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leaf clean-up quote

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Revival1906, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. Revival1906

    Revival1906 LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 44

    Potential customer wants a bid for leaf clean-up. I want to know what you guys think.

    The house sits on approximately one acre of land. The front yard is divided with well manicured grass towards the street and then a large area between the grass and the house has about 10 trees, about 30 bushes scattered here and there and has a small layer of pine straw completely covered with leaves. This area is so congested that I could not get a lawnmower between the bushes to mulch so I would have to blow towards the house, rake and bag or use a wheelbarrow to dump the leaves in the woods.

    The backyard is medium sized (about 1/2 acre), downward sloping (slightly) and the grass is pretty high with leaves everywhere.

    The customer said her husband usually puts a tarp down, blows the leaves onto the tarp and then dumps the leaves in a wooded area behind the backyard. She said she received a quote that was ridiculously high and would rather pay me instead of someone she doesn't know (I've only met her once in my wife's beauty shop, so I wouldn't say we "know" each other). Anyway, the 1st quote she received could be any amount because she's pretty CHEAP!!!

    I think it would take me between 10-20 hours to complete this job due to having to rake everything, the amount of leaves 10 trees have produced, and the small amount of space between each bush and tree. I could easily fill up 100 bags.

    My initial thought was to bid between $400 to $450 to dump in the woods or $5 per bag. I wouldn't be upset if I didn't get this job cause it looks like a ton of work and I could be cutting grass instead, but I do want to give a fair bid and it would be nice to earn $400+ without driving from one job to the next. What do you think?
  2. jason9696

    jason9696 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 81

    Hmmm, it's too bad you don't know what the other guy's quote was. If you knew what it was you could at least know what she thinks is "ridiculously high" and see if it's even worth it to you. I would say that your quote sounds fair.
  3. xpnd

    xpnd LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 378

    I suggest you bid a per man our rate AND include a haul off and dump charge. The man hour rate is fair to both you and the customer. For stuff like this, I charge a $40.00/man hour rate. We don't do many leaf removals. That covers overhead, labor and gives me a profit. Secondly if these people do not own the wooded lot where they have been dumping the leaves, I strongly urge in the most serious way not to do that. What they say you can do and what that property owner is legally able to force you to do without paying and possibly paying him for damages is limited only by your imagination.

    What you are being paid for is your time not the perceived value of a low skilled task. I do not sell jobs, I sell time and so should everyone else. It doesn't matter what you are doing, but the time it takes you to do it. If you took that same amount of time to mow lawns, what would you make. That is what you should make on this job and every other job you do. The skill may be low but time is priceless.

    Finally and above all else take your digital camera with you. When you finish a section or the job, take a picture of it. Take a lot of pics. 2 hours after you leave the site there will be leafs there. I would never do a leaf job without a digital camera in the truck.
  4. Revival1906

    Revival1906 LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 44

    Great Advice. Any others?
  5. Shawns Lawns

    Shawns Lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 638

    There is a reason that her husband is not doing it this year. It's a tough job and he does not want to do it anymore. I honestly think that she is trying to play on her perceived notion of knowing you. Play that back with her and tell her what a aw-some job you could do on her property and since you know me you won't stiff her on a low quality job. Remember this leaf cleanup ALWAYS takes more time than you think it will. I say go for it buy (leaf) yourself enough negotiating room if she comes back at you with a counter offer.:waving:
  6. StBalor

    StBalor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 798

    well if you charge 450.00 and can get it done in 15 hours that's 30.00 an hr. But if the grass is as high as you say and with the pine straw and bushes, it will probably take you longer than you think.
    I do not know what to tell you, just make sure you are gonna be happy with the price you give her in case it takes longer than you think.

    HOWARDNBA LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I Purchased this product at an online store called a yard genie that I use to clean up my back yard of leaves and other stuf. It was very durable and I felt it could last a long time I bought it at www.yardgenie.com
    good luck
  8. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,465

    So why can't you take that Quick and mulch these leaves down from 100 bags to maybe 5 - 10 bags and be done with it? I know I can take our Scag 36" WB or our Snapper 36" WB with mulch plate on and reduce leaves significantly. I have done it with a 21" unit also. And when leaves have been left over the winter it is usually even simpler. I would love to have that $400 because I know I could get it done in one day with 2 guys and be home early.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Translation: Another, more experienced Lco said this job was a Royal PITA and he didn't want it, but he said if I absolutely had to have someone then the only way he would even get up out of bed is if he knew he was getting paid right, especially after what we said thou I'm not sure what he could've meant by that.

    He then said leaves need to be taken care of when they fall, that it is now May and from all appearances we finally relented and after much back and forth argument between my husband and I, we resolved that if we can get away with paying the absolute minimum wage of $30 pmh, really that's a lot of money, but since it's such an arm twister of a job, if we can get someone out there to bust their tail for that, then we'll consider not dealing with it ourselves.

    He concluded that if the most we were willing to pay is the least he would even dream of earning, that he'd be better off quoting a bit high as he was hoping we'd say no and call someone else, and that would be you, so, can you do it, stick your neck way out, quote us the least you can do it for and hope it doesn't take longer, and if it does you'll stick to that cut throat quote, please?

    Oh absolutely, we will admire your foolishness and we promise to call you for more of the same anytime, but if it ever comes time to spend real money, somehow we'll forget about you and call a real professional (i.e.: someone else).

    As for me, I'd quote at least a thousand but that's just me, you want the job bad enough then go ahead, but I can almost guarantee the other Lco's quote was in the range of 1600 - 2000 or thereabouts, maybe more.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Because more than anything, that's the reason I refuse to do crap work, not so much because I can't do it, but because the eventual conclusion really burned me raw, several times over.

    It's that thing of servicing lots like that for so many years, some to most never improve and nothing ever changes. So, first I think I'm doing them this great favor by getting everything all ready for the great tuneup, but it never really happens, and every time they do call it's always more of the same and back to square one.

    But there are a few, who after so many years one day get tired of it and decide to DO something about it, and they do. Since I've been servicing the place I show up one day and it's like W.O.W. and wtf happened here? We're talking they repainted and re-shingled the house, all the shutters and everything all painted and done up in a nice color combination... They paved the driveway, re-did the entire lawn like Class-A stuff, wow they put in flower beds and got little petunias and pink and red and yellow flowers everywhere and edging and borders and it's like something out of 'Dreamscapes Inc. magazine' you can't believe it, they finally did it!

    Walk up there to find out what happened, half excited they might hire me to keep it up (don't, you'll be disappointed). Here's what happened:
    1) They, the owners who had you before, moved or died and the place sold, the new owner did all this and he'll be fine without you.
    2) The owners did not, as you might've suspected, get off their lazy bums and did it themselves... A few do, but most called someone else and spent THOUSANDS of dollars to have this, why they never called you idk.

    That's what burned me time and again, if nothing else that right there was the straw that broke the camel's back, but the worst part comes later, and that is the realization that they still think I'm the puny lawn boy that's good for nothing but crap clean ups.

    Maybe they were hoping that I'd do all that for them, that somehow a miracle would happen and I would transform the place for the price of the original bargain... But one day they did wake up (or not), and if anything ever changes, if I was the crap boy, I will not get the real money job, guaranteed.

    That burns, and it's the reason that today, I quote sky high, that is, unless I really need the money, and even then there's times I quote high, getting to be more and more, either they can afford to get it done right in the first place, or I don't got time for it.

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