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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Every time I logg onto a forum (Like most of you I am a member of many) I see a post from some one asking "How much should I charge" or "How much do you charge" and many others like this. As I scroll down through the threads there is inevitably a variety of answers from " you have to know your costs" and "It varies by location" which are good answers. But then I see people saying "You should get $60 an hour" and shoot for $1 an hour" Which is good advise IF you have the right equipment.

A thing to remember is that if you are pushing a 21" MTD mower from a discount store and blowing off sidewalks with a $50 blower from the discount store, you will NOT be as efficient as someone with a 60" Exmark (or other commercial mower). It just isn't going to happen. Therefore you should not expect to make the same rate that they are. The same goes for the guys with the 42" Craftsman Tractor. Even a 36" commercial ZTR will be more productive (given the operator is proficient).

The point I am trying to get across here is that you not only need to now your costs, but you also need to be aware of how efficiently you are operating. Know the "value" of your time with the equipment you are using, and don't try to base your companies pricing off of what someone else is charging. Remember that a $50 property is just that, it doesn't matter if you if it takes you 2.5 hours with box store equipment or 15 min with top of the line commercial equipment, it is still a $50 lawn.

New guys get your feet wet using what you have available to you, and work your way up to the faster more efficient equipment. That $60 hr will come with time. You guys that have been around for a while.... Don't try to base what you make by what the next guy is getting. You know your costs and are aware of you productivity, base your prices by what is "fair" to yourself and the client, if they don't like it move on.

Sorry about the long post I just had to get that off my chest.
 

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maybe you are right to an extent. However if you are going around bidding on properties commercial for example, you do need to know what the next guy is charging. It may be that you can't compete but still...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
maybe you are right to an extent. However if you are going around bidding on properties commercial for example, you do need to know what the next guy is charging. It may be that you can't compete but still...
What the next guy is charging per hour should be irrelevant to your bidding process. Knowing their final price could benefit you, but you should not base your prices off of that. You never know; the other guy might not know his costs, or he may be taking a loss to get into/expand commercial accounts, or he may have the knowledge, experience, and tools to make his company ultra efficient, giving him that "edge" that you cannot compete with.

The whole point I was trying to make is you cannot base your prices on an hourly rate just because someone else (either in your area, or somewhere else) is getting that rate.
Would you expect to pay the same amount per man hour for a clean-up when the company shows up with 1 guy a rake and a tarp? What if they showed up with 4 guys, a number of various commercial blowers, a leaf plow, truck loader, etc.
You have to know how productive/efficient your company is to know how much you can charge, especially if you base your price on a per hour charge.
 

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I agree that a $50 yard is a $50 yard. If you do not have the right equipment, it will take longer. It also sucks that someone with no insurance or license will do a $50 yard for $35 or less. They think $15 an hour is good money. They forget the cost of the expenses and just look at the per hour amount.
 

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Insurance is'nt all that expensive.Its stupidity.Commercial properties have budgits and home owners get charged what the market will bear.You might get a few 100 more a month if you can sell it on a 3000 a month property.At that point your cost or your needed profit only matters to you.The guy looking at the bid could care less that your weedeater sucks ass and you need 75 an hour to pay for yoor truck.
 

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Every time I logg onto a forum (Like most of you I am a member of many) I see a post from some one asking "How much should I charge" or "How much do you charge" and many others like this. As I scroll down through the threads there is inevitably a variety of answers from " you have to know your costs" and "It varies by location" which are good answers. But then I see people saying "You should get $60 an hour" and shoot for $1 an hour" Which is good advise IF you have the right equipment.

A thing to remember is that if you are pushing a 21" MTD mower from a discount store and blowing off sidewalks with a $50 blower from the discount store, you will NOT be as efficient as someone with a 60" Exmark (or other commercial mower). It just isn't going to happen. Therefore you should not expect to make the same rate that they are. The same goes for the guys with the 42" Craftsman Tractor. Even a 36" commercial ZTR will be more productive (given the operator is proficient).

The point I am trying to get across here is that you not only need to now your costs, but you also need to be aware of how efficiently you are operating. Know the "value" of your time with the equipment you are using, and don't try to base your companies pricing off of what someone else is charging. Remember that a $50 property is just that, it doesn't matter if you if it takes you 2.5 hours with box store equipment or 15 min with top of the line commercial equipment, it is still a $50 lawn.

New guys get your feet wet using what you have available to you, and work your way up to the faster more efficient equipment. That $60 hr will come with time. You guys that have been around for a while.... Don't try to base what you make by what the next guy is getting. You know your costs and are aware of you productivity, base your prices by what is "fair" to yourself and the client, if they don't like it move on.

