My Leaf Cleanup Advice For The In-Experienced

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BSDeality, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    There's been a few; plus there will be more (i'm almost positive) posts about leaf cleanups. I just feel like tryin to be helpful/share my thoughts on this.

    How much to charge?
    totally dependent on your area for starters. around here most LCO's are working around $30-40/hr for basic blow and go leaving them onsite/in the woods. i try to get more though. why would i work for $50-75/hr all season mowing and then give them a discount on leaves?!

    Either flat rate it (estimate your time) or charge via the hour. Personally i don't like using hourly rates, i find that many homeowners don't like to see a 20 year old "kid" (in their eyes) make $30-75/hr. What they don't realize is they've been paying that rate all season for my mowing.

    How do i estimate time?
    go out there and do a few! i just got a new blower this season (echo bp 750t) and i wasn't sure on how much it was going to speed things up. Now since i bought a nice expensive/productive blower i do not want to pass my improved time savings onto my customer by charging by the hour. Why should my increased productivity be passed on to them?

    Example: this weekend i saw my neighbor struggling with a 30cc handheld blower. i walked over and asked him if i could help him out with his leaves, FOR FREE! he looked at me like i was crazy, but i explained that I saw it as an investment for my company. By improving my estimating skills i can potentially make a lot more money by charging by the job. I walked the property (1 acre), estimated i would be there 3 hours. I fired up the blower and got to work. 2 hours later i had finished it it. while he was still working in the front yard on the same pile. he had resorted to tarping it by now.


    Until this season i didn't take leaf cleanup seriously, and i was mal-equiped with a Sears hand held blower and a generic 8hp push blower i got from home depot a few years ago. This year i bought an Echo BP 750T and i have cut my cleanup time down exponentially. With my new tool i can now justify charging a good rate, but i don't want to let the homeowner know how little time it will take me to do their lawn. Picture this the owner has 3/4 acre of lawn, leaves over most of it. they look out there and see themselves doing it and the job taking an entire day of tough labor using a rake and tarp or even a small gas/electric blower. I know i can do those leaves in 1.5hr or less. Now, ask yourself, what is their saturday worth? $25? $50? $100? $150? MORE?!

    If you're charing via the hour, be ready for someone to be standing there with a stopwatch and stopping/starting it everytime you take a breather. However if you're charging by the job, you can sit down or you can hustle your --- off and move on to the next property.
     
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    Good advice...hopefully some will read it and use it too. I hate hearing about ridiculous cheap rates for leaf clean ups.
     
  3. topcat

    topcat LawnSite Member
    from Bflo
    Posts: 99

    I agree with stop the cheap rates. Did an estimate for an older couple last week. Yard full of trees, 3-4" inches of leaves on whole lawn and in the beds. I figured 4 hours of time myself at $45/hour to blow all leaves to curb using bp and wheeled blower and clean out beds. Guy laughed and said way over priced. I asked what he paid last year and he said 2-3 guys came in and spend 3-4 hours and charged him $75 - $100 total. I laughed to myself and told him no way can I pay for equipment and make any profit at those rates. Also, in today's weekly classified paper there is a guy with an ad stating rates as low as $15/lawn for leaf cleanup.
     
  4. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    Good advice an I agree 100% charge by the job. Just finished today 4 hour job, $350. If I would have charged by the hour I would have only gotten $200.
     
  5. paponte

    paponte LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,366

    OK, you guys have been bugging me with this per job rate and not per hour rate. Maybe for a single man operation I can understand it, but not for a crew. Maybe I am wrong, but I see too many factors involved to bid a leaf cleanup down to the last minute. I don't know about you, but if I have 3 guys on a cleanup for an extra 1/2hr, were talking over a $60. difference.

    I just don't see how you can be sure to make money. :confused:
     
  6. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501


    I agree Paul...leaf clean up by the man-hour is the ONLY way to charge to CYA (and I don't care if it's $25 or $125 per hour). Personally for us, it starts at $75 per man hour depending on what type of equipment we are using.
     
  7. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    paponte, i guess you're right, i wasn't thinking about a crew since i'm a PT'er myself. I'm getting pretty good at estimating my time with leaves (at least so far). I feel i know what i can do per hour. I generally include an extra 30min to 1 hour extra depending on how i feel about the job.
     
  8. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501


    Then you don't have a lot of experience in estimating and/or your hourly rate is low. My guess is your hourly clean up rate ($50) is too low.
     
  9. paponte

    paponte LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,366

    That's the only reason why it was bugging me. Cleanups are different from account to account. What's including for the set price? I have some customers that just want the leaves removed. Others we do leaves, clean out the beds, turn over beds, remove all annuals, etc.

    We also have customers that are picky as anything, and want everything removed down to the last acorn. These are the people getting banged for over $600. for a cleanup. They get what they want and understand that the more time we are there, the more it costs.

    Not trying to change anyones way of doing business, just wanted to make sure we were comparing apples to apples. :cool:
     
  10. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    I am a one man operation so It makes more sense for me to charge by the job, Although what happens if you have a crew out there and you arent there to supervise the job and the homeowner sees guys taking screwing around or taking to many small breaks. I would think that people paying by the hour could get pretty upset about this when they see a bill for 6 hours when they felt like the job could have been done 5. Ever run into this? I personally dont know if this has ever been a problem since I have never had an employee but I am curious if this situation has ever come up and it it did I feel would give you company name a bad image.
     

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