Making More Money with More Calls - Leafs

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Tn Lawn Man, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 479

    In previous years I would bid leaf removal and then do it for that price no matter if it went quicker or longer.

    Boy, this was dumb on my part because I almost always underbid my time. (there are too many hidden spots that leaves congregate)

    So, this year I took advice that was given in this forum and I changed to a "per hour" type of charging.

    I charge $65 an hour for a two man crew. Our average lawn take 1 1/2 hours early in the season and 3 hours later in the season (1/4 acre subdivision lot)

    I have got more booked this year than in all previous years combined and I am making a lot more money.

    Next, year I will have to raise my rates or hire more crews.

    Thanks for the advice fellas.
  2. Me too. It seems this is one lesson we all have to learn the hard way.
    It kind of makes the customer rethink their "wait until they all come down" attitude.
    $65 for two men seems kinda cheap. I charge $45/manhour and I thought that was cheap.
    We don't haul any leaves though. Mulch & maybe blow some stragglers into the woods or whatever.
  3. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Posts: 7,886

    It seems that customers get more picky if you do it by the job. They can also come out and expand what they want done. By the hour, you just smile and let them add whatever they want lol Nothing worse than under estimating a leaf job
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    The main reason I do it by the hour is because of how hard leaves are to estimate... It has been my experience a leaf job can take anywhere from half as long to twice as long as I had thought.

    Even thou this should add out in the long run, it doesn't...
    Say a leaf job was estimated at $100:
    - If it takes half the time, I'm up $50.
    - If it takes twice as long, I'm out $100!
    So I lose more when I lose than I gain when I make out.

    Of course customers prefer a fixed price as there are no surprises, but I use a stopwatch to time myself on top of remembering about what time I started, then I still usually give a better than $60pmh rate (usually around $50).

    So yes, best way to do it is by the hour.

    By the way, I do other work via this type of estimate also...
    It works best with regular customers but you can try it with anyone, again the only thing you have to make sure is to bust your tail and charge them right in the end (which isn't too hard to do when you already know you're going to be ok).

    p.s.: If I do overcharge someone (well it happens), remember to credit the extra to their account.
  5. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Posts: 7,886

    Yea, I work hard and fast as possible. I say they are free to watch if they want too. I am not out there to rip anybody off or be ripped off lol. This is why you have to work hard and charge a good rate in the summer so there is not so much pressure on you in the Fall. Customers either do it your way or no way.
  6. d&rlawncare

    d&rlawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 741

    65 ia waaay cheap for 2 men. $90 for 2 men is min. depending on what equipment you use.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I've gone the opposite route (with new clients) I charge per job for everything except the largest jobs. It is hard to say accurately how long it will take...I just try to do my best to give a price that will make money and yet not flip out the client. I mean if you're doing quarter acre of less props your past experience should be able to guide you...
  8. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,924

    In a recent thread, the notion of $/hr pricing was shot down by most posters.

    And, in other threads about the topic, $/hr is generally given a thumbs down.

    I agree with the idea, and do believe the customer can easily back-calculate the $/hr after the LCO is afraid to give them a $/hr rate. There is nothing that is hidden with a lump sum.
  9. ha305

    ha305 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 68

    We charge $90 an hour plus disposal, two men. It is so much better than doing by the job. Around us the leaves all came down in about two weeks due to the high winds and rain, we did not encounter that last year, they fell over a longer period. It makes it a lot easier on you also, your not as worried about havuing to leave within say an hour before you start to lose money. Just my thought.:cool2:
  10. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    Quote one rate with a free estimate and a discounted rate if they don't require a free estimate. For us, it's $44 per man hour, discounted to $36 per man-hour without an estimate. Otherwise, you end up trying to explain to a client why you don't offer free estimates. This is a complete waste of time and you will seldom win. If someone still wants a free estimate at the higher hourly rate, tell them you will be out as soon as your shrub crew is caught up and never call them back. They aren't buying. And they will never call you back either.

    DFW Area Landscaper

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