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SOLO: Dollar a minute? Above or Below?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Doublewide6, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. danieljoohn18

    danieljoohn18 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    How can you afford to stay in business at that rate?? If your a college kid or high school kid just trying to make a couple extra bucks then maybe I could see it but even then that is still low. Don't you have any overhead? Truck payments, insurance, fuel, workers comp, wages, ECT,,,,,
  2. StanWilhite

    StanWilhite LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,089

    IMO this is the most important part of the equation.

    If you really enjoy the work, the money will follow. When you enjoy your job, people notice in the quality of work that you do, and by the way you relate to your customers. And that's what it takes to build long term relationships that allow you to charge above average rates.

    If you don't like the job, there will never be that little spark that it takes to get you up each morning and out the door to meet the day. When you don't like your job....that shows too.

  3. The Sod Father Lawn Care

    The Sod Father Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Here is the issue on low ball bids. Why is it called a low ball bid when you are a one man operating the business. 76 year old Helen is not going to pay "Joe blow lawn care" 600 bucks to a crew who can do the job in 60 minutes. She doesn't care bout your thousand dollar set up or the big ford pulling it. She only wants a good job for a fair price. Some people don't have the big overhead costs like myself. I don't mow way to many people doing it. Just because someone is in debt don't hide the costs in your estimate to her. That's not low balling. People use that all the time on this site. I've been doing this 16 years and I charge 50 an hour x estimate on how long it will take. You see companies with 8000 dollar mowers cutting in the morning when the grass is usually wet from the dew. Dull ass blades and cutting way to low. His 7 dollar an hour helpers meanwhile are waving a 400 trimmer like Jason Vorhees digging up the dirt. Then 6 minutes later on to the next catastrophe all day long. The point is if your just starting out do what you know and don't be in debt to 30k for equipment. Smaller trailer smaller truck Helen could care less. All she wanted was for the leaves to get picked up today. She never cared bout 1 guy doing it or 8. She cares bout price.
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  4. Doublewide6

    Doublewide6 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 203

    I'm talking about working alone. I don't have any employees. I hear stories of $20-$30 a lawn. If a 1/3 acre lawn is mowed with a 21" bagger and it takes 40 minutes (for one person), I feel it should cost about $40. The homeowner is looking for a quality job and does not want big mowers on his year. Now if you are going to come in there with a 48" zero turn and knock it out in 25 minutes it should cost less. The point I was making before this post became the biggest pissing contest is if you work alone SOLO how can you stay in business if you are mowing lawns for less than a dollar per minute? So if you are mowing a half acre lot in 45 minutes and charging $30 how are you doing it and not bankrupt?
  5. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 2,717

    $60 pmh, according to the info you're billing at $66 pmh, or a little more than a dollar per minute.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,109

    Doesn't matter what size mower you have.

    Unless a person specifically says only use a XX on my lawn.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. rockymtnnut

    rockymtnnut LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    I bid work on total man hrs as I'm sure every one else that's serious about this. If my target rate for a job is 80 an hr for weekly maintenance the 3 guys would bring 240 an hr. The better I am at estimating time the better I hold to being profitable. Sometimes I do well and sometimes I blow it.
    About 4 years ago I bid a condo complex at around 90 thousand for the year I really was cutting it close on my margins I thought. I latter found out that I was right in line with four other bids the materials list was about twenty five thousand ,the winning bid was 36,000$. The company that won that quickly found out that they had to hire more help and when they did they went bankrupt. They were sued but it didn't matter it was a total disaster . Brickman picked it up and fixed everything and finished out the year. So what I'm getting at be realistic on your rate. 60 an hr is not a lot of money when it's broken down it may be enough then again it may not.
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  8. rockymtnnut

    rockymtnnut LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    When they say push mower I politely decline if I can't use my 52 turf tracer I don't want the work. I picked up a small house last night with double cutting the whole thing was 20 min total that's an easy 30$ and it's right next to 3 others I cut. total for the stop110$ time about an hour and 5 min.
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  9. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    That's what I was getting at, I feel in today's world it is important even for the new guy to understand that ultimately it boils down to this... Granted when I was new I used a one-size fits all hourly rate myself as I found the whole equipment bit too complicated, but I can tell you it wasn't anywhere near $60 pmh.
  10. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    No, I don't have truck payments, there's something else a lot of folks don't understand, granted I have to pay for the truck one way or another... But my truck being all paid for I only need minimum liability insurance and that's a whole lot cheaper than full coverage (which the bank requires if you're making payments)... Even at 0% the insurance and the property tax on a newer truck are far higher.

    I think my old truck, runs me around $200 a year insurance.
    Property tax maybe $50, granted not all states have this.

    So the overhead (or lack thereof) certainly makes a difference.

    Some customers might judge by the looks of the equipment, but they're just as quick to realize they will be the ones making the payments and the fact is, if the lawn looks great most could care less how it happened or what was used.

    Big lesson in business, for those who can swing it...
    When buying a new piece of equipment, whether it be a handheld, a Z or a truck, don't make payments.
    Instead try and foresee the need from a present standpoint into the future, and start saving up long before the replacement is needed.
    Then when the time comes, pay cash.

    Save you a BUNDLE.

    Clean driving records don't hurt either.

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