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Ideas on acres per hour mowed?

Discussion in 'Sports Field Management' started by 800wildcat, May 14, 2007.

  1. 800wildcat

    800wildcat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I'm trying to break into the business and would like to get my local town to contract out their mowing for their parks. It's a small town but they have at least 75 or more acres to mow. My problem is how do I sell them my services when they don't know how much they spend on mowing it now (with city workers)? They are currently using a 12 ft. 3 deck pto driven mower towed by a 4600 Deere tractor. Another employee does all the trim with a front mount mower. Does anyone have an estimate on how many acres per hour they might average mowing with the pto driven set up? My guess is they travel around 4 mph. Also does anyone have an estimate as to the approximate cost per acre or per hour to operate this equipment excluding labor?

    I believe there is room for me to save them money since I would be using an Excel Hustler dual range wing (12 ft, z turn, approx 7-8 mph mowing speed or better). Judging from some limited observation, I would guess that I could cut their mowing time by about half. Anyone with experience that could confirm or correct my estimate?

    They currently are using 3 employees to mow; one is full time year around, the other two are summer help @ $9 p/h. The full time guy doesn't always spend his full work week mowing, but the public works director doesn't know how many hours a week they spend mowing in total. I don't have exact figures on total acreage yet, I know 2 parks total 55 acres and there is more, not sure of amount. It appears that my only option at this point is to come up with the figures for their current cost myself, so any info, help or suggestions would be appreciated, especially any info on equipment operation costs. Thanks in advance.
  2. nmurph

    nmurph LawnSite Senior Member
    from ga
    Messages: 668

    this chart is from the Bushhog site. deck size is measured in inches.

    44-Inch Deck 52-Inch Deck
    MPH 100% 80% 100% 80%
    3.0 1.33 1.06 1.58 1.26
    4.0 1.78 1.42 2.10 1.68
    5.0 2.22 1.78 2.63 2.10
    6.0 2.67 2.13 3.15 2.52
    7.0 3.11 2.49 3.68 2.94
    Productivity measured at 100% and 80% efficiency. 80% efficiency rating is more representative of actual mowing conditions, as it allows for turns and overlapping.
    Formula for calculating acres per hour: >100% efficiency = (mph x width of cut)/99
  3. ChadsLawn

    ChadsLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,110

    we usually charge $45 per acre of just mowing..
  4. 800wildcat

    800wildcat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Is that for large properties where you don't have nearly as much cost and time in transport or only small stuff?

    One of the parks alone is 33 acres of mowing. At $45 per acre there is no way I could get a contract. It has to be far higher than what they currently spend. I could gross between $225 - 315 per hour at that rate, but I know it won't happen, at least in middle WI. I think I could make money at $15 an acre on the one property, but I would like to know what they are spending now so I can bid just enough under it to make as much as possible.

    I'm trying to figure out the town's cost so I can bid under their cost. I'm assuming I can do that and still make money since I will be running more productive equipment.

    Can anyone take an educated guess at the time savings going from a tow behind pto driven mower at 4 mph to a Hustler dual range wing? I'm thinking the 80% figure would be way high on their equipment.

    Or an educated guess on the operating costs per hour for a 12 ft wide tow behind pto driven mower towed by a John Deere 4600 tractor?

    Those two items would help me a lot.

    It would also help a lot if the town accountants had half a clue....

    Thanks for the help so far although numbers for 44 and 52 in decks aren't real helpful when I'm dealing with 144. I'll try to check out some manufacturer websites.
  5. Let-it-mow!

    Let-it-mow! LawnSite Member
    Messages: 91

    The public works manager is gonna fight any claims you make that he and his department are inefficient. The PW manager has an office right next to the mayor and probably went to all the town councilmen's children's weddings.

    The town business administrator will not like you claiming that he doesn't run a tight financial ship. He golfs with the mayor and they have lunch together once a week.

    The town solicitor will remind the town council how expensive a wrongfull termination suit will be if they eliminate the PW employee's position without cause.

    The guy that rides the mower is a disabled vet and since his job probably falls under civil service, eliminating the position will be so much legal work no body will want to try. So if he doesn't mow, they have to find something even less productive for him to do.

    It's just never gonna happen. And if you are the guy that does manage to tip over the apple cart, you won't want to work within miles of that town.
  6. heather lawn sp

    heather lawn sp LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 681

    With a 72" ZTR and a 54" ZTR we regularly mow 25 acres a day under contract for the school board. most sites are around 5 acres so we are a traveling road show that does about 100 acres of board work plus other large areas for private individuals. $15 per acre for a single large area might just be the price to beat.
  7. DAR57

    DAR57 LawnSite Member
    from NW Ohio
    Messages: 212

    I am pricing a couple of 6 & 8 acre lots almost no trimming. Would you estimate them by a per hour charge(# of acres I can easily mow in a hour x my per hour rate)or just price by the acre? I normally charge $60/acre with trimming. That rate sounds great for profit margin but won't come close to securing these jobs.
  8. 800wildcat

    800wildcat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Thanks, that helps some. With the Hustler dual range wing (144" Z) I'm guessing that on the 33 acre park I could average 5 acres per hour since I've another place with no trim that I can average 7. So $15 per acre may sound low but I don't need to load up, move and unload nearly as often as a 5 acre site and it should cover my overhead and have a livable profit margin. At $75 per hour it even may leave me some wiggle room.
  9. 800wildcat

    800wildcat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Unfortunately, you may be too close to the truth. They use their tractors in the winter for snow removal so there is a little wiggle room about the efficiency issue since I've said that my equipment purchasing needs are different than theirs (dedicated mowing). The business administrator is a friend (but not close) but he leaves all mowing decisions in the lap of the PW. Unfortunately the PW is basically lazy and isn't motivated to research money saving possibilities. The only one you missed is two of the guys riding the mowers aren't vets but college kids on temporary full time summer employment (not much better in this college town). The third guy is the only permanent employee.

    I have been trying to pitch the apples out one by one, but every so often I get the urge to just pick the cart up and give it a heave. Perhaps I should be wiser and follow your advice. It just bugs me to see all that mowing, need the work desperately, have the ideal equipment to mow it, and they don't have a clue to how much they spend and are so little motivated to save tax dollars.
  10. 800wildcat

    800wildcat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Heather Lawn:

    I realize you have smaller parcels and mowers than what I would be using but would you mind telling me what you charge for the school contracts? I've also been talking to some schools around here for next year and they seem slightly more motivated but only slightly. They don't know their costs either.

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