How to make leaf removals quicker and more profitable?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by smallstripesnc, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. lkendall

    lkendall LawnSite Member
    Messages: 157

    sorry to jump on you, but that seems cheap, you are loosing money and at that rate in a year or so you will not only be burnt out but out of funds..
    Your making around 7.50-8 per man hour$ after expenses.. Not set in stone, but my landscape professor told me as a base line that $20 per man hour should be a min. (if you are legal that should cover expenses and a 9-10 hourly rate for employee)
    If you are just doing it on the weekend, have a normal job and all expenses paid and that is cash then I suppose that is good to have a little extra cash..

    Only tip I have is to build up the box on the trailer, and maybe make a temp box on the truck ( like one that slides into the holes at the 4 corners of the bed)
  2. C Jovingo Landscaping

    C Jovingo Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    I don't have ZTR but depends what bagger system you have, as they are different. Exmark Lazer Z 3 bagger is approx 16.75 cu ft (3 bags plus hood full). For comparison 27 cu ft = 1 yard
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  3. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,764

    Walkers are 9 bushels and our Deere is 13 bushels. We use a ramp for the Walkers to dump them into the back of a one ton from our deckover.
  4. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    We do have some commercial accounts and in the actual small town I live in we have to haul them away.

    I got away with either just putting them at the curb, or just loading and stuffing into the truck and trailer, but we ended up getting enough clients the last couple of years to justify a leaf loader. Way easier on the back and body than loading leaves by hand.

    Plant debris is where I'm ecstatic about having the loader. Though it's slower as you have to hand feed the plant material in to not over-load the loader, it still chops them up and makes short work of getting rid of them.

    On top of it, the small town I live in out-side of Bloomington has to burn their leaves to get rid of them. We ended up offering curb-side pickup for those who wanted a different option over burning. We didn't charge much to help the community, just about a dollar a minute for each pile, but at least it helped to cover some of the cost of buying the loader this year as we got about 15 people to go for it out of 500 houses, and more people interested for it next year after they heard how cheap it was.
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Now, something else I want to bring up.


    Why should we as an industry, charge per hour for cleanups, then go out and buy some of the fastest equipment for cleanups, and end up charging less for the increased efficiency.

    Never made sense to me. If you've got a 3k leaf loader, 500.00 leaf box, a 5k mower and bagger, and 1k + in blower equipment, then I think you should be charging a premium to clean up leaves efficiently because the equipment isn't cheap.

    Some cleanups we do come out to $60.00+ charge in man hours because we can do it so fast. We just try to find a reasonable set price for the cleanup and get it done. I'm to the point of being tired of the bottom line being hurt by efficiency.

    Another thought. I think mulching and bagging can sometimes be a hindrance. One year we tried mulching and bagging, and the next we just tried blowing and loading. Turns out the fuel consumption, wear and tear on equipment, and time was more when mulching/bagging on properties with lots of leaves. Seems like it was way easier to just blow/drag/and load the truck.

  6. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Messages: 3,274

    for a solo guy it can be a timely operation and require a lot of energy. basically blowing them to the curb or an area that is not in use is no problem, but hauling them is difficult.
    do any of you solo guys have a debris loader? if so, how do you manage that 250+lb piece of equipment by yourself? the only way i can see is to get a tow behind unit.
    i agree with all others that the thread OP is charging too little. find a balance where it is still profitable for you, and your customers can agree to a fair price.

    ok thanks
    all the best
  7. C Jovingo Landscaping

    C Jovingo Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    I'm solo, just bought leaf loader with no engine & watching CL for deal on engine to power it. My plans are to fab a tailgate bracket for my dump insert & mount this on trailer tounge. (Click link)

    OP stated guys are doing for $45 & people in his area think $80 is expensive! Needs to find area to work with more disposable income!
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    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    That or he needs to start marketing himself better. Regardless of any area you live in, you need to make sure your finding the clients that appreciate your services and what you can do. It's a slower growth business plan, but the pay-off is when you have a list of clients that pay, pay well, and your profiting comfortably for the time,effort, and investment in what you do.

    Even being in the middle to upper end of the pricing spectrum for us, sometimes I still wonder if we are charging enough to compensate for the time and effort we've put into all of this. It's not easy work at all.

    As for the loader. With just me and one other guy, I mounted the loader to the tongue of my equipment trailer in order to still pull a mower and equipment with us when doing cleanups. That and I didn't have to deal with a swing away mount on the truck bed, along with a tailgate mount that I would have to use my mini skid to take it on and off when going to unload the truck. Ultimately the trailer isn't tied up either, I just take the hose and stack off the loader if the trailer will get used for other things besides leaves.


  9. Agape

    Agape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,644

    Yeah, not trying to be a jerk at all, but if you have a worker at $11-$12/ hour before workers comp. etc.... for a grand total of almost 14/hr spent on a worker (min wage here is almost $9/hr) but say it is $10 for you, you got $100 out of the $160 just in your helper, why are you wanting to do leaves? as opposed to anything else on the planet where you show up and get a paycheck?

    I think a Zero turn rider/bagger is out of the question.

    Ijust pimped myself out for a half day leaf cleanup for two people @ $275 just to get work (and a weeks worth of fuel paid for:rolleyes:) ) and i feel it's too low, but wow....If i got you to do it for $45, I would.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  10. Eric's Lawnservice

    Eric's Lawnservice LawnSite Member
    Messages: 173

    I'm in the same situation ,as far as beginning to hate leaves. I'm solo I feel like I bid correctly but when its all said and done I spend so much time I end up with little profit per man hour. I recently picked up a bag system for a rider. nothing fancy at all. I chopped it up and made a box for my lazer, a 55gal bagger for lawns I can't get my lazer into, and I'm in the process of building a laoder and a small box for the trailer. I definitely feel these will speed up my process, although I know there is no substitute for experience. Hopefully I will get fa$ter $oon.

    It is nice to know I'm not the only one who is getting burnt by leaves.

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