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Fall clean-ups how did you do?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by nobagger, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    I'm debating even to do these stupid ten times as much work than mowing jobs. We started last year and bought a Little Wonder HPV and started advertising in about Aug.-Sept. to our exisiting customers and new perspective ones. Everyone in our area says its great $$$$ but I dont see how unless they are content with making anywhere from $25-$45 a yard. We tried to get what I thought the going rate was. Everyone else uses hourly rate, ours is $45/hr for leaves but people freaked and said no thank you, and I know people in here say "then you don't want customers like that" but after about 15-20 bids (and they were bid at roughly 2-4 hrs of work x $45/hr=under $200.00 at 4hrs) I became kind of desperate to try and justify spending $1200.00 on a new toy. Any suggestions on how to approach customers on fall/spring clean ups would be great.
  2. chefdrp

    chefdrp LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,384

    Most people would freak when they hear 45.00 per hr. I dont tell them. I just quote them a price and most of the time they take it. They dont think about it as being 45 an hr. if you think it will take you 2 hrs just tell them 90.00 and get to work.
  3. old dog

    old dog LawnSite Member
    Messages: 213

    People generally don't want to pay the same rates as mowing,etc. for leaf cleanups.
    It is labor intensive,perhaps cut your per hour to 32 to 38.If I have to bid a full price
    I go to a high rate of 45 to 50.Rain ,wind ,how much blew in or out of the neighbors lawn all has a bearing on how long it takes .If you are just starting to price,you have no experience or gut feeling for what you need to charge.My regular customers like me to
    charge per hour cause they know we work hard to get done.Several lawns in the neighborhood also helps the margin and if all leaves get cleaned up at once you won't
    get callbacks since it is all cleaned up.If it snows before fall cleanups,then double
    the darned labor that must go into it!Remember kids will clean up for them at 5 to 8
    per hour but it won't mean any cheaper for the customer.Ever see how slow some people work.Where in Pa are you?What type of properties do you do?
  4. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    Thanks chef. I don't tell them our rate (unless they ask then I feel I have to). But thats what I meant I give them the $180.00 quote or whatever $45.00x?hrs=? then they say something like well I thought it would only be $50.00 or so and I explain to them all the work involved but they don't give a crap just the bottom line. Just wondering how other LLC approach customers for fall/spring clean ups. A fellow LLC owner kind of a friend of mine says he just tells them a really low "rough cost" and then he wacks them with a final bill thats a lot more than they were expecting. But they pay it and he is always busy, but to me that is an unethical way to do business.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    Hey Bro. I charge $75 per hr for 3 men $15 per cu yd to haul away if necessary. I work by the hour. When I do quotes, I estimate the time and offer a price. I usually quote high and tell the customer If it takes less time, that's all I'll charge them for. Normally, I get the same people every year. This year I was down just a bit, but they might call me in the spring. When I quote new customers I only pull in about half the jobs.
  6. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,683

    If I could get out of clean ups I would it's a pay cut but it’s at a time of year when you got no other income anyways. The days are shorter the equipment is being pushed to the limit and so are you I fear I will have 150+ spring clean ups and if this snow does not melt soon we will be starting so late we will be in a lot of trouble to finish. So there’s little money and the work sucks yet I still and looking at much more expensive equipment for fall and spring-cleans and it may never really make a profit. That’s the price we pay for be landscapers I am not looking so much at making money off cleans as I am getting them all done as fast as we can and keeping our customers from leaving us the following season. I spend a lot of money to get these people to call us I sure as hell am not going to have them go else where over 2 clean ups a year.
  7. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    The proper customer profile for a great leaf-removal business:These places are snowed-under with leaves, friend, and its like they live in the forest - they and their neighbors got so many danged deciduous-leafed trees all over their grounds, they feel like packing them into boxes and calling UPS & Transit Lines to ship them to their relatives in SO.CAL./AZ/NV/NM, or even Overseas !! Medical, Food/Beverage Grade, and Flammable concerns are good commercial prospects for sparse to heavy leaves . Especially for residentials - one or two trees ain't gonna cut it (when they say:"maybe they'll all blow across to my other neighbors next week when the wind direction's suppposed to change") - they gotta have a half dozen or more deciduous-leaf trees of 10-40 years maturity, already in-place, to make this really pay off for you, friend.

