in need of some help

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by benedict, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. benedict

    benedict LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    i am new to doing this myself. what is a good going rate per hour:confused:? and anyone have a sample bid sheet they can send me?
  2. atouchofnature

    atouchofnature LawnSite Member
    Messages: 206

    I'm not trying to nitpick, but your question is too vague. You are asking for a good going rate per hour, but not specifying what type of work you are doing. My income per hour varies greatly from one job to the next.

    Now for a very, very long & detailed general response ........

    Very important: Do not go out and bid jobs using my exact numbers. These numbers I am about to give you are from a contract written 10 years ago. Also, your insurance rates, equipment price, employee wages etc will all be different from mine. Also, your goals are not going to be the same as mine in regard to profit. What you are about to read will not tell you how much to charge, but instead give you an example of a way that you can come up with a price after you take out my numbers and replace them with your own.

    Several years ago, I had a contract where everything was billed by time and material. Few contracts are on this kind of basis, but at least this will answer the question about my income goals. I don't remember the exact rates, but the approximate contracted rates were:

    Labor Rates
    Myself $30 per hour
    An experienced worker other than myself $21 per hour
    A worker with less than 2 years experience $15 per hour

    Equipment Rates
    These rates are over and above the labor rates. The labor is paying for my employee, office, liability insurance etc. The equipment rates are paying for equipment insurance, fuel, maintenance etc.
    1/2 or 3/4 ton pickup truck $10 per hour, even if it was sitting still, the truck was still tied up even if not being used at the moment.
    1 ton pickup $15 per hour
    skid steer, or other large equipment $40 per hour
    mowers .20 per hour per cutting inch, so a 60" mower would get $12 per hour and a 36" mower gets 7.20 per hour
    1 ton truck with dump bed or snow blade $35 per hour
    Small power equipment $5 per hour (string trimmers, blowers, push mowers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws etc)
    Hand Tools $2 per hour (shovels, wheelbarrows, ladders, hand pruners, rakes, etc)

    It was a very long contract, but that is the reader's digest version of the charges. Billing was a pain, but I never lost money on the contract because every minute was billable.

    Don't hold your breath waiting for a contract like that, they are very rare. My point is that if you decide that you, and an inexperienced employee can mow a lawn with a 60" mower, a trimmer, and a blower in 1 hour, and will be driving a 1/2 ton pickup you could add your bid like this (substitute your own numbers for mine) ....

    $30 for you + $15 for your helper + $12 for the mower + $5 for the blower & string trimmer combined, since you won't be using both at the same time + $10 for the pickup truck = $72 sub total.

    Now, if the lawn is not far from most other lawns in your route, add 15 minutes for you, the helper, and the truck to cover driving time: $7.50 for you + $3.75 for the helper + 2.50 for the truck = $13.75

    Add the $72 subtotal to the $13.75 driving time for a bid price of $85.75 per cut.

    I hope that I was helpful, rather than confusing. I see questions similar to yours often, and usually see vague responses. The reason for this is that it is impossible for me to tell you how much your time is worth, or how much your overhead is. Only you can answer that question. I am hoping that my post will push your thinking into the direction it needs to go so that you can answer your own question. Even though it is a simple formula, and most guys who have been in the business for a long time have their own formulas memorized, it isn't so simple for someone new to the business to figure it out on their own. We all hate dealing with "lowballers" and I am betting that many of them don't even realize they are lowballing. Hopefully, you and/or other new business owners will get some use out of this post.
  3. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Nicely done! :clapping:

    STIHL GUY LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 5,226

    i also charge accordingly to what equipment i will be using
  5. benedict

    benedict LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    that information was very helpful in a way and i will cutting grass and the other ammenities that go with it such as weed eating blowing edging. i will be drving a 1/2 ton and no other equippment at this time. could you send me a blank bid sheet of yours for mowing im not sure hiow to organize it and set it up. thank you
  6. atouchofnature

    atouchofnature LawnSite Member
    Messages: 206

    A very small part of my bid sheet deals with mowing. The majority of the sheet is dealing with organic based lawn care & IPM. I mainly push for the applications with new leads, and pick up mowing along the way.

    The small portion of my bid sheet that deals with mowing is worded:

    Our Mowing Programs

    As Needed Mowing: We will mow your lawn as growth rate and weather conditions dictate. We will strive to never remove more than 30% of the grass blade in a single cut. We will mow a minimum of twice monthly during dry weather. Price per cut - $________ or $________ per month X ____ months. This option is recommended for best results. Price also includes trimming, edging, & blowing sidewalks.

    Scheduled Mowing: We will mow your lawn a maximum of once per calendar week, and a minimum of twice per calendar month during the growing season. Price per cut - $________ or $________ per month X ____ months. With this option, we cannot guarantee that there will be no clumping of clippings, or discoloration of grass during periods of rapid growth. Price also incudes trimming, edging, and blowing sidewalks.

    Single Mowing: Mowing performed on an "On Call" basis. $_______ per cut if 50% of lawn is under 7" high.
    If 50% of lawn is over 7" high an additional 25% per additional inch will be added. This price does not include bagging or raking clippings. We will not be responsible for damage or poor appearance resulting from mowing an overgrown lawn.

    I know that the part in red sounds a bit harsh, but you would be surprised how many people will ask you about mowing on an on call basis, when they are out of town or something, then once they get a price, they just don't mow the lawn at all and call you once a month to mow grass 12" high and expect you to leave it with a manicured look, and not expect to pay any extra. I never had much trouble with that kind of thing until the last couple of years since the economy went south. I've found that the people who have no intentions of doing anything like that aren't offended by that part.

    I would happily send you a copy of the entire sheet if you want to give me your email address. I'm not sure if it will do much good for you, but you are welcome to look it over.
  7. g21

    g21 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    The only way of accurately estimating is to know two factors 1) how long its going to take to do the work and 2) how much it's going to cost you to do the work. If you are only going to's going to be a very long, agonizing career and you will not have much fun!

    I'm inlcuding a link to a video that will help you establish your manhour rate that you will charge for your services. But you will also need to establish a set of production ratios so you can measure a job and calculate your manhours. Ofcourse, with most residentials, you will not have to measure, but you should learn how to for your commercial opportunities.

    Let me know if I can be of more assistance.

  8. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Nice job and thank you, Tommy. From now on whenever this question comes up we need only to point to your link.
  9. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,133

    great video, a lot of people are going to be able to benefit from it.

    There are two comments that I would add; 1 you can adjust the formula to account for anticipated expenses. If you know you are going to soon incur a certain cost putting it into the formula before it is actually incurred can help to make you able to afford the new expense. 2 morphasize is not a word:)
  10. g21

    g21 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    That's true mark, but I personally am not in favor of taking that competetive advantage away from myself. Why account for an overhead that you don't have? Also, how many guys have the discipline to let cash build up in their account that isn't associated with costs. You can do it...just not my cup of tea.

    And morphasize should be a word! :)

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