Sorry about the long post I just had to get that off my chest.
well yeah you are correct however i had a (what i tought a 50 dollar lawn ) and got the bid at $40 because of the guy before me price was 40. to howe owner said that if i could do it for 40 then i would do it. well now i added another account today.
 

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Well, maybe I'm missing the point, but if I am about to bid on a property, commercial or not, I am going to bid according to how many man-hours I think it will take to meet the customer's expectations. It really don't matter if I have to perform the job with my zero-turn, my 21"er, or my weed-eater. My prices are somewhat reflective of what other hourly rates other LCO are charging in the area, however if someone else bids lower or the customer thinks my rates are too high, no big deal. I move on. No problem. Its the nature of the business.
 

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Blah, Blah,Blah:sleeping:, their is no subsitute for commercial equipment, or experience; which will teach you that once you get that first commercial account that it really dose not matter what the other guys is bidding or doing. I concentrate on MY business, and for the most part don't pay attention to what others are doing i'm just to busy to "worry" about this crap.

I concentrate on quality, and don't chase the money for it will come, it always does just in time:laugh:
 

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well yeah you are correct however i had a (what i tought a 50 dollar lawn ) and got the bid at $40 because of the guy before me price was 40. to howe owner said that if i could do it for 40 then i would do it. well now i added another account today.
And you're doing it with a 36" walk behind. I'll do it with a 60" rider, and do it for 37.00. Then I'll get a neighbor or two, which gives me a tighter route, and way more $$$$.

60" rule. 36" drool. :clapping:

Seriously, if I have 2 employees, who I pay 10.00 an hour, and send them out with 21" lawnboys to cut grass, how many lawns can they cut in a day? The customer will pay 20.00 to have his lawn cut. If it can be cut it in 6 minutes with a 60", while employee 2 trims and edges with a weed whacker, then mower guy blows it off, total time 9 minutes. Cut another one or two before loading up, and you are in the gravy.

For those of you going after bigger properties, have two machines on there cutting. Paying an employee 10.00 plus some benefits to make you 40-60 per hour is just business sense.
 

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Why do some contractors assume low bid always wins?
because it fills their schedule. In this business it takes a while to fill your schedule with good paying and productive accounts. One way to do it is to low ball to get them and when your schedule is full you start raising their prices the second or even third season. Once customers get to know you and you are at all personable they wont drop you from a rate increase. Your right the lowbid does not always win. You have to know your market and the customers expectations. To me its obvious if they want price or quality and thats my starting point.
 

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[irrelevant to your bidding process]

that is simply not true. You take an area like DFW and lets say you want to start bidding on commercial properties. If you don't know what the market will bare in terms of "man hour" and hourly rates, you will be making life hard on yourself. Once you reach the point of being proficient with your bidding you can tell how many "man hours" a job will require. All the other "proficient" bidders that you are competing with will have roughly the same estimate. You have to be in the game. If you are 5.00 per "man hour" higher than everyone else your going to have harder time getting the bids.

No they don't always go with the low bidder but numbers don't lie and this is how it works. You do it all yourself with 21" or you can do it with a 3 man crew, thats up to you but beat this into your head. Man hours and the rate your market will bare.

Now as far as knowing your numbers and your overhead. The sooner you figure that out the better and it may come to a point where your bottom line is way off. If you have a crap load of expensive equipment, a shop 4 employee, insurance etc... you'd better bid bid bid. If your estimate abilities are poor in terms of man hours or if you hourly rate is too high, your bid bid bid will not produce what you need.
 

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Mowing lawns is a what the market will bear situation.

In residentials, as long as someone is making a decent effort at quality which mower they use doesnt matter. So the starting point really means that you're bidding against others mainly based on price. A homeowner assumes that the result will be the same for all contractors because after all.... it's just mowing the lawn. You just have to sell them on reliability in most cases. If the previous guy hacked it up, then you have a quality play...but usually they are after price to fit their own economic needs.


Size of mower vs productivity really depends on area to be cut, obstacles to be avoided, gates etc. For smaller areas the argument that a 60" mower is always better is just insanity.

You also have to take into account equipment purchase/depreciation, transportation, ease of loading and extra trimming if your big mower can't get into tighter areas. This is a big deal for overall productivity.

Working solo, doing smaller residential lots and places with hills, a big ztr is worthless. I'm not saying use a 21" on everything but theres a balance too. Doing 1/4 acre lots with a house and 2 car garage and a few trees is pretty std where I am...paying $10 grand for a ztr that allows me to do about 1/2 the area and then having to finish with a smaller mower saves me nothing orver using a 36 or 48 walk behind which can also handle the hills...its simply anti productive.

