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How do you figure mower cost per hr

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Sweet Tater, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. Sweet Tater

    Sweet Tater LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,123

    I have an Xmark Laser Z 48" with bagger. I bought it used and need to find out how to figure what it cost to operate, so I can Figure my cost to help set my pricing. Does that make sence. I've read hundreds of posts today and have seen and like the $1 min charge, How ever I believe that is to much for this area. Small town/Rural. I've not a clue what to charge, I've got a couple of yards I know I am under charging, and a few I think I am pretty decent with. ( I am happy with the price and the cutsomer sems to be also)
    Any thoughts??
  2. privatelawn

    privatelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 301

    $6000 mower 2000 hr averge life = $3 per mower hour
    the $1 a minute isnt expensive if your fast enough, $30 cut 30 minutes, with a z you should be able to cut a 1/4 acre in 30 minutes
  3. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    You should include all your costs ... labor, oil, gas, taxes, etc. !!
  4. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    So what is your price, high and low?
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    The biggest thing is replacement cost, even thou how much you paid for it can help determine this, the factor here is what is it going to cost to replace. I would figure, on average, 1,000 hours for a mower, roughly speaking we're talking 5-8 years, maybe 10-15 and hopefully 20, but 5-8 for the purpose of this exercise, on a new machine. With used machines, you get what you can out of it, but I would recommend figuring on the cost of a new mower, far as a replacement goes, within 3-4 years but sooner if possible, otherwise you'll never be able to upgrade.

    Then you add in fuel, maintenance, parts and labor (for non-maintenance repairs), even taxes have to be figured... It takes some years before the entire thing completely sinks in, I can explain things to death but I didn't see it all until I experienced it, either. To keep the headache away from trying to figure all this out, best I can tell you is go with some base price recommendations and just charge roughly what the rest of the guys get, you can't go but so wrong there.

    It is one of the reasons I recommend starting with a used Walk-behind, such as a 48", this way if you mess it up the loss isn't nearly as crucial to your survival, so I am sorry to say but there is some trial and error involved. Either way, your used mower will give you an added bonus as you will learn more maintenance and repairs and troubleshooting right off the bat. I'm sure you'll flip me the bird over saying it is a bonus as you sweat up a storm on a hot day, but nothing beats the experience you'll gain with a used machine... The day you buy new and it craps out, you know almost for sure what is the problem, or be a lot closer to it.

    You can, in a pinch, not pay yourself for maintenance, I did this for a long time, but it's just one part of many that eventually has to get figured in, it is also to say some mistakes are not detrimental, but you want to try and get as close to the correct figure as possible (or you'll work for free way more).

    Meanwhile, as you learn the ins and outs of these commercial machines, you're also a lot better off as you put the largest amount of damage you will do in your career on your first, USED mower. I didn't see this until I bought a new one my 4th year, but I was sure glad at that point in time that I had learned on a used one, because sure enough I was a lot better operator by then, and the damages to the old machine are not that big of a deal.

    In summary I'd say you're on the right track, it just takes time, best of luck.
  6. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,004

    just charge the $10/hr that you wish taco bell would pay you and be done with it.

    everyone is always yappin that at least a buck a minute to cover you, mower, truck, gas, and other overhead if youre legit. if youre not legit then about half is fair. so if my math is right.... acording to all the other local lawnboys that one dollar a minute equalls to $15 an hour.
  7. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    That was a pretty worthless contribution. The guy is asking a legitimate question....

    Like was said, divide the price of the mower by 2000(ROUGH life expectancy or about the time you want to get rid of it if it's still running)...

    Figure changing your oil and filter every 50 hours, so whatever it will cost for the oil and filter each time and multiply that by 40 for the total cost for that...

    Figure you will go through 3 or 4 sets of blades per season.

    Hydro filter, air filter, fuel filter, you'll end up buying a few of each, you'll probably need a couple sets of tires, count on several belt replacements, maybe a spindle or two.

    Nickle and dime everything you'll think of that it will cost you to run the mower, then add a little to cover unexpected repairs or damage repairs. Total it all up and divide by how long you expect to have the mower, around 2K hours or so and there's your cost.
  8. NickN

    NickN LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 1,009

    Does Exmark charge less for their mowers in a small/rural town?
    These guys gave good advice.Charge what it's worth.If it's too much in your area,start working in another area.
  9. BQLC

    BQLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 574

    Tater, $1 a min is not as much as it sounds I thought it was for awhile at first. Time yourself from the time yu pull up to a customers house until you are about to leave and see how long it actually is taking you.( provided the homeowner doesn't catch you to discuss things like football and the weather:laugh: ) You may be closer than you think.
    Where Is Burnsville?
  10. Sweet Tater

    Sweet Tater LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,123

    My high is a 1.5 acre large houe, pool and looonnngggg drive way to blow and weed eat. about 2hrs $75
    my low is a small lot just mow about 1500 sqft to mow, 15 min, $35

    my under price is almost 2 acres $45 not much but mowing ,bout 12 min trimming

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