    What To Charge:
    We don't touch it unless its paying us $25 per quarter hour, 1 hour minimum -entire crew rate which is anywhere from 1 to 3 of us at that time of year, depending on the lay of their land (our summer help has already thinned-out by that time of year because they usually got other indoor jobs elsewhere by end of Sept.). Jobs take us usually 1.5 - 4 hours. These rates are for back-pack & 3-wheel blowing into piles we either tarp to their onsite woods (50% of our leaf removal accounts), or we-pull or tractor-pulls onsite to their curbsides (other 50% of our leaf removal accounts). This is also what we charge for seasonal lawn-mowing-inclusive, leaf removal whether we're mulch-mowing leaves or bag-mowing their leaves. Our Invoices feature date & actual timeframe. We charge quarter hourly because that way none of the customers debate us on what percentage of the hour was billed-out as "fraction thereof" any "per-hour"-price.

    We put lots of flyers (with postage on them) out in late August advertising: "End of Season/ Pre- Season Leaf Removal to your Curbsides or Woods - $25 per Quarter Hour, 1 hour minimum, weekly or monthly scheduled, for our ENTIRE Well-Equipped (featuring equipment pictures), 9-5, Fully Licensed & Insured Crew of Leaf Removal Contractors."
    We leave zero doubt the job's gonna get done on a scheduled basis by a real company that doesn't arrive an hour before dark to "case them out" or because they got other full-time jobs this time of year.

    These "curbsides"-accounts are fortunate to have their curbside piles of leaves vacuumed on weekly/2-week/ monthly basis already by their own respective municipal Public Works Departments. Municipal Contracts are even awarded to other fellow well-equipped LCO's with boxed-backed Dumptrucks fed with 3,4, or 8 cylinder motorized vacuum rig trailers (no thanks, we have zero need to be that "big-league" yet); to public municipalities, private, and commercial concerns. We rarely haulaway leaves from customers premises on our own trailers - because that cost is completely additional and seperate from the additionally-necessary landfill dumping costs being passed onto the same customer (or costs of hauling to our company's land's woods), which all total - is a heck of alot more expensive than the $400 they just paid us for that 4-hour job of gathering their leaves to customers' own woods or curbsides for that week or month!!
    If you can get more quarter-hourly for your crew - then by all means get it: like for add-on customers just prior their respective Municipal Vacuum date, last of month/ last of the year leaf-removals, leaf-removals just-prior when the snow & ice hits - wet frozen leaves cost more because they're are more time consuming to remove (that's stated on our Flyer).

    If your customer base of written leaf removal contracts is purposedly setup before September, its a piece-of-cake to get thousands of more bucks infused into your business during the fall, or for even Pre-Spring cleanups now.

    Best Regards in getting fired-up about the leaf removal side of your business, in the deciduous leaf country of PA, where you're from friend!
  8. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    WOW thanks for all of the info. By the sounds of it I'm charging in our price range but maybe this year I will use the quarterly way (by the quarter hour) that makes sense to me and comming from a customers view it would seem, I guess for lack of better words, more fair to them.
  9. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    Also, has anyone used a Little Wonder HPV? or would you go with just a high power blower. The reason we purchased the HPV is the fact that during fall clean ups we only have 2 or 3 people working so vac. seemed to be more efficient.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    I usually have 2 guys go through the beds with spring rakes to get the bulk. I follow behind with a backpack to get the small stuff. Backpacks for the lawn to. Finish up the lawn with the mower w/catcher. One note... I'm in cental Jersey, It's illegal here for a contractor to pile stuff at the curb for township pick-up. It happens all the time anyway, but they're starting to crack down on it . Oh yeah... offer gutter cleaning, customers love this.

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