Doing 1 acre lots with a 36 would also be insanity (unless you only have 1 on the schedule). Take all your lots into consideration and make a plan to buy the best overall mower to fit those needs. Try to reduce transportation efforts and trimming time and that seems to be the most productive way to go about it. But, no matter what, a $40 lawn is still a $40 lawn so if thats what you're targeting then figure out which equip combo is best for that size property.
 

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And you're doing it with a 36" walk behind. I'll do it with a 60" rider, and do it for 37.00. Then I'll get a neighbor or two, which gives me a tighter route, and way more $$$$.

60" rule. 36" drool. :clapping:

Seriously, if I have 2 employees, who I pay 10.00 an hour, and send them out with 21" lawnboys to cut grass, how many lawns can they cut in a day? The customer will pay 20.00 to have his lawn cut. If it can be cut it in 6 minutes with a 60", while employee 2 trims and edges with a weed whacker, then mower guy blows it off, total time 9 minutes. Cut another one or two before loading up, and you are in the gravy.

For those of you going after bigger properties, have two machines on there cutting. Paying an employee 10.00 plus some benefits to make you 40-60 per hour is just business sense.
ok now lets also think about it buddy. alright u pay 20$ an hour to an employee. u have a 10000$ mower and a bunch more **** i bet. so im glad u said that because now lest look at over head. you pay for gas In a 3500 deisel i assume, u pay 2 employees, you have a biz licence, and probly pay 3 times the insurance i do, due to i dont have commercial accounts that require that much.

so you get that yard for 37$, you drive there(when i could walk bevcause its on my street 3 houses over) you pay 20$ hour for help. so well see whoo would get the bidd
 

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I think it is what the market will bare in your area of the country. Another example - in my rural cornbelt area I have a storage facility. A 10 x 20 unit runs $45 / month. 1 hour from me that same unit is going for around $60 -$75 / month and I have a sister that lives in St Paul where they pay $110 / month for a $10 x 15 unit.

Take that into consideration of residential yards. Commercial - I have found that they don't always go with low bid b/c I have never been low bid and still get the accounts. Gov't work though - low bid every time.

Bottom line I think is to know your cost. If your serious about this work, your using a craftsman/MTD 21 or rider. You may get by with an S-10 truck and two wheel trailer but for me mowing is not all we do. I am landscaping, pouring cement, etc. I need the bigger truck/trailer/equipment. I know that opens a whole new thread.
 

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[irrelevant to your bidding process]

If you don't know what the market will bare in terms of "man hour" and hourly rates,
I don't care what they're paying, I ain't mowing naked!:rolleyes: Just kidding, I know it's the kind of thing spell-check won't catch. Just struck me as funny.

To talk about the theme of this thread. I think the $60/hr rate is relevant. I use it to calculate what I should be charging.
I use that figure to judge what the "average" LCO would be charging. It's kind of a middle-of-the-road figure for me. I charge more or less considering what machine I'm using. Double that figure for the 455 because it's twice as productive. $60/hr only applies to the 72" deck mowers.
In fact I have to be careful not to undercharge when using the big machines.
I use the largest deck that's appropriate for the lawn.
I have a little trouble with customers trying to figure my worth by the time we spend on a job. It doesn't seem to matter that we're getting done in hours what other crews couldn't get done in days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Mowing lawns is a what the market will bear situation.

Size of mower vs productivity really depends on area to be cut, obstacles to be avoided, gates etc. For smaller areas the argument that a 60" mower is always better is just insanity.

You also have to take into account equipment purchase/depreciation, transportation, ease of loading and extra trimming if your big mower can't get into tighter areas. This is a big deal for overall productivity.

Working solo, doing smaller residential lots and places with hills, a big ztr is worthless. I'm not saying use a 21" on everything but theres a balance too. Doing 1/4 acre lots with a house and 2 car garage and a few trees is pretty std where I am...paying $10 grand for a ztr that allows me to do about 1/2 the area and then having to finish with a smaller mower saves me nothing orver using a 36 or 48 walk behind which can also handle the hills...its simply anti productive.

Doing 1 acre lots with a 36 would also be insanity (unless you only have 1 on the schedule). Take all your lots into consideration and make a plan to buy the best overall mower to fit those needs. Try to reduce transportation efforts and trimming time and that seems to be the most productive way to go about it. But, no matter what, a $40 lawn is still a $40 lawn so if thats what you're targeting then figure out which equip combo is best for that size property.
^^That is the point I was trying to make
 
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