Be Careful, Man hour $ Discrepency

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by woodydog, May 28, 2005.

  1. woodydog

    woodydog LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    Get this one, my partner met with a couple to do their yard work. It was a huge job so he told them we would do the trimming, weeding, bed clean up and barking on a time and material basis. $45.00 per hour plus material costs. They said that $45 per hour is actually $90 per hour when two of us are there. He explained that it is $45 per hour, example, one guy is working on trimming while the other is working on weeding etc... They said, that still sounds expensive. So he said look, we do beautiful work, let us do the front yard and then you can decide if you want us in the back. So we do the front, they can't get over how great everything looks, even tell us to start in the back, we expalin how busy we are and that it'll be a month or so before we can get to the back. We send the bill for 57 hours plus material and they throw a **** fit saying that it isn't $45 per man hour but $45 per hour for four hands. We even had a 3rd guy there helping us out, so the customer says that is $135 per hour. Still try to explain to them that 3 guys are more productive than 2 and 2 are more productive than 1. To shorten this up, we finally agreed to charge only $22.50 per hour but won't be doing any more work for them. The kicker to it all is, we dethatched their yard, took 4 hours and billed them 4 hours at $45 per hour long before we started the clean up project, we got totally hosed, but still wanted to get paid.
    What would you guys have done? From then on we have added per man hour to our time and material contracts. Just sucks, they seemed to be really cool people.

  2. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    so your labor charge was $2565.00 and they balked?

    then you settled for half of that?

    I think you are a pushover or you got hosed by some pros.

  3. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    It was a learning experience ..... we don't quote man hours or $$ per hour ... we price it by the job & I understand that the job scope or size did not allow you to give a fair estimate .....

    So at that point you may have asked or required a "deposit" of say $500 and than as the job went forward .... updated them at what the cost were at and how much more time or $$ would be until job completed
  4. Tvov

    Tvov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,157

  5. woodydog

    woodydog LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    That's the problem, I wasn't there when he explained it to them so I don't know exactly what was said. He did try to explain to them that it was $45 per man hour and they should have understood from the first bill we sent them for dethatch, $180.00 for 4 hours (1 guy). In my eyes, they knew exactly what they were doing and hosed us. We told them to call any other maintenance company, plumber, electrician, painter etc... and ask them what their labor rates are and ask them for how many men that is. In the trades or even lawyers, brokers etc.. when a price is quoted for hours it is always per man unless specified. We even had on the contract $45 per hour, it didn't say for 2 men, it didn't say $22.50 per hour, it said $45. We got hosed, asked them what they would pay to get the bill paid and settled on the $22.50. We still made money on the bark and some on the labor, just not what was agreed upon. The funny thing is, the guy is a stock broker, so I said if I wanted to buy some shares of a stock and he said that stock was at $10 then do I get to buy as many shares as I want at $10? No I have to pay $10 per share, he didn't go for that one, seemed to make him angry. Oh well, like I said, we now have $ per man hour on all of our time and material jobs.
    Just a heads up from someone new in the game.
  6. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    So, you did $2565 worth of work without a contract?

    You deserve what you got.

    Not sorry.
  7. txlawnking

    txlawnking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,905

    I hope you learned a lesson on many levels here.. For starters, you and your partner should already have had a WRITTEN understanding about how you conduct business, in other words a standard procedure to bid any job in any situation.

    But ya'll have no one to blame but yourself in the area of not getting paid what you were owed.. A: you should've had a WRITTEN ESTIMATE of the total cost of the job when completed, with a place for them to sign stating that they clearly agree to the terms of your deal...

    If you don't set the terms of how you do business, then someone will for you.

    I'm really not trying to bust your chops, As I made a similar mistake on a clean up job last year.. That mistake cost me $450 on a clean up job I bid at $1,300 Just because I didn't write a clear, comprehensive contact between my self and the Realtor I was working for..
  8. stuie

    stuie LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    Well some people just cant get it into their heads that one person for eight hours is eight hours and two people for four hours still equals eight hours.
    Simple math is not everyones forte.
    If the customer cant get that hourly rate senario into their heads its already a huge red flag to me.
    Turned down hourly rate job worth at least $1k last week cause she couldnt get it.
    Also the fact she didnt really have an idea of exactly how far they wanted to go with the work,thats why we were on an hourly rate scenario
    Owned seven properties four minutes from the airport worth an absoulute mint ;)
  9. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 479

    I just never ever never ever quote hourly rates.

    I always give a complet job quote.
  10. J&R

    J&R LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 835

    I never quote what i charge per man hour. I look at the job and give a price to do the job. If they found out what i charge per man hour they would never give me the job.

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