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lawnsalonforyou
01-31-2009, 07:58 PM
Hi guys! I need some advice. I have a very new company...its just me and my husband right now. I went out and gave a family a quote for lawn care and leaf removal/lawn clean up. They signed up for annual service, but needed the leaf removal/lawn clean up asap. So we went out today and I only charged them $70 dollars. The yard was moderate size. I only thought it would take an hour....hour and a half tops. HOLY CRAP!! :eek: That was wayyyy to low! I didn't realize until we got out there and into it that the leaves had'nt been raked or picked up in years. So once you got past the top layer there was matted down leaves/dirt/old pine straw. I know hind sight is 20/20 but....What would you guys have charged for that job? How do I go about not under bidding next time?? I know one things for sure...I don't know if I'll be doing any more yard clean ups soon! ;)

Steve
01-31-2009, 08:17 PM
Oh wow! How long did it actually take you to do the job? How many many hours total?

clarklandscaping
01-31-2009, 08:22 PM
I too did the very same thing when I started but it was with palm tree work. You can look up at a 20' palm and guess how much work and debris there will be but until you actually do it you have no idea. It always turns out to be twice as long as you think and 3 times the debris.
I guess really what it boils down to is experience. Take that job and chalk it up to just that and remember it for the next estimate.

lawnsalonforyou
01-31-2009, 08:31 PM
Thanks guys! We started at 10 am and didn't get done till 1:30 We had to make another trip back to the house to pic up the 18 bags of leaves and debris. lol I wanted it to look great so we did it right, but it took a while!

c4trash
01-31-2009, 08:45 PM
Thanks guys! We started at 10 am and didn't get done till 1:30 We had to make another trip back to the house to pic up the 18 bags of leaves and debris. lol I wanted it to look great so we did it right, but it took a while!
I made a point in my post elsewhere that quoting is a science
When I get cleanups or rubbish removals I get out my pitch fork and rake and physically turn the pile or leaves over
One of the biggest problems you may find especially where people dump grass trees and clippings is whats under them
In some cases it could be car parts, household rubbish even offcuts of trees and branches
Once I know this I can estimate the time
The other thing to consider when quoting is how far you need to cart the rubbish to load it on your vehicle
I sometimes discount when I can drive my trailer up to the actual pile to load it
If it all needs to be bagged and carried out then add an hour for a big job
You also need to think about disposal fees
I have a price/trailer load
This is based on the landfill price /ton min (if they charge by the trailer load you can make on it) the price allows an allowance /mile for gas based on vehicle running costs with a 10 mile round trip minimum
It finally includes an hour for my time unloading
That way I say to people it will be 2-3 hours plus expenses of $s/trailer load and you don't get trapped by having to cart more away than they pay for

lawnsalonforyou
01-31-2009, 09:59 PM
That's a really great tip! I wish I would of turned over some of those leaves before giving that low quote. But as they say "You live and learn!" I'm happy to have one more job under my belt, just a little bit more to add to my experience!

StartALawnCareBusiness
01-31-2009, 11:54 PM
The #1 most underbid job in lawn care is the leaf job.

This very subject is specifically and explicitly tackled in the lawn care program.

Just reading that ONE section of the manuals can save so many people so much time and effort.

Additionally, I made a related post about leaf raking new customers on the lawn care website and right here on the Gopher Forum in this post (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=6522).

Good luck everyone.

c4trash
02-01-2009, 12:03 AM
Yeah but its not just about leaf raking when tackling these jobs
My advise includes things like Compost Heaps, Piles of Rubbish etc which all require a similar approach

Steve
02-01-2009, 03:56 AM
Thanks guys! We started at 10 am and didn't get done till 1:30 We had to make another trip back to the house to pic up the 18 bags of leaves and debris. lol I wanted it to look great so we did it right, but it took a while!

This is a great learning lessons! Great great stuff and you lived to try it again another day so no harm done.

You initially thought the leaf cleanup would take 1 - 1/2 hrs. But when it was all done it took 2 people 7 hours total!

Now initially you were going to charge $70 for 2 people for 1 hour of work. So that would be $35 per man hour.

Now knowing what you know, it should have been (7hrs * $35) = $245

Is this correct or would you have charged even more for extras?

lawnsalonforyou
02-01-2009, 08:22 AM
That is absolutely correct! I think at $245 I would of felt much better leaving that job! LOL From here on out I will know better when it comes to bidding leaf and yard clean up jobs.(I don't think my hurting back would let me forget! hehe) I want to be fair in my pricing for my customers BUT I also want to make sure our pay for the job is fair as well!

