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how much to charge customers???

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by jeffslawncare, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. jeffslawncare

    jeffslawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    I have had a small part-time lawn care business in Barre VT for the last 6 or 7 years. I need to raise prices for this year, but I'm not sure what the going rate is.
    last year(2011) this was what my base charges were.

    >lawn mowing once a week, $35.00 per time, this is for an average size lawn takes about 1/2hr to 45mins to mow.

    > yard work i charged $15 per hr, this was raking, weeding, and other general yard work.

    I have had these same prices for the last three years. i took a big hit this year with the price of almost everything going up.

    I would very much appreciate any help at all, if you could just give me an idea what you guys are charging for lawn care and basic yard work that would be great.


  2. v6rs97

    v6rs97 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 234

    15/hr is way too cheap. I think you have to bill out atleast $50/hr
  3. andersman02

    andersman02 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 576

    We charge 35$ a mow for most avg yards. Those yards take anywhere from 10 mins to 30 mins, anything more than 30min will be charged more, our prices our on the high end but our work is high quality. There are many, and when i say many i mean 10+, companies in our area charging 20-30$ per lawn but they do a **** job. From what ive seen your profit margin will be better charging more and retaining those customers then charging 20$ and cruising through yards not paying attention to detail. But to answer your question 35$ is good but if it takes you 45min i may increase that, for a general rule for us.....mowing charge should be anywhere from 1x to 1.5x the amount of time it takes to mow it.

    Yardwork is a different story..... 15$ is WAY to low for labor. Id say no lower then 30$, we do 50$. Depending on your company and how many workers you have, machines, overhead ect it may be different. If i were a solo college kid 30$/hr wouldnt be bad but as a business owner you probably wont be in business for long
  4. jeffslawncare

    jeffslawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    Thanks, that helps a lot. i realize now that i wasnt charging enough for labor. i like the 1x to 1.5x the amount of time to mow it. Do you guys charge anything for equipment useage on other jobs, like sweeping the driveway in the spring or trimming bushes, or do you just charge by the hr?
  5. kblandscape

    kblandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    We start out at 45$ base price for all new clients on yard mowing, and thats front and back. if it is just front we charge 35. If we find that the yard is easy and the client has been with us for over a year we adjust all prices accordingly. We dont go below $35 per lawn. Yard cleanup I always use the 3 times rule. 3 times what we pay the employee. that covers over head, insurance, workers comp. I also explain to the client we carry those insurances and those mom and pop lawn crews usually dont care insurance so thats why they can do it for 20 bucks, but you are also paying for what you get.

    When we do extra work on a lawn it all depends on what we do. If we show up one week and the lawn doesnt need mowed we will do some trimming and tell the client its a normal visit price. If we mow and do extra work we charge by the hour that extra time we spent. Sometimes we may lose, but we didnt lose the client. I have many customers refer us because they remember we did extra work and didnt charge them a whole lot.

    Another thing I do for clients is I give them a monthly price. one week we may not mow or show up, but the next week we are there a little longer doing a more intense cleanup. We always adjust to what works best for the client. We always try to make the client happy.
  6. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    Oh boy. We got helen keller with a blind service dog
  7. kblandscape

    kblandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. grass-scapes

    grass-scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,552

    LOL....Procut....I love it.

    Blind leading the blind..so to speak.

    What exactly IS an average lawn? There are some neighborhoods with cookie cutter lawns, but in most cases, every lawn is different. Obstacles, type of grass, drainage, growth rate, shade, sun, fence, gate, hard surfaces, and so on.

    How much fuel does your mower burn in an hour. How much did you pay for your mower. What is the life expectancy of it. How much in repairs do you anticipate spending on it per year. All of these play into account. Trimmers.....How long do you expect it to last. How much fuel per hour. How much string per day. I have to factor in buying AT LEAST 1, maybe 2 new trimmers per crew per year. That money comes from somewhere.

    There are different methods as to cost per hour. some are pretty close.

    operating costs of12 to 15 per hour for a ztr, including fuel
    3 to 4 per hour for handheld equip.

    so... you should be billing close to 20 per hour JUST FOR THE EQUIPMENT. Labor costs, general overhead, fuel, truck costs, general maintenance supplies, etc. The money has to come from somewhere. Lets not forget uncle sam.

    If you are going to operate a SUCCESSFUL business, you have to make sure you cover all of the bases. Anyone can throw out a number on an average lawn and think they are making money because they are "making more per hour than I was at my old job" What happens when the old crappy mower craps out for the last time and you have to spend thousands to replace it? What happens when you have to replace your string trimmer, or blower? Might as well figure on $400 bucks a pop on those...on average..LOL.

    I could go on and on, but there are many more useful threads out there.
  9. kblandscape

    kblandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I know he meant blind leading the blind.
    Jeffs Lawn Care didnt have to follow my prices. I just gave an example of how I charge. Its pretty easy where I live with track homes and all the yards are pretty similar. so my prices are generally the same. Everyones answers will be different, like I said I just gave an example of what I charge. Another thing is, Im learning. Im only 28 and I have 10 employees with 200+ clients, I feel pretty good about my business and am proud to say Business is good when I get asked hows business with this bad economy. Everyday I learn something new and I like your, procut1 and grass-scapes, advice on all the posts you have posted. Now I have learned to explain myself a little clearer when i respond to certain posts.
    Every state and every company is different on what overhead they have with workers comp and insurance, gas , and operating cost . So When I say i use the 3 times rule, I guess I should have said, "I use the 3 times rule because that is what covers my overhead and operating cost in my business." I should have included, "everyones business and overhead is different so dont base yours off of mine".

    Another thing, when I say Mom and pop companies I mostly refer to my area on that subject. I have total respect for the Lawn Businesses that are ran and operated with just one person and thats the Owner. I live 5 miles from the mexican border and we have to compete with all the guys that come across and mow a lawn for 15 to 20 bucks. Some of them are tough to compete with because they work their butts off.

    So, Thanks procut1 and grass-scapes for keeping me on my feet with posts.
  10. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    The problem with this industry is people who take short cuts and bypass the "business stuff" and jump into things.

    They come on here with no clue how to price and get advice from people who also have no clue how to price.

    Most people rely on "the going rate" and "what they heard"

    If you are going to carry on as a real business, you have to learn the nuts and bolts of running a business first.

    Pricing is the easiest thing to figure out, its not a magic number that pops out of the air.
    Only you have the information you need to calculate a price.
    Going by what others say they charge is worthless.

    Walmart can sell an item for $9.99 and make a nice profit.
    How about the mom and pop store that has to pay the supplier $12.99 for the same item?

    Can they sell that item for $9.99 because thats what walmart charges?

    Everyone would agree that is stupid. You dont know what walmart is paying for the item. You dont know what their profit is. You dont know what their overhead is.

    Yet in the lawn business. You have people charging that $9.99 because they heard walmart does. They dont know why theyre charging that. They dont know if they are making a profit. They charge that because thats "the going rate"

    And then they come on lawnsite and tell other new guys to charge $9.99 also.

    And a year later they are on here complaining about all the new lowballers in the industry working below their costs.

    Newbies should be asking HOW to price.
    Not asking WHAT TO CHARGE.

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