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Greenhorn1980
01-26-2005, 04:35 PM
So I am looking for the going rates in Greater Chicagoland for lawn care for the coming season. Am doing snow removal now and happy customers are asking for the grass two. Since I service mostly seniors, I don't want to price gauge them and have to choose between a cut lawn and thier heart pills. At $25/hr for snow have only had one person balk at the price. Since grass is a longer season, more dependable don't know where to start.

andersonmowing23
01-27-2005, 02:21 PM
I am not from chicago and don't know the going rates. But if I were you I would not charge mowing by the hour. You should charge by the job. That way once you get started and do it for a while, you will get faster and then be able to make more money payup Hope someone can help you out with the going rates in chicago!! :cool2:

tonygreek
01-27-2005, 02:29 PM
your happy customers (ecstatic maybe a better word) want lawn mowing because you are charging them 20%, give or take, of what you should.

price gauging is one thing, fair price is another. you are charging them what the neighbor kid charges, which fits neither of those terms. remember, there is another term to learn: overhead.use the search function here on "pricing", "what to charge", "hourly", or some other related term and you'll read for days. or simply start on this page and start scrolling backwards.

good luck.

tony

marko
01-27-2005, 02:53 PM
Greenhorn. I am starting up too in the western suburbs. I agree with the above post that $25/hr is bargin basement pricing. when/if a snow blower craps out on you and you have to buy another this will become apparent. If you make money @ 25/hr, then more power too you! Sorry I can't help out w/ pricing as I am new here too, but I will be shooting for the 50 - 60/hr on the lawncare (broken down by the job of course). Keep us posted.

richmadmax
01-27-2005, 04:29 PM
greenhorn, $25.00 is to cheap, You have to go by how big there lawn are. Like you i'm starting up new this year, but i know the bottom price around here is $35.00. Most people are asking $40.00 up, so don't cut your self short, you will need the money to build on.

PMLAWN
01-29-2005, 08:12 AM
The going rate is the rate that keeps you in business and food on you table.
I grew up in Chicago 25 years ago and I made $25.00 to SHOVEL (no truck) snow back than.
If you are a kid that wants something to do after school than so be it. If you are asking because you are starting a business than follow Tonys advice.
Learn how to run a business and how to pay for it.
I am not trying to be mean, just letting you know that you are nowhere near where you need to be in price and if you don't know that, you need to learn.

SoloMow
01-30-2005, 09:56 PM
Hey Greenhorn,
You've caught a little flak on this thread for your $25 price! :) Don't worry. Richmadmax was the only one to ask the CORRECT question: How big are the lawns?
All of my accounts are small, subdivision lots with "postage stamp" back yards. I charge $25 per visit. I work alone. I mow, trim, edge, blow and go in about 50 minutes. I don't think I'm cheating myself.
I don't even own the equipment to do the bigger residential or commercial jobs. Nor, do I want to. Find your niche and you will be successful. :D

tonygreek
01-31-2005, 12:14 AM
You've caught a little flak on this thread for your $25 price! Don't worry. Richmadmax was the only one to ask the CORRECT question: How big are the lawns?

solomow, don't pat yourself on the back too quickly. :waving:
he said "25 dollars PER HOUR". $25/hr is still $25/hr no matter the size of the yard. my response was specifically geared towards reading his post correctly. would even the non-overhead constrained neighbor kid shovel for $25/hour?

anyway, he doesn't know what to charge, which is the reason for his post. heck, he hasn't even followed-up on this thread so that we can help him out. i'd base any advice on whether he's a highschool kid doing this under the table or is starting a full-time venture. if full-time, with say 26 weeks of mowing, 40 hours a week, $25/hr, that's $26k per year...before any marketing, fuel, equipment, insurance, or marketing overhead whatsoever.
raise your hand if that gets you by in chicago.

SoloMow
01-31-2005, 07:56 PM
>>don't pat yourself on the back too quickly.<<

True! I didn't really factor in his location very carefully.

marko
01-31-2005, 08:10 PM
That wont do it in Chicago unless you are living with mom/dad and your in highschool!

timturf
02-01-2005, 05:34 AM
Hey Greenhorn,
You've caught a little flak on this thread for your $25 price! :) Don't worry. Richmadmax was the only one to ask the CORRECT question: How big are the lawns?
All of my accounts are small, subdivision lots with "postage stamp" back yards. I charge $25 per visit. I work alone. I mow, trim, edge, blow and go in about 50 minutes. I don't think I'm cheating myself.
I don't even own the equipment to do the bigger residential or commercial jobs. Nor, do I want to. Find your niche and you will be successful. :D

How do you make it at that rate?
How many weeks do you mow?
Are you retired from another job?
How many clients do you have?

