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Atlectic Feilds Pricing on Fertilization

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Nicky Iggy, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. Nicky Iggy

    Nicky Iggy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Hi. I just got a call from a college wanting a price on a fertilizing/weed control program on their Atlectic Feilds. There are:

    2 Soccer feilds
    2 Softball feilds
    2 Baseball feilds
    2 Pratice Feilds

    I have to go and measure the sq. footage. I am new at pricing something like this. I was wondering if any of you done something like this, and I am open to any Suggestions on what some of you guys might charge for something like this?
  2. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Athletic fields are what I do. You're right, you need to get the square footages per field for your own assurance as well as for ordering materials and recordkeeping. I can tell you soccer is going to be right at or just under 2 A, baseball 2.1 - 2.4, softball at about 0.8, and the practice fields it depends on what kind. My figures above vary according to apron size on each field, distance between goals, or distance to foul poles, but they will get you close.

    Most of the applications I do are on a tractor using either a rotary spreader or 50 gallon sprayer with 14' boom. I can shut one side off to do a half width if I need to. There is not much hose and gun work but you need to become very good at working around fences. When a field does need to be trimmed out by hand (spraying) it can easily run over 1,000 linear feet. In those cases, it is much easier if I have someone move the tractor and for me to stay on the ground. Other than that, I work alone. My hose is only 130’ – remember I almost never use it – so that is the length of the leash I am effectively on. When I started I only had 50’ and my legs would ache from getting on and off the tractor so often when I had to trim one out.

    I almost always make two passes at half my intended rate. If not I flag it ahead of time, for better coverage. On baseball fields, especially, it is easy to get lost coming out of a turn along a fence that does not follow a straight line. With the setup I have and the average field being 2 acres, more or less, I spent a lot of time thinking about, setting up, and refining my pricing around this fact. What I came up with works for me.

    In addition to deciding what equipment you plan to use, you need to become expert at operating it in tight spaces. The actual applications do not take me long; set up, loading in and out, transporting everything to the site, and clean up time all add up and need to be covered. I spent a month playing with a spreadsheet in my spare time coming up with my pricing model. Once I had it and had confidence in it, estimating and invoicing have been easy. I tried very hard to make it thorough, accurate, and fair to the customer, myself, and the equipment. Although the customer never sees all this detail, I can easily make changes to any line in it as my costs or experience warrant.

    I am not going to give away my formulas or prices, everyone needs to use their own costs anyway. However, this is how I tackled it:

    Compliance: every job requires paperwork of some kind. Invoices, estimates, and correspondence are part of my overhead and no part of my spreadsheet charges directly for them. The first line item in my pricing model is for pesticide recordkeeping when it is required. I’ll just tell you: it’s $35. Mine is three pages long and usually includes a photo. It meets the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and EPA requirements, of course. More than that, it helps me know later a very good history of each field. It is useful in subsequent years on that field and very helpful on other fields at other places where soil type, irrigation, and the field’s type of use are similar. Mine are close enough together that weather is the same for all of them.

    Fixed or one time costs: Getting myself and equipment there and back, hooking up the trailer, mounting the machine and checking calibration, cleanup afterwards are all things that do not change whether I am doing one field or six. Determining what needs to be charged for those things was something I wanted to do once, put it in the spreadsheet and not have to go back to. Within my pricing I use two different labor prices even though I am only one person. My thinking is there are things only the licensed pesticide applicator can do and other things any employee could so. I thought it was more fair to the customer (and likely to make me more competitive with other places that may do this work) to use a smaller hourly figure for those parts of the job. It also reflects how my costs will likely look if I have to hire a helper some day. Frankly, I am in this for the love of doing it and while I do not want to get walked on, it is not going to be my retirement either. Pesticides and fertilization are part of what I do, but not something I do every day or even every week. It is important to me that my applications be expert though, making my work and my fields stand out.

    Just as you need a wage for yourself, you need to figure something for the use of your equipment. For me, this is truck, trailer, tractor, implements, and the things that go along with each, such as fuel, insurance, repair allowance, and eventual replacement.

    The time to do the work, obviously, comes into play. You need to determine how long it will take you to do a typical field in (for me) two directions.

    As I said above, the customer never sees or hears about any of this detail. It’s all about acres to them and is expressed as my minimum charge for the first two acres, plus my incremental charge for each acre thereafter at the same (or nearly the same) address. That is, then, what I came up with: a minimum charge to show up and make an application that includes the first two acres. It is a fairly high number. For additional or incremental acres it is quite inexpensive. The way mine worked out every acre beyond two is charged at approximately 22% of what my minimum charge divided by 2 (acres in my minimum) equals. I use one price for spreading and another slightly higher amount for spraying. Once I am set up and going I can do additional acres in two directions in as little as 20 minutes up to as much as 40 depending on field layout and whether I am spraying or spreading. You need to know what you can do with your equipment.

    All this only gets me the cost of running over the field with nothing in the tank or spreader. I need to get ready for my work day but generally, I show a charge for the application based on a summary of the above. To that, on another line, I show materials at cost. I subtotal it, and add a fixed percentage for profit and overhead. Making the application gets me paid as a technician, the P & O figure is for my business.

    I hope this helps. On the customer side it is not nearly as complicated as it may sound above. How many acres is pretty much all I need to know along with what material I am using.
  3. Nicky Iggy

    Nicky Iggy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Thanks for the info, It really helped me out. It has gotten approved and I will be doing the job next week, which is perfect due to all the rain we been getting here in NY.
  4. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    I am glad to hear it!
  5. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    That was a great post also, if I may say...
  6. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Thanks Runner.

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