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Estimating Leaves Before They Have Fallen??

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by FIREMAN Q, Aug 26, 2006.


    FIREMAN Q LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 260

    So I have been trying to figure the best way to estimate how bad the leaves are going to be in any given yard. I am going to be advertising very shortly and want to make sure i don't under estimate.

    I was hoping that the pro's can give me some helpfull hints on estimating prior to leaves falling.

    thanks in advance
  2. HighGrass

    HighGrass LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Z5 MA
    Messages: 1,237

    Funny you should ask this. I sat down last week and reviewed what I did last year. I did 30 lawns last year in the fall, all but 10 were regular customers. I advertised for the rest. Some of those I flipped into plowing and mowing business for this year.
    Having said that. I lost money on about four of the lawns because instead of charging by the hour, I gave them a quote. Those lawns that I lost money on, took longer than expected and because of inexperience on my part. But i learned alot. One thing, you can't trust the weather, or those who forecast it.

    This year, I'm send out a letter to all my current customers telling them I'm charging by the hour. There are three basic levels of service.
    1-Fall clean-up with Vac set-up with leaf removal and disposal off site
    2-Fall clean-up with Vac set-up with leaf removal and disposal on site
    3-Mulching on site with no leaf removal

    1,2 are $130/hr
    3 is $60/hr

    I go on to explain that the the reason for the flat rate is to insure fairness to all parties in mind. I also tell them that disposal is extra depending on the volume of leaves but it starts at $100.
    Most lawns I can do in about 1.5hrs, while others take some time. I sub out my leaf pick-up and usually pocket about 50-90 bucks per pile.
  3. HighGrass

    HighGrass LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Z5 MA
    Messages: 1,237

    Here is the letter I'm mailing out this week with everyones bill. It's a draft and will be tweaked today but I think you'll get the idea:

    Fall Clean-Up!
    Well, it's almost that time again for the leaves to start piling up.
    Last year, there were a few times when I arrived at a lawn to start picking up leaves, and some variable had changed from the time I gave the actual quote. Perhaps it rained, or the wind blew in more leaves from the neighbors yard etc. Because of this, I elected to stick by my original quote and sometimes, lost money.

    So, to alleviate that this year and to level the playing field a bit, I will be doing all fall clean-ups based upon a flat hourly charge. For the most part, those of you who received this service from me last year, the end result will cost about the same because I used this same charge to figure my quote.
    The flat rate for fall clean-ups this year will be $130.00 per hour with a 1 hour minimum. Off Site Disposal Fee Not Included. This service may include the use of a commercial mower with a power vacuum bagging set-up and a high CFM back-pack style blower to remove leaves from gardens and around foundations. If I can dispose of the leaves on site, you will not be charged a disposal/leaf removal fee. If you require your leaves to be removed from site, leaf removal can be provided. The additional charge for leaf removal and disposal starts at $100 and can be higher depending on the pile of leaves. Last year, the largest pile of leaves that I removed was about $200.00. I can assist you on estimating your removal fee but again, it ultimately depends on the size of the pile, and the type of access to them. A large box truck with a vacuum loader will come around to pick them up after the piles are made.

    An alternative to a vacuum style fall clean-up is simply mulching the leaves in place as they fall. Some lawns allow this, and some do not. It simply depends on the volume of leaves that fall on your particular yard. Special mulching blades cut leaves into small pieces that can be composted right back into your lawn. To find out if you might qualify for this type of leave service, call me prior to September 20, and I can tell you if this service is right for you. With this service, I also can use a high CFM back-pack blower to remove leaves from hard to reach areas prior to mulching. The rate for this mulching service will be $60.00 hour. Since the leaves are mulched on the lawn, there is no disposal fee. This type of service may need to be repeated depending on the volume of leaves.

    With some lawns, during regular lawn mowing, leaves will start to fall before the grass stops growing. This type of situation is usually best handled by mulching the leaves while mowing, leaving the composted leaves and grass to amend the soil. As long as it doesn't take any longer to mulch everything than it normally takes to mow your lawn without leaves, there will be no additional charge. However, if the lawn takes longer than normal due excess leaves, I will contact you and ask what options you would like to take.

    Anytime you work in the weather, for better or worse, you are always at the mercy of it. As such, I can never make any guarantee as to what happens when the job is done. I've seen snow, wind and rain come through after I finished a fall clean-up and one would never know that I had completed the job. Having said that, please realize I have no control over the weather. If I did, I would be mowing 365 days a year.

    If you are interested in a fall-clean-up this year, you must return the attached slip before September 20th 2006. Requests for fall clean-ups after this will be placed on a waiting list and will be done as time permits until it snows. Last year, I missed several accounts because folks waited to long before they called me. Thankfully, most were new clients that read my ad in the newspaper and were not my regular mowing customers. This year, I will not be placing an ad in the paper but I have more overall customers so early sign-up is advisable. Please see attached slip and return.

    As always, please feel free to either e-mail me or call me if you have any questions.

    Thank you for your continued patronage,

    signed me

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