Pricing Spring Clean-ups

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by mattingly, Jan 20, 2000.

  1. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,954

    I agree to that pact Homer. There's just no way to estimate leaf cleanup jobs. Sometimes you can be an hour or more off if you try it. Leaves drift like snow and can fool you. The yard may look shallow with them. Then you start blowing away from the house and under trees then all of a sudden you have a ton. Then sometimes those leaves underneath may be wet and compacted. Taking more time to blow. A lot of limbs maybe hid in the leaves that you have to pic up. There maybe big areas where you can't put a mower on. Like rocky areas you have to blow. Customer will try to add extras into the job. Because their idea of finished is different from yours. These are some of the reason I have always stuck to a hourly rate on leaves. And too you can end up stressed out like Homer if you bid low. Homer I believe this is a budlight night for you:)
  2. slagerlawncare

    slagerlawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 97

    Charge a hourly rate...period.From the time you get there to the time you dump your leaves..etc...Hourly rate..if they don't like it,you don't want em' for a customer.Because in most cases you get burned. <p>----------<br>rick<br>slager
  3. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 4,830

    This is for Homer,<br>Scott, what you say is very true, but by the time I got to the ( now go ahead and laugh ) I was rolling on the floor laughing. It wasn't that you got burned that was funny, that was a bummer, but knowing you the way I do, it was down right funny the way you told it.<br>Back to the subject, Mattingly, if you find a formula that can be used on clean ups all over the USA, write a book. I'll buy it. I don't think you will find a formula where the customer and the contractor are both satisfied. Charging by the hour is the only way I'll do any extra work like that.<p>----------<br>&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Eric@ELM&lt;/a&gt;<br>
  4. mountain

    mountain LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    Don't forget those DAMN acorns & walnuts. and crawling around on your hands and knees picking leaves from under firethorns. Don't even get me started on those #@$$@ rose bushes. cleanups who needs them!!<p>but really always do them by the hour just ask homer , we've all been there
  5. gene gls

    gene gls LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,213

    Father Time is the best teacher and experence is the name of the game.Education cost money no matter how you recive it. The road of hard knocks should incourage you to remember certian items pertaining to the jobs that took longer to learn so in the future when you see these situations while looking at a job to quote you will remember that you have to alow more time to complete the task.<p>Homer:Look at your 5.5 hr job as a learning experance.Your competitor on the property near by will more than likly think you are low balling him if he finds out what you charged.Don't feel bad,most of us are in your shoes at some point in time doing the same thing.I have been there-done that.
  6. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    Luckily they won't find out. The tenants are moving, this was a rental house. They had to get it cleaned up before they could get their deposit back! Thats another point to ponder everybody thats reading, why not charge them a little more when they are renting. If you don't get it the rental company will keep a portion of the deposit anyway! Might as well be one of us getting the money huh.
  7. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 773

    Bringing up an old thread (last posted on in January 2000!) because it's relevant to a job I'm quoting this coming week, and I'm hoping y'all can help me with it.

    It's a big cleanup job that includes heavy beds of weeding, many unkempt shrubs and plants, and possibly some tree pruning if I decide I want to do it. This place has just really gotten out of shape.

    These customers are high end residential, elderly, and I've been cutting their lawns for 4-5 years. Very nice people, always pay on time, and I've done some trimming for them in the past (albeit some years ago and for a flat rate of $20/hour :( ).

    Now, after trying to take care it all themselves, they mention to me their inquiring about a gardener to keep everything in shape on a regular basis. Since I'm expanding in this direction, I tell them I can work up a quote.

    Here's my quandry: After walking it off, I'm estimating the job will take more than 50 hours to complete, not including the tree work. This is twice what I figured in my head before walking it off (but I never mentioned that to the customer, don't worry!), and seemed, well, eye-popping to me. When I run the numbers, I come to an estimate of $2180.00 to get their place into shape. That figure makes me a little nervous, so I know it will give them sticker shock.

    Now, what I need advice on is how to proceed. Should I break it down into categories of trimming, hauling, weeding, cultivation, etc. to make the numbers seem less all-encompassing? Should I call the customer and let her know where the numbers are leading us before we proceed in writing up a detailed estimate? Should I just pass?