Steve
02-01-2009, 09:24 AM
This is a very fascinating topic. It seems as if when you bid leaf cleanup services you need to use a multiplier on what your initially time estimate is.

If you think it will take 1 hour, multiply that by 7 or something similar to it.

On the bright side, this was a fairly quick project that you didn't have to outlay any cash on. I do appreciate you sharing with us your insight on this experience.

Did you have to dump these leaves anywhere? Were there any other costs you feel you need to add in the future?

lawnsalonforyou
02-01-2009, 10:04 AM
I think the 7 multiplier is what I will use from here on out. Its hard to know exactly what or how long something like that would take, but as a general idea I think that would work. We just used the local dump to dispose of the leaf/debris bags. There was no charge. I don't know if that applies for all places, but when we pulled up the guys just asked us what was in the bags and told us which bin to put them in.

Does anyone think there should be an extra charge for the 2nd trip to pick up the bags?

There was no way we could of fit all those bags on our trailer with all our equipment.


www.lawnsalonforyou.com

c4trash
02-01-2009, 01:32 PM
I think the 7 multiplier is what I will use from here on out. Its hard to know exactly what or how long something like that would take, but as a general idea I think that would work. We just used the local dump to dispose of the leaf/debris bags. There was no charge. I don't know if that applies for all places, but when we pulled up the guys just asked us what was in the bags and told us which bin to put them in.

Does anyone think there should be an extra charge for the 2nd trip to pick up the bags?

There was no way we could of fit all those bags on our trailer with all our equipment.


www.lawnsalonforyou.com (http://www.lawnsalonforyou.com)
Quoting rubbish or cleanups is a science and requires careful thinking regardless of size of the job
Using a multiplier doesn't always work unless your charge out rate includes rubbish removal

While you may on occasions get to dump things for free there is still a cost involved for both the vehicle and your time carting it there and any unloading time and if you dont pay these its profit But it is a mistake not to include them then have to pay these when you get to the landfill only to discover you cant then go back to customer and ask them to pay them

I keep a list of the local landfill charges from within my region and when quoting add these in to my quotes This is because some charge /cu yd some /trailer load or weight

I prefer the method I use its more efficient to calculate your labor and dump fees separate
I use a calculation as follows
$s/Trailer Load =(Vehicle Running Costs/Mile X Estimated Distance in miles return Job to Landfill) + (Max price from landfill/trailer ) + Labor time unloading

Remember in your case sounds as though it was 2 trips
Regardless of size of the job I have a min charge / load/job equivalent to what it costs to empty the trailer at the landfill + 1 hrs labor

That way if you are doing 2 0r 3 jobs before the trailer is filled you are coving your costs

Sometimes if its a big job like removing concrete, or rubbish I do a rough calculation of the cubic yards then before quoting check what the price of an equivalent skip is from the local bin hire company and say to the customer at this point I maybe using a skip so it will either be the labor plus the skip price or labor plus X no's of trailer loads at $Xs

My reason for this is that these companies have the cost of removing rubbish down to a science
If the customer thinks your price is excessive give them the phone no for the bin company tell them to order a bin and you will supply the labor only

I use skips on numerous occasions and now get a good discount on them (this is not passed on to the customer If they want a receipt they order and pay for them) The reason is if you give them the receipt you cant claim it in your taxes as an expense

Its all a matter of negotiating the price with the customer
You are not in business to lose on any deal and if customers don't like your price suggest they get another quote or work out how long it would take them to do the job including any trailer skip hire and landfill fees (once they do that your price seems more realistic)

If they accept your price you then need to decide if you are going to use your trailer or a skip

lawnsalonforyou
02-02-2009, 09:58 AM
WOW! That's a lot to think about! It seems like you've got it all figured out! hehe One things for sure I won't be scared to give my price and stand firm...and to calculate things from all angles, to make sure I'm not short changed again!:o

Steve
02-02-2009, 12:41 PM
WOW! That's a lot to think about! It seems like you've got it all figured out! hehe One things for sure I won't be scared to give my price and stand firm...and to calculate things from all angles, to make sure I'm not short changed again!

