front-all curbed, trees, trimming needed, and they average one acre per section - I will bid that area at a much higher price than the $15 out back.
2. Went to another business and showed them pictures of what I do at the mall and target, and basically said - "You have a great 25 acre property here, and you spend large amounts of money on mulching all the trees you had planted, and trimming all the bushes in the beautiful landscaping you did, but you are like a person that builds a new house. When the windows and doors and trim are done you say Wow this is nice, but it still has the plywood floors. When the carpet people get done - you say Wow this is really really nice. Now (at this point I showed pictures of the properties we do - showing results of fertilizer, straight line mowing, etc and said) - Now since you have built the new house, I want to lay the carpet, and I probably will not be the low bidder, but I WILL DO THE BEST JOB. The manager immediately wanted my card.

3. You see, this would have never happened had I not been able to just do a bit of mowing at only 50% profit. I am efficient, and am making good money at what I have bid. Will make more later. - In fact I probably will blow your minds at the amounts of net - I am efficient - My wife and I will probably be able with just 2 machines (455 and 595 JD's) to mow a $500 property in 2 hrs. Thanks, brad

T

Soupy
10-19-2004, 08:39 PM
OK guys - I have just experienced something that I think all of you have at one time or another.
1. The bids I put in last year to land the 17 acre job, and another job next door (target) were based on being lower than the bids I had put in the year before when I did not get them.
2. I had to get my foot in the door to show what I can do. Show that we mow straight lines, mow timely, have level decks, sharp blades, - and keep all curbs - sidewalks etc trimmed.
3. The 17 acre job was a biweekly mowing of just rough terrain but still required trimming of about 10 stop signs-light poles, and about 5 electric transformers, etc. (minimal trimming - I carry the trimmer on a rack on the tractor and trim each item as i come to them as they are about 400 yards apart) - This job is the picture I showed at the beginning of the thread.

Now that I have mowed for one year in the commercial end of it in a 32,000 city, here is what is transpiring.

1. The mall where I mow the 17 acres out back are so impressed that they invited me to bid 5 sections out front-all curbed, trees, trimming needed, and they average one acre per section - I will bid that area at a much higher price than the $15 out back.
2. Went to another business and showed them pictures of what I do at the mall and target, and basically said - "You have a great 25 acre property here, and you spend large amounts of money on mulching all the trees you had planted, and trimming all the bushes in the beautiful landscaping you did, but you are like a person that builds a new house. When the windows and doors and trim are done you say Wow this is nice, but it still has the plywood floors. When the carpet people get done - you say Wow this is really really nice. Now (at this point I showed pictures of the properties we do - showing results of fertilizer, straight line mowing, etc and said) - Now since you have built the new house, I want to lay the carpet, and I probably will not be the low bidder, but I WILL DO THE BEST JOB. The manager immediately wanted my card.

3. You see, this would have never happened had I not been able to just do a bit of mowing at only 50% profit. I am efficient, and am making good money at what I have bid. Will make more later. - In fact I probably will blow your minds at the amounts of net - I am efficient - My wife and I will probably be able with just 2 machines (455 and 595 JD's) to mow a $500 property in 2 hrs. Thanks, brad

T

Brad, I'm glad you have a plan. I wish you luck. I never was trying to pick a fight with you, I just didn't think I was getting my point across so I dug in.

By the way, I think I remember you saying you were a dentist. Why did you give that up. I'm sure you were making more then $75/hr? I think your comparison between you and a lawyer would have sounded better if you said that you didn't make much more as a dentist :) Anyway I wish you luck. I tried to PM you the other day to point you to a thread were I thought your Flex Deck would be ideal. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=86182

Flex-Deck
10-19-2004, 09:12 PM
Thanks Soupy - BTW - Dentists in small town IA do not make any more that $75 per hr. And the tread you posted is exactly what we can do, but I am not a sponsor, so can say nothing. Thanks again, and I am looking forward to next year. Brad

LwnmwrMan22
10-19-2004, 10:09 PM
Thanks Soupy - BTW - Dentists in small town IA do not make any more that $75 per hr. And the tread you posted is exactly what we can do, but I am not a sponsor, so can say nothing. Thanks again, and I am looking forward to next year. Brad


Yep, sure it's about like that one TV show from a while ago, Northern Exposure or something like that.

Even here in MN, once you get a little ways away from the Twin Cities, rates and lifestyles drop off dramatically.

Even lifestyles IN the Twin Cities I'm sure alot of EastCoasteners would think we're backwoods. :)