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hourly rate question

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by jeffh1988, Jun 16, 2006.

  1. jeffh1988

    jeffh1988 LawnSite Member
    from MS
    Messages: 112

    Started on a fence line for a customer a couple days ago clearing small trees privot and vines off of one side and also limbing up larger trees. Prices were never really discussed besides work would have to be priced on an hourly basis becasue it was no telling what would end up being in the undergrowth. they agreed and i have now made it all the way down about 150 or 200 yards of fence and hauled away about 15 trailer loads of debris. So far i have put in roughly 20 or so man hours and am looking for a figure becasue they want the other side done and are very pleased with the work but i don't want any argument out of prices at the end i'd rather go ahead and tell them what this side has set them back before i start on the other. So all that said i'm looking for a rough hourly price on clearing and hauling away moderate to heavy undergrowth such as privot vines and such and also limbing trees. I shoot for 40 an hour mowing so atleast that is what i'm thinking any help is appreciated thanks.
  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    These are NEVER any fun to price in this area.
    I seldom discuss hours and hourly rates with customers for this reason.
    The reason being is that many would flip out if they had to pay more than $200 for that.

    On the other hand, I have a lot of good customers that would glady pay me $1,000 for the on-site work plus hauling and disposal fees.
  3. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    I can't tell you what you are supposed to be making. You already know that by the halfway point you have alot of work done and just as much to go. If you want 50 an hour you better start justifying your case now when you are owed 1000 dollars. If the customer is good with it you will have no problem fininshing the job knowing that you have another grand coming but if the customer freaks out you will definately be out lots of money. I'm gonna bet that the labor you are doing is almost double what you would be doing if you were mowing lawns. You may want to contact some of the larger landscape contractors and inquire as to what they may charge for similar work. I think you may even be surprised. Get what you are worth but absolutely talk to the customer before you go any farther. Good Luck and post what they say.
  4. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    So.....lets see here, you never really discussed prices with the customer. You're now half way done with the job and you're asking advice here. What's wrong with this picture? You are now at the mercy of your customer. If he feels that you're just a low life scrub then he'll pay you as such. If he feels sorry for you he may pay more. Either way, he knows absolutely that you are no businessman. In the future you MUST agree on a price BEFORE the work is started and to be safe you should have an aggreement (contract) with the customer that is signed and dated explaining the scope of the work. Attached , is the proposal form that I use, copy it and change the name to yours for any future work that you get. I hope that this job turns out OK for you and you don't get screwed too bad but if you do you have only yourself to blame.

    Attached Files:

  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    It is ok to work by the hour only so long the customer has a firm understanding that your hourly rate is x-dollars / hour. Even once you are sure they understand, you do a little bit of work (20 minutes or so) and pause to go talk to the customer and let them know what they see is 20 dollars worth and would they like you to continue. If the answer is still yes, an hour into it, stop and go ask again: Dude, by now you should have some idea of how long the whole thing is going to take.

    1 or 2 thousand dollars may not be unusual for the size of the job, then again I might be the kind to just take my backpack sprayer and spray the whole fenced growth with round-up and be done in an hour or so for $100...

    Because from what I see, this customer plans on paying around $100-$200 or so. It's just that thing about you think you're a business and they'll pay whatever it costs, until you try and squeeze the blood out of a turnip and suddenly things don't look so good anymore.

    As for the actual outcome, I do hope it works out for you but if it doesn't, welcome to the world of dog eat dog, we've all been there.
  6. wski4fun

    wski4fun LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 323

    Price should have been discussed first if you have no history with this customer. Around here, 35/hr plus dump charge although a tree company would be chargeing 60/hr or more. Add in dump charges of course. Are you doing anything to make sure the stuff doesn't grow back? If you are then you have a good case for chargeing a good price. I'm sure the job is worth whatever you charge but it would be to bad if the customer doesn't fell that way. Good luck.
  7. OMG

    OMG LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    On jobs like this, I give a minimum bid and a maximum bid (usually 25% more).

    If the end price should be more than my maximum quote, that's just my loss.

    That rarely happens though. Maybe once every couple years.

    Good luck.
  8. Birdhunter1

    Birdhunter1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    Some folks are "wierd" about stuff like that. One lady I mow for I charge her $35 to do her yard and I'm done in 30-45 minutes, sometimes 1 hour but never more than an hour.
    I charges her $20 an hour for various stuff one day and she freaked out.. various stuff was gutter cleaning, a little bit of trimming and just loading up some stuff she had around that needed hauled off. Anyway I told her we'd settle up when I mowed later in the week and I had a tad over 3 hours in this work, plus mowing. I said we'd settle at $100 even and she liked to had a stroke, but she paid it.
  9. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    This is gonna be a nighmare ..... you need to get a price out there asap .... n a check to go with it .... they owe $800 ......their gonna have a heart attack when they here that ..... should have soften the impact before hand

    Good Luck

    M RASCOE&SONS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,475

    never start work for anyone without going over prices first,and then get it in writing when your doing work like that because if they dont like the price in the begining your only out the estimate .15 loads at $65 per load plus $50 per man hour at 20 hrs so the total would be $1975 for work performed.it would have been alot easier to give them the breakdown upfront because they might not have that kind of money in the budget and maybe they would have said do say 10 hrs labor and 6loads but good luck next time..

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