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Bid on a shopping center. Need Help!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mwalz, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,133

    If one man starts with the trimmer, then there will be no standing around.

    You will not be able to get a good cut at full speed, at least not during the spring.

    Even still you should be able to do this job with two men in less than two hours. For one man, it would take about 3 hours (depending on the man).

    The only thing that would concern me is the 10 day cycle. That will be a problem through the spring, and you may need to double cut it to get a good cut.

    Cut this at 4" and keep your blades clean and sharp.

    130 - 140, is competitive.

    You might find as many of us have that working with your friends sounds like a great idea, but really turns out to be a horrible idea.
  2. ducnut

    ducnut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,566

    I agree.

    Furthermore, they're overhead. Unless you're running WFO, all day, everyday, stay solo. Chances are, you're more efficient with your HHs and do a better job with 'em, than they will.

    Lastly, don't sacrifice your dignity and self-worth, to get this job. If you do great work, charge them what you're worth. You're entitled to it.
  3. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,710

    Erm, Labor isn't overhead.

    Labor is direct costs.

    although you might consider some kid you're paying to sit around and look at you while you mow overhead, since he's not directly contributing to the job:laugh:
  4. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,710

    and here's the problem with this theory

    1) he stated there is NO trimming in the islands…NO grass at all. Read it. so nothing needs to be done there

    2) You cannot simply charge more, because it takes you more time.

    3) you cannot charge Big Dog prices for fisher price performance.

    Here's a comparison.

    Lets say a bobcat can spread 30 cy of soil and make it into a lawn, ready to be seeded in 10 hours.

    The Hourly rate for that bobcat and operator are $120.00/hr to recover the costs of operation, company overhead, labor and profit.
    So that's a $1200 job.

    You cannot say then, you take a rake and a shovel and a wheel barrow and expect to charge $120.00 an hour "because that's the going rate for dirt work"

    Do you understand what I'm getting at?

    If the job is worth 1200, because this is simply a job that needs to be done with the bobcat and a dozen guys in town will bang this out with a bobcat…. then this job is going to go for $1200.00. Not $3000.

    If the wheel barrow kid wants to do it, it might take him 50 hours.
    That works out to $24/hr.
    Oh how terrible!
    He doesn't have to buy fuel.
    Insure the machine.
    Repair the machine.
    Replace the machine.
    Buy new tires for the machine.
    Own a big truck to haul the machine.
    Own a trailer to transport the machine.
    Have a garage or yard space to store the machine while not in use.
    Have the liability of running someone or something over with the machine.

    $24/hr for a kid with a rake a wheel and a shovel is pretty darn good pay.

    You can't charge more because "it sucks to do this work with such little equipment"

    Now let's say its 200 cy of topsoil, spread into a lawn, ready to seed.
    Same bobcat will do this in 60 hours.
    @ $120/hr this is a $7200 job.

    The wheel barrow kid does it in 320 hours
    that's $22.50 an hour, why did it go down?
    because the disparity between production keeps creeping away.

    Just like the 60" mower jobs… a few acres, maybe you can get away with the 36"
    Especially since the acres are separated.

    4 acres? 6 acres? 10 acres?

    At some point it doesn't matter…the 36" mower is simply not going to make money on that job.

    $57/hr is not a fair rate to expect for a 36" walk behind putting along at 4 mph.

    A hydro with a velke wheel on open turf can get 7mph. (about the same speed a walker GHS goes) That's flat out, ears pin back, acting like your flying when you're really not speed.

    Should he also charge $57/hr if he were to mow it with a 21"?

    I'm failing to see how his overhead recovery would drive his hourly rate up to the range where many guys running expensive equipment, trucks and trailers, with employees to pay are at?

    If for some strange reason, his overhead and direct cost plus profit calculations come out to $57/hr and the best he can muster is a 4mph 36" path machine.

    We've already established this cut won't go for more than $140 (likely less) for just the cut (everyone will pick up trash at the same speed/productivity)

    So some dude with the hot shot rig and professional employees will pull $85/hr off this job. Because that's what he needs to make a profit.

    And this kid will pull $56/hr off this property at $140.00 , but since he needs to make $57/hr to 'stay profitable' (according to you) then he's losing money at this point.

    He's not going to charge $200 for this.
    Because if this is a competitive bid, he's not going to get the job.

    If brickman, or one of the other big companies, or even myself bid this job…it's going to go for less than $140 as well.

    Can this kid profitably mow this place for $100?

    He's going to pull $40/hr off of it.
    all he's got his himself, a 4 mph, 36" machine and the minimum necessary to do the job… so chances are…yes…he can still make a profit.

    However, Jim Velke invented the velke wheel for a reason. To maximize the productivity of the walk behind mower.

    I wouldn't dream of taking on this project without the $400 investment of one.

