New to mulching questions???

Discussion in 'Bidding, Estimating and Pricing' started by Spartan Prop Solutions, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. Spartan Prop Solutions

    Spartan Prop Solutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Hello everyone. I'm new to the site and figured I would post a introduction and question post all at the same time. My name is Kyle and I started up my own lawn care and landscaping company last year to help bring in some extra money during the summer months and keep me busy during the day. I have done primarily mowing during all this past season and this year one of my returning customers would like me to mow their property and do mulching in their garden this year. I have never done any form of mulching prior to this year. I have been doing some research and found out quite a bit of information on how to bid, what to bid, and what to offer while doing a mulching job. My biggest question is whats a good rate to charge for labor and how should I calculate labor hours for the job. I know I don't want to under bid the job and loose money but I also want to make sure I charge a fair price and win the bid.

    I know that the flower garden that she is wanting to get done is approximately 371 sq ft or 3.44 cubic yards of mulch is needing to be laid down.

    I found out that that my local mulch dealer charges $25 dollars / cubic yard so I would need to buy 4 cubic yards of mulch, which then comes out to $100 + sales tax.

    I also know that its the norm to charge a 30% mark up fee per cubic yard and 30% of $100 is $30. So I need to add $30 + and $25 for regular price of the mulch = $55 dollars per cubic yard coming out to about $210 dollars for the mulch.

    My biggest snag I'm facing since I'm new to the mulching field is what should I charge per a labor fee. Do I do by the hour or do I do it by the cubic yard? The flower garden does need to be weeded pretty bad so I figured I would have to charge for that in there somewhere just don't know how much I would need to charge. By the way I'm located in southwestern Ohio, if that helps any. She also wants 4 dead flowers to be pulled out of the garden which I was going to charge a $5 dollar per plant removal fee. She also lives 34 miles away from my base of operations (my home) so I figured a $25 dollar delivery fee & travel fee would be applied for the long distance and delivery of the mulch by myself. I haven't gotten an answer back yet weather she wants me to do edging of the flower garden for her yet or not so if she does I was looking at $10 dollar fee for edging since her garden is literally only 2 straight lines from corner to corner of her home.

    So in turn I'm looking at the totals of:
    $210 for buying the mulch
    $20 for plant removal
    $25 for delivery and travel
    $10 for edging of both sides of the gardens
    $??? for labor for laying mulch and pulling weeds as I go
    -----------------------------------
    $265 as of right now without the know charge for labor. Mind you she is also a life long family friend and I have known her since I was 3 and I'm 29 now. I want to give her a profitable but fair price and in return her recommend me to her family and friends bringing in future business.

    What do you all think of my pricing by what I have been able to research and figure out so far? Is this in a reasonable pricing range, am I under charging or am I over charging, or am I not charging enough??

    Let me know what y'all think.

    Thanks for the time and help. Have a safe and happy Easter weekend.

    Kyle
     
  2. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Fanatic
    from Chicago
    Messages: 6,439

    How long do you think it will take? Then use your basic labor hourly rate and you should be in the ballpark.

    My cost of mulch is $45 per yard and a basic install with light prep would be $150 installed. Usually if weeding and plant removal is involved I charge a clean up/ bed prep fee as well as the per yard charge. Now a back yard up steps with alot of plants to work around could be $275 per yard. Did a rooftop job once the per yard rate was just under $600 per yard. Not every job is the same. Your cost is constant but your labor will be more or less. Charge accordingly.
     
    Mark Stark likes this.
  3. OP
    OP
    Spartan Prop Solutions

    Spartan Prop Solutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Well I read that depending on how many yards you have to lay down divide it my 2 and it should take that long to do the work, so in my case 4 yards divided by 2 is 2 hours to do the work which comes out to about 2 yards per 1 hour of manpower work being a solely 1 man operation. But being that its my first time doing a mulching job that just seems off to me especially with removal of dead plants and having to weed the beds and edging it just sounds a little low on hours to me. I know in my location the average manpower per hour wanting to reach is around $40 per man hour according to several of my buddies that have been in business for over 16 years. Like I said its just confusing to me on my first go around but if I can find a working formula that I can print up to have with me while on a job site it would take a lot out of the guessing work to be able to make a quick and accurate bid.
     
