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tricountylawncare
01-20-2011, 01:50 PM
Ok, so I'm just starting out in the lawn care business. I have been posting an ad on Craigslist for about a week and so far have gotten 5 calls. Yesterday I did my first job. It was trimming 2 hedges in the front of the house, redefining the flower beds, spreading pine straw that they already had bought in the beds and edging the drive and sidewalks. They only wanted the front done and the front yard was only about half the size of a normal lot, probably 1500 sq. feet, very small. I charged them $35 and they gave me $40. Does that sound too low for what I had to do?

wellbiz
01-20-2011, 02:12 PM
Ok, so I'm just starting out in the lawn care business. I have been posting an ad on Craigslist for about a week and so far have gotten 5 calls. Yesterday I did my first job. It was trimming 2 hedges in the front of the house, redefining the flower beds, spreading pine straw that they already had bought in the beds and edging the drive and sidewalks. They only wanted the front done and the front yard was only about half the size of a normal lot, probably 1500 sq. feet, very small. I charged them $35 and they gave me $40. Does that sound too low for what I had to do?

How long did it take you?? Seems really low to me, but is is hard to tell without knowing the size of the hedges. Did you also cut the grass?

tricountylawncare
01-20-2011, 02:24 PM
Each hedge was only about 10ft. long and about 5ft. tall. They weren't bad, just needed a quick trim. I did run the mower over the yard even though they didn't ask for it because there were leaves and pinestraw in the yard from the work I did in the flower beds. It only took me 10 min. with the mower b/c the yard is so small. It looked like a million bucks when I was done and the owners were ecstatic. It took me over an hour to do it all because I was trying to do my best work even though I felt I under charged them, but am hoping to pick up business from the neighbors. They live in a cul de sac in a wealthy neighborhood. Plus the they want me to do their yard front and back for the rest of the year once the grass starts growing.

950thomas
01-20-2011, 02:27 PM
you will never grow your business charging those kinda prices u have to figure drive time and so many other factors u should have a min service charge

Hedgemaster
01-20-2011, 03:09 PM
I was told by someone local that I should charge $1 per linear foot for hedge trimming. If they are wide enough that you must to go on both sides in order to reach/cut across, or if they are higher than your chest - charge $2 per linear foot.

I can relate to "cutting them a break" for various reasons (hoping to get them and neighbors as clients, because it's a senior citizen, because that's the kind of person you are, etc.), but be careful that they don't tell all their wealthy neighbors that you'll mow their lawn for $x, when in fact, you need to charge them $xx.

I guess you could just tell them that was a "first time customer" discount.


Good luck. I'm new to this as well, and pricing is a tricky thing to "get right".

wellbiz
01-20-2011, 03:43 PM
Each hedge was only about 10ft. long and about 5ft. tall. They weren't bad, just needed a quick trim. I did run the mower over the yard even though they didn't ask for it because there were leaves and pinestraw in the yard from the work I did in the flower beds. It only took me 10 min. with the mower b/c the yard is so small. It looked like a million bucks when I was done and the owners were ecstatic. It took me over an hour to do it all because I was trying to do my best work even though I felt I under charged them, but am hoping to pick up business from the neighbors. They live in a cul de sac in a wealthy neighborhood. Plus the they want me to do their yard front and back for the rest of the year once the grass starts growing.

Every area is different, but it appears your clients got a great deal. Do you know your costs. How much money do you need to make an hour to cover all your costs *(truck payment, equipment, taxes, insurance, your salaray, profit, etc).

Industry average for landscapers is @$45 an hour. I would have broken up the work and priced it to the customer seperatly.

Maybe $40-50 for the hedges, $40 to put down the pine straw and maybe $35 to cut and edge the lawn. Of course these are just my estimates and your situation is completely different I am sure. However remember you are a professional and deserved to be paid as such.

tricountylawncare
01-20-2011, 03:47 PM
Thanks Wellbiz! I guess I was so anxious to get my first job, I priced myself a little low.

Growing Green
01-20-2011, 04:25 PM
I've priced myself to low 3 times in a row now. I'm getting better at it though. As I go I'm getting more confidence and understand that I really do a good job and deserve to be paid more. Fun gaining all the knowledge and skills!

Matt

ritchiem
01-20-2011, 11:38 PM
How much should I charge?

That is the hardest question to answer in this industry. Why? Because the green industry is saturated and there are no standards.

I always get happy when someone asks advice on what to charge because it shows that they want to do right...for themselves and the industry.

wellbiz is correct on the industry standard being an average $45.00 per man hour. That is a good place to start. When you price a job, start off by estimating how long it will take you to complete. And make notes on how long certain tasks take. Over time you'll be able to add prices to services and break it down a lot better.

Steve
01-21-2011, 03:05 AM
you will never grow your business charging those kinda prices u have to figure drive time and so many other factors u should have a min service charge

What would you suggest charging based on your experience?

shahoo80
01-21-2011, 09:57 AM
Another thing to remember for guys just starting out is sometimes they do not know what actual costs to run are and they are just project cost. The only real way to know what the actual cost are is just being in business and learning what it cost day to day.

This being true last year when I started full time, Yes I ran on projected numbers on the first few jobs but by the end of the season you could walk up to the job and pretty much figure the job in your head.

