tired of scraping by inthis busines and ready to make CASH! Help?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lawnagent, Sep 20, 2002.

  1. lawnagent

    lawnagent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 529

    Thanks t those that have helped so far. I just thought I would move this to its own thread since I was needing advice and regular mowing to. Thanks.
    I just jumped in on this thread and have had alot to read! Now I will tell a little about my situation and ask my questions. I dont live in a large MONEY area here in west Kentucky.I have been trying for about 6 years now to make a living in this business. The last year has been both low points for me as far as financial problems , as well as an eye opener to the simple fact that I dont charge enough money.I have tired of reading and hearing about all the money others make at this while I scrape by. It is time to do something about it. 2 people I know that make good money say that they mentally charge about 1 dollar per minute on yards they mow when making a quote. Another guy does not have a riding mower at all. He has all push mowers. A typical day has his crew of 2 or 3 roll up to a yard, 1 pushes the front, 1 pushes the back, a 3rd weedeats and he picks up trash, blows and collects the money. They do a BUNCH of yards everyday this way. i think his last year was $65,000 in mowing alone.
    Ok everybody is this the way to price mowing? What are some other methods for pricing mowing jobs. The guy that gets 1 dollar per minute has a 60 inch cut grasshopper, the other a Dixie Chopper. I have a few that I average a dollar a minute on. The rest are not that high. I have 2 Dixons. ( I know they are not that well thought of on this forum but I have to use what I have for now.) They are 50 inch decks with 22 horse KOHLER motors. My grass catcher is just a standard twin bag grass catcher off an MTD rider that I converted the bagger to fit a dixon. The other Dixon has a good mulch kit under it that works great. I usually use the method of mulching with one and bagging with the other, and then dumping it in my truck bed. Whats a good hourly rate for this? I usually have another guy that rakes and blows leaves out of the flower beds. Should I hire a 3rd guy for a different method? What about the jobs where they have me blow the leaves into the yard and mulch till they are gone? How should I price that.? My mistake in the past was the same as 1 of the earlier posters to this thread. I have generally mulched as many weeks as I could and charged about 10 bucks over my mowing price. The bottom line is that when the leaves are all gone from everybody, I have made very little money. Less than $1,500.
    Also back to mowing. How do you all do the price when you have something big that you stay with all day. 1 or 2 huge yards where you have almost no truck driving time. I've been getting 130 bucks total out of 2 yards side by side about 30 seconds away from my house. But they pretty much take up my whole day. Is this bad pricing? Thanks in advance for any advice you can give. Like I said, Im fed up and ready to start making serios money I can live on. I am extremely Independent and could never have much success working for someone else at a regular job. Nor could I ever make any real money that way.
    Robert
     
  2. SIG

    SIG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 188

    Robert,
    Let me start by saying that I am not posting to bash you. I am going to tery and help! If you are getting $130.00 for 2 lawns and it takes most of your day, that is grosslt underpricing. There is no way you could survive on that! Even if it took you 6 hours that is only 21.66 an hour. Also how many hours a day do you work? One thing I see on hear a lot is guys saying they work 8 hours a day 5 days a week and refuse to work on sunday, etc. etc. Now if they can survive fine, but depending on your market, you may have to work 12 hours a day 6 days a week for depending how long your season is. You need to try to find out what guys in your area are charging, and see if your in line with those numbers, I am going to guess that you are much lower! Where I am it should take about 2.5 hours to make 130.00. Good Luck and Hang in there! Sig
     
  3. lawnagent

    lawnagent LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 529

    SIG, I appreciate the response. I certainly didnt think you were putting me down. You were just telling the truth. Yes the truth can hurt nd I have begun to see that I am BAD! BAD! BAD! underpriced. This is the first tyear that I have tried it full time. At my old job, if I brought home 500 bucks every 2 weeks we did ok financially. ( this in conjunction with my wifes income. ) Now with me bringing in about 400 a week, which is 800 every 2 weeks, I am worse off than when I started. I was already beginning to se that the hourly rate was gonna have to go UP! I guess Ill have to do my homework during the offseason and regroup for next season. I may still be able to salvage some money for leaf season at least.
    Thanks
     