    And if you can't walk faster than 4mph all day long, you might as well get a desk job.

    5 mph is a healthy quick walk.

    I can do 6mph with a 45 pound pack for 8 hours.
    riders have warped people's perceptions into thinking walking is hard work. and somehow we should charge more because we have to do it.

    The rider commands a higher price because it costs more to own and operate.
    The WB is a lesser price because its not only less productive, but costs less to own and operate.

    The end result is if two mowers mow the same field, they will likely arrive at the same price. The rider cuts it faster, but costs a higher rate.
    The WB cuts it slower but charges a lesser rate.
    sometimes, the productivity is so out of whack (this happens at larger acreage)
    where the big dogs take over and the little dudes just need to stay home.

    one more thing, this piece of commercial turf? Who is aerating it, applying chemicals? Fertilizing? Watering it?
    This isn't likely to be grade A residential turf. If it were, and there were people making all these applications and taking this kind of care of this grass, a 16 year old wouldn't be asked to mow it. They'd already have a dude.

    So there isn't going to be wet heavy lush turf… he'll be able to "full stick" it pretty much all year.
    But to compensate for 'IF's my calculations were made at 80% efficiency.

    you can't apply residential experience to commercial turf in some shopping plaza that doesn't already have a full maintenance program.
  5. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    Sounds like you need to pass. Need more equipment, more experience. Chances are the guy that called likes to use green LCO's to get cheap prices, they struggle for the year and move on.
  6. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,685

    You are rather confusing TPendagast you have moments when you are right and plenty where you are totally lost.

    Your last post surprisingly is pretty good you do hit on the production capability as the key to higher income per hour. Like many you dismiss larger mowers in all but the largest of lawns. Which isn't accurate I don't need need 4 acres? 6 acres? 10 acres? to kick a 36 inch mower companies butt. 1/4 of an acre is plenty to see the difference. A 60 inch lazer with a collection system is going to beat a 36-48 wb guy on a 1/4 acre by 10-15 mins. It's not even close it's been one of my favorite things to do over the years is show up to a lawn with another crew already half way done with the lawn next door and beat them. While bagging and doing a superior job on top of it. You will smile for hours when you do that.

    Where you lose credibility with me is like threads on Obama care where you rant liberal talking points about how horrible these big companies are for using their rights to avoid having there overhead and expenses increase. You feel that way then fine ok I get it. But in that very same POST not threat but post at the end you admit if the law was expanded to 1 employee companies you would also avoid this penalty in this case by eliminating the employees.

    Back to this you seem stunned what some of us bring in an hour. But you do not really take into effect our equipment advantages we bring to the table. I wouldn't be getting these prices with lessor equipment. I charge the market price I am often at the low end of the scale. But the ability to do the jobs for the same price in half the time of some poorly equipped company is the reason our prices at first glance may seem out of line to you and I can't help you there.
  7. mwalz

    mwalz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,178

    As long as I can make money at this job. Why shouldn't I take it. Having small equipment for a job is nothing new to me. If I can get at least $40 per hour that's really good money for someone 16 years old. I do understand this will be close to the limit of what ny 36" can do to make money. I've nevwr had to cut this big of property before, bit I can get my 3/4 acre property done in about 45 mins. And that is with mowing around the house and trees and a few other obstacles. And that is not going at full speed on the mower.
  8. echo

    echo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,696

    Go for it. Only you know what you need to make to survive.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. dc33

    dc33 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 257

    Yeah, hes running a 3 man crew. 55-60/hr is fine for one guy on a ztr, hes has 2 other guys to factor into his rate.

    Btw, my hourly rate last year for my 3 man crew was $140/hr
    .....yes, that $2/min
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,710

    Im not the one that's confused.

    I was mowing lawns in CT with 60" ZTRs before most anyone else was.

    I was born in bridgeport, I grew up in Fairfield County.

    a quarter acre is 10k sqft ish
    with a 60 inch ZTR thats a 4 minute cut
    with a 36" mower… that's an 8 minute cut.

    your math is dazzlingly….off.

    I used to cut sports turf, parks, schools etc. Residentials were used to fill in the routes here and there.

    Lauralton Hall in Milford was one of my accounts, perhaps you know where that is?
    Yale University in New Haven, and the New Haven Ravens ball field were others you probably know where those are located as well.

    In 2004 I average $88 per hour with my mowers…but i did not BID $88/hr… that's the difference…
    Whe prices I bid, at the time were based on $52/hr, but with efficiency and the fact that most of the people I was bidding against were using those STHM mowers or Toro Groundsmasters… I could spank the heck out of their prices, and still make more money than I really needed.

    Eventually, as everyone pretty much started doing the same thing. The edge became a butter knife and people just drove down the prices to get work.

    so I know ALL about big ZTRs and their costs to operate.

