How to price "Drive Time"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by o-so-n-so, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. o-so-n-so

    o-so-n-so LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 1,218

    I just got a call from one of last years "Stump Grinding Customers." She noticed on my card that I done lawn care and wanted to know if i were interested in giving them an estimate.

    Details: 1. Home is a summer lake home in the upper six digits in value.) 2. They want weekly service.) 3. They are not happy at all with their current service because he continues to dump clippings on the property.) 4 There is 5 residents within mower driving distance using the current LCO.) 5.They will all change over if I can meet there needs.) 6. My drive time one way is 1 hour.........

    My Question Is....How should I explain and show the drive time on invoicing? I was thinking of showing and explaining it in a way that all five residents will absorb the cost but if one drops out then the other four residents will have to split the "drive time costs" and the price for each property will go up.

    Need your input on the drive time issue.......:confused:

    This is an area where the just started building high end properties on the lake. Not many houses (maybe 20) in the area but the houses that are there are very high end. Not any legit LCO in the area either because its at the end of the earth.

    Thanks guys and gals.......:waving:
  2. Ric3077

    Ric3077 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,113

    tough one...if you can land all five I would say charge your normal rate plus $10 each additional for a total of $50 more for drive time. That is just .41 cents a mile for 120 miles there and back...rounded up. You can explain your not profiting off the drive time just covering your cost. But then you have to consider if you are willing to "not get paid" for that hour...if you want to get paid charge them each $15-$20 plus the cut fee...if you think you can get it...but I think it will be tough unless they are REALLY PISSED at the current LCO and he is the only one around...
  3. jtkplc

    jtkplc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,656

    Figure out what the time on the road will cost you and charge it back to the customers. The two hours on the road will be X amount of gas, Y amount of payroll (if any), Z amount of insurance, etc. Tell them that you have to charge them for drive time because those 2 hours on the road you are not making any money but are spending it to get there and from.
  4. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    I usually pass on jobs like that....for the simple fact that there are all types of properties within 10-15 miles of where i live. No to mention all of the properties that are within 2 miles of where my office is. Honestly It would never be worth my while, because I cannot put a price on driving an hour away just to mow some lawns. What happens when the truck breaks down way up the road, or when it rains and your already backup into the wkend. or whenyou pick up 10 new accounts in your local area, and struggle jst to get those done.

    To me accounts close to home are priceless, everything is close to you, if you have an accident the local hospital is right there, you can go home and take a "DUMP" LMAO, or stop in to check messages at lunch time.
  5. Ric3077

    Ric3077 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,113

    I agree with Jpocket...all my accounts are within a 10 mile radius.
  6. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,569

    Coming from someone that has two complete crews dedicated to doing nothing but traveling and handling accts up to 3 hours away each way (all Commercial accts though) there is NO WAY I'd travel an hour each way for two hours total....for 1 residential, 6 residentials or even 12 residentials....less than a $100.00 an hour profit after ALL travel related expenses and it is just not worth your time and effort and expense to travel that far. IF you work and IF you want residential accts you can land them locally for a lot less.
  7. MacLawnCo

    MacLawnCo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,847

    so-n-so, email me... Ive got something for you.
  8. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    The old "give me a good price and I'll help you sign up my neighbors" scam.

    What happens when all 5 don't sign up and your allocated drive time per customer goes up? You've already given the others their prices.

    What happens when any or all of the other 5 drop for various reasons over the years?

    What happens if your customer decides she doesn't like YOU and you lose 6 customers because of one capricious person? (I seriously doubt her current guy dumps clippings on her property even after being told not to, she probably just doesn't like it and prefers to just replace him rather than talk to him about it)

    Remember, easy come, easy go. The same thing that got you the easy "score" of 6 new customers will make them go away just as fast. Example: One decides to slow-pay or no-pay you. You say something to them about it and to save face, they make some BS up about you and you wind up fired by all 6. Talk about costs. Try 1 full day a week of downtime in mid-summer.

    I can tell by the way you seem impressed by (why mention it otherwise?) the "upper 6 figures" home prices, that you do not understand that your income is limited by how much you can charge per-hour for your time, and how many hours of billable work you can fit in the day, not by how wealthy your customers may or may not be. You can make more sometimes doing quick in/out jobs on simple homes than driving all over trying to please high end customers. I have one higher end prop where it takes me 1:45 to complete the job. I make more per minute on the run down home around the corner that I am in and out of in 35 minutes.

    You will realize what I'm saying the first week one of these customers calls and says "don't come on Thursday, I'm having a birthday party for the kids". What cha gonna do then? And btw, wealthy people are not used to changing their plans for the lawn guy. They'll just replace you if you don't do what they say.
  9. NickN

    NickN LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 1,009

    Hi Sherill,
    Give me a call when you get a chance.
  10. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    I charge my hourly rate ($75) for each hour I'm on the road, one direction, not there AND back.

    The reason I don't charge on the way back, is because I have work to do on the way back.

    It's much like shipping over the road truck style. You get paid to take a load one direction, usually not back, it's your job or the comany you're pulling for to get you money on the way back.

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