1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Not to worry. Check out the archived thread of the Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns, and the LawnSite community on the Franchising Forum.

    Dismiss Notice

Leaf cleanup idea

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by mowerbrad, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    I guess when you look at the hourly rate, as long as I have a full schedule, I could definately make more per hour just sucking up the leaves rather than doing the full clean-up.

    As much as I would like to get this going this year, that just won't happen. I'm far too cautious when it comes to stuff like this. I don't want to drop $8000-$10000 on this set up only to realize that its something that isn't worth while. For all I know, city residents won't want to pay for a service like this after having the city doing it for them from their tax dollars...maybe paying out of pocket is a little too much and the customers will just resort to the brown paper lawn bags for their stuff?

    One of the biggest things that I can't seem to really figure out is the prices that I'd charge. I'm thinking having a minimum of $50 up to a certain point then $XX amount for every cubic yard after that (or something along those line). Obviously if I have a full trailer load, I want to make sure that I have brought in a certain amount of revenue. While on the topic of money, I will have to figure out how to get paid by the customers. I was thinking that the customer would have to pay me while I'm there or leave me a check if they are gone. I don't want to be sending out bills all the time if this service picks up. I can use carbon paper and just leave them a receipt so they know that I got the money and that way they have a receipt in case they needed one. Plus, this way there is less of a chance of a customer not paying me.

    But this brings up a whole new problem for me...how much will a decent truck loader reduce the volume of leaves? I know Little Wonder is supposed to be pretty good at shredding and reducing the overall size and volume but I don't really know how much it is going to reduce a pile by. I would want to make sure that I get a loader that shreds well so I can fit the most leaves in one trailer load. It makes a big difference if I can fit an extra pile in each trip, would save on gas and overall earn me more per hour.

    Last year this idea sort of "died out" since the city was still doing curbside pickup. Now that they aren't doing that anymore, this idea "came to life" again.

    While I can for sure do this on the weekends, I can also do this a few afternoons during the week. So I'd like to think that I could get quite a few jobs done each week. At the same time, I will still need to think about my regular customers who would still be counting on me to do their properties each week.
     
  2. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    I don't think you're going to be able to have them leave money because you won't know how much it's going to cost. You don't want to be going around looking at every pile and giving an estimate. I would suggest you charge by time blocks with it front loaded, sort of how many service techs charge. So lets say you set a minimum $50 charge for the first 15 minutes and then $25 for every 15 minutes or part thereof after that. So if it takes you 40 minutes it's $100, dump time and fees included. Or $75 for the first half hour...most jobs should fall into that category. I have a friend in the business who bills in 6 minutes block of time (10ths of hours) after his minimum. Just some suggestions.
     
  3. metro36

    metro36 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,410

    Brad, you are talking about the same kind of setup I am building. Mine is a 6x10 10,000lb dump trailer w/ 18hp billy goat e/s vac. Mine will have 4' sides on top of the 2' trailer sides. I may make them a bit taller. I had a custom mount made up so the leaf loader hangs over the tongue. I wanted a bit bigger trailer but for some reason the dealers around here don't stock 12' trailers. Just 10' and 14'.

    My town has also stopped curbside pickup. The are now requiring all residents to bag leaves in large paper bags that must be bought from the town. These will cost approx 50 cents each. I am going to offer curbside pickup. No else in my area is offering this service yet. I am planning to charge $60 for the first 15 minutes then $1 per minute after that. Most people I have talked to think this is fair as the will need at least 50 bags to pickup all their leaves. Plus they don't want to go through the frustration of bagging.
     
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    That's the kind of pricing I was talking about! I think that's the way to go. The same way most service techs bill.
     
  5. metro36

    metro36 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,410

    Yeah I think its the best way to price it. It would be hard to charge by the yard because there is no easy way to measure the volume. I can just see customers arguing with my numbers. If you charge by the minute there is just less room for debate. Plus when the leaves are wet and take longer, you don't lose any money.
     
  6. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    So I think I like that pricing strategy the best....it beats trying to figure out pricing based on pile size. As I said, I'll have to start asking around to see what people would think would be a reasonable price. I want a price that's going to make it worth while for me and still affordable enough for the customer to take advantage of this service.

    I'm thinking an initial fee of $50 for the first 15 minutes then maybe $1/minute after that. But I'll see what people are willing to pay before settling on a price. I will not go much (if any) lower than the initial $50, afterall I'm in business to make money and not give away my services.
     

Share This Page