How to account for travel time?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by D Felix, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    For some reason, the search function isn't wanting to work for me tonight, so I'll just throw this out there:

    How do you all charge for travel time when you make multiple stops in one day??

    This is something that we've always struggled with, and have yet to figure out a good system.

    If you only make one stop (large spring/fall clean-up, decent mulch job, landscape install, etc.), it's easy; customer gets charged for both directions of travel.

    However, if your first stop is an hour away, the next stop is 20 minutes closer to the shop, and the last is 10 minutes from the shop, who gets charged for what amount?

    You could charge each customer for what it would take to travel there and back (first customer- 2 hours, second 1 hour & 20 minutes, last 20 minutes), but then you are charging more in total than what you actually drove and will give you false numbers at the end of the year...

    This is a perennial problem that I'd really like to find a decent solution to. I've got an idea, but I'd like to hear what anyone else is doing.
  2. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 613

    Just estimate your average travel time to all jobs. I know it sounds difficult, but if you have a mow crew and most of your places are within 15-20 minutes average them out and include the time in the overall pricing schematic, but I wouldnt add a line item to their mow price and show them you are chargin $X for travel time. That will always rub a customer the wrong way I think.
  3. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    I figure travel time in with my overhead. It is just one of the many functions that go on that don't generate income but must be paid for. My hourly rate has travel time built into the rate.

    If I get a call to bid that is way out of my typical areas I just let the client know up front that they will have to pay for a significant portion of my crews travel. I have one client like that, she pays almost $ 80 just for us to show up.
  4. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,925

    I average it out. I figure that my day has 2-3 hours of travel time. then I figure out that I have my employees work 4-5 hrs. for a total of 6-8 hrs for th day. 10-18 lawns =30-40 a yard average. Now I have some that are 22 and some that are 58 but figure out the amount of yards and add travel times into the bid.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I also think averaging works best, and invariably you do lose some and win some.

    One way I deal with the solo trips to nowhere is I try my utmost to wait until I have at least 3 clients in that area requiring services before I head out there... For example, I may delay one person's service by one day, another client's house gets serviced on time and it is even possible the third client might get moved up one day on the schedule, the big deciding factor here is actually fuel consumption which I measure in gallons per house serviced, lol.

    The only time this works against me is when things are slow, but most of the time if I only wait and reschedule things for another day or two, it resolves the solo trip to nowhere issue. In my case, I categorically refuse to go beyond the borders of my service area, which is also to say that to this day I simply haven't found someone willing to pay the rate I would require to do so.
  6. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,898

    Averaging is something we have done in the past. However, since we don't mow (and don't do anything with the turf after it's seeded), we don't have set routes 95% of the time. We do have 5 bank branches that when we are in pure maintenance mode (light pruning and spraying) we hit all of them in one loop in one day. But, there may be another stop or two along the way...

    Averaging works for routes. If we hit the bank branches in one day, travel time will be averaged for each even though they are all considered one account.

    Most of our maintenance clients are contracted. Meaning they make payments through the season. At the end of the year, we review the contracts and see how well (or how badly) we made out that year. Since travel is a decent portion of the scope of work, it needs to be accounted for. Again, we don't have routes (and it would be nearly impossible to do so) so averaging isn't always an option. And, yes, averaging does tend to screw half of the clients on that particular day and messes with your final numbers at the end of the year. Then there's the clients on a T&M basis that are thrown in there to boot.

    I just don't think there's an easy answer. I don't even know if there's a complicated one!
  7. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    always bidded travel from the shop to the job. One way.... that way if I was able to book another job on the same day then my time was covered in all directions as once I got in the field the jobs wre generally closer together than the shop-job distance. so it worked itself out.

    Theonlytime I chagred travel two ways on full day or multi-day jobs....
  8. haybaler

    haybaler LawnSite Senior Member
    from ma
    Posts: 511

    charging travel time for mowing or for hourly jobs is two completely different subjects. for mowing it's included in the price and it's your job to have enough customers in the area to make a profit. you can't charge someone more because it's your only lawn on that side of town. now for hourly jobs if I'm doing full day/multi day jobs I always give the customer a break and only charge travel time one way. smaller jobs you have to get travel both ways or else half your day will be travel time and you won't make any money. I find for smaller jobs it's better just to give the customer a set price to do the job and not an hourly rate that will scare them away. also it really doesn't matter how close to the shop you are, your time is your time. and I haven't had any customers pick me over someone else because I was closer to them, and no one has ever complained about travel time.
  9. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 753

    I think many people work like me ... or at least it works for me because of the type of business I have, and how I operate it.

    Most all of my work is done within the county I live in ... and most fairly close to my home. My drive time is figured as part of my cost of doing business ... or as better described ... part of my overhead. In mowing ... it's all part of my charge to mow.

    If I am doing a one time job ... say redefining and mulching beds ... I then figure a delivery charge for the mulch. With mulch, I am either having it delivered (of which isn't free for me either) .. or I am delivering it myself. If I deliver it, of course I charge for that depending on how far I travel.

    Part of being successful in the mowing end of this business is keeping your routes as tight as possible. This isn't always as easy for some who may live and work in fairly rural areas, but for me it works well. The tighter the route, the less time spent traveling to and from jobs.

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