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Hourly rates for equipment / labor etc

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BeautifulBlooms, Nov 16, 2005.

  1. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 613

    I am experimenting on how to go about assessing what to charge somebody. I knwo what I want to earn with my wife or mysefl working (both degreed horticulturists). Has anyone given their equipment a set hourly rate $. For example, if I were to do a leaf cleanup with just me and a rake. It would take me say 8 hours. If I took my backpack blower along it might take me 6 hours. If I took my backpack blower and my billy goat walk behind blower it might take me 4 hours. If I want $35 per hour for my time. How much can I charge for each additional piece of equipment? If it saves me 4 hours out of the 8 can I charge $70 per hour for me and my blowers instead of just the $35.

    Basically I am wondering if because I was more efficient with my equipment how much of the saved 4 hours can I charge for.

    Need clarification let me know, if you understand what I am saying please reply.
  2. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    I tried the whole equipment pricing thing before and it was hard to keep track of everything actuately I felt
  3. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 613

    I just mean that i don't want to lose those 4 hours of paid time, but at the same time I dont want to rake for 8 hours I want tools ot make it work better and shouldnt the customer be charged for the service, since we provide them with the tools they cant afford as a homeowner. Maybe not 100% of the time, but maybe 50% or so. So if I work 6 hours I should be able to charge the 8 hours at my manly hourly rate.
  4. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    yes, the customer should be charged for the service provided.

    You can charge by the service or charge hourly. But those rates should be based on the equipment that is being used as well

    The time that I think it would be ok to charge for equipment by the hour would be when you use large equipment
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I do, my equipment is my employees, thus my equipment gets PAID...

    For me, any gas-powered equipment is 45 minimum and UP to 60 / hour, is what I've been charging so as to motivate myself enough to get it done in a HURRY... As opposed to charging $30/hour, I would never get a thing done... So I drink some energy drink, put on the Mp3 Sportsplayer with the Koss earbuds and play some techno LOUD and it's time to PARTY !!! I get a LOT of work done, but for this I like to get paid at LEAST as much as someone who takes all day.

    Another way to look at it is this:
    The backpack blower does at least TWICE the work of what most home-owner equipment can do, and 3-4 times the work of a rake. It is the Br-550, a 4-cycle stihl slightly more powerful than the br-420 (my other bp) and is rated around 400 cfm.
    The pushblower is a 10hp billygoat which does 4-6 times the work of the backpack, so it can do in one hour what it takes most home-owners all day, and it is rated at 2,400 cfm, it can push piles of leaves 2 and 3 feet tall 10 feet OUT in one fell swoosh...
    Also, the br-550 costs 400 dollars, the push-blower runs 100 dollars/horse, so a 10 horse is a cool 1k thou I bought mine on sale for 900 ... Well, someone has to pay for this, the money has to come from somewhere...

    I wish customers would understand this, but while some do, others think since the work gets done FASTER, that it is CHEAPER (or AS cheap) per hour as with a rake... Way I see things, if lawnboy JohnDoe takes ALL day and charges 10-15/hour, then 8-10 hours later he has 80 - 150 dollars or thereabouts... Really, for the SAME amount of work, I like to be in that ballpark myself, whether it takes me an hour OR all day, it's the SAME thing in the end.

    Practice makes perfect, this my 4th season I got the stuff down pretty good and can get some serious work knocked out... I push that mid-size framed blower as if it was self-propelled for which reason I charge as follows:
    At first I was trying to get 40 / hour for the backpack and 60 for the goat, but that got way tricky because I start by edging the entire area with the backpack, then do MOST the work with the goat but switch back at times, the dual rates was way confusing 5 minutes with this, 10 with that... So now I charge $50 / hour flat rate for leaf cleanup, period. That kinda averages it out and I don't have to think about it no more. Yes they lose a little on backpack time and yes I lose a little on pushblower time but I find it's much easier on the mind, it really is.