  4. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Fanatic
    from Chicago
    Messages: 6,439

    It just take practice to hone bidding skills.

    I find it easier to separate prep and install. It might be 2 hours to install the mulch but that doesn't factor in clean up and prep. Clean up time + install time + delivery time + removal/dump time= job time x rate= price
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Spartan Prop Solutions

    Spartan Prop Solutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    So I should charge for about 4 to 5 hours of work just to be on the safe side? Or just charge for prep & install because she finally got back to me and said ok to edging but I didnt have to remove the old mulch and dispose of it so that's cutting out a few factors. But am I playing in the ballpark with at least the amount stated above?
     
  6. Cam15

    Cam15 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,902

    I charge about $50-$75 a yard including prep.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Spartan Prop Solutions

    Spartan Prop Solutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Ok I think I have a good idea about what to charge now. I had to tweak my pricing just slightly to make my $40 an hr mark that my buddies have told me to shoot for in our area. Here's what I have come up with on pricing for the job.

    $210 for mulch / 30 % mark up included
    $20 for dead plant removal and disposal
    $30 for delivery and travel 32 miles one way
    $20 for edging
    $16 /mnhr @ 5 hrs
    -------------------------------

    $16 x 5= $80
    $80 + $210 = $290
    $290 + $20 = $310
    $310 + $30 = $340
    $340 + $20 = $360

    $360 - $106 for buying mulch with tax = $254
    $254 - $50 for fuel = $204
    $204 / 5 hrs = $40.80 / mnhr
     
  8. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Fanatic
    from Chicago
    Messages: 6,439

    Do you know if your business will be profitable at $40 per hour? I know I wouldn't be happy with that rate. At $40 per hour you have to pay your employee doing the work even if that's you. All your overhead has to be recovered it that $40. Plus your owners stroke you know the whole reason your a business owner and not someones employee. $40 per hour is one of the lowest per hour rates I've seen on this site. I personally like to be in the $100+ per hour range for every job. Sure I'm in a big city with higher cost of living then most. The thing is at $40 per hour no matter where your at that rate is low.
     
    Cam15 likes this.
  9. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Fanatic
    from Chicago
    Messages: 6,439

    What is this? I thought you wanted $40 per hour not $16.
     
    Cam15 likes this.
  10. TomH&H

    TomH&H LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Coopersburg, PA
    Messages: 320

    I don't know a whole lot about your specific area, but that would be average or lower around here. It's going to be harder to figure out for now until you get a grasp of how much you can accomplish in a given time, but once you do, pricing mulch can get easier. I aim for $100/yard installed, based on how much prep is needed, how many plants I am working around, how far away do I need to park, can I fit in their driveway, etc. Price can go up or down (mainly up) based on those factors. I saw above that you mentioned 2 yards per hour. If you can do that constantly, more power to you. I've done that, and also spent 3 hours spreading a yard. If it's 94 degrees with 80% humidity, it's an uphill push with the wheelbarrow, or it's just day 4 in a row of doing these jobs and your arms and legs are sore, you won't be keeping up with that rate.

    You're definitely on the right track with figuring out your cost per portion of the job, and you'll get better as you do more. BigJ definitely gave you some good pointers, so take all of this and learn from it. I would quote this job a little higher myself, unless there was zero prep and I could park my truck directly next to the bed. I'd recommend writing up the quote as one line item (Mulch Installed... Includes weeding, edging, delivery and spreading of Black dyed mulch, and debris removal... $425) instead of breaking it down like you do behind the scenes. The customer might not think $300 or $400 or whatever is a bad price overall, but if the start looking at certain aspects, (You want TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS to HAUL DEBRIS?), some of them will start getting more picky and may try to get you to cut corners.
     

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