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Old 04-05-2005, 01:32 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 21,659
Originally Posted by Logan's Landscaping
I have decided to start charging my customers a gas surcharge on top of there normal bill. I have thought about charging a flat fee of $4 to 6 dollars a month or $1 to 2 dollars per visit. Any thoughts?????
Not to say you are like this, but I did see one or two, here and there who are guilty ... These are the guys who feel they just pass the price on to the customer, and the hell with it, take it or leave it. And that is all fine and dandy with a few customers but mainstream (Average American) customers who are my main source of income simply can not (and will not) go for this arrogant attitude.

At least now I find it easier to stick to standard prices ($35/average size yard) and not have to argue and give discounts all the time because I can't do it anymore. But while they're paying slightly more, I lowered my fuel-consumption for grass-cutting to a gallon per yard which includes the truck.
Really, a gallon is now only a dollar more than last year. What's the big deal, one dollar? I can deal with that, once the price goes to 4-5 dollars/gallon, we might talk again. By the way, $3/gallon is not far away and I think we'll see $3.50/gallon before summer's end.

So I spent money and got high-performance 8mm Taylor wires, High-performance cap-and-rotor, double-platinum plugs, open-air filter, replaced the tailgate with an airgate, and stopped the oil leak by replacing valve cover gaskets. I serviced the transmission which was leaking, I replaced and/or packed (worn) bearings, checked tire-air pressures, replaced fuel filters, changed oil (synthetic), etc, etc ...
In addition:
- All equipment starts in 1 pull. Ok 2 (1 for choke, 1 for run), 3 maybe but not 4 or 5 or more.
- Fuel up in the morning and leave the 5-gallon cans at home (thou I do have a syphon-pump in the truckbox) and carry the mix.
- Weedeaters run dandy at between 25-75% throttle. Only time I need full-throttle is for SERIOUS weeds - One tankfull of mix should last all day. On another note - learn to skim the string along paved areas in such a way that the pavement does not consume it - One tap of the head to release more string should last the entire yard.
- Backpack blowers usually clear light grass-cut debris on idle or slightly above - One tankfull of mix should last two days.
- Mower-throttle - Turn it to FULL, then lower it slowly until the engine changes pitch, then raise it a little bit to get the pitch back but with OUT being at full throttle - This saves fuel. One 5-gallon tank on a WB should cut 10-12 yards, maybe 14.
- Plan all-same work for the whole day (i.e.: Core Aeration ONLY, Grass-cutting ONLY, etc) and carry ONLY that equipment. If you're doing mulch, what is the seed-spreader doing in the back of the truck?
- Plan your route so everything is in a row, no cross-town trips for 1 yard and no doubling-back. Do it right, everytime.
- Carry only ONE WB. Carrying two wb's in case one breaks wastes more fuel than the once/year occasion when this happens is worth. If you got 2 guys, one cuts grass while the other weed-eats and blows.
- Learn to use liquid edging - Round-Up is cheaper than weedeater-fuel if you buy the 64oz concentrate and mix with water. But be damn careful, LOL!
- When fueling, always fill everything up. For me, one fill-up lasts at least a week - Every stop at the station wastes fuel.
- Don't need it today? Leave it at home. This includes wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, and any and all utensils/tools you will not need. If per chance someone offers me work that involves a tool I do not have, I would just as soon re-schedule for the next day I'm in their area.
- Schedule jobs in areas/day. One day: southside, next day: east-end. etc
- If equipment isn't working, it shouldn't be running. Always Turn it OFF, even if 'only leaving for a sec.' This includes the truck anytime a stop should take more than 20 seconds. 20 seconds of idle = the fuel it takes to start it.
... I turn the engine off at red lights, it's a european trick. And if you don't know why Europeans turn their motors off at intersections, try paying over $5/gallon of fuel. Needless to say - train crossing = Motor OFF

- Learn to drive with-OUT using the brake pedal. Now you can't drive recklessly so you learn to control the speed while using ONLY the throttle (or not using it, so to speak). When you use the brakes, you are shaving off speed which took fuel to build. In essence, using brakes means wasted fuel. This means leaving a lot of distance in front of you and coasting a LOT, ways in advance of known slow turns and intersections. As an example, I try to coast all the way down to 25mph before applying brakes in a 45mph zone. If you do it right, the light turns green and traffic starts moving before you have to touch the brakes.
In neighborhoods, when pulling up to a customer's house, I usually put gear in neutral and turn the motor off, then coast the rest of the way and hopefully eek to a standstill right in front of the house without the use of brakes.

I do fill up once/week even if there's plenty of fuel left, today I filled up 42 dollars for last week after grossing almost 1000. Once I start cutting grass 5/6 days/week, I do expect the fuel bill to go up towards 80, which is max. budget for peak.

For those who wonder why my prices haven't gone up - The math is simple.
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