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grass-scapes
11-18-2004, 07:25 PM
I've got a church that Im bidding on. The turf area is 4.03 Acres. 1/3 of that is a softball practice field. Straight and flat. Very few obstacles. Few beds to maintain. Right around 500 linear feet of hard edging. 1000 linear feet of string trimming. They are requesting bids cause their equipment keeps gettin stolen from their storage barn. I have been told it takes 2 men 3.5 hours to maintain it. ( church members, not pros) Its about 3.5 miles from a current commercial customer but its way outside of town. Not much pruning.

What kind of cost should I expect to get from this job. Im figuring that I should bid 8 grand a year. thats 40 mowings at 200 each. Too low? To high? Just right? Opinions please.

GrassBustersLawn
11-18-2004, 07:34 PM
Hard to comment on because we don't know what equipment you will be using!

If you have a decent ztr of 48" or better, shouldn't be much more than an hour, maybe an hour & half of mowing. Add in some extra $ for travel time outside your regular "working area". Plus trim & blow time. $200 sounds like it would be pretty good $ FOR YOU.

That being said, GOOD LUCK getting that price, because all the churches I've bid on have gone with parishoners mowing for free. I don't even bother wasting my time on them anymore!


Mike

LawnBoy89
11-18-2004, 07:37 PM
Same exact thing around here. My friend does it he gets $150, but only because he gives them a break. I think $200 is perfect.

fga
11-18-2004, 07:46 PM
i cut my church for 200 a cut for four years. too many people get involved in the church affairs and it winds up ugly. if not now, or 2 years from now... eventually it will. They beat me for 200 bucks over a technicality,and i have to still pick up a piece of equipment there. you and the priest... can have a decent business relationship. when they start forming committees, :realmad: you go from answering to one person, to 10. B.S.

grass-scapes
11-18-2004, 07:48 PM
Ive got a walker. 48 inch deck.....In process of getting a 54 inch side discharge deck for my larger properties. Right now, I just put on the no catch deflector. Plus, I have my 48 inch WB with sulky.
I currently mow my own church. I do it for cheap......88 bucks a mow. Its about 1.75 acres.

J Hisch
11-18-2004, 08:10 PM
I agree but I also think that 2 men 3.5 hrs. what kind of equipment? if it was zero turns I would probably be around 300.00-350.00 range. If they used like a home owner rider then yes 200 is perfect. you will be gone in 2 hrs.

beransfixitinc
11-18-2004, 09:19 PM
Hmm.... I'm not an LCO, but I've got a question on this situation. If the value of a mowing service were appraised at say, let's use what everybody is saying, $200 a cut, but you only make them pay $100, is that like making a tax deductible donation to a non-profit of $100 every cut? Or, would they actually have to cut you a check for $200 and then you give $100 back?

grass-scapes
11-18-2004, 09:34 PM
you would have to have some kind of documentation to show you made the contributions. You could bill them 200, then have a "donation to church" line of 100.00 per week. That seems as though that would satisfy the irs

satch
11-18-2004, 11:28 PM
Yes you can you give the church a bill and in turn they give you a contribution statement.Case in point last year our church started a new building one member donated the use of his dozier and i donated my labor for 1 week of work we both billed and got contribution statements and my cpa was more than happy with the deal.

out4now
11-19-2004, 12:03 AM
Reducing the tax liability sounds like the best here. You could write it all off.

geogunn
11-19-2004, 12:16 AM
What kind of cost should I expect to get from this job. Im figuring that I should bid 8 grand a year. thats 40 mowings at 200 each. Too low? To high? Just right? Opinions please.


GS--using your numbers, 2 men times 3.5 hours equals 1 man times 7 hours in my book.

one man or two, the payday is $200. can you be happy working for that?

there is your answer.

