Hourly rate/cost to operate

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by magicmike, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    If you check I agreed with #2, don't agree with #7. you brought in the mower size.
  2. ncknaklawns

    ncknaklawns LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 379

    Big machines should charge a higher hourly rate. They cut quicker but cost more to buy and operate/maintain.
    When there is a lot of growth the Z might take 5-10% longer, a 21" could be more like 100-200% longer.
  3. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    ^^^ should is the right word, but tell all the competition that.
  4. magicmike

    magicmike LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    My question was more directed towards how do you charge... No matter what mower you use (using a smaller one would make cost to operate less, using a larger mower would make cost to operate more) most people charge about 60 an hour. So say if your cost to operate is 10 dollars an hour (made up number). Do you change 70 per hour or do you take the 10 dollar hit and just charge 60? So if a lawn takes 30 minutes would you charge 35 or 30. Hope this makes sense I'm on my phone
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  5. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    You are confusing what the job costs the customer and what the business costs are for you to do the job.

    You need to know your costs. Your salary goal. Your market area pricing. These things all need to be considered to price a job.

    Using a smaller mower does not cost less or more then a larger mower.

    The best profit will always come from the mower best sized to do the job.

    Mower price, maintenance costs, fuel costs, productivity rate determines all of these things determine operating costs.


    Pay someone to run either mower $10 hr.

    Say small mower uses 1 gal of fuel an hour.

    Large mower uses 4 gal of fuel an hours.

    Small mower takes 4 hours to mow 1 acre. That's 4 gal fuel, and $40 labor.

    Large mower takes .25 hour to mow 1 acre. That's 1 gal fuel $2.50 labor.

    Then there are the cost of the machines to be factored in. Which is purchase price of mower divided by life expectency in hours of the mower. Then productivity rate must be factored in.

    A small mower can be bought for $250. Large mowers can be $12,000. So there are a lot of numbers that have to be worked out.

    You however are putting the cart in front of the horse. You need to figure your costs. You need to determine the salary you need to make. You need to know what jobs go for in your area.

    Do not worry about the size of your mower for now. You need to get cash coming in and save money to buy a bigger mower.

    Say a .5 ac lawn goes for $30 by a LCO A with a 48" that takes him 30 min.

    Same lawn takes you 60 min with your 20". You LCO B still charge $30. Becasue that is what the local market goes for.

    Even if both of your costs are the same. LCO is going to make more money because he will do 2 lawns for everyone that you do.

    Yes I left out travel time. Though when making comparisions to get more accurate you keep having to get more in depth with the numbers. Such as bigger mower means bigger trailer, another set of numbers. The purpose is not get complex but to give you a starting point.

  6. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,764

    You don't add cost ABOVE your hourly rate :dizzy: if I read that correctly.

    It works like this, your costs PH + desired hourly profit determines your PMH rate. Equipment does come into play, bigger toys more overhead. So the question becomes how competetive do you want to be in relation to your profit. You can't use the "other guys make $60 PMH so that's what I want to make." Hope that makes sense......
  7. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,281

    To add to this you need to bring something to the table that other LCO's don't have in your area. Either you need to be cheaper than the next guy, or you need to offer something to be more expensive than everyone else. If no one does edging throw in edging, if they don't do bed maintenance, add that in. Don't do that for free but adding a couple min to your time there to make a noticeable difference for the additional price you charge. In time your reputation alone will let you charge more, but you need to build that up in order to rely on that alone.
  8. ncknaklawns

    ncknaklawns LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 379

    Good info above. SOme lawns just can't be cut with a 21" mower though. So if a lawn is always thicker and well fertilized and your bagging a lot all season cause its watered, merely knowing the acreage won't complete the cost. Need a "I like cutting your nice lawn" surcharge.

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