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No Concept of Money

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Infinite, May 5, 2005.

  1. Infinite

    Infinite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 100

    The other day I quoted a client on several different landscaping jobs such as trimming shrubs, hedges, transplanting 2 smaller trees, pruning, etc. I gave him a rate of 25.00 per hour for all of these jobs because it was a job I wanted and money was waiting to be made. This was a good price in my opinion, but he said I have no concept of money. He continued by saying his neighbor doesn't even make 25 dollars an hour and makes a nice living. He also said major landscaping companies don't even charge that price. I know companies charge around 40-45 dollars an hour for shrub/hedge trimming around here. I told him I have a lot of money invested and things to pay for, plus I have to make a living off of the money I'm making. I lost the job of cutting his lawn which he said I did a nice job, and I didn't get the landscaping job. This guy is a retired orthopedic doctor!!! I'm sure this has happened to some of you guys out there. What I was wondering was what are some of the responses you gave from this happening?
  2. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    Hello, for some reason you "Maintance guys" think its good to discuss your "Hourly Rate" with your clients?......Considering alot of you are children, unemployed rocket techs., retired doctors & lawyers, & other people on disability- how do you think these people take you seriously? "Only in America "can anybody throw a mower in the trunk of there car and be a Landscaper?...............1st things 1st.....If you find yourself tryin to justify a cost to a client- keep on truckin! [ you're in a no-win situation]...& tell them to get a quote from the paperboy!.....Everyone should be happy now. :rolleyes: PS, this wasnt meant to start another civil war regarding the youth on this site, just a statment of fact. :)
  3. treedoc1

    treedoc1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 319

    No one cares how much money you have invested, or that you need to make a living, blah, blah, blah.
    No client of mine cares that I have a 150K trac hoe, dump trucks, dozer, etc.all to make those nice square pallets of stone. They just care that those nice square pallets end up as the wall or patio, or steps they contracted for at the price they feel is a value. For all those $150 a man hour jobs, there are just as many that drop to $50 a man hour because of problems. Each client doesn't care what you make per hour, they just care about the end result.
  4. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    Hey I start out as a Lawn Boy and represent you commends :D Nothing wrong with being a Yard Boy as long as you use your head to get ahead. Just remember your in a dog eat dog market. Let mowing be your school to get knowledge in other area of the green industry and make a move on up as the time and your knowledge is right. I am afraid the general public see Yard boys just as Nocutting has portrayed them. If they are making $ 50,000 a year or $25 an hour they don't want to hear how you are charging $ 50 and hour. They want to know how much for the job. Ok $ 40 to cut my yard it would take me two hours, so that a bargain, bang done deal.
  5. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    I agree, but I do not think it is limited to the various types (myself being one of them) who do maintenance. I used to quote custom software/hardware projects all the time and it was never $185/man/hour. It was "We will produce X, Y and Z by such and such a date, for $250,000." Then, the customer can decide if the price sounds right for a turnkey solution. I recently had a new logo designed at designoutpost and it was the same thing - agree on a price for the finished product. I had my tonsils out last year, same thing. Had my house painted and, well, you get the idea.

    I don't mean to sound harsh, because I am new to all of this and I couldn't accurately quote a price for much, other than the mow and go that I do, but when I talk to an expert about doing some work for me and they don't know what the finished product should cost, it makes me very nervous. $25 per hour, reasonable as that is, makes me think "Yeah, but will he be here for 4 hours or 400?"

    The scary part to me, is that it makes me think that you don't know how long it will take either. If you don't know how long it will take, then that makes me wonder if you have done this before and if you know what you are doing. It makes me think that maybe you can foresee a problem that you don't want to tell me about until my yard is all torn up and you've got me by the short hairs.