  4. SIG

    SIG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 188

    DO NOT COMPARE WHAT YOU MADE AT YOUR OTHER JOB TO WHAT YOU SHOULD MAKE BEING IS BUSINESS FOR YOURSELF!!!!! I don't know what kind of work you where in previosly, I am going to assume construction or trade work. Remember, who ever you worked for was making money off of YOU. So right from the start you are worth 3 times that much or more. It is a very common mistake for people to make when coming from another line of work/ working for someone else. But we need to start thinking, I am doing something that somebody else can't or doesn't want to do. When you get you car fixed, that don't chare 20.00 an hour, they charge 60 or 70 an hour, now the mechanic might get 20.00 but the guy that owns the place has overhead and is in business to MAKE money, you are doing the exact same thing. If your customers are getting a "sweet" deal they probably know it and will be O.K. with it if you have to start raising your prices, if not, tell them to pound sand, they wouldn't work for nothing???? Would they!
    Sig
     
  5. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by lawnagent
    He has all push mowers. A typical day has his crew of 2 or 3 roll up to a yard, 1 pushes the front, 1 pushes the back, a 3rd weedeats and he picks up trash, blows and collects the money. They do a BUNCH of yards everyday this way. i think his last year was $65,000 in mowing alone.Robert
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    Don't compare yourself with this guy. He isn't making any money either. After taxes, insurance, fuel, truck, maintenance and payroll for 3 guys he's lucky to break even. He's telling you revenue, not what HE makes. Don't be deceived. Its not as easy as it seems, that is why so many scrubs are out of business so quick. Its time to sit down and take a hard look at everything. Figure out where the problems are. Equipment might be one. Drive time might be. Pricing might be. Marketing might be. Jack of all trades might be.

    I moved this from the other thread. Your not alone with this situation.
     
  6. I will chime in on this one later tonight.
     
  7. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    Don't desperaste, take it easy, sleep well don't think you can change this overnight.
    I would recomend to set up a yearly price for every customer, track down how much time you spend in each property, came up with a price for every cut and multiply it by the weeks that you would normally mow for the entire year.
    for leaves I use to charge by the hour that it takes to blow leaves and haul'em if need it (include dumping fee too), but now I mostly much all the month of october and do a final clean up wich takes way less time than before.
    So I usually add to my price 5 more cuts and tha covers the fall clean up price. put everything together and make a 8-10 or 12 monthly payments (whichever fits you better)

    I'd say with your equipment that you own right now it would be better to get small yards, try not to get many big accounts at this moment, explaing the situation to your worker try to work smarter not harder, do a exceptional job on any property you maintain regardless of the price you are charging at this moment,
    word of mouth is the best advertisement, talk with your customers frequently to see if you can offer'em any other service, gain their trust, raise up your prices but explain'em first.

    Don't try to get as many customers as you can, try to get the best customer around and be the best company in your area, that will separete you from the rest.
     
  8. MATTHEW

    MATTHEW LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE OHIO
    Posts: 665

    Been there, brother. When I first started, I did it part time for mad money. I did a few for $12-15!!!:eek:

    The thing is, it is hard to raise the prices to where they should be unless you can wait 5 years and get it up 5-10% a year.

    You need to try to get some newer customers with a pricing schedule more in line with the market in that area (unless you are over run by scrubs)

    I agree that $1 per minute is a good goal to shoot for. If the equipment cannot handle it, get something that will.

    Hey, don't be too hard on yourself. We had a serious drought and most of us felt the pinch. Look at it as an opportunity to get some new customers. Lots of people out there upset with their services!

    Good luck.
     
  9. cglservice

    cglservice LawnSite Member
    from Ky
    Posts: 101

    lawnagent
    there is a lot of great information here (espicialy on this page,
    cant spell sorry).

    I pretty much stay quiet around here, but a question maybe useless to one but may be the answer for another.

    Do the search thing everybody talks about
    What part of zone 6 are you in ?

    I will say this you are one step ahead of me I have been cutting for five years now have managed to get some nice equipment
    ( still not enough ) and have some good clients but still part time
    I WHOP to go to full time next year.



    :blob4:
     
  10. LB Landscaping

    LB Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 1,309

    Hey keep your head up. There has been alot of good advice on other posts that will help you. The search feature has been a big help to me. I have been in the business for a couple of years and this year things have really taken off for me. I have found that if you provide good service people will be willing to pay you what you are worth. I too priced low at first and man you can get burnt out fast that way. One thing that I works for me is having a minimum price for mowing. Its not worth it to me to take an account thats lower when I figure travel, gas you know all the expenses involved. I figure I make $1 a minute on my large jobs but the smaller ones that take a quick 10 or 15 mins would not work at the $1 a minute. Don't be scared to ask for what you deserve, if you do good work people will pay for it. Good Luck!!!!!:D :D
     

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