not so sure anymore about hourly rate

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bobbygedd, Aug 26, 2003.

  1. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    a little advice for the new guys. weve discussed pricing jobs on an hourly rate basis. i personally thought it was the only way to price things like big cleanups and trimming work. well, what happens when you get more efficient? you make less money, thats what. example: i did a trimming job for a customer last year. charged by the hour. bill came out to $375. well, this year, did the same job, just as much growth, and the bill only came out to $300. what happened? i got better, and faster at it. im now trimming with a two sided trimmer, and can cut just as good with both sides, and in any direction. its difficult for anyone to accurately estimate something when no measurements, and no materials are involved. about an hour into the job i realized what was going to happen, so i started timing how long it took on each different shrub, according to type and size. i will start using this new formula to price jobs by the job, not by the hour.
  2. Port City Lawncare

    Port City Lawncare LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 75

    bobby- what are charging hourly for per 3 man crew. All we're doing is spreading Mulch, and a pallet of centipede. Thank in advance.
  3. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    for me a 2 man crew goes for $75 an hour, then its $30 an hour for each additional crew member. but, we never use 3 guys unless we have alot of work, like during leaf season. u will be much better off charging by the job, there is more incentive to get it done fast and move on.
  4. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647


    Keen observation.

    Any first time job will naturaly take longer. Especialy where shrub trimming is concerned.

    With us. All our first time customers take longer. You have to set in the new lines, correct errors of the past. Trim some more than they have been before. What ever. It's all part of doing them the first time by us. I don't estimate by the hour. I know what we are capable of doing in any given amount of time. And who know's the day we go it maybe a nice cool breezy day and we move quicker. Or it maybe 98 degrees and humid, naturaly will slow us down. Not the customers problem.

    What ever our price quoted is will be the same or more the following year.

    Not only that but we also do fall trimmings. Doing the property a second time. Not all get the fall trimming. But there are more every year that request it......:) And that takes us no time at all. Some shrubs we will not touch in the fall, for needing them to flower in the spring.
  5. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    bobby, use your hourly rate as a minimum. but charge what the market will bear or going rate. comprende?
  6. PPLMike

    PPLMike LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    The first time you do it, charge it on an hourly rate. Once you've got that number, no matter how long it takes you, charge that rate. First time you do it, at an hourly rate of $75 dollars an hour, 2 hours. You charge $150. Next time you do it just bill it at $150, regardless of whether or not it takes you only 1 1/2 hours because youre used to it. They're willing to pay $150 the first time, I'm sure they're willing to pay it the second, third, etc...
  7. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    yes park, i comprende. and mike, the only problem with that is, when i tell them the first time im charging hourly, and u know damn well they are watching the clock, and it comes out to 375, the next time, u know they are still watchin the clock, are they not gonna think i went back on my word?
  8. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    i charged by the hour for doing a concrete slab under a hot tub this spring, all that huff-&-puff work for virtually no money in the end. That was my wake up call to charge by the job.

    another example, if i charge by the hour for spreading mulch... 6 yards of mulch to be spread, if i did it by the hour @ $30/hr + $35/yd. i'd make about $60-90. I charge $76/yd installed and i made about $250 in 2/hrs of work. ( i was in a time jam, so i hustled my --- off and moved 6yds in 2hrs :) )
  9. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    Hey bobby...

    ...the same goes with mowing lawns. Let's say you go from mowing lawns with a 36 incher mower to a 52. Obviously, you're gonna do it quicker. Are you going to charge less now? Hell no. So if one year you did the shrubs and charged $375 and the next year it took you less time, obviously you have learned something and gotten better (equipment, performance, etc.)

    If you think someone is going to stopwatch you, I would think twice about that account IMO.
  10. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647


    Quoting by the hour is one thing. The customer watching the clock the next year is something different.

    If it is your first time trimming and you realy don't know how long it could take. Say an hour either way. Well then the first time is an estimated quote. So why not figure that house X is going to take you 3 hours to trim and cleanup. Tell the customer it is going to be around $300 or what ever price you have in mind. Better off telling them the job can be $300 or there abouts, it is the first time I am doing them and I see that the hedge along the house is not straight and it may take me longer than I am estimating right now. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    After all is not your first price quote an estimate?

    Most all would be understandable that it may be more or less of the price you indicated.

    It's not an exact science as to how long plants take to trim, when you have never done them before.

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