How to make leaf removals quicker and more profitable?

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

  1. RSK Property Maintenance

    RSK Property Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,504

    a bagger will make your leaf clean up go much quick, point and case; one of my lawns which i used to wait until every leaf is down to do a clean up used to take 3-3.50 hrs and i would charge 350 for the clean up and include a cut which is 50 dollars. This october i bought the 3 bag vac system for my scag and started bagging the lawn in october for an extra 15 dollars which i told the customer comes off the total price of the clean up. so i cut the lawn every week in october and sucked up whatever was on the lawn and once all the leaves were down i had a guy on a back pack blowing all the beds out and i just cut the lawn like normal, and it ended up taking about 1hr to do the clean which i went up 10 dollars on because they extended a small part of their yard, creating more lawn and a more beds to blow out but only about 5 more mins of work. so I ended grossing 300 per hour for that clean much better then last years 100 per hour, and I have quite a few lawns like this. so for me buying the bagger really has made a huge difference....I just did one last night for 160 took about an hour same deal except her leaves had to be hauled away. but her yard is much smaller and i had two guys working with that were less then A+ workers, but i was in a tight spot and needed help with a previous clean up that was much bigger. not all customers will pay top dollar for a clean up some are cheaper then others but if i can get close to 100hr on the low side i'll take on the job. especially if it means i get a new weekly mowing account and shrub pruning and mulch from that customer. Which i did in this case.
  2. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Messages: 3,274

    very good rsk.
    all i have is an exmark metro walk behind. 36". just bought a grass gobbler which is 3cubic feet. that thing fills up so fast. what can i do without dropping all sorts of money on a big catcher?
  3. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 559

    Get the leaf extension for it, they should be around $100 for most brands.

  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Do you run the leaves over a time or 2 first or just put the bagger on and start bagging?
  5. kyles landscape

    kyles landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 331

    I just keep cutting until the leaves are done usually so I'm charging the mow price plus a little bit extra for the leaves....I always haul them off site looks better then leaving a pile at the curb I think

    I use my stander with a big basket and leaf gobbler basket attachment ($150) but hoping to get a leaf loader for next year
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  6. rbljack

    rbljack LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 731

    Ive been putting a lot of thought into the "pricing game" a lot myself...and here is the way I see it.

    If you were charging x to mow a lawn with a 22 inch mower, and then spent 4 k on a 36 walk behind that allows you to do the job still have to account for the depreciation or replacement cost of that more expensive mower. IF you expect that mower to last 60 months, and it cost you 4k, then you have to account for that replacement cost in your "hourly fees". So you really shouldnt be changing your price if you get "more efficient" because of better equipment. That equipement will cost more money to keep that in mind. Sorry, didnt mean to get sidetracked on the posting. I too have had problems estimating jobs correctly, and got stuck on a 2 day leaf clean up and lost money in the end because I didnt charge enough. I didnt know any better, and Im too ashamed to even admit what I got paid for that job that took a total of 8-10 hours total to complete.

    For mowing estimates, ive simply looked the lawn over and thrown them a price in the past. But lately ive been evaluationg how long it takes me to do each process. I look at the following areas:
    1. travel
    2. edging
    3. Mowing
    4. trimming
    5. blowing
    6. load/unload time
    7. 5 minutes for Misc stuff to go wrong..LOL
    8. 3-5 minutes for customer interaction.

    I have been using a watch lately, and recording the amount of time for each process on each lawn. my next step is to get a measuring wheel, and figure out the sq footage of each property, then figure out how fast i can perform each task when moving at a NORMAL pace. I have also done calculations to determine hourly costs for my equipment usage on each piece, how much gas i will consume, how much lunch will cost ALL the other costs of the buisness.

    You may want to try doing somethign similar for the leaf clean up jobs to get a ball park figure. You may be surprised at how much per hour you need to charge to ensure your going to be in the "green" for the work accomplished.

    good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  7. C Jovingo Landscaping

    C Jovingo Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    Hate when that happens! My worst was a job I did for free my first year cuz my supplier messed up on the price list they handed out. It was for my wifes step sister so I also gave her cheaper price. I filled in hole in back yard where a pool was removed. Supplier had a fill dirt on my price list at like $8/yd. They failed to put on the price list that you had to get semi load(over 40yds I think it was). They had other materials on list that stated you had to get semi load to get that price. I ended up paying double for material & I also under estimated amount of material needed to fill the hole. The material ate up what I bid the job at with abt $20 left. I guess I did lose money considering operating costs like fuel, ins, taxes, etc. Hind site I should have spoke to manager at supply yard & got the $8 price for their mistake since I bid the job using their price list! SMH
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,445

    Good thread. We have found it depends on the property and how many leaves you have. If they have to be hauled off we do this. One guy blows out the beds and difficult problem areas out into the lawn area. If there are LOTS of leaves, one ztr runs over them with gator/mulching blades once, then run over with bagging ztr. The man with the backpack can do pruning, pickup sticks, or empty full bags into the truck as the ztr fills. Still can be time consuming and tough. When you give estimates, price it high and then add $50 and you might make out all right. Try to sell them on gutter cleanups and other similar things that adds value to the customer. Work hard and long days when there is little wind and leaves are dry. We have been very fortunate with weather up here in Maine this November.

  9. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Messages: 3,274

    thanks for all the contributions here
    beds take a long time to clean out- especially ones with pine type shrubs/ ground cover. the leaves just stick in them and it takes for ever to blow them out from different angles- never getting it looking perfect.
    if you are going to get a walk behind blower i strongly suggest a self propelled model 9hp minimum. do not get the briggs straton egine ones either i hear they are bad. the things weight over 200lbs and unless you are on a parking lot or football field there is likely to be some hills which are terribly frustrating.
    add alot of price if you are going to haul them away using your tarp and pick up truck. its very time consuming and labor intensive.
  10. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Messages: 3,274

    RSK- how do you sell a whole year maintenance contract to the customers with whom you work for the first time? Do you hand them the forms, fill in the details and done? I am having a difficult time getting contract customers. I am not exaclty sure the best way to bring up the subject.

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