Measuring a yard

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Dingo, Feb 15, 2000.

  1. bdemir

    bdemir LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 610

    Sorry lazer i just ran into some peolple that laughed at me when i would ask for advice. I would ask them when they were at a gas station or driving through and they would not help me. You are right about people wanting to help. I am sorry for saying the wrong thing. I also agree with prices being differnt in every state or even city to city. You are right but i just had some bad experiences. People do help but if you go up to somenone and ask them while they are actually working on that job (like me ) then you will get laughed at i guess. Sorry, but i always help people unconditionally and sometimes im dumb enough to go up to them while they are acrually on the job and ask them for advice and i get laughed in the face. Once i asked a guy and he told me your crazy i cut 40 lawns in here. He told me he wanted to cut the lawn i was cuttign too. That affected my outlook pretty bad but then i had people help mee too. <br>I just know when not too long ago i was in his place and just wanted an idea(a price)and everone just gave me a formula. <p>I would like to say that most of my knowledge came from this site. Thank you and sorry for saying the wrong thing. Let me say that I had a few bad experinces but you should not stop asking. i learned by asking and i asked too much. Ask as much as you can and you will be answered exspecially in a helpful place like this site. Sorry for the misinformation.<br>
  2. accuratelawn

    accuratelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 922

    You have to be kidding...a pipe with a wheels screwed to it. Professional?<br>Buy a wheel don't look like a lawn scrub!<br>As far as price, you must go out a test the market. Speak with the potentional customer. Ask questions, who serviced them in the past?, what did the other company do to lose their business?, etc. etc. You will more than likely find out prices this way. <br>If you close every lawn you bid your price is probably to low.
  3. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    O.K. I'm an uneducated redneck! I have never measured a yard yet. What I have done the past couple of days is work on my routes and my numbers. <p>I'll ask for any remarks anyone wants to give. Also if I have figured wrong let me know soon!<p>I took all my accounts and listed them on a sheet of paper. I then listed the amount of time, an average of course, right beside that. I have them on a 30 cut mowing plan so I multiplied 30 x .5 for the total hours a year I would be there (.5= 1/2 hr) Several of my yards varied but most can be done in .5 hrs. 30 x .5 = 15 hrs for the year. Thats what I am giving my customers and then I took the total $ amount I was charging: 100.00 x 12 = 1200.00 divided the 15hrs into it and came up with my hourly wage for each individual yard. The results were surprising to me. I found that I was actually doing better than I thought. In the above example I am making $80.00 per hour! I haven't averaged all of them up but I had several that were in the 60.00 range and a lot in the 50.00 range. A couple fell into the mid 30's which is my target anyway, but not much profit in breaking even! I will now bid all my jobs using this, maybe I just stumbled upon something everybody else already knows, either way it revealed to me that I am making a good hourly rate but thats only as long as we can keep our time down on the jobs. This has also told me what jobs I can bring in extra help on and which ones I can't based on the profit. <p>what I haven't done yet is break down the operating costs of my equipment, I think I need help on that one.<p>I know I veered off course here but measuring a yard to mow is not practical, too many variables to calculate a bid on, like MM said, look up and around at all the neighbors yards and imagine what the yard your bidding on will look like in the fall. you can't factor that into a measurement in my opinion, I think you will get stuck on a price per sq. ft. and forget about how many sticks and leaves are going to be in that sq. ft.<p>Again , I'm open to any comments, if I have figured wrong here let me have it.<p>Homer
  4. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    yep, what I figured is true. lots of guys running around yards with measuring wheels. I understand the need for wheel measurement accuracy for fertilizing or some of the other services but I don't advertise to do a lot of the extras. what ever works for you is the right thing to do.<p>as for me I can look at a residential/small commercial and I know what I want for the job to make money. if a 10 percent underage on what the job is actually worth makes a difference to you then you are pricing too cheap. lots of people on the forum have made comments about people that price too cheap so I wont repeat them here.<p>I have a question for the wheel users. when you wheel off a job for mowing only and shoot the homeowner a price based on your productivity/profit calculations and you send a crew over to do the job, what happens to your profit if they screw off an extra 15 minutes along the way in-between jobs?<p>IMHO there is some rocket science involved in this business but there is a larger proportion of people skills and professionalism that go into making a successful lawn care company.<p>GEO<p>
  5. gorrell

