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What am i doing wrong here?!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Matt Hermann, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. Matt Hermann

    Matt Hermann LawnSite Member
    Messages: 213

    So what am i doing wrong? usually when i do any type of labor i charge 25 bucks for 2 people working. i only have me and another person because i am starting out, but whats the point of charging hourly if our main goal is trying to do it as quick as we can--all we are doing is looksing money that way. also with leaf jobs in the fall, or spring cleanup. how do you bid them? hourly? i just bought a br600 and it makes the job so much quicker but if i charge hourly now, the blower kills my profit. so essentially i bought something that kills my profit...what am i doing wrong here? thanks
  2. kemco

    kemco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,120

    The better equipment you have, the more you should be charging for the job per hour (as you are right, better equipment should mean you can do more jobs in less time). A br600 is a good start. If I had 2 guys each with a br600 I'd be charging at least $25 per man hour, not per hour, if not more. Add in a leaf loader to suck up the piles quickly and you are now looking at $40 or more per man hour. Hopefully you are only paying your worker say $10 or so an hour, so you should be making $50 or more for yourself per man hour (before expenses).

    If I was raking a yard by hand, as with a hand rake, I really shouldn't be able to charge more than $15 or so per hour because it would take me all day to rake the leaves off of one small property. Running 3 commercial blowers, and a leaf loader, with 3 guys, Im billing $30 minimum per man hour ($90 total per hour for the crew on the job). I try to get around $40 per hour, sometimes I do, but economy's been tough last year.
  3. Matt Hermann

    Matt Hermann LawnSite Member
    Messages: 213

    thanks for the help, ill do that with leaf jobs. id be using a br600 and helper would be using a crappy blower that does its job, so i guess maby 30 bucks an hour for both at the same time, paying my worker maby 9 bucks an hour, me getting rest. but what about for mulching, weeding, stick removal, etc. jobs?
  4. kemco

    kemco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,120

    I charge a set price for mulch per the yard, and this price includes delivery and all labor for installing the mulch. After years in this business I just know how long it takes to get mulch down so the set price works for me and my customers seem to like it. As far as weeding beds, picking up sticks, etc. I always charge by the "man hour". I will quote the customer an estimate based on how long I think it will take to get the job done, but I make sure in writing that this is only an estimate and the final charge may be more or less than quoted. And when I do this I try to pad the quote... meaning I try to give an estimate that is higher (or based on more man hours) than I really actually think it will take. This way when I get the job if it does take longer than I originally thought, the customer wont suffer from "sticker shock" at the final bill. Also, many times I'll finish the job in less time than I thought it would take and I get to present the customer with a bill that comes in below what I estimated. Customers love this. Always underpromise and overperform.

    The lowest I will ever go on any job is $25 per man hour... even if that's just me having a few of my guys run around a back yard picking up sticks and fallen branches and dragging them to the street. Generally I shoot for at least $30 per man hour, doesn't matter what we are doing... time is money. Seems to me like you are way underpricing your jobs, but again your area may be different from mine. I've got to charge $25 an hour for it to be worth my while. I've got overhead, insurance, gas, maintenance, local business taxes, storage of equipment, etc.

    Also remember that it takes gas and time to get to the job, takes gas while running the blowers (probably 1 tank per blower per hour)... this all adds up. Im not sure how you can stay in business at just $15 per man hour.
  5. sdk1959

    sdk1959 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 909

    If the leaves are left at the curb for pick-up in those 30 gallon paper bags you may consider charging $5-$6 per bag filled with mulched leaves, NOT unmulched.

    Leaves are hard to judge the volume of in many cases, charging by the # bags filled is one way you won't shortchange yourself by underbidding. Just give the customer a "rough" estimate on the number of bags you think you'll fill.

    Good luck in 2010!:cool2:
  6. Matt Hermann

    Matt Hermann LawnSite Member
    Messages: 213

    well, im a junior in HS, and just starting out, so i can get by with 15. I was just wondering with the prices, because it seemed i was ripping myself off. I dont have as many expenses as you, so i guess my rates will not be nearly as high as yours. so i plan on doing mulch and stuff by the hour for a while longer until i can look at a job and tell how long it would take...thanks for the advice man, it really helps.
  7. kemco

    kemco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,120

    I charge $60 per yard of mulch. This includes price of mulch, delivery, and labor to install. Weeding beds, or any bed prep is additional and by the man hour. The minimum charge I charge is for one yard ($60). If all they need is 1/4 yard of mulch, it is still $60. Now if where I have to install requires us running wheelbarrows 60 feet up a steep incline, I'll upcharge this a little based on extra labor. My price on black shredded hardwood mulch is around $12 per yard. Also for your own knowledge, one yard of mulch will cover right around 100 square feet with mulch applied at an approximate depth of 3" to 4". That's a good "rule of thumb" to use when trying to figure out how much mulch you will need. If the customer already has a good existing mulch bed and just wants to "freshen up" the mulch for a better look, I'll get about 200 square feet per yard of mulch. This makes measuring out the job and estimating a little easier. I keep a 200' measuring roll tape in my truck with a big phillips head screwdriver. I used the screwdriver as a stake to stick the end of the tape to the ground and the place I want to start measuring, and then just roll the tape out. It has a hand crank so I can quickly roll it back up. It think it was $25 or so at home depot a few years ago.
  8. aem910

    aem910 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

  9. lawns Etc

    lawns Etc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,277

    Well I am not too far from you but you need to rethink the pricing. At least $50 hr for 2 guys is a great price. I try to make a profit of $400-500 per day after materials. I get a minimum of $150 for a mulch job up to 2 yds installed with minimal edging. A good rule of thumb that I have had luck with is $75 per yard delivered and installed with spade edging and some weeding but not too much. Just a thought in NJ you need a Home Improvement Contractors License to install mulch or seed. That means you need insurance as well which I assume that you dont have but I would recomend Its not that expensive Like $750 yr from Selective. Cover your ass because the locals will turn you in and possibly block the suppliers from selling to you as they will threaten not to buy from them.Good luck and dont work for free there is money out there if you are dedicated to do a good job.
  10. Lazer_Z

    Lazer_Z LawnSite Silver Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,578

    Great advice! Matt, Don't shortcut yourself, get insurance and get the contractors license. The license runs $90.00 per year and along with insurance is a good way to cover your @ss.

    I don't know if you know this and lawns etc didn't bring it up, but you also should register your trade name, in other words the paper will say Matt Hermon: DBA (Doing Business As) and whatever you call your business.

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