    It's an awful lot of work and I would have to spread it out over several weeks or bring in labor. I'm not adverse to doing either, nor am I afraid of hard work. In fact, this is just the sort of job I relish, since I can really strut my stuff in all areas of landscaping and even sell the customer on covering those weed beds with mulch once we get them in shape. They want their place to be as beautiful as any in the neighborhood, they have money, and they simply can't keep it up themselves. It could be, as they say, a money tree.

    Have you ever bid a residential cleanup this high?

    Any help you give would be appreciated. I definitely want to branch out to these areas of the business (and just completed and got paid for a similar, albeit smaller $420 cleanup job), but am faltering at the gate on this one.

    Like I said, these numbers make me nervous. Advise me?

  8. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 675

    There is a Formula for Bidding or Estimating on jobs like Spring Cleanup. Experience + Need = Job/money!

    Many of us (Myself included)talk about not doing jobs for less, walking away etc... What no one has mentioned, is how hungery you are affecting that decision process. If you need the money/work, walking away to just go sit at home is not doing you any good. Starting out can be tough. Trying to make a living at this right out of the gate can be even tougher. You might want the work, you might need it!

    Homer, $75.00 for 5.5 hours is way too low of course by many of our views. But, if you had nothing else to make money that day you made $13.63 an hour. You can not make that at McDonalds! Of course excluding all expenses.

    I usually look at small such jobs from a point as what else I got going. If I am busy, I'll bid the hours high. If I am not busy and want the work, I will try to trim the hours closer, maybe even the hourly rate. Whatever I bid I always cover my expenses first. I work faster than most, so I usually come out on the high end anyway.

    But, like most posts given so far, try to get a hourly rate since a job bid might be high sounding to a prospect and helps cover your time estimate. You might try giving a Minimum and Maximum amount of billable hours to cover yourself and allow the prospect to see a end price, which is why they do not want to pay you just straight time anyway.
  9. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 773

    Hey Skook, thanks for the reply.

    What you say about sitting at home compared to underbidding makes a lot of sense to me, and I've had to do it before. Now, however, I understand the importance of job-time and have made a resolution not to take a job well under rate just to have it. Sure, cash flow is low right now because I'm restructuring the business, but the reason I'm having to do that is because of accepting lower rates in the years gone by. Yeah, I might 'sit at home' for a couple days as opposed to trimming and hauling large amounts of debris, but there never seems to be time to work on the business, anyhow, so if I'm called to the field I want to make sure I have just compensation!

    On the flip side of that, I'm not afraid of dropping a quote and finding out later on that I made well below my rate because I guaged the job wrong. That's a mistake I'm willing to make in order to learn from. The tricky part now is proposing on a job this big and, like I said, I'm a little leary of the numbers I came up with. They seem large.

    However, to qualify myself, I severely underbid three of the last four jobs I did. I didn't propose them because they were jobs for customers who wanted them done at any price so I was able to charge my hourly rate in my head as I went along. Still, I estimated the jobs for myself ahead of time. The numbers seemed large then, too, and were well below what I eventually had to charge.

    But, I do not want to do this any more because if I'm always working at $40/hour than that's all I will make. I want to get into the pattern of proposing jobs and signing contracts. That way, if I find better ways to do the job(s) I can increase revenue w/o lowering my price. I may screw up sometimes doing it this way, but I'll take my chances with it in order to learn.

    Again, it comes back to this proposal again. Should I trust my initial walk-off, break the job down into sections, and propose it at the $2180 total figure I calculated? Should I retrace my steps?

    Also, if anyone has a copy of a finished proposal they filled out from NEBS I'd love to see it. I'm going to be using these forms but I'd like to see a total breakdown of how a contractor would fill these out.

    Again, I can't thank you all enough for your input. The improvement in my attitude & business over the last six months, since discovering LawnSite, is palpable. I get people walking up to me all the time now just to admire my operation & setup. I sing & dance my way through work days now, and have nearly doubled my average rate/job. Maybe I should start a thread to spell out the momumental changes you've contributed to... :)

    Thanks again!


Share This Page