    So that should help, and yes most certainly for my business, equipment DOES demand a hourly rate, for example a tractor with a loader / backhoe would get paid more than, say the walk-behind mower.
  6. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    For leaf work, if there are 2 of us on the job, plus a z plus a backpack blower, I count the number of "workers" as 3. The mower & blowers are counted as 1 worker. Depending on how dirty the leaf job is, I rarely charge less the 50.00 perhour for the machines in total often more but thats an average rate for the equip.
  7. Justcutitshort

    Justcutitshort LawnSite Member
    Posts: 187

    I recall a few good responses to this old topic. One of them continues to ring a bell. "Within reason, you deserve a basic wage regardless of what tool you have in your hands". The thought here is, it's you that are working and not the tool you have in your hands. Without you, the tool can't do anything.
    One thing is definite, I would be charging more (hourly), not less, to hand rake a lawn as compared to cutting the lawn with a self-propelled mower, or raking with a power rake.
    Don't misunderstand that pricing does increase when you begin using drastically better equipment than hand utensils, such as high-end bagging riders, backhoes/etc., large leaf managment tools and so on.
    As a quick example, a typical backpac user may yield $60/hour, while a large ground blower would be billed at $75/$85 per hour.
    Mowing seems to be a different process for us. For lawn pricing we walk the lawn with a standard 48 mower to set the cost to cut. Then, whatever larger/faster mower you use to cut the lawn is all just increased profit, since the price of the lawn stays the same, as the cutting time decreases.
    This rule seems work very well for account 1 acre and less.
  8. PR Fect

    PR Fect LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,074

    One thing is definite, I would be charging more (hourly), not less, to hand rake a lawn as compared to cutting the lawn with a self-propelled mower, or raking with a power rake.
    Just Cut it short, I follow you on all of what you said but this.
    BB, the job should pay the same no matter what you use. If it takes 8 hours with a hand rake at $35 an hour, that would be $280.00. So if you use a back pack blower and it takes 6 hours, that would be $46.67 per hour with back pack. 4 with the cart blower, would be $70.00 per hour. PR
  9. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 613

    Good responses, I was playing devils advocate sortof, I have been doing some leaf cleanups and I was just wondering if the hours saved by using equipment can be translated directly to $ per hour. I understand we own the tools ot make the job quicker which also require sevice and repair, so we need to consider that if they save man hours we should get paid for them. Obivously our business is starting small, we only own hand tools, a backpack blower and this weeks purchase was a billy goat walk behind blower. We had enough leaf jobs to justify the $800 purchase, plus we plan on having them all again next year.

    BUT Has anyone come up with a $ figure per hour for pieces of equipment. Like if I took myself my backpack blower and my billy goat walk behind blower to a job site. If I worked 8 hours and the blowers worked 6 while the other 2 were spent hand raking and tarping up the leaves, do I charge the $35 per hour for me, and $25 per hour for the equipment? Or do I consider that the 6 hours of blowing saved me 4 hours of raking and charge them for 12 man hours. Just looking for differen ways to look at this.
  10. davidcalhoun

    davidcalhoun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,022

    Why should you charge more if you are using expensive equipment???

    Lets look a hypothical farming example. Lets say a land owner calls you over to harvest 1 acre of corn but he wants to know how much it will cost him per hour.

    This is when you find out how realistic the guy is. You tell him $100 per hour. If he chokes, this is where you explain to him that you are equipment extensive. That the combine cost $185,000 and you can do 1 acre in about 1 hour.

    If he still thinks that $100 is too much, you inform him that you could sub it out for about $8 per hour to some hand laborers. Of course you tell him that you can not be sure how long it will take them. It could take well over 12.5 man hours to do the same job by hand that you can do in 1 hour with your equipment.

    The main flaw in the above example is that the farmer should have just bid by the job (harvesting 1 acre) instead of telling the land owner his per hour cost.

    You should bid on the entire job. One set price to complete it. If you are smart enough to use equipment to get the same job done in 1/3 the time as the other guy, good for you.

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