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Customer will pay me $25 an hour for help, but not two ppl 25 an hour

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Eho, May 14, 2005.

  1. Eho

    Eho LawnSite Member
    Messages: 205

    I customer of mine( very, very good one too) wants me to do some major bushes trimming. He has a ton of bushes on the property including some 15 ft. bushes that will require a ladder and some major cleanup. This might even take me about 4 hours to do solo. I mentioned that it will cost 25 an hour( kinda cheap, but hes a good customer) and the guy is fine with that. Then I mention I might hire a helper and it would be 25 per man hour. In theory, this would cost the same price. He says that I cant do that and he will not pay 50 an hour. I m thinking to myself: If it takes me four hours, thats 100 bucks, if it takes the two of us two hours, thats 100 bucks..whats the problem. Do most of yall guys charge per man- per hour. I thought I was right in this situation but I ll do it alone cuz hes a solid customer. What are yalls thoughts
  2. Todd's lawncare

    Todd's lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    from P.A
    Messages: 548

    maybe tell him it will be the same price either way or just do it alone if your not busy
  3. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    Wow...he must be a good customer. I wouldn't touch a bush for 25/hr. A lot of ppl get turned off on "by the man hour". I prefer it that way. I get a lot of questions like "this says eight hours...but you were only here for 4". Some people are dumb!
  4. alwaysgreener

    alwaysgreener LawnSite Member
    Messages: 52

    Not to sound mean but… It is not the customer's problem that it will take you 4 hours to do the job. You have to know you’re pricing before you bid a job, yes he may be a good customer but is it worth 100 dollars? And you never tell a customer “Then I mention I might hire a helper and it would be 25 per man hour” Again not his problem, just remember do all the math first then submit the bid.. :rolleyes:
  5. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    Couldn't agree more.

    If you think it will take 4 man hours. Then you should be charging whatever your rate is times those number of hours.

    Mr Jones, that trim job will be (quick mental calculation 4 hours x $100) $400 plus the disposal fee of $75, for a total of $475. We have an opening in the schedule on Tuesday afternoon next week. How does that sound?

    Bidding by the hour is a losing proposition. It makes it seem like you have no idea how to price. Always makes the customer think you are milking the clock. Leaves them room to complain on price. Bid for a completed job for a price. If it takes 10 minutes they got the job done at the agreed price so no worries. If it takes 10 hours, well you need to learn to estimate better, but it is a lesson you will not quickly forget.

    But the bigger problem, can you really work for $25 per hour? I can't even think of working that cheap. Is your overhead really less that $5 per hour and that means you still are earning only $40K (pre taxes) if you run full time and that is only counting billable hours.

    My overhead is closer to $15 per hour all things counted and averaged. NO WAY I am working for $10 net per hour. I pay my helper $12.
  6. cajuncutter

    cajuncutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 626

    I agree with Precision, however I did do a job 2 weeks ago that caught me off guard. This guy has this MONSTER home right in the middle of about 29 acres. Not all of it could be mowed due to heavy under growth in some areas. I just told the people it was $35/man hour. 4 people, 2 mowers and 2 weed whackers with a little stick edging, logged 33.83 man hours. It was a hell of a day I can tell ya. I have never done such a big property but now I know how to price it accordingly. This place usually has a full time staff doing the yard while on payroll but the last batch quit and this people were desperate to have it done. Unfortunately it is not a full time gig. It would be nice to land it so I could drop some PITA's :D
  7. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    There is always more than one way to skin a cat. There are pros and cons to each way of doing it. Think of it this way.

    1. Say a guy makes most of his income mowing lawns and doing regular stuff onsite.
    2. Shrub work is a source of a lot of conflict, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are differing legitimate ways to prune shrubs. I always wonder if I'm going to get a call after doing shrubs telling me they wanted it done differently.
    3. What exactly constitutes "trimmed" ? You may feel that cutting off the new growth and doing a little light reshaping is fine. Your customer may be expecting a severe cutback and shaping that could easily take three or four times as long as a simple touch up. You may like them rounded and natural looking. He may be expecting cubes done to the precision of topiary. I don't have customers that have time to meet me to discuss how each shrub will be tackled. And I wouldn't want ones who cared. But after the fact, if they pay a set price, they may feel they didn't get what they wanted.
    4. What constitutes proper cleanup? Every piece of material removed? Just the biggest part? Ever try to blow cuttings out of a bed w/o removing mulch once you get past a certain point? Do you clean out cuttings even when the beds underneath are already full of last year's leaves and weeds? Ever try to pick up by hand 50,000 seperate cuttings so a finicky customer is happy? See how maybe a customer is willing to live with a good job that saves time and money, vs. expecting perfection that will only cost him more as you work longer?
    4. Customer isn't happy with job for your quoted price. He forces you to return and do more work than you planned to for the same fixed price. Or, he cancels regular maintenance agreement worth $1200/year over your $200 shrub job where you're disagreeing over about $50 worth of it.
    5. Charging hourly, the customer is inhibited from nit-picking, you get paid fairly for your time, and if a customer does want more done, he has to pay you for the extra time. Just give a general estimate of the time required and then beat that estimate so they feel they got a deal.
    6. For a set price, you or your employees are at least sub-consciously encouraged to rush and cut corners to "beat the clock". This could result in more negative situations.
    7. With set-price bidding, you have the opportunity to make more if you price it right and if the customer accepts your high quote. But the downside is that you can also guess wrong. Adding a "fudge factor" to make sure you err in your favor, not theirs, just raises your price, which is always subject to being rejected as too high.

    I can always estimate the time it takes me to do the job MY way. But I can't always assume the customer wants the job done that I'm going to do. There are just too many variables with shrubs, unlike mowing a lawn.

    I realize that people may be suspicious about how fast you're willing to work. But I find that once they know me for a season, they realize I'm honest and work hard. Again, putting a top-range of time is a good way to assuage their fears on that.

    Sometimes trying to maximize income can result in losing money in the long run. My goal is to minimize customer conflict while protecting my long term money. I don't want to cause hard feelings squeezing out a few more dollars on what is to me a minor source of income anyway.
  8. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    I never do any one time trimmings without the customer meeting me onsite to review what they want. In my part of the woods, a one time trim job means 2-15 years of deferred maintenance. Everything is reviewed, notes are taken, a written proposal is submitted, the proposal is signed off on and a 40% deposit is recieved prior to any work being done.

    I usually am also able to get add on sales, mulching the beds (makes the cleaning up of small debris so much easier. Just throw the mulch on top), weed removal, shrub or lawn fertilization, monthly maintenance contract.

    Bruce, I am sure your system works for you as mine does for me. But all my clients must make time to meet if they want me to perform work. Closing rate on meetings with clients is 35-50% depending on type of work (mowing lower, trimming and clean ups higher). Closing rate on "just drop off an estimate" less than 5%.

    If I have to take the time out of my schedule to look at your property you should at least have the courtesy of meeting me there.
  9. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,457

    I tell my customers the price and then I do it with how ever many people I want to bring with me that day.

    Why are you letting your customer dictate how you run your business?

    Do you tell the plumber how to snake your drains?
  10. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    NEVER tell price per hour. EVER.

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