Greenhorn1980
02-01-2005, 11:31 AM
I am working full time in the city and live in the suburbs. Snow and grass is a side business for me. Trying to learn how to run a business. I have always worked for somebody else and would like to learn about this. Figure I can go to a college and take a business course, spend money, and get a piece of paper or I can learn how to run a small business while I hopefully don't run it into the ground and possibly make a few bucks on the side. For the snow, I am almost killing myself, have 10 houses. I am hoping to enjoy the summer a bit more since even in a best case scenario I would not be able to run my own business full time. Keep things at part time and only have 6 possibly 7 private residences to maintain. I figured most could be done afterwork during the week with 1 possible 2 on Saturday. All a big balancing act, can't really risk the fulltime job, but still trying to start myself.

PMLAWN
02-04-2005, 12:04 PM
Greenhorn, It's been a few days but I just looked at your reply. Be careful on how many you get because it will rain on some days and you can get backed up real fast. In the spring the grass will grow like crazy and it will be hard to keep up even if it doesn't rain. Just keep that in mind. I see you are in Skokie. There is a lot of money up there. I know they like to hang on to it but don't sell yourself short. Produce good work and give good value and they will support you.

scuba875
02-04-2005, 06:06 PM
Greenhorn are you using a truck to do the snow removal? I sub for a guy doing commercial lots and get $60 an hour with my truck. If you are doing small residential drives in the Skokie area I wouldn't go any lower than $25 per push per drive with a 2" trigger. On bigger storms you would need to go push more than once and you charge for each trip to the house. I would say if they complain about $25 per push then let them get out and shovel it them self. After subbing I plow 10 small residential drives in the same area and I average around $85 an hour. Even though it's part time you have to be able to cover your expenses and at $25 an hour you can't. Pay yourself $25 an hour for doing the work and put the surplus in the bank for insurance, repairs, equipment payments ect.

Greenhorn1980
02-07-2005, 12:24 PM
Have an Ariens 1124 that I use. All the money at this point is just going in the bank and living off of my full time job. Thinking this year, without me having any tools, should take blower into to shop to prep it for summer storage so I will be in good shape for next year. Earmarked funds for that, as well as to buy a Lawnboy for the summer. What are the rates for a lawncrew in Northbrook? Am running estimates now that for the summer grass, rates starting around $45.00 a week. Again just me working on it part time.

scuba875
02-08-2005, 12:25 AM
I only do snow plowing, in the summer I do service work on amusement rides for carnivals and amusement parks.

I know with my summer business if I am not making at least $125 an hour I can't cover all my expenses and turn a profit. My biggest headache is my insurance and workers comp. I pay 91% workers comp rate because of the type of work I do and the liability is enough to choke a horse $12,000 a year and I am told it is going to go up 22% this year. I have from May until October to pay for this as most of my work is in the summer and on top of it they wont write snow removal. I am a one man operation so I really need to get the most possible out of every hour that I work and keep the overhead as low as possible.

I enjoy what I do but with the insurance going up 15% to 25% each year I am thinking about giving it up. I have a clean loss run but the problem is the type of equipment that I work on no one wants to touch it so I have to go to the same companies that insure my customers and there is only 3 in the country.

I am here trying to learn about another business. If things keep going the way they are in my industry I may want to make a switch. This site has a ton of good info and it's amazing to me that people share what has made them successful. In my business competitors won't even say hello to each other let alone help another person. Thanks to all

Greenhorn1980
02-08-2005, 01:28 PM
Want to make sure I take this oppurtunity to thank everyone that is making contributions to this thread. I need the criticism to grow into a business.

Clear View Landscapes
02-10-2005, 12:00 AM
Greenhorn,

In an attempt to actually answer your question. The most accurate way (in my experience) to charge for grounds maintenance is per square foot. You need to analyze your equipent and personal speeds to determine how quickly you can cut one acre or 43,560 square feet. If your equipment allows your to cut one acre (not allowing for obstacles) in say one and one half hours, then it takes you 18 minutes per city lot (1/5 (8,712 sq. ft.) of an acre in my area) Now, say 20 minutes to trim, blowdown and load up the equipment. Your total time is 38-45 minutes, for ease of math we will use 40 min. Now, let's say you are trying to make $50/hr., you will set you price at around $33 dollars per lot, or .0038 cents per sq. ft. I find that the most efficient way for me to run my operation is via a battery of Microsoft Excel worksheets, if you're familiar. Keep in mind these are all imaginative figures, not necessarily accurate for you or your area. I really hope this has helped. Please let me know.

Craig Barton
Clear View Landscapes

Greenhorn1980
02-10-2005, 09:31 AM
That seems like a good formula, have to see what I can make with that for a guidline. Thanks.