GEO

PMLAWN
11-19-2004, 05:51 AM
Why does the equipment you have, Have anything to do with the price??
A job should be bid on how long it takes to do the work with the best and most efficient tools. All other bidders will bid that way. If you don't have the best tool for the job that is not the customers problem. If you still want the job you can buy the equipment or run with the lower profit margin. Someone out there will have the right equipment and will price the job right. That is you competition.
As far as Churches go, it is hard to get the right price when so many people are willing to give to the Church with their time and might even be willing to cut it for free. Your 200 sounds like a great price for you so I hope you get it but some one might just suggest getting better locks for the storge shed.

grass-scapes
11-19-2004, 06:59 AM
GS--using your numbers, 2 men times 3.5 hours equals 1 man times 7 hours in my book.

one man or two, the payday is $200. can you be happy working for that?

there is your answer.

GEO

Im confused.....where did I say total hours at in my post? I know 3.5 times 2 equals 7, and I didn't need a book to tell me that. LOL

geogunn
11-19-2004, 07:15 AM
Im confused.....where did I say total hours at in my post? I know 3.5 times 2 equals 7, and I didn't need a book to tell me that. LOL

well, here is what you posted. so I used the numbers you posted.

I have been told it takes 2 men 3.5 hours to maintain it. Opinions please.

I am not trying to comment on YOUR efficiency because I am clueless of your operation.

I was just loking at the numbers you posted which are: $200 bucks for 7 hours and if that is the case, those numbers don't look good to me.

GEO :waving:

grass-scapes
11-19-2004, 07:23 AM
well, here is what you posted. so I used the numbers you posted.



I am not trying to comment on YOUR efficiency because I am clueless of your operation.

I was just loking at the numbers you posted which are: $200 bucks for 7 hours and if that is the case, those numbers don't look good to me.

GEO :waving:
The two men in question were parishoners, using homeowner lawn tractors. I also stated that in my post. ( not pros, if you look) Obviously since I have much better equipment, it goes without saying that I can do it much faster...How much faster? I don't know. Im guessing it should take me and another person around 2 hours, maybe a bit more. So....if it takes 2 hours, and I factor in my costs (gas, machine time, labor, materials) im looking somewhere in the range of 140 dollars a week. That breaks down to 7o bucks an hour. Not too bad, in my opinion.

GrassBustersLawn
11-19-2004, 10:57 AM
PMLAWN

The equipment that you have to do the job with HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR BID!!!!!!!!

You're not going to bid it like you are using a 72" Lazer if you are using a 36" w/b! The HOURS needed to do the job & YOUR OVERHEAD are going to be DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT with the 2 scenarios. You have to figure how much YOU NEED TO CHARGE TO MAKE A PROFIT, not how much someone else with different equipment would charge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Mike

tiedeman
11-19-2004, 11:11 AM
I did a church before, notice the word BEFORE. They basically wanted to cut corners and save money by having members help out, it was just a nightmare.

lawnmowingboys
11-19-2004, 11:23 AM
I would pass. If it is your church cut it for free, consider it as tax deduction (service in lew of cash contribution.)

A member will always start a lawn mowing business.

I am a member of church with an annual budget over $2 mil. I bid on it 3 years ago, in response to an ad. Lowest bidder got the job, FREE and he isn't a member!

My church congregation could afford it; however, won't pay for service, if service is donated.

geogunn
11-19-2004, 11:29 AM
Im guessing it should take me and another person around 2 hours, maybe a bit more. So....if it takes 2 hours

grass-scapes--if you had posted what you thought on the hours YOU were going to take, I would have figured using those numbers.

my experience tells me to suggest to you to deal with only one person in the church. around here that would be something like the chairman of the building and grounds comittee.

if you deal with several people things don't usually work so well. good luck.

GEO :)

MMLawn
11-19-2004, 01:38 PM
We have one similar that we do in Greensboro with 40 cuts per season and minor bed maint. the only real difference is it has a softball and baseball field and a very small cemetary and the contract on it is $12K a year.

