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Clearing small trees and such?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Collin, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Collin

    Collin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    How much is the going rate for light tree removal in an open area? There are several tall but small in diameter tree that need to be cut and dragged with my tractor to an open field . What is the average going rate? I told him $50 per hour, is this ok?
  2. lawnmaniac883

    lawnmaniac883 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,613

    I would give him an estimate for the entire job...say there are 20 saplings and 30 3-4'' 15' trees, would say 450 if I did not have to fool with disposal and I had plenty of room to drop them all. Clearing small trees is fast easy money IMO.
  3. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    are you doing stump clearing as well or just cutting them off at 6"?

    I also would charge a flat rate. be it $500 or $2000. Never ever tell them your rate. I get $100 per hour for chainsaw work at a minimum. Unless of course I screw up the bid. But I get as many that I come in under on time as I do over on time, so it works out good. And I get better with each mistake.

    Very few people would pay me $100 per man hour, but they will pay a set $ amount to fix a problem.
  4. Collin

    Collin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    I usually tell the customer 50 per hour if he asks, otherwise I quote hime by the job. You get 100 per hour for chain saw work? That is great, I might need to raise my ratwes. Thanks for your help.
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    What everyone else here on Lawnsite charges really shouldn't matter at all to what you should charge.

    Your hourly rate should be the sum of two things;

    Your expenses
    + Your desired, reasonable profit
    Your hourly rate

    Your expenses and your operation are going to be totally different than everyone else's here.

    You may have inherited a big property with a nice shop and tractor whereas I may have to rent a shop for $600 per month and have paid $29,000 for my tractor.......Your prices for things like fuel, insurance, permits, licensing, utilities, state taxes, etc. are going to be totally different than mine or anyone else's.....You may have a new 2006 truck with big payments to make every month and I may own a 1970 Pickup that I paid cash for.......You may be experienced enough to get that job done in 5 hours and I might be inexperienced enough that it takes me 12 hours to do the same job......

    I could go on and on and on with these kind of analogies. But the point is that comparing what other people charge really serves no point at all. You should charge what you need to charge for your situation.
  6. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    What Jim says if very true. But please add to that. one other thing. at least charge the going rate.

    I know my expenses and I know my desired profit level. I also know that tree companies get way more per hour than lawn companies, so when I am doing non lawn work, I charge accordingly. Otherwise I am leaving money on the table.

    In my price structure, I know that mowing is the least profitable sector. But trimming hedges is very profitable. It is simply a function of what people are willing to do themselves, and hedgetrimming isn't one of them. So I get 50 % of my bids for that (30% for mowing) Due to lack of competition and unwillingness of the homeowner to do it themselves. Where as mowing, anyfool can make grass short. Not well, or not profitably, but anyone can cut grass. My 9 year old nephew can do that. So the prices are not ever going to be great there.

    Hope that helps.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Once we get into tree work, I charge somewhat depending on the risk factor as well. If the trees are all small saplings, then evidently the risk factor is low and I don't mind $50 / hour. However, if the trees are taller and / or near some obstacles (like a house or even a fence), then this increases risk... This is one of the reasons a big nasty oak tree leaning towards a house is worth like 2 thousand dollars, even if you can get it done in 6-8 hours by yourself.

    And by the way, you need a separate insurance policy for this type of work, I hear it costs near 1000 dollars/year if you're doing this, then your liability carrier needs to know about it. Not to be a spoiler, but don't be going around doing tree work when your insco assumes you're cutting grass, that's not cool.

    As for me, if it even looks like it could strike a building, I won't do it. Certain types of trees I also won't touch, once they get to a certain height, it's just too much risk (yeah because it can kill you). Of course, you can charge for this, but...
  8. E-Z Green

    E-Z Green LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    but...life is worth more than the price of the Oak. That's why i deal also with trees having minimal obsitcals. I wish i could hook with a crew that cuts the "big ones" so i can slide some funds their way. Or i guess the trees could keep growning. They won't mind.
  9. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    I'm sorry, but why? If you estimate is accurate and you are making your desired profit margin, why should you charge 'going rate' if it is 100, 200, 5000 more than your rate?

    Also, how exactly do I find the 'going rate'?
  10. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    Alright. If you are off by $100 total on the bid, then you are at the going rate (assuming percentage is small). IF you are off by $100 per month and that is more than 10% of the monthly bill, you are off by alot.

    The going rate for a particulare tree removal is $1000 and you charge $900. That may be reasonable, lower expenses or whatever.Probably still cutting into your profit level and making you work more, but maybe not.
    The going rate for a pruning a particular tree is $200 and you charge $100 you are crazy and soon to be out of business.

    Going rate to maintain a particular yard is $1800 a year, you charge $1700. may be reasonable.
    Going rate to maintain a particular yard is $150 a month and you charge $50. Let me know when you file chapter 11, I might buy your equipment.

    The thing is when you don't do something for a living. Whatever it is. You are not really aware of how to properly bid it.

    So you really don't have the overhead, that the real company does. OR PERHAPS you aren't aware of the hidden costs associated with doing something, OR PERHAPS when you get caught doing something without the proper training, liscense, insurance ...

    or put another way. I am in business to make money. I am also in the business to make the most money I can with the least amount of expenses. What is the best way to do that?

    Do less work for more money.

    Do LESS work for MORE money.

    Leaving money on the table mean you are working more for less money.

    ... working MORE for LESS money.

    And if you are bidding less than the going rate you are LEAVING MONEY on the table.

    How do you find the going rate?
    Call a couple of companies and have them give you an estimate at your house.
    Call a couple of companies to give an estimate at a friends house.
    Call a couple of companies for subcontracting the work in question.

    Ask for references at your local mower shop.

    It really isn't that difficult, but it will take some work.

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