    I don't dismiss their productivity.
    They are simply less useful in making money in the small residential market.

    I see far too many people following the Sean Adams principal of jamming the largest mower you can into the sq feet available.

    this causes guys to spray grass everywhere, into flower beds, all over the road and driveway and they generally spend more time cleaning up after themselves than they do actually mowing it. Making the 60" mower a poor choice for that lawn.

    You say you primarily bag.
    that's great.

    I'll argue that's bad for lawn health and only necessary during clean ups or especially heavy growth.

    I'm not liberal by the way.
    I side neither with big business nor big government, both are bad, both are rife with special interest groups.

    I'm going to guess you never left CT.

    I grew up there very bias. Very narrow sighted. It's common in that state.

    I developed the unique ability see truth, by being able to understand other peoples point of view (sometimes multiple points of view at once)

    If I had it my way, I'd throw every Liberal out of the State of Alaska.
    They try to shut down oil and mining so they can hug fish and trees.

    but oil and copper mines aren't why there are no more fish… It's all the dang outsiders coming on vacation to catch a big one (or 30)

    Companies like Cabelas, Sportmans warehouse, and Bass Pro shops make their money off sending idiot city slickers into the bush to mow down game animals like it's livestock and people want to blame productive industry like oil and mining for the decline of animals.

    the breeding population can't withstand the increase of predators, but the idiots can't understand that math.

    I'm not a liberal.
    Big Business (Drug Companies) damaged our Health care system beyond belief by victimizing americans. Americans spend so much of their time eating pills for imagined diseases, they need pills to solve the effects of the pills they are already taking.
    IF they grew a few vegetables, and ate healthy they could stop taking all those pills and be fine.

    But where would the drug companies be? making less money. Oh that's bad! Let's trick people into thinking they are sick.

    It's like murders and rapists, the 'experts' are trying to tell us they are all 'sick'….why do they have to be sick, can't people be evil? IS that possible? there always has to be a 'condition' that needs some dude to get paid to 'cure it'….
    they've got us all thinking everyone is sick.

    That's about control…Government, business, doesnt matter, Control is control and people want it so they can make easy money off you, off me and anyone else they convince they are right.

    Does anyone here legitimately think a bottle of pills is WORTH $500?

    Is a 60" Z WORTH $13,000?


    the prices are artificially inflated because people are convinced they have to have them.

    When Zs were new they were competitively priced… but every Tom dick and Harry that started out all of the sudden threw themselves at 60" Z, because they had to have the best to make money right away!

    what did that do?
    It threw the supply over the demand and BANG insane price increase.

    I'm not 'shocked' at what you're charging.

    Just last week (if you read what I was trying to say) is there was this guy 'efficiency' posting I was full of it because I was posting a theoretical estimate based on a $55/hr price.

    He was trying to rip me a new one on how stupid and off base I was expecting people to charge $55-60 per hour, because Im such and idiot and so inexperienced, that NO one gets 55/hr to cut grass.

    so where the F were you on THAT post?
    thats why I was trying to say.

    I typically post prices on here, when I'm talking to guys who are asking questions, because the largest group of posters on here, all seem to be at the $60/hr range.

    Several of the companies I consult for here in Alaska fall between $55-$60/hr.

    Alaska is 15-20 years behind the 'power curve' in the green industry.
    they still install planting beds with weed fabric, thinking that will stop weeds.
    They don't know dike about chemicals (like premergent)
    When they plant grass they wonder why it fills in with weeds?
    Did you use tupersan? Whats that??:dizzy:

    Im having an argument with lady currently who thinks "spray to eradicate" is a sound and legal business practice. Lady have you heard of IPM? Have you READ the federal law?

    No one here uses 60" mowers by the way….most lawns simply aren't big enough.

    The season only bears 18-22 cuts.

    Ive run and managed Lawn Businesses in CT/Mass/NY, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, and Alaska. Ive consulted for businesses in all those states and many more.

    There are many different perceptions and realities than just your own.

    Coincidentally there is a business here in Alaska also called Kellys (it's the owners last name) and he makes a very good living off $58 an hour and he has multiple crews with a fleet of scags, pays his top guys 17-18 an hour.
    He bags in the spring and fall, not in the middle of the summer.

    I do not know what his shop costs are.
    diesel is $4.19 Gas is $3.59

    he has a clause for price increase in his contracts that if gas gets over $4.00 or diesel over $4.50 then the customer agrees to an automatic price increase.

    I seriously doubt your cost of living is higher than his.
    I know for a fact he pays more for machines than you do, because everyone in Alaska is a victim to barge shipping and so most products cost about 20% more.

    So don't act like $85/hr an hour is some 'big boy' price that all the 'real' landscapers charge.

    and by the way, please go find this guy 'Efficiency' and tell him what you charge per hour…. you'd be doing me a favor.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2014

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