PMLAWN
11-23-2004, 04:56 AM
Grass busters-- You are right that the equipment you use will affect you profit and that you need to make money at this. The point i am making is that the other LOC's will bid using the most efficent tools. The customer does not care what you use or how long it takes you to do it. He only cares about cost to him. If you cut with a 21" and you bid an acre, it will take you 1+ hours. A guy with a 60"Z can do it in 15min. You have to bid 4x's as high to cover your time. I do not believe that the customer will accept that bid. Bottom line is that you should only be bidding on properties that you can do with profit. (And yes I know that you have to figure the cost of a Z compared to a 12" but equipment cost and maintenance is less than 20% of my job cost where labor is over 50%) You are bidding against your competition If you want work you need to be in the ballpark with you prices. If you want a property but do not have the right equipment now--but can get it in 2 months-- you have to bid competively, work with the less profit for the time till you get the equipment, and buy what you need. If this is not something you want to do than stay away from the property. Thecustomer will not pay for your lack of efficiency.

lawncat
11-23-2004, 07:34 AM
1) only bid ob what you have equipment for
2) The Lord might be forever but your work at the church will be of a limited nature--there is always a Do-Gooder that will step in and "help out" right in the middle of the season--and you're out!
3) for PMLAWN-if your labor costs are 50% they should be partners with you--labor burden beyond 33% will eat you alive in the long run
4) If you want to send your kids to college, pay a mortgage, have a car and so forth, everything we do needs to be bid for PROFIT

smlavin
11-23-2004, 09:48 AM
I am new to this business and one day I want to get to the point of being able to bid like Grass busters and lawncat do but right now I have to bid like PMLAWN says.

I have one account that takes me 3 hours to do with a 32" mower. I know I could cut it down to 2 hours with a Z (there is still a lot of trim work!) but I had to bid the job based on 2 hours or I had no chance of getting the job. Now with a lot of inefficiency, sweat equity and growing my business to a few more accounts I will be able to purchase the Z next season. Then I can bid jobs the way Grass busters and lawncat do. I believe PMLAWN makes the point that if I didn't bid as if I owned a Z now I never would have gotten the contract that will eventually allow me the dollars to purchase one.

This isn't lowballing but it does mean being competitive with my bids until I can purchase the equipment that will allow for the efficiencies and profit margins that I want, and need, to reach.

dishboy
11-23-2004, 10:08 AM
PMLAWN

The equipment that you have to do the job with HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH YOUR BID!!!!!!!!

You're not going to bid it like you are using a 72" Lazer if you are using a 36" w/b! The HOURS needed to do the job & YOUR OVERHEAD are going to be DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT with the 2 scenarios. You have to figure how much YOU NEED TO CHARGE TO MAKE A PROFIT, not how much someone else with different equipment would charge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Mike


I see both sides of the arguement, but if you are trying to actually GET THE JOB and price is a factor for the person writing the check then the bid needs to be based on market value of the job , not equiptment used. Most BARGAIN hunters could care less what you cut the grass with unless it looks exceptionally bad!

Horsesbutt
11-23-2004, 10:34 AM
I am a new member here, not a contractor. I am however on our Church Board and also serve as Church Treasurer. Our property requires approx 3 acre of flat smooth (1/2 ball field) mowing and about 2000' of trimming.
We pay $100 per mow to a local contractor that does attend our services.
This year the total outlay was about $4k which included some minor shrub work, mulch, etc.

As a busy board members we are ELATED this gentleman takes care of all this and lightens our work. We previously had out own equipment and paid young men to mow. Annual costs were usually in the $2,500 range and
work quality varied greatly.

If the size of the Church's property is indicative of the annual budget then I feel their over-seers would be equally as pleased at $200 as we are at $100.
You could probably "cement" your relation ship with them by suggesting your fee would be permanently reduced by $50. A couple of years normal cost of living increases would more than make this up for you and still continue to show your support to them.

Just a thought......

WigginsLandscaping
11-23-2004, 04:43 PM
My take for what it is worth.
4.03 Acres Straight Cutting Little Obstacles....approx 55/acre = 221.65
add 15% for variation and pain in the neck fees. 221.65 * .15 = 33.25
Total Comes Per Cut to 254.90 * 40 cuts per year = 10196.00 take it or leave it.

I personally think that would be a fair price and if the donate a percentage to the church thing works then give them 10% for donation and get a tax break and still turn a profit.

Just make them sign contract. And do the best job you can do. I think things will work out. We do a big catholic church here and have had good luck with them. I would also put in annual price increase for cost of living. My opion.

