cost to operate

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by magicmike, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. magicmike

    magicmike LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    ok so if I did this correctly my cost to operate 26 days out of a month is 37.23 per day. This is without fuel cost (I have no customers yet so i dont know how much fuel I will use). This also includes my truck payment which I use as my work truck and as my personal truck. This calculation is also for a 12 month year, so I figure it out by working weeks (Im thinking yes:hammerhead:).

    I am wondering if that is a good cost of operation per day to start with. I also didnt add hand tools, or bags, or any other cheap equipment yet but that shouldnt raise it much higher.
  2. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    In NY you may pick up some clean ups in March though that will not be everyday. Then you start mowing in April through October.

    Then depending on how you do fall clean ups you can work up till 1st or 2nd week in December.

    Thing is you do not work 40 hrs a week for 50 weeks a year. Yes 50. Everyone needs vacation time.

    You said 26 days a month. Did you divide your costs over 12 months? See the problem?

    With time you will get an average number of days worked.
    You will also get an average of hours billed.
    Best you can do is guess the total number of days possible to work, times 8 hrs.
    Then you will have a starting point for total billable hours per year.

    Eventually you will then be able to figure your cost per hour needed to run your business.

    Even though you are making truck payments you need to figure a cost to have the money ready to buy a new truck when this one is worn out as well as set aside money to cover repairs for the truck as well.

    Same must be done for mowers, trailers, and hand helds. Buy, repair, replace.

    Then insurance, line, office materials. The list of things never ends.

    As to having no fuel costs. You can estimate them.

    Say you spend $50 a week for fuel now. That's driving back and forth to work or school.

    Now running a LCO route you may drive less miles then going to a job, though you are also putting gas into equipment. So you can estimate $50 a week for gas.

    Then find out how long a line trimmer lasts on average. Then you know how to factor in the cost of a trimmer into your hourly cost.

    Good start. Keep at it.

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  3. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,262

    I'm impressed somebody finally put the horse before the cart. Too many guys just jump in, spend money and wonder why they failed.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. grandview (2006)

    grandview (2006) LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,465

    Party pooper!
    Depends also on what you want to concentrate on. I know a lot of guys who cut grass only and do no other type of landscape work. So their expenses are a little more fixed as opposed to a guy who wants to do everything.
    They cut so many lawns per day when finished go home. They are not spending time driving do estimates or a lot of adverting to get work.
  5. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,763

    I find it easier to break down hourly based on total hours worked. This can be tough because it is easier to break down by the day and most of us don't punch a clock. Just remember there will be rain days, or like Grandview said, days where you are giving estimates or running parts, shopping materials etc... Great question and good luck :clapping:
  6. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    On an average 8 hour day(I dont work too many of those!!)
    -$110.96 to run equipment all day
    -$250 in wages(myself and helper)
    - and $.53 for every mile I drive which varies day to day.
    I work solo alot of the time so these figures vary day to day, and if both mowers are running and how many miles driven and so on and so forth.

    Everything is paid off so Im good there.
  7. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    You'll find that you'll have about 150-180 days of work in a year in tristate area. 26 is very optimistic a month. 22 is more realistic. Also consider that March will be light, August will be dry and hot and everyone is away or busy getting the kids ready for school. October 15 on your service hours are greatly reduced because of daylight. Your first 90 days are your chance to do great things, after that (July 4th) most people stop caring and start spending money on other things. You'll have to work twice as hard after that date to sell the job, but there will be less market saturation, and you'll be less stressed from slightly lighter days.

    I know everyone says your number is OK and we all applaud you for looking at your number first, but you have to realize that those initial numbers will last about 3 days. By the end of the fist season it could cost you $300 just to wake up every day.

    Post up what you have and your calculations and you'll get some useful info in return instead of a bunch of opinions.
  8. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    I can also post up everything by the hour if that helps, knowing costs are essential to business, and unfortunately you will have no idea what those numbers will be until you put in a few weeks of work
  9. Paul's Green Thumb

    Paul's Green Thumb LawnSite Member
    Messages: 130

    Sub'd. Good info, here.
  10. Paul's Green Thumb

    Paul's Green Thumb LawnSite Member
    Messages: 130

    In fact, if I do the math... if I want to bring home the same monthly incomeme as I do now, and pay for all expenses (and this is WITHOUT plowing anything back into the biz) I need 75 accounts that pay me 40/month year-round... It's a bit of an eye-opener :)

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