Originally Posted by Darryl G
I guess I'm on the boat of those who upgrade equipment but don't change my rates. I upgraded my backpack blower to a Husky 580 which makes things go a lot faster than my old Shindaiwa EB630s, but I haven't changed my rates at all. It wasn't much more $ than my old blowers, although it's a bit more wear and tear on me. The bottom line to me is just being able to get all of my cleanups done and keep my customers happy, even if I do end up charging them a bit less (I bill my cleanups hourly in most cases). It's not like I've giving my cleanups away, but at my rate and energy level I'm a pretty good deal for my customers, and that's ok with me.
Ive been putting a lot of thought into the "pricing game" a lot myself...and here is the way I see it.
If you were charging x to mow a lawn with a 22 inch mower, and then spent 4 k on a 36 walk behind that allows you to do the job faster....you still have to account for the depreciation or replacement cost of that more expensive mower. IF you expect that mower to last 60 months, and it cost you 4k, then you have to account for that replacement cost in your "hourly fees". So you really shouldnt be changing your price if you get "more efficient" because of better equipment. That equipement will cost more money to replace....so keep that in mind. Sorry, didnt mean to get sidetracked on the posting. I too have had problems estimating jobs correctly, and got stuck on a 2 day leaf clean up and lost money in the end because I didnt charge enough. I didnt know any better, and Im too ashamed to even admit what I got paid for that job that took a total of 8-10 hours total to complete.
For mowing estimates, ive simply looked the lawn over and thrown them a price in the past. But lately ive been evaluationg how long it takes me to do each process. I look at the following areas:
6. load/unload time
7. 5 minutes for Misc stuff to go wrong..LOL
8. 3-5 minutes for customer interaction.
I have been using a watch lately, and recording the amount of time for each process on each lawn. my next step is to get a measuring wheel, and figure out the sq footage of each property, then figure out how fast i can perform each task when moving at a NORMAL pace. I have also done calculations to determine hourly costs for my equipment usage on each piece, how much gas i will consume, how much lunch will cost etc...plus ALL the other costs of the buisness.
You may want to try doing somethign similar for the leaf clean up jobs to get a ball park figure. You may be surprised at how much per hour you need to charge to ensure your going to be in the "green" for the work accomplished.