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Charge by the SQFT or charge by the time???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by rross, Oct 10, 2002.

  1. rross

    rross LawnSite Member
    Messages: 52

    Charge by the SQFT or charge by the time???
  2. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

  3. For mowing I try to stay between about $1 and $1.25 per 1000 sq/ft. I can keep my hourly rate near $60 a man hour on open ground doing this.

    Minimum is $27 no matter how small it is.

    I have a PITA factor also which will add to the total price.

    Does it have a lot of trees to trim?
    Does it have a lot of sidewalks to edge?
    Does it have a lot of beds to edge?
    Does it have a lot of ????????????

    These all get added to the sq/ft total price.
  4. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    We use a straight time method.

    I understand what LGF is saying bout a PITA factor. But if I am getting the hourly rate I want, I really don't care how big of a PITA the lawn is. I'm getting the $$$ I want to get the job done...simple.
  5. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,457

    Ditto what Lawngodfather said, only my minimum is $30.00.

  6. Hamons

    Hamons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 706

    I only do landscaping -- but it seems the philosophy would be the same. When i first started out in the business _ charged strictly by the hour. Safer for me because I always got my hourly pay. However, as I got better -- and faster -- I began making less money. it didn't seem right just because I was becoming more efficient that I should make less money per job. Especially when the quality of work was going up so much!

    Anyway -- I started charging by the job and not by the actual time. I think it is a much more equitable way to do it. Plus.. sq. ft never change -- time can and you don't want to have to bill the customer a differnt amount each week.

    - jeff
  7. Hawkeye5

    Hawkeye5 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    Actually, I think the answer to your question is to use both. For me, the square footage indicates how much time (taking into consideration obstructions) it will take. I know how much area I can mow given a average number of obstructions per hour. From that I work out a cost per 10,000 sq. ft. for the average yard, including overhead. From that information I can work out relativities both upward and downward to account for less or more difficulty (more or less time). JD
  8. Westbrooklawn

    Westbrooklawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 427

    This issue always makes me chuckle......the bottom line is that all we have to sell is our time....or billable hours if you are large enough to have crews working, etc.

    Square feet, linear ft. of edging, etc. are only tools that we can use to estimate how much TIME it will take to do the job. Other factors such as slopes, access, quality of turf, etc., etc., are factors which affect TIME, and become part of the billing equation.

    After being in this business for a while, and if you keep good records, you can develop TIME factors associated with sq. ft., linear edging, etc., which is something you can use to develop an average estimated price, but once you use the estimating tool to develop a TIME, you then apply the HOURLY rate you need. This rate has to include overhead (the figure scrubs have no concept of), and then you have to add the profit rate you need on top of that to make a living.

    I am at the point where I can look at a property and estimate the time it will take to mow, edge, trim and blow to within 5 minutes. I then use that time figure to determine a price, with a $30/mow, or $110/month contract minimum. $60/hour is the figure I am currently using. I only measure when figuring mulch jobs, etc.

    Again....bottom line is that we are all billing based on TIME!!!
  9. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    I built an "estimate" sheet in Excell that does pretty much what LawnGodFather is talking about. I calculate the square feet, and multiply by a difficulty factor, depending on obstacles, hills, and other obstacles. So the longer it would take me, the more the difficulty factor, the more $$.
  10. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    "bottom line is that we are all billing based on TIME!!!"

    I could have not said it any better .... Westbrooklawn nailed that one on the head ....

    Billable hours .... measuring is great learning tool to help develope the experience to give a proper estimate ... this given with actual working jobs based on that estimate

    If it's a big job I break it down into sections .... using an hourly estimate sheet for the sections .... add it up ....n that's what we base our price on .... adding in additional hours for time spent thru the year weeding .... picking up trash ... hedging ....drive time ....etc.

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