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How do you quote big cleanup jobs?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Southern Pride, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. Southern Pride

    Southern Pride LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Memphis
    Messages: 1,382

    Hey yall.
    So we're all getting the big cleanup jobs right now and I know my rates are about $30/man hour but I have alot of trouble estimating the time it will take. I've got a quote to give next week.

    How do you all estimate time in these scenarios?
    Unlike mulch I'm not sure how to guess time. Last cleanup job I estimated myself completing in 4 hours and 35/man hour. Turned out taking 3 guys 4.5 hrs...:nono:
    HELP! and thank you in advance.
  2. DJJS

    DJJS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 249

    when I have trouble estimating because the size, I try to break the job down into smaller jobs & estimate for those for example 4 man hours to clear leaves from planting beds, 2 man hours to edge, 2 man hours to mow etc etc
  3. Southern Pride

    Southern Pride LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Memphis
    Messages: 1,382

    I did a search the first time and yielded no results, then I searched "cleanup" and found alot.

    My question is with three men, 2 blowers, a 36" walk behind w/ mulching kit, should I just charge 35/man hour and then guess out the time?? This is where I have trouble.

    Also I see alot of guys mulch them up etc. I'm more into blowing everything into huge piles and getting the heavy stuff bagged, then come back and use the 36" to mulch up any residual leaves. I will get pics of the property up tomorrow.
  4. FourTrees

    FourTrees LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 6
    Messages: 310

    With large cleanups (when initially bidding and even after learning some) .......... Look at job, estimate your time you think it will take to complete then times that by 3.

    Take that amount and multiply it by your hourly rate.

    Example you look at job and think it will take 4 hours. You times that by 3 and get 12 hours. Multiply that by $55 an hour (you can't make money at $35 an hour using employees) and you charge $660. Now compare that to what you did in your sample and you with your estimate got paid $140. $520 less than I would bill. Now I would have made money.

    The thing with cleanups is that unless it is a very small yard were regular cleanups are done you cannot make money charging only $140.

    The thing is, cleanups always take longer than you will think (ESPECIALLY your first few times).

    I am not saying that this is my actual formula, as I have learned through poor bidding on my first few, my times are far more accurate. BUT remember a heavy cleanup cannot be feasibly done or billed at rates of $140, there is just too much to be done. $300+ for most jobs is more like it.

    Under bid one myself just the other day (but not badly under bid) spent 7 hours solo and only charged $330. But hey it was one of the first real big ones of the year on a new property and I'm a bit out of shape (tired easier) from not much hard work this winter.
  5. TopBlade55

    TopBlade55 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    That is an interesting way of going about a bid. I'am not saying it is wrong, but it seems you may be over estimating that way. I agree that as a worker you should feel comfortable with knowing how long it will take you. Of course you will not be exact. I like to estimate it, then add extra time in as a cushion. If it is a big job then I would give myself more room for error, and if it is smaller than I would give less. Through my short lived experiences I have noticed that some jobs run really smooth and others not so much. by giving yourself extra time to your original estimate, you can plan for future headaches. If you are still under estimating, then that is how you will learn.
  6. FourTrees

    FourTrees LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 6
    Messages: 310

    You missed this part
    I was being purposefully over exaggerated.

    I just do not understand how someone can bid a large clean up for $140. My suggestion was that if that is how he bids he might wanna go that route.
  7. Father&Daughter Lawn care

    Father&Daughter Lawn care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 434

    Break it down into smaller units, than figure your man hours. It will be more precise that way. I can usually get a pretty accurate quote. However most of my work are small yards at an acre or less. I do have several at 2 acres or better.
  8. I'm at $50/hour. If this is your first couple of cleanups and say you think 4 hours, bid it at 5.5 or 6. Trust me, you will def. underbid the first couple of times. I def. did. Most cleanups that I have done are "hand work." Pulling grass/weeds out of beds, pulling plants out, etc. The good thing is you aren't burning fuel on these types, but it is very labor intensive. Don't get discouraged if you underbid, you will learn.
  9. TopBlade55

    TopBlade55 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    FourTrees--Sorry partner. I did miss that. I was not arguing with what you said one bit. Estimating is a wierd science, and I think the best way to get it down is to keep good records. $140 is way to low, if it really is a big clean up. "You win some and you lose some." That is what makes it fun.
  10. BearWise Landscapers

    BearWise Landscapers LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 456

    Make sure you figure in the cost of all the extra work that goes into cleaning up properties

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