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Old 01-07-2011, 02:11 AM
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BrendonTW BrendonTW is offline
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Any mathematicians? Universal and simple estimating multipliers

I am trying to develop a simple and systematic estimating process for my mowing services. Calculating the price per 1k square feet on weed control and fertilizing has been easy. Now I'm to the weekly maintenance part. Here is what I have come up with so far for finding the price. PLEASE critique me and help me on brainstorming if you have any ideas.

I need to calculate mowing per 1k square feet, edging per linear foot, and string trimming per linear foot. I have come up with a realistic and basic lawn "per thousand" equation;

Minimum charge ($35) + $1.00 per 1000 sq. ft. This keeps me where I like to be on half acre lawns and full acre lawns ($75-80).

I based this on my $75/hour labor rate and 40k square feet taking 45 minutes. The problem is that last year I kept records of our time (me and my guy) on lawns, but didn't keep time on separate tasks; mowing, edging, and trimming. So I need to figure out exactly how to reduce my mowing price per thousand proportionally in order to add the edging and trimming prices INTO that equation and still keeping on AVERAGE the same price per thousand. (Normally the amount of trimming and edging is directly correlated to the size of the lawn. On commercial accounts however, there can be a much more significant amount of edging and trimming.

Ideas? Help?
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:34 PM
oldclawn oldclawn is offline
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You're overthinking it. No matter what you come up with on paper, your competition and market will ultimately determine what you get for any given job--and 75-80 on a half acre would not fly in 3/4 of the country. All you have to sell is TIME, regardless of whether your pulling weeds, mowing, talking. There are severl thousand threads here on this subject that, for the most part are not right/wrong--but could be confusing. You're almost better off learning yourself by trial and error--which is no worse than trying to decode the advice of dozens of people that you do not know!
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:45 PM
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BrendonTW BrendonTW is offline
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I meant to say 55 for half an acre and 75-80 for a full acre, on average.

I don't want to just "eyeball" my estimates, this is now way to grow a business. I can have my exact price (figured by costs and profit margin) per thousand square feet so that later on, when costs or my labor rate changes, I can change one number, and then update all of my prices. It's much more efficient than the owner of the company having to go to each lawn and "guess" up a good price.
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:01 PM
prezek prezek is offline
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Each property is different though. You can't make it an exact science. What about a property that is entirely fenced, backyard fenced, no fence, pools, etc, etc...
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:23 PM
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BrendonTW BrendonTW is offline
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That lawn would be more expensive than one without a fence because there is more linear feet to string trim. If it was a half acre without s fence say the total would be $54. One with a fence would be say $59.
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Old 01-07-2011, 06:17 PM
oldclawn oldclawn is offline
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Well welll well you seem to have the magic formula all figured out for yourself so those of us with experience should politely excuse ourselves.................
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Old 01-07-2011, 06:26 PM
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BrendonTW BrendonTW is offline
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I'm trying to get the footing down for a business that does thousands of lawns in thr future. If you have a system for effeciently preparing estimates with a business this side, I would love to hear about it. "Just eyeball it." doesn't work in this case. How many lawns do you do?
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Old 01-07-2011, 07:05 PM
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BrendonTW BrendonTW is offline
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Not trying to pretend like I know it all. If I did, I wouldn't have posted this topic. I need help or advice on calculating my estimates.
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:23 PM
CircleC CircleC is offline
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I'm not too sure about figuring everything "in a formula". Your formula should be your per hour rate...if a mowing task takes you 1 hr and you charge $10 per hour. Task should cost customer $10. If a hedge trimming task takes you 2.5 hrs and you are still charging $10 per hr....hedge trimming task should cost the customer $25. Keep it easy...

Keeping time is great and that will help. You should know time for all tasks performed. Mowing as a whole is everything enolved with mowing, I think mowing is hard to break down per on prop task. Every property is diffrent and every situation is diffrent. I think where owners go wrong is they don't adjust their hourly rate on a regular basis. It may change monthly depending on fuel, employee cost, cell phone rates, local tax rates...and so on. Good luck and keep us posted....
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Old 01-07-2011, 11:34 PM
Chilehead Chilehead is offline
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First off, most guys do charge by the hour based on what a 60" Z-rider can do. If you charge the same hourly rate as them and are using a walk-behind, you'll lose money. Mathematically speaking, there is a proven fact called "the law of averages". What this means is that if you have any number (we'll use 2) of possible outcomes and they all have an equal chance of occurring, they will all occur about evenly if given enough chances. Now, I base my mowing on an hourly rate that has been determined by the size mower I use (48"WB), the time it takes me to trim/edge/blow, and the time it takes me to drop/lift the gate & fill out my customer's paper work. The last 2 count for 5 minutes, but I bill for 10 minutes because sometimes short delays happen. On a quarter-acre lot the time to trim/edge/blow usually equals the time to mow. On anything a half-acre or larger mowing usually takes more time. If the client has a pool, gate, excessive beds, etc, then I usually make it equal to mowing on the larger properties. A quarter-acre lot in a subdivision generally takes me 30 minutes to maintain plus 5 for the oddball stuff--but remember , I bill for 10. So the whole visit is billed for 40 minutes. My fee? $40.00 Why? I need to clear $40.00 an hour, but also need to get paid for drive time between clients. My goal is to pack a route with each stop being no further than 20 minutes from the next. 40 min. of maintenance plus 20 min. of drive time equals 60 minutes. If the drive time is less than 20 min, then my pay just went up. If the yard is larger, then I just charge proportionally more. That's what I do. It's not perfect, but I "average" $40.00/hr. for all my time everyday.
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