Chris Wagner
11-23-2004, 05:17 PM
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as a service you are not allowed to deduct the cost of your services.... regardless if the organization provides you with tax deduction letter. Reference http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf and see that "value of time and services" is NOT deductible.

"Trading checks", the method of billing a group say $200 and then writing them a $100 check as a donation is strongly frowned upon. There is also no benefit of this.

If you charged $200 for a job and then donated $100, you only made $100 from that job. You would only be taxed on $100... the money you made (adjusted gross income).

If you charged $100 for the same job with no donation... guess what? You would be taxed on $100... your adjusted gross income.

Sorry, there is no benefit to this type of transaction for services. A true CPA will tell you this.

Harleyboy52
11-23-2004, 05:27 PM
I can't tell you much about the pricing because I don't know your area and who you are bidding against but consider the potential customers from the congregation. Also I wonder if that church in Morehead Ky. knows that their treasurer is a horsesbutt.

Harleyboy52
11-23-2004, 05:32 PM
Chris, Frowned upon or not he would still get a tax deduction for the contribution. True or false?

Chris Wagner
11-23-2004, 05:53 PM
False. Trading checks is a wash.

Read the example again... if I billed you $200 and gave you back $100... how much did you really pay? $100.

If I billed you $100 for the job and you gave back nothing, how much did you pay? $100.

There are legitimate ways to benefit from tax donations. Trading checks and trying to deduct your time and services as a donation isn't one of them.

People speed and don't get caught, true. Just as people try to write off donations like this. I wouldn't care to be audited though and have this come into question.

So, the answer is false, you can't deduct it on your return, and even if you did, hopefully the above example shows it's just a wash. You would have the same adjusted gross income (what you are taxed on) either way. Take another look at the link, though. There are a few things you can write off as a result of travel to charitable events and such... but they are very limited.

Harleyboy52
11-23-2004, 06:09 PM
If he bills $100 and gives back 0 he makes $100. If he bills $200 and gives the church a donation of $100 he makes $100 then and claims the other $100 as a deduction on his tax return and gets aprox $30 of that back. I don't see how you can say that he only makes $100. ?? I think it was a suggestion for him to donate some money back to get the job so he isn't going to be able to make the $200 that he wants.

Harleyboy52
11-23-2004, 06:12 PM
By the way St. Cletus had to be from the south.

hosejockey2002
11-23-2004, 07:16 PM
Harleyboy, I think the key is that according to the IRS, you cannot deduct the value of time or services. If you give the church $100 out of your pocket, you can deduct that from your taxes. If your company mows the church lawn for free, you can't. You might be able to deduct your actual documented costs for mowing the lawn (like gas), but I don't know. If you do a $200 lawn for $100, you can't make a deduction because the service has no deductible value.

Harleyboy52
11-23-2004, 08:36 PM
I'm not talking about getting $100 and trying to deduct a service. I'm talking about being paid $200 and giving the church a Shoreline Lawn Care check for $100. Check swapping as Chris called it. He said it was frowned upon but he didn't say it was illegal. Mind that is frowned upon by the IRS not the church. I don't think there is a church around that is going to turn down money. This is not a slam by any means as I'm a devout christian and tithe my earnings to the church (Southern Baptist, of course). I mow for free about 4-5 hours a week at the church. Our church is sitting on 16 acres and 4 of us mow it every week with 3 61" Scags (owned by the church).

Chris Wagner
11-23-2004, 10:53 PM
If he bills $200 and gives the church a donation of $100 he makes $100 then and claims the other $100 as a deduction on his tax return and gets aprox $30 of that back.

Okay, so now you basically donated $200 to the church on a $200 job. Congratulations, you just did the job for free.

You can't donate $100, earn $100 and then donate that back and expect to get a tax break. It just doesn't work like that. If you want to look at it backwards, ok, yeah, you won't pay any taxes because you would show no income if you donated $200 to the church on a $200 job. You made exactly $0. The IRS hasn't found a way to tax you on making no money yet. But try putting food on the table if you make no money.

Maybe a different view...

If your business made $50,000 after expenses and you wanted to donate $5,000 to a church, this would make your Adjusted Gross Income $45,000.