    gorrell LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 536

    This might seem off the wall, but it's never failed to work for me. When a customer asks for a quote on mowing, I'll mow it at no charge and then tell them what his cost will be. Everyone I've done this for has accepted my bid. Large commercial accounts obviously are not handled this way. I usually know the acreage and know how much I charge to mow an acre. Thanks, Lynn
  6. Retro67

    Retro67 Banned
    Messages: 207

    I'm 6'4&quot; if you'd like to know how much I charge for a yard that's 100 paces by 75 paces email me. (Don't bother, I'm making a point, here.) In my opinion, giving an estimate without a measuring wheel is like driving down the highway with your lights off guessing that you are going 55 miles per hour. &lt;p&gt;Ten percent does matter. If it is 10 percent under what I could be getting, that's 10% that could be in my pocket rather than the customer's. That ten percent could buy the measuring wheel so desperately needed by a professional.&lt;p&gt; Gorrel is the only one I have seen post that has a more accurate method (and maybe better, in some cases) other than the measuring wheel.&lt;p&gt; If you use common sense, you will realize that every 10,000 square ft yard isn't the same and you will differentiate pricing based on trimming and mowing difficulty. Lots of obstacles with alot to trim, is different than a 10,000 sf lot. You won't see that by walking it off, or with a measuring wheel. &lt;p&gt;Few, if any of the sites I mow are one rectangular square of grass. Therefore, measuring and writing down the measurements of the specific areas and adding them together is the only accurate way to determine the amount of grass to be cut. &lt;p&gt;Especially if you are beginning in the business, as the original person who posted this thread, the measuring wheel will tell you much more accurately how much mowing, edging, fertilizing, pre-emergent, etc. has to be done. A guess is a guess, a measurement , a measurement. If dingo had been doing this for two years, I'd say stick with what works. Dingo, since you have the chance, spend the money and make it back with your first measurement. &lt;p&gt;John&lt;p&gt;By the way- If I just guess how much I should charge, I'm high on price 99% of the time. Goegunn- I don't have crews, so don't know if the measuring wheel can fire the irresponsible employees you refer to. :)<br>
  7. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    As long as I have been in business, I just cannot accurately estimate areas. I use a measuring wheel. You can measure any lot and break it up into <br>rectangles: A(area)=H(height) x W(width)<br>triangles: A=1/2 x H x W<br>circles: A=3.14 x R(radius) x R<br>& semicircles : 1/2 of circle formula.<p>While area is not an absolute difinitive in pricing, it can be very functional. By having all properties measured and logged in our planning tables, we can tell exactly how much fertilizer is needed for the next application; no need to order extra 500 lb to sit for months, or to scramble for more because we underordered. If you find a good deal for the whole year, you are ready to order all basic fert & herb at any time.<br>The time for fertilization can be estimated from other similar sized jobs.<br>Fertilizer is a salt, and absorbs moisture. If you are fertilizing on a humid day, the flow rate of product at 3:00 pm can be 10-15% (or more) less than the flow rate at 7:00 am. Especially on humid days we are calibrating on every job, in order to correct settings as humidity increases. This is not possible without knowing what areas you are treating.<p>For mowing, area is definitely not the only standard of pricing, but in time you will learn what details in a site cause time variations. Then when you are bidding a new 12K, 40K, or 2.5K site, you can take the known times on other similar sized sites as a starting figure.<p>If you are just starting out you may not want to take the time. But when you decide to stay in the business, you may want to consider the measuring. Since wheels slip on grass, you are better off with larger wheels. With slippage in mind, measure on solid surface if at all possible.<p>Probably the most obvious part of measuring is the impact on the client. It infers a degree of professionalism, no matter how much you know.<p>----------<br>Jim<br>North central Indiana<p>
  8. fireball

