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can u charge by the hour?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bobbygedd, Nov 2, 2001.

  1. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    every fall i seem to get my butt kicked when leaf season comes. in addition to my regular customers, we also place an add for leaf cleanup and get many calls. it seems no matter what i charge, its never enough. its real hard for me to look at a property and figure out how long it will take and how much will be carted away. leaves are very decieving. do u think it would sell, if i gave my estimates based on an hourly rate, plus disposal fee? any one else do it like this? i was thinking something like $35 per man hour plus disposal. im just afraid if i present it to the customer this way, it wont sell. thanx
  2. fireball

    fireball LawnSite Member
    from ne Pa
    Posts: 172

    sure you can but charge for the blower. In other words, 35.00per man per blower. total charge would be 70.00 per hr per man. Six men is 420.00 per hour. A good blower does the work of four men. Once people see how fast you move, you never have any problems. for the people that complain tell them that you will be glad to rake by hand for 35.00 per hr. The pacing element in the system is how fast will your leaf loader load the truck. Be aware that when you charge for disposal that it may require more wait time at the dump than what the tonnage fee is and you need to get a return on the dumptruck too. We charge $465.00 for a 22 cubic yard truck of leaves. it can weigh anywhere from 4300lbs to 16,000lbs depending on the leaves and moisture
  3. Fine Lines Lawn

    Fine Lines Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 447

    I've always charged by man hour for leaves :)
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,840

    You're right. A lot of people are going to balk at that. Many people have no idea that we make that hourly rate, just for raking leaves. And then they get to thinking, "Heck, I could pay my nephew John $15 an hour to come over here and do this and he'd be more than happy with that." Furthermore, many people don't like hourly rates because they figure you'll either exaggerate your time spent or you'll go slower.

    Here's what would happen if you began to quote hourly rates - you would not land as many jobs - period. Some LCOs are okay with that. But if you want the business here's what you do;

    Look at a job and try your best to determine how many hours and truckloads it will be. Suppose you figure 4 hours and 2 truckloads to haul away. Suppose you want to make $75 for each truckload you dump. That's 4*35 + 2*75 = 290. So here's how you bid it to them, "Well, I'll tell ya. You got a lot of leaves here. And sometimes I get into a job and it can be very deceiving. So I like to play it safe now adays. I can't give you a firm price. But I can give you a firm price range. I am thinking it would take me about half a day or maybe a little more to do this. If that's the case it will be $290. But if I am here for the entire day or maybe even a few hours tomorow I'm gonna have to get $550."

    Then you stop, and read their response. If they say, "Cool. sounds good!" then don't say anymore. But if they balk at the price or kind of act uncomfortable then you say, "Well, tell ya what. We could set a price cap on it if you're on a budget. You could say no more than "$400 or $300" and I'd make sure to do as much work as I could get in for that price." And then I'd just begin working on the most important areas first. Then at least you'd get most of it done.

    This is the fairest way to bid a job like this. And even though you are still basically billing per hour, it doesn't come off as doing that. And people don't stop and think, "Well, $290 divided by 4 hours......". Instead of thinking of whether your hourly rate is exhorbatent or not, they are just thinking, 'how much can I afford?'

    p.s. you can get away with charging a good hourly rate for work that involves more skill - e.g. sprinkler repair, planting, etc. The problem with the above is that many people don't consider leaf raking to be worth $35 an hour because there is no special skill involved. Forget the $400 blower you have, the truck, the gas, your time. They don't think about stuff like that. People just associate the skill with the wage and if they don't think it matches then they get leary sometimes. So the trick is to avoid them thinking of that at all costs.
  5. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    well, from what u guys tell me, it seems i can at least try. add went in today, i got one call, and i quoted it as $65 per hour, plus disposal. i also estimated the time to be about 2 hours. ill see how this one goes.
  6. I have some very expensive leaf removal equipment, to justify my $75.00 per a man hour charge. YES $75 per a man hour.

    The clock starts when we start, the clock ends we all the leaves are curb side vaced

    SCAPEASAURUSREX LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 835

    Well for existing clients, ones I have had since the spring I will charge by the hour.

    For one time cleanups.. I charge alot higher, along the lines of what Jim said giving them a range . It could be as low as $XXXX or could go up to about $ XXX and so on.. Sometimes I will put a cap if the cust requires is , like for landlords, etc who have certain budgets .. So in that case I ask them how much is alloted and try not to exceed that limit.. Almost always works for me ??
  8. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    Its always a dance and I seem to have some of my regular customers that get a better rate on the clean but I still try amd get 4X the weekly mow after all is done.

    I don't get any less than 100.00 per yard at the curbside for jobs that aren't regular customers.

    Its hard to average but I get between 60 and 75 per hour but I have made as much as 150 per hour on some jobs. I try and balance that with my regular customers who allow me to continue to work on a weekly basis. I would like to get a set pricing system but its harder than it seems.

    My advice is to take care of your regular customers as well as yourself, first. Then when the add-on one timers come up you have to figure you are spending at least 2 hours on a property so bill accordingly and bid high. 2 hours for 2 people in the high demand leaf season = 80 or 90 per hour. Don't quote any less than 100 but you have to know your costs and the demand for your work.
    More people want you to work then take the ones that will pay you the most for your time and equipment.

    If they ***** and say how come you charge so much I say, I have 40k worth of equipment that allows me to do this work much more efficiently than the homeowner can. I am paying for this equipment and I deserve an adequate wage to use it. I am insured and I have 6 years of commercial experience to allow me to make their lawn look great in a short period of time. I will gladly stop and let someone try and outrake me and pay them if they beat me.
    The complaints never come because everyone knows what a pain in the a$$ it is to hand rake leafs.

    Good Luck
  9. stick9

    stick9 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 262

    Charging per man hour is really the only rational way to do it .. otherwise, you can really lose out by underbidding. (or over bidding for that matter ... you could be really low balled by someone else!) ... thus, by doing the aforementioned, you will/should be getting what you're worth ... at least if you're charging enough, that is. :)


    You must really be the lawngodfather to charge 75 DOLLARS PER MAN HOUR!! We all bask in your glory. :)

    btw- we charge 85 per man hour from house to curb left in a monaway, columized vein. If we transfer the material from the singular hullock to the truck via our trailer-mounted Billy Goat extraction device, 10 dollars more per man hr is charged + disposal fee.

  10. Each job we do, we use:

    Lazer ZTR $9,000

    Peco Vac $2,500 some times requires a new engine every other year

    Truck $30,000

    Trailer $1,000

    Gas use more with sevral engines running

    Curb side vac $9,000

    Truck to haul leaves away $45,000

    almost $100,000 to do each job plus labor and other expences, I think it's well justified when explained like that, and yes some times have to give the same explanation to clients.

    Also It's a lot harder on the equipment and employees to do leaf jobs, with the added stress of staying in one spot for longer periods of time.

    Strick9 I do see that your $10 per a man hour higher than I. I guess next year I will have to raise my hourly rate, I love to be known as the most expensive on leaf removal. For some odd reason my name sticks in their heads, then they call when the others don't show up.

    BTW the way we do it, I don't think there is a faster way to do larger properties any other way any faster or more affecantly

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