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Why not Charge HOURLY???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by turfsolutions, Nov 24, 2003.

  1. turfsolutions

    turfsolutions LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 853

    Yes I have heard it said many a times don't charge hourly. But why? Aside from scaring certain customers away with an hourly rate I don't see a downside to it. Now granted that is a big aside, but look at other business'.

    When you take your car to the shop you don't say give me an estimate to your mechanic, he bills you his hourly rate for labor. When an electrician does some odds an ends work at your house, he bills you his hourly rate. The same goes for many other business'.

    It doesn't simplify estimating, it eliminates it. You want to get $40/manhour for example, thats your estimate and your bill. As long as you guarentee to your potential customer that they will have a well trained crew, with top of the line equipment on the job to get it done as effieciently as possible with quality results.

    Don't get me wrong, this isn't for every job or every customer, but I have built up relationships with certain customers over the years where they say do it and bill me. And I do the job and multiply the manhours it took by my hourly rate. Its a great way to do business knowing you meet your productivity goals every time. I just wish it was a standard in this industry.

    OK let your anti hourly billing opinions fly!!!

  2. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 952

    Good post! You are right we are a legitimate industry. Just like heating/Air, plumbing, but the down side is everyone thinks anyone could do it. But we all know it's not true.
  3. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    Mechanics work off of a book. If the book says 1 hour for this, thats what they charge. And dealers have people that do engines, doors and locks, ect. I have a customer that works at a ford dealership. He works 40, and usually gets paid for 65-70. And how much will this cost the customer? If i quote $200 for a job thinking it will take four hours, and you quote $50/hour thinking it will take four hours, I am sure i will get the job.
  4. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    turfsolutions--I say continue your hourly billing ways if it works for you.

    but it don't work for me. and hourly billing eliminates nothing except for your hourly trained customers.

    hourly billing for the average lawn guy creates as many problems as it solves. and same is true for billing by the job. by the job has its own drawbacks.

    but for me, I always work by the job. period. I shoot them a flat price. then we do biz or I take a hike.

    it couldn't be simpler.

  5. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    I agree...

    Most customers don't want to hear hourly prices. You're an independant businessman...not their hourly lawnboy. You should be able to estimate the hours needed and translate that into the final fee. If you can't do that, the customer may think you don't know your stuff as well as you should.

    If they are not unfamiliar with you, they don't know if you're a speed demon or a slugg. Noone wants a surprise when the bill comes.

  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I do a lot of work hourly too. All of my mowing except one account is flat fee. However, clean-ups, hedges and odd jobs for regular customers are done hourly.

    I do one time jobs either flat fee or hourly, depending on the job. Generally speaking, maintenance work is hourly but installation work is flat fee. However, on mulching and stone/gravel driveway jobs, which is maintenance related, I generally do for a flat fee, since I have a really good handle on how long it takes to spread these materials, and my profit on them is on the higher side.

    I think hourly works better with established customers because there is already a level of trust established.
  7. ZX12R

    ZX12R LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 795

    turfsolutions,your points are valid but you have to remember,having a landscaper is a luxury,not a necessity. When you go to a plumber,mechanic,gasman,you need something that has to be fixed,so,you are at their mercy. If I told a customer that I was charging $50- 60 per man,I know I wouldn't get half the work I do. I have learned from experience to charge by the job and not hourly.
  8. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    Straight billing is easier on the customer than hourly billing. The customer knows from week to week how much it's going to cost them and can budget their money accordingly.

    To use the repair man analogy is like comparing apples to oranges. You're not getting your water heater or car fixed every week. It's usually a one time thing. Lawn service is recurring.

    This is also why we don't the huge hourly fees that these other services do. Our service is given in volume and as you well know... The more you buy the cheaper it gets.
  9. crawdad

    crawdad LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,938

    Why don't we quote an hourly rate? Because we're tired of hearing, "FORTY BUCKS AN HOUR! I DON'T MAKE THAT MUCH, AND I'M A ....." ( insert profession here)
    That's why.
    Though, the last time I heard that, I talked them into a trial hour, and an hour later, I also heard the line, "Wow, you got all that done in an hour? Keep working!" On the larger jobs, that must be bid hourly, the trial hour may be the way to go. I know I'll use it again.
  10. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,622

    There is no way to get ahead by charging hourly. If you are set on lets say $65.00 per hour, that is all you can make. If I quote a 1 hour job for 65$, and I hustle and get it done in 1/2 hour, who is ahead of the game??? Also, if I were to purchase 'more efficient' equipment, why should my customer benefit????

    IMO, if you want to get paid hourly, get a job with someone else.

    Dont get me wrong, I have it in the back of my mind what I NEED to make hourly, and after the job is finished, I usually end up a bit above that number. THAT is how you get ahead.

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