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estimating price per yard

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by rinerlawn, Feb 10, 2001.

  1. rinerlawn

    rinerlawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    my average price per yard is between 35 and 80 dollars what is the best way to price a yard? By the square yard or square foot or just eyeball it? Also what about mulching and trimming shrubs i think my prices are fair and reasonable but i dont want to lose money or charge to much for a job and lose bussiness any suggestions and comments are welcome.
  2. Greenkeepers

    Greenkeepers LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE Ohio
    Messages: 695

    Try doing a search and you should find more responses than you can read... This has been discussed many times..
  3. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    By now I just eyeball it. If ou measure s.f. then you cant take other factors into account like steep hills. Shrub trimming is usually done by the hour plus overhead. Chances are that the customer, if home, will come out and ask you to do some more in some other area. This way youre covered. Guesstimates can be given for those cust. that come back yr. after yr.
  4. cclllc

    cclllc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 911

    Seems like this is a popular question.I think i will post a chart on my website but since he is new i will give a quick response.measure LxWxT=sf divided by324=cu yds.Round up to the nearest yd and you'll be fine.
    1 cu yd will cover an area about 110 sqft X 3 in thick. :)
  5. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    If you go to the search pages at EricELM's website, he has a claculator where you can put in the legth,width,thickness it will tell you how many yards you will need.

    I know how many acres per hour our equipment equipment can produce. I then have calculated what our hourly potential for income is, and just apply this figure to the time it takes to complete.

    [ie.$60/hr gross. if a lawn takes 45 minutes to complete they will be charged $45]

    We figure these accounts per m/sf. We attatch a figure to acreage, line trimming, edging, blowing.

    Hope this helps,
  6. KindGardener

    KindGardener LawnSite Member
    Messages: 186

    kutnkru -
    How did you determine your costs for commercial? I mean, did you take a stopwatch & tape measure with you for a couple days & just keep track? (seems like it's that simple, but I'd like to hear if you did something else, too).
  7. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    Believe it or not to get a ballpark figure as to how long it takes to cut using a 45* pattern vs. house to curb vs. side to side I did just that. My first piece of equipment was a 48" deck. One of my younger bros played sports in high school. I received permission to use the football field on two sunday mornings in the spring. Both times I clocked mowing each direction and then averaged the 8 times out.

    For the purpose of discussion I found that lets say it took 23 minutes to mow side to side. It took 26 minutes to mow front to back. It took 33 minutes using the angular cuts. I was then able to calculate an idea of what my optimum acreage potential would be. I remember that the different cuts were fairly close together in time.

    The next thing that I did was to "Bid" (basically gave away the service) to an account that was still flat, yet this time had obstacles. I then used this account to set the variables as to mowing times on "difficult" properties. By the end of the first season I had established a degree of difficulty factor. I knew that it took xxx number of minutes to cut the ball field and it took xxx number of minutes to cut the commercial. This is how I was able to establish and continue to evaluate production rates for our equipment. The "football field" we use today is flat open area industrial accounts.

    We kept track of everything for the first three years like they were personal medical records and then adjusted them to fit our profit margin. We measured every linear foot to be line trimmed. Every square foot to be blown off.

    Hope this helps.
  8. KindGardener

    KindGardener LawnSite Member
    Messages: 186

    Yes, this should really help!
    I have a couple accts that have large turf areas (we use both walkbehind mowers at one time for them). I'll measure them & make notes of the time.
    As for blowing or hosing down a patio... I can see I need to time that too.
    I have logged the time spent at each one of my accts, and sorta know which ones are money & which are not. But this takes it up a notch - and will definitely help with accurately estimating new accts. I guess the biggest challenge I have is accurately estimating time it will take for planter beds, shrubs & small trees.
    Yesterday, I told a woman I will charge $50per hour for each of the first 2 visits - the first visit will be a clean-up (told her about 1.5-2 hours), and the next visit will take perhaps half that. Then, I will give her a bid for weekly service. She went for it! I doubt that would fly with a commercial account, though :-(
  9. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    Thats not true at all. I think that too often when people say commercial they are actually thinking in terms of "Industrial Accounts". With Industrial Accounts we often have to deal with major corporations, vp's -ceo's, plant managers etc. All of these people have ONE job where we are concerned. To keep costs down. If you found one who was willing to work with you, he's a rare find.

    As far as commercials go, I put everyone from the local shop owner to smaller corporations to the larger frims. I have found that more often than not we are able to "talk" with the people who are in charge of finances in these situations, rather than just "proposing" costs.

    When it comes to keeping track of clean-ups I have yet to find a formula. I have some pretty good ballpark figures, but its hard to calculate.

    As for shearing services, I would measure the shrubs (or guesstimate) so that you can begin to average the times for these as well. Then when you get into the larger accounts with extensive shearing you can gage whether or not this will be above and beyond your capabilities. Everything at first looks intimidating.

    On the subject of mulching you already have the measurements, because thats how we find out the amonut of product needed. So just keep track of your times to do the installs, and then you can average them out to make your own formula.

    Just always be honest with your clients, and if you need help - ask another professional. I cannot tell you the number of times I hear guys say, "IF I only had that EXTRA set of hands!" I am not opposed to "subbing" out my guys if its an option for us. Christ, I've even postponed work by a day or two to help out a fellow associate.

    Oh yea, one other thing before your eyeballs pop out from readign ,,, when you have 3 employees on a site and it takes 3 hours to mulch .... its 9 man hours for labor, not 3. Made that mistake our second season on a few :-(

    Good luck in your venture and hope this has helped you some,

    [Edited by kutnkru on 02-10-2001 at 11:38 AM]

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