    Yes, people will balk at the $25 per hour, because they will try to compare what you do, to what they do and what their friends do. $25 per hour is $50k per year at a 9-5 job, but you are not at a 9-5 job. You are working 12 hours one day and 2 hours the next. You do a lot of work that is not billable, like equipment maintenance, marketing, bookkeeping, etc. Your $25 per hour does not compare to their $25 per hour. They don't pay rent for their cubicle. They don't pay for electricity. Hell, they don't even pay for their coffee. It's not an apples to apples comparison.

    Don't tell them your hourly billable rate unless you want to spend another non-billable hour explaining all of these things to them.
  6. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,998

    How true. An hourly rate is for you to use when you forcast your budget, not for public knowledge. I wouldn't tell a customer my business anymore than I would tell them exactly what and how my wife did certain things to me last night...none of their business.

    Give the man a price for the job. If you are uncertain...go high.
  7. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    OK Infinite,lets just get one important thing straight 1st...
    That was not landscaping work you were bidding ,that was maintenance work.
    I'm not trying to slam you or anything but just want you to realize the difference. :rolleyes:
    Now I have a couple questions for you.

    Say this Orthipedic doctor was gonna do some work on your knee,and foot and transplant a few pins in your leg for ya.What would you think if he bid THAT job by the hour??
    Would you wonder just how many hours it was gonna take him to get his tools out?To scrub-up?To bullsh...t with the nurses?
    Just a point to think about.

    Have you done alot of bush trimming and pruning and tree transplanting soyou CAN charge the prices the big co's do?
    I learened very early hourly rates shock the hell out of potential clients,they immediately compare it to doing it themselves for free or paying the neighbor kid $20.00 to do the whole yard trimming and all.And all of the above is correct,nobody cares if you invested all this $ and you have to pay for it now or if your about to be evicted or if your hungry.That's your problem.They are not there to pay your payments or feed you or get you out of debt.In there eyes YOU are there to provide a good service at a reasonable price.THEY focus on that.
    YOU are FOCUSing on your payments,investments,making a living..you are focusing on money$$$$.They are focusing on what they are gonna get and what you are going to provide as far as service for the $$ they are spending.
    I suggest you hop into their shoes and look at it thru the cust's eyes .Nobody wants a lawnguy to give them a bill for $250.00 or 300.00 to mow and trim the bushes.

    I also suggest you start bidding LOW and get some work under your belt so you can build confidence in your actuall work and a concept of the time it will take you to do such work and take your focus off the money for a little while. :D
  8. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    Not to mention that it sounds like you didn't spend any time working on the estimate. "$25 per hour" is not an estimate, it's a rate. If I were the customer I would be worried because I would be thinking "this would take me 15 hours plus material". He doesn't know that you can do it 5 hours (assuming you're experienced and have tools that he doesn't have.). He's thinking $375 for labor and your thinking $125.

    Don't lose heart yet though. Do your homework figure out how much you need to charge him for the whole job. Write a description of what he will be getting, print it out nice and neat, and bring it to him. You may get him back.
  9. yrdandgardenhandyman

    yrdandgardenhandyman LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 953

    I would have dumped her first and fast, even if I was going hungry. Never ever try to explain your price-cost structure to a client. If they question your pricing, they don't care about your costs and they have already decided to dump you.
    I did that with one long time customer and her reply to my assertion that insurance, gas, equipment etc etc, cost money and is charged to the customer was, "Those things are just cost of doing business.". By the way, these people own 2 very well known and very well to do new car dealerships. Now, I take the advice of someone on this site and tell them, "I'm sorry you can't afford my service. If things change, financially for you, please feel free to give me a call." I then say goodbye and move on.
  10. hosejockey2002

    hosejockey2002 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,195

    I think everyone's on the same page here. If you give a customer an hourly rate you're likely to scare them off. You just have to estimate how long each task will take you (it helps to break the job down into small parts) and multiply that by what you want to get per hour. First starting out, you will take it in the shorts a few times, because something will end up being harder and more time consuming than you first thought. With experience, you will do better and be able to estimate more accurately.

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