    fireball LawnSite Member
    from ne Pa
    Messages: 172

    Boy, I'm joining this thread late and there is so much to comment on. <p>Ground Effects: you missed the point of all the preaching. There are no old push mower wheels. The older it is the cheaper your investment in mowers. Secondly, why invest in a drywall screw when bubble gum from the local diner counter will work. Use bicycle wheel instead.<p>Bdemir, cjcland, lazer, pls too many to sort out who said what. I find that people who laugh at my questions are really laughing at themselves because they don't know the answer themselves and don't want you to know their ignorance. What was said is good stuff but us old guys that have been doing this a long time realize that if we tell you a price it will be wrong for you. IMHO when you use other people's numbers you will fail or at least be stuck with their dismal performance. You have to do your homework on what your REAL COSTS are. The cost of your new Scag are not the same as Larry's hippo. You have to recover your costs plus add a profit to be succesful. Mr. Nilson has several books on costs and bidding. So your costs are higher than Larry's, no big deal because that is where salesmanship comes in. The customer perceives that he is getting more value from you than Larry. We can all agree that a hippo is ugly on your front lawn. Presentation or professionalism is what seperates the truly succesful people from the rest of the pack. When you show up and measure everything, you give the impression that you know what you are doing. Use a wheel because it gives you a real number, a fact, a truism, it won't lie to you. Somebody in this thread mentioned that this was all too much bull, and he could do it by eyesight. He is right but what he fails to realize is that his skill is not transferable, he cannot teach his son how to use his eyes. When he gets old and can't go out to the job site, or he is so busy giving out cheap bids he can't get there but hires another guy to eyeball. You can't expand your business beyond yourself unless you develop a system that can be duplicated by others with the same results. You can teach a guy to measure length by width using a wheel and the number that he comes up will be the same as yours plus or minus 1%. I will share two tidbits when it comes to measuring. when in a condo and you have 15 identical units, you only have to measure the first unit, then multiply by 15.<br>when you are in a very strict town with very strong codes enforcement, you can go to the codes dept and get the blueprint and do your measurements off the blueprints. always check visually that the print matches what was actually built. Also you can go to your county planning commission, and use their aerial photos(keep in mind that some of these might be old pictures) And for some of you high tech guys we are about to get some commerical satelitte photos that are one day old and are accurate down to one meter. These satelitte photos are a little pricy right now. But if you have to measure 42 sites in a school district, it might take 2 weeks doing it the old way versus an afternoon at a desk using a 2,000.00 picture.<p>GeoGunn try paying your workers based upon production. Nobody goofs off then. Instead you end up mediating fights because the truckdriver took too long to get to the next job. Or that new lawnmower that you thought was faster turns out to be a dog. The troops suddenly want to do it the old way because it was faster. They start using sharp sticks on the old hippo side. Its amazing what incentive pay does to a hourly worker<p>
  9. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,361

    Measuring a satelite photo sounds interesting. The accuracy sounds ok too. How about the detail in the photo? Can you measure for bed edging and the other services that go into a commercial maint. bid? I trust that you still go to the site to see if you'll be cutting grass or fighting weeds.
  10. fireball

    fireball LawnSite Member
    from ne Pa
    Messages: 172

    I haven't seen the new high resolution(1M)pictures yet. Congress just gave the Okay to the commerical development about three weeks ago. The old ones you could barely make out beds, so what you did was measure the building and figure the bed was x amount of feet wide. For beds that were free standing such as along a driveway, you had to compare them to a little template that you made up, another words a i inch oblong was 2200 sq ft. What both a satellite and aerial picture won't do for you as yet is like under a tree you can't tell if there is grass or a bed of wintercreeper. I don't think they will ever release the oblique angle photo's which have greater detail due to security reasons

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