If your business made $50,000 after expenses and you wanted to donate $45,000 to a church, your Adjusted Gross Income would be $5,000.

Okay, you would arguably pay a lower dollar figure in taxes on $5,000 than you would on $45,000. However, try living off $5,000 and then tell me if that method makes sense to you for the "tax benefit".

There is no benefit to trading checks. If a church writes me a check for $200 and I write them one back for $200 as a "donation", I did the job for free. But since the IRS says you can't donate your time and services, this job becomes a wash. You made no money and did the job for free.

I think the IRS has a help line to call. I'm not a CPA but have taken several courses on small business finances. You may wish to do the same or read some of the IRS code.

Donating services is admirable and I'm not saying to never do it. But just be aware of the rules of the game before you try and invent your own.

Harleyboy52
11-23-2004, 11:09 PM
Chris, Tell me when I said that I would give $200 back. I said that I would donate $100 of the $200. I think even you would agree that I made $100. Maybe those business classes that you took taught you something different. Maybe you need to try a math class.

beransfixitinc
11-24-2004, 12:00 AM
Holy crap children.. when I asked my simple question somewhere in I think the first page of this thread (depending on how many you view at a time), I didn't intend to start such a heated debate like this.

Who the f$%^ is the IRS to say what legal non-profit you can donate money to?

If the church on a contract paid you $200 per visit, and you made the visit, let's say, roughly 3 times a month, at the end of the month, the church would cut you a check for $600 (being a non-profit, they are tax exempt.. here anyway).

Now, out of the goodness of your heart and being a God fearing man, you write a company check for $300 as a donation to the church. Now, if this goes on for lets say 9 months.. cause down here in TX, you may actually go 9 months of the year, you would show on your books that you've made $2700 in donations to a non-profit organization. Also, if that church is like our church, at the end of the year their bookkeeping department will send you a statement of your donations so that if your other amounts are at that certain limit, they can be written off of your income. I guess anyway.

Man...... can't we all just get along? :waving:

Harleyboy52
11-24-2004, 12:06 AM
You have just stated my exact position but I'm just a dumb ol' redneck firefighter/lawnboy. I'm getting along--------along to bed. I'll see y'all tomorrow night.

Chris Wagner
11-24-2004, 10:10 AM
You're still missing the root point that you cannot write off time and services.

A church can and will write you letters of donation. They don't care. But you can't write off time and services.

Additionally, if your "donation" is $2700, this comes off your adjusted gross income. On paper, it will basically show you made $2700 less, but there is no benefit other than goodwill... which is the greatest donation of all.

beransfixitinc
11-24-2004, 11:50 AM
You're still missing the root point that you cannot write off time and services.

What I'm missing, is where that is being said. If you bill the church a full $200, and they pay you a full $200, and later on you write a check as a donation for $100 and give it to them, that is a monetary donation to a non-profit organization (although some churchs seem to have more money than the poor workin man). How is giving $100 considered "time and services" ? You boys up north must be getting cold weather already.. your thought processes are slowing down.

GrassBustersLawn
11-24-2004, 11:51 PM
BERANS said "Who the f$%^ is the IRS to say what legal non-profit you can donate money to?"

IRS is THE MAN! They are the only government entity where YOU ARE GUILTY UNTIL YOU PROVE YOURSELF INNOCENT!!! Many businesses have been seized and/or shut down (causing them to go out of business) by the IRS. Sometimes after owner proves themselves innocent, they might even say "SORRY", but that doesn't do you any good after they've ruined your business.

WHY TAKE THE RISK to save CHUMP CHANGE!


Mike

lawncat
11-25-2004, 08:48 AM
Mike is right.
The IRS will always prevail!

How are we, poooooooor dumb landscapers going to outsmart the IRS????????Better to play strictly by their rules! I would never do anything to attract the IRS to me or my business--especially not, as Mike so correctly puts it, for "Chump Change".

I am sure there are people on this site that are way smarter than the multi million $$ equip mfg companies--we see that every day--right?????????But I personally don't know of any of us peons prevailing over the IRS.