This year will be different, I know how much it actually cost me day to day to run and I have that number in my head. As far as Landscaping jobs I can price it out below the 45 per man hour and still make money as I do not have alot of overhead. Next year I will have to price at the standard because of the expansions of this year.

How I priced some of my first Landscaping jobs was to talk with local companies about the going hourly rate in my area. The ones that actually cared and talked with me about it were thankful that I was trying to find a good workable rate instead of just low balling. I took an average of the going rate and gave discount based on that information. Worked out good for me.

950thomas
01-21-2011, 12:53 PM
depending on what part of country u are in going to change per hr prices in the south it is 35 to 40 per man per hr for a small job like that it would be a $ 100 min charge even if u are doing the work yourself what happens when u grow and have to pay labor to go there u have drive time gas overhead to pay 4

Steve
01-22-2011, 04:34 AM
Another thing to remember for guys just starting out is sometimes they do not know what actual costs to run are and they are just project cost. The only real way to know what the actual cost are is just being in business and learning what it cost day to day.

This being true last year when I started full time, Yes I ran on projected numbers on the first few jobs but by the end of the season you could walk up to the job and pretty much figure the job in your head.

This year will be different, I know how much it actually cost me day to day to run and I have that number in my head.

How do you feel your projected numbers compared with your actual costs. Once you really understood what your expenses were, did you find that there were discrepancies that caught you off guard?

What should the newer lawn care businesses look out for when it comes to underestimating your costs?

shahoo80
01-24-2011, 01:48 AM
The biggest error was fuel, At the beginning it was right on but by the end of the season and as more customers was added I was way off. I mean it doesnt help when you look to see where your helper is because she has disappeared and you see the mower sitting there just running away. I blew a gasket after about the 3rd time. I guess that is what happens when your helper is your high school daughter.... Darn kids these days getting Corpral tunnel from texting so much. But got much better though..
Another big expense was correct maint. for equipment. Oil, Filters, Blades etc. fast I changed oil every 50 hours per machine which maybe too much for some but I needed and wanted my equipment to last as long as possible and since it was new start right and might get 1 last season out of it and 10.00 per service is alot cheaper than 1000 for a motor.

For new start ups money may be tight but first start stashing away a couple dollars here and there for unexpected expenses. And when you start out with maybe used equipment you never know when it breaks no matter how you take care of it. I started the year with a used mower and within 3 weeks it threw a rod out the block, nothing that I did and was not out of oil but the fact is you never know so I went and bought a new Cub Cadet Tank. 71 hours later the starter went out and the dealer wanted to keep the mower for a min. of 2 weeks. And with no back up mower now what do you do, Rent for 2 weeks ok well you are going to make no check for those weeks and have to pay out of pocket for fuel and expenses this was not a option. So you spent the 250+ dollars on new starter and replace it yourself. I finally got my money back for the defective starter but it took 4 months and many phone calls. Long story short I dont own that Cub anymore. I found a Demo Stander at a great price. This year I am looking for a back up mower just to have and if needed for a second helper then I will be ready to go and will get a better price since it is still winter.


Just try to put back as much as possible..

Steve
01-24-2011, 03:57 AM
The biggest error was fuel, At the beginning it was right on but by the end of the season and as more customers was added I was way off.

What is your view on why adding more customers effected your fuel budgeting? Was it because you were driving more and you weren't including that in your cost of doing business? Were the customers more spread out or was it something else?

Also, are you finding it is easier and cheaper for you to perform your own maintenance or do you send it out? How do you feel newer lawn care business owners handle that?

Growing Green
01-24-2011, 10:31 AM
The biggest error was fuel, At the beginning it was right on but by the end of the season and as more customers was added I was way off. I mean it doesnt help when you look to see where your helper is because she has disappeared and you see the mower sitting there just running away. I blew a gasket after about the 3rd time. I guess that is what happens when your helper is your high school daughter.... Darn kids these days getting Corpral tunnel from texting so much. But got much better though..
Another big expense was correct maint. for equipment. Oil, Filters, Blades etc. fast I changed oil every 50 hours per machine which maybe too much for some but I needed and wanted my equipment to last as long as possible and since it was new start right and might get 1 last season out of it and 10.00 per service is alot cheaper than 1000 for a motor.

For new start ups money may be tight but first start stashing away a couple dollars here and there for unexpected expenses. And when you start out with maybe used equipment you never know when it breaks no matter how you take care of it. I started the year with a used mower and within 3 weeks it threw a rod out the block, nothing that I did and was not out of oil but the fact is you never know so I went and bought a new Cub Cadet Tank. 71 hours later the starter went out and the dealer wanted to keep the mower for a min. of 2 weeks. And with no back up mower now what do you do, Rent for 2 weeks ok well you are going to make no check for those weeks and have to pay out of pocket for fuel and expenses this was not a option. So you spent the 250+ dollars on new starter and replace it yourself. I finally got my money back for the defective starter but it took 4 months and many phone calls. Long story short I dont own that Cub anymore. I found a Demo Stander at a great price. This year I am looking for a back up mower just to have and if needed for a second helper then I will be ready to go and will get a better price since it is still winter.


Just try to put back as much as possible..

I've been thinking of buying some cub cadet tractors and walk behind. How do you feel about them now that you had a couple of them?

Matt

950thomas
01-24-2011, 10:12 PM
$50 service call and $35 an hour per man with an 1hr min