Measuring and calculating cost

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Love Thy Neighbor, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. Love Thy Neighbor

    Love Thy Neighbor LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    Im busy with questions but I appreciate the responses.

    I'm going to buy me a Measuring wheel to figure out what to charge my clients. The problem is i'm clueless. In the past I would look at the grassy area and guess at a quote. Once I did it a couple of times I realized that I cheated myself.

    So, say I measure an account at 2acres do I charge by the acre? or
    Do I use a formula that says my mower travels at X miles per hour and can handle 2 acres in X amount of time and charge a dollor amount for that time? I'm sure there are many ways to fiqure out a price but if I come up with my own I dont want to cheat myself and I want to always be consistent.

    I want to look professional when dealing with prospective clients to give them the since that I am not a fly by night company.
    One guy I met with wanted to know how I came up with my quote and he almost made me look stupid until I thought of a witty way of explaining my process.

    Please help.
     
  2. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,900

    LTN,

    Thereare generally toooooo many variables to use a formula for most services you provide other than maybe fertilization. Some use mowing formulas basedongroundspeed,etc,but you also haveto take in degreeof difficulty factors: open or cluttered, sloped or flat, fenced or not, do gates limit machine size/use. I never give a quote over the phone, other than state my minimum. Myself or my Lawn care manager do all bids and take everything into consideration. Same w/ mulching & pruning. There are always factors to consider for how fast/slow a job will run. In the end if you do your homework, you'll makea decent profit & that's what it's all about.

    Bob
     
  3. PLC

    PLC LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 3

    I use the measuring wheel for calculating mulch for beds and things like that. I live in Ohio and I go to the Ohio State Auditors home page and then link to my county Auditor, there they have GIS mapping for all addresses, which gives me the lot sizes etc.

    One other note, I do not subtract out the footprint of the house, walk and drive. I just use the lot size, because just if a big house is on a small lot then I usually have just as many obsticles to deal with.

    This also helps me to understand how neighborhoods are laid out in general, patterns develop real quick.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,261

    You need to measure an area you mow and time it. Do this for every mower. I fig ft/2 per min. Measure trimming and edging. 75 ft a min. Count obsticals and assign a time to do each. blow time. assign price for each. May be same or different. Add er all up. Things to think about PIA factor. Distance from base. Nasty ditches. Do they hold water? Dog home? Average for area? Don't want to be too low.

    Mark
     
  5. greenman

    greenman LawnSite Addict
    Posts: 1,405

    I use a formula for everything, mowing, mulching, ferting, etc. I charge by the sq.ft. These figures are based on my operating costs and what I need to profit per hour.
     
  6. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

  7. ProMo

    ProMo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,468

    a measuring I will go thanks guido im starting to get an idea how this all works still need to work on hedge trimming estimates but ive got it figured that im averaging 14-16 trims per year and my mowing goes up for 6 weeks when leaves start dropping ive been tracking my times for 2 years and WAS making a whopping 20 dollars per hr on some jobs ive cut back on service visits and raised prices now im starting to see a difference
     
  8. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 777

    I'm still a walk the property and give a price kind of guy. I havn't run into any problems yet as far as under bidding. I do tend to esimate on the low side for residential stuff. I think that is because all of my comercial stuff are really big.

    I can say though that I am bless to be living in an old coal town. Just about every lot is the same +- 5 min or so. The main thing that I take into concideration is drive time, and pain neck stuff like gates, parking, dogs, and so on.
     
  9. TJLC

    TJLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,308

    Down here most residentials are "standard" size lots. (80x125). It's not too hard to figure from one to another. I do add in more if they are on canals, excessive triming, etc... If I run into a BIG property I just try to break it down into smaller increnents and figure it from there. I also look online to see what the actual square footage is of the property I am looking at. These methods may not be the best way but they have worked ok for me so far. I also have cut some properties first and then given a price based on how long it actually took me to do. Some people go for it, some don't. Good luck.
     
  10. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    I use a measuring wheel for any bed work, creating a new bed from scratch, or mulching an existing bed. For the turf area I always walk it...figure out about how long your normal stride is then calculate the sq footage...this is a little faster than a wheel...but a wheel is fine if you want to use one...I just dont find it that more useful. Only you know how productive you are so its up to you how to then price it. Bur heres something I have done lately and its significantly helped my bottom line...lets say you start at 8 and quit at 5 ..in theory you have 8 "billable" hours in that day...so once you establish your most effcient route, you need to include in each estimate your travel time TO each one...it may not seem like allot but in a week you will have lost allot of revenue...so when I leave one account and point the truck at the next one, my estimate for that next one includes the time to get there...and so on through the day...I know in the beginning I was not clearly aware of how much "windshield time" I was not getting paid for....and I was leaving allot of money on the table as a result...just my 2 cents....also I would strongly suggest you keep something like a Daytimer in your truck...keep a detailed daily diary of EVERYTHING you do and how long it took....this one thing, more than any other, has helped me see my ineffciencies. It also is an invaluable work log in case you need to answer a ? for a customer on what you did on a certain day...also its an easy place to keep materials used records....without this diary I would be totally winging it month in month out
     

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