How much to charge for leaf removal

Discussion in 'Bidding, Estimating and Pricing' started by Triptoy2002, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. Koehn's Lawn Service

    Koehn's Lawn Service LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 837

    People like that burn me up first of all I tell them straight out front what the bill is going to be so there are no surprises and if they told me well let me give you a fair price there yard isn't getting cleaned up and they could find someone else that will do it cheaper no skin off my nose. Don't let them tell u how to run ur business u know what you need to make on your jobs.
    hort101 likes this.
  2. jetson

    jetson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    We charge 90 an hour flat rate 2 guys so 45 an hour. It’s just easier.. plus we double bill for the mowing on top of that. It’s fair. Like a lot of people say on here it’s a lot of work and it’s time consuming. We typically start double billing for leaves in late sept.. keep steady income when other yards are ended..
    Dan Reyer likes this.
  3. fireball756

    fireball756 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 610

    Trophy . Trophy. Trophy . WTF in all my years of raking leaves I never got a trophy. Is it one of those plastic ones with sprayed on gold corn syrup or are we talking Stanley cup silver.

    While I agree that a hourly charge seems fair both to the customer and contractor .What I see is that you guys fail to charge for the machines ig leaf blowers and loaders . We charge per man per machine. If the customer questions it all you have to say is fine we will pick up your leaves with a rake or a blower you decide which gets done faster in a hour What you fail to capture is the depreciation on a machine that works at best 6 weeks per year and the additional gas consumption for those 6 weeks. Our daily gas consumption for one day of leaf removal is like a whole week of lawn mowing
  4. jetson

    jetson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    I’m with ya.. these blowers and mowers get thirsty during leaf clean up..
    hort101 likes this.
  5. oaksandiron

    oaksandiron LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    Turns out, he not only paid in full but didn't fire us. My guess is he asked around and found out what others were paying and knew we were fair.
    JMK26 and prezek like this.
  6. Arvydas

    Arvydas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    Please, please don't use Home Advisor for business research. They're a ridiculous sales company that makes their money from lead generation for contractors and making false promises, they're not market makers. The stupid articles they write are just to position themselves better in search engines and give a veneer of credibility.

    You need to charge what it costs to stay in business, pay yourself well enough to justify the headache and long hours of running your own business, and then make a profit on top of that! And I'm talking about a double digit profit. AFTER you've already paid yourself.

    When you're young and excited to be working for yourself, $30 or $35 an hour sounds great. It's not. It's awful. I'm 32 now and wish terribly that I'd looked at my business differently than when I started it 10 years ago. I'd be so much farther ahead.

    It's almost impossible for a service company anywhere in the United States to cover costs, taxes (which are 20 to 35 percent), and pay yourself more than peanuts without charging at least $50 an hour.

    Here in the Pacific Northwest, you need to charge at least $60 to make it. More like $70 to $80 when possible. We can't pay employees $10 an hour here like some of you can (I wouldn't want to anyway). More like $20+.

    Plus, please love yourself enough to stop charging by the hour! Bid a job for a set price, with the goal to be making $60 to $80 per hour. Especially for leaf clean up and you're doing it by yourself, and especially if you're using machines. Leaf clean up sucks.

    If you're working by yourself or only have one helper, all the more reason to be bidding at $70+ per hour! You'll work faster and be more disciplined than any employee! Why are you guys short changing yourselves? You need to charge a premium for that. Have you paid taxes long enough to realize how much you'll be paying and how quickly $70 per hour gets eaten up by all your expenses?

    Bid well, learn how to sell well, eat well and sleep well.

    Wake up my brothers!
    JMK26 likes this.
  7. JMK26

    JMK26 LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Missouri
    Messages: 10,283

    Why charge man hours and machine hours?

    No need to separate. If your business' hourly rate is factored correctly the machines are part of that hourly rate you charge the client. It's why the hourly rate is $90 per man hour (for example) whether it's a foreman working or a first day guy that has never ran a blower in his life and he's training. The man hour rate is not really about the man working, it's about all the costs, including equipment of the business so the equipment should already be factored into the man hours.
    oaksandiron likes this.
  8. oaksandiron

    oaksandiron LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    This the most profoundly true treatise, and not just as it applies to leaf cleanup. We are a young company and all this was hammered home really early in our experience. Now when people rant about hourly cost (which we never share unless asked directly) we just tell ourselves "glad to not have that person as a client!"

    I want to add to the above by saying (and NOT as a paid advertiser, lol) that it took delving into a high-quality management software (we use LMN) to realllly make the point on paper that a charged hourly rate is much more than what you expect to pay yourself. Running a business is expensive even if you work out of your own home (like us) and have zero employees (we have had anywhere from 1-5.)

    Edited to add:

    P.S., we cut ties with Home Advisor last Fall, and are both excited and a little nervous to see what this season brings. But I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to run a business that is dependent on Home Advisor leads.
    Doc8406 likes this.
  9. Peyton Wood

    Peyton Wood LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I have historical data, including weather conditions, that I use as a base. I tell my customers a price and the number of man hours I anticipate it'll take. This year, due to losing our shirts to wet weather in the spring and worse in the fall, I've also told them we WILL charge any additional time at $45 / MH (I usually build in a little cushion on time estimates, for minor issues I encounter). Prior to my arrival, this 4 generation family business ate the losses, thinking they were keeping customers happy.

    Until I got here, the company didn't track efficiencies and had lots of favorite customers they put up with and kept by low balling the work. I told them I would not do business that way and fired 5 customers in the first month for expecting way more than what they were being charged for. I've raised prices across the board this year due mostly to the 35% jump in labor prices. So far, only one 7K customer has not renewed.

    I think people are realizing more and more that with all the travel teams their kids play on, or the 2 rounds of golf they play each day don't leave them much time to take care of all the upkeep needed to enjoy the lawns when they are home. Even the cookie cutter neighborhoods have mowing crews swarming them. A sign of the upturning economy for sure, so why not enjoy your free time and let someone else do the dirty work?
  10. Marshall Reid

    Marshall Reid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Sorry for the ignorance here, but could you please explain what you mean about double billing for the mowing? Thanks.

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