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Does Mowing make sense? (cents?)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Loosestrife, Oct 2, 2002.

  1. Loosestrife

    Loosestrife LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 80

    Just a little experience to stir up some thoughts. It seems as if many feel that $60/hour is a respectable hourly rate for a single operator, mowing with wide area mowers.

    I had some concrete work done at my home recently, and it was done by a single operator. He rented the equipment to dig out the driveway. I kept track of his time and materials, and his hourly rate came out to the same $60.

    While this seems all fine and dandy, the MAIN difference is his overhead. He operates out of a van with all his tools inside. The difference in his tools and our is the fact that his are much less expensive, and do not require the maintenance and repairs that ours do. His tools will also last much longer.

    Also, his tools do not take up as much space as ours, requiring less storage space. Because his tools are much less expensive, his equipment insurance requirements are less as well.

    I've noticed this in other trades as well. Think of the house painter that only has a truck and some ladders, or the siding contractor that has some ladders, brake... I know that some trades have tools that require maintenance and repair ( air compressor, nail gun...), however, they are not a $3-5-7,000 Mower that has a lifespan of less than 5 years.

    Any thoughts, questions, comments???
  2. ProMo

    ProMo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,468

    sounds good to me time for another raise
  3. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

    try combining handyman with lawn care ,which i do as my customers need both.
    u are so rite. i just try an take care of equipment ,best i can. ill never get rich doin it my way tho. of course i didnt set out to get rich.:) an its a good thing:D :D
  4. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    good point you make...just last weekend I was thinking about my neighbor who has a succeddful handyman/remodeling biz. He uses saws, drills, hammers, paint brushes etc...this stuff requires no maintenance, does not wear out for the most part.....and there I was with a mower and aerator torn down, parts everywhere...and 2 days of work to service it...I have never had a problem raising my prices....and every month I raise something...and so far no problems. Send me a private email...would like to know where you are in PA...perhaps we can share some info about our markets.
  5. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 949

    I am not trying to put our profession down but the main reason we are so underpaid is because we are a dime a dzen. Anyone can mow lawns. Yes some may come out better or worse but most of the time they will grow back. It is not a permanent mistake. Some customers don't care how straight are stripes are or even if we did stripe. Look at all those people with crappy riding tractors that spend all day contouring the property. They just want it cut. And since they have done it or have seen their neighbors doing it, there doesn't seem to be much skill or experience needed to mow a lawn. I unfourtunally agree with this. I do this for extra money and know that for it ever to be a full time job I would need to gross a huge amount of money to net what I make now at my current FT job.
    Our overhead is high and the price of good equipment goes up every year. But look around at the other service trades a little better. Not many of those guys are rich or even close. There are many more costs that the "concrete guy" has that you haven't mentioned. I bet he isn't clearing as much as you think. The guys on here that net say over 60k are smart business men and women. They do quality work and choose their customers wisely. Alsmost all that net over 60k have employees that they make money off as well. It is not easy to be this successful and it doesn't happen overnight but it can happen.
    The bottom line is that it is easy for us to critisize other professions assuming that they are ripping us off because they don't have that much overhead but in all honesty we probably don't have a clue. Just like our customers that can understand how we can charge what we do and then think that we should lower our price when we get faster equipment because we are there for a lesser amount of time. Most don't understand what it costs to make money. It ain't cheap.
  6. lawnworker

    lawnworker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 897

    Some very good posts.
  7. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    another thing to consider is that some of us don't have wide area mowers to purchase/maintain/replace. and we still do quite nicely.

    for the cuts that I don't feel that I am paid adequately, I have almost as many that I get a premium for.

  8. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    really scotts turf is got it right...this has come up before, and been debated quite strongly.

    plumbers, electricians, cleaning services, etc sometimes just accept they are all apples and oranges...
  9. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Yeah, and how much time did he take settin this job up, doing his job costing, shopping for the rental, going to get the rental, returning the rental, and then the accounting work (independently for your job), etc..
    NOW how much did he make per hour!? That's one of the better things of the mowing line, is that once the account is set up, it's a regular thing. ALOT of time is spent shopping and setting up for new jobs! Every one is different!
  10. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    Along with the plumber, electrician, pool service, etc., you forgot to mention that many of our customers, as well as us, often never consider when we go to the Doctor and get charged anywhere from $50 - $400 (depending on the specialty) for about 10 minutes of their time with no questions asked .....
    Or an attorney at anywhere from $250 to over $1000 per hour ...
    Yes, many of these other professions have associated overhead ... I am sure many of the Doctors and Attorneys are still paying off their college tuition for 15-20 years, but no one questions them.
    We are professionals too, we have many thousands of dollars invested in our respective businesses, sometimes more than whatever tuition those others have, and we have the knowledge and expertise to take care of most aspects related to our field. We have a responsibility to stay on top of changing machinery and methods that are newly developed. Many of us are required to attend seminars and conventions in order to maintain recertification credits for our licences, etc.
    Just some other things to think about .....

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