Great! Next time you do a clean up, let us know how the bidding process went compared with your first time. Also tell us how the customer reacted to the bid.

c4trash
02-02-2009, 12:42 PM
WOW! That's a lot to think about! It seems like you've got it all figured out! hehe One things for sure I won't be scared to give my price and stand firm...and to calculate things from all angles, to make sure I'm not short changed again!:o
Whats important in these tough economic times is that you are not the person who is losing money on the job
I don't trust anyone
There are situations where if I have concerns about the clients intention or ability to pay once a quote / job is accepted I ask for a deposit which is normally equivalent to what any overheads ie petrol dump fees travel casual labor are going to cost before the job is started
You can normally tell this by how the negotiation is proceeding or just their attitude to it
If they cant pay the deposit then you may find difficulty later getting paid for the job in the end
If you do the job then and need to wait a day or so for your own labor rate then all you are losing is your time every thing else is covered
Finally I always make new customers pay cash Unless they are one of my Corporate Clients whom I have been dealing with for a long period I don't accept checks or credit cards
And if they agree make sure you see the money even if you don't get it till you have done the job
Also be careful if they agree I did one job where the client agreed to the deposit and while I was working went out and spent the deposit When they came back couldn't pay Im hard nosed and told them if job/deposit wasn't now paid in full I would dump the rubbish in the drive way suprise suprise they paid up

If they don't have it I tell them when they do get back to me as the quote is only valid for 7 days and may increase

lawnsalonforyou
02-02-2009, 10:32 PM
BAHAHAHA!!! Dump the trash in their drive way!!! Well they would deserve it! That sounds like something my husband would say! LMAO

dank the 3rd
02-03-2009, 03:08 AM
Average side yard in middle class subburb. Mow blow edge would be 27 to 32. but a fall clean up.. thats mow blow edge, all the leafs, shrubs. thats anywhere from $75 to $175. You gotta find the quickest ways to make steady money like clockwork. for easy basic lawn care. 40 yards a week is easy. bump it up. get in shape.

for got to say... this is North Texas.. DFW area.

-dank the 3rd

c4trash
02-03-2009, 04:56 AM
Average side yard in middle class subburb. Mow blow edge would be 27 to 32. but a fall clean up.. thats mow blow edge, all the leafs, shrubs. thats anywhere from $75 to $175. You gotta find the quickest ways to make steady money like clockwork. for easy basic lawn care. 40 yards a week is easy. bump it up. get in shape.

for got to say... this is North Texas.. DFW area.

-dank the 3rd
Ill need to know the rough area of the side yard (or see some pics of the property) and know how long you took for both the Average and fall cleanups before I comment
Based on what some of you seem to charge when I convert $US to $NZ it seems surprising that you get any work
Attached are some photos of a job I just finished today I charged $NZ 50 which when converted to $US 25.41 I charge $NZ 50/Hr and job using my Toro took me round 45mins
Looking at the prices in US and doubling them over here no one pays those prices not even corporations
I tend to keep my costs down by working smarter ie planning or scheduling jobs into different areas on different days
Using Outlook Task Manager and Calender its simple to schedule jobs even if weather gets in the way I can reschedule (in those cases I'm into Texting and notify clients of the delay) I always find other things like maintainence or office work to do in those cases

Steve
02-03-2009, 04:56 AM
You gotta find the quickest ways to make steady money like clockwork. for easy basic lawn care. 40 yards a week is easy. bump it up. get in shape.

What do you feel is a good amount of lawns to service a week?

c4trash
02-03-2009, 05:30 AM
What do you feel is a good amount of lawns to service a week?
Thats not how my business operates
I set myself a targeted weekly income from all sources of work
My business income comes from numerous sources Lawns, Cleanups, Bin Hire, as well as Recycling both Scrap and other odds and ends furniture tools etc left behind by tenants
I also do the odd repair and maintainence on mowers and weed eaters for a small fee plus parts
I also do some graphic design of logos and business cards and now am getting into writing articles on lawn mowing and property maintainence
Just mowing lawns would bore me to death LOL http://www.gopherforum.com/images/icons/icon7.gif
My whole business plan is based on only working 16 paid hours a week on Property Maintainence/ lawns to Break Even after that all jobs are Profit or I use the time for quotes and my other activities

lawnsalonforyou
02-03-2009, 08:24 AM
I personally think that 25 US is way too low for that job. We are just starting out mind you(January was our first month of business)...but everyone I've had a quote with has signed up for annual service. So we have 5 clients total so far. I charge 40 dollars per visit for the average suburb lawn. That includes mowing, weed eating, edging, blowing. I've never had a person complain about the price once. I think you could be making a lot more money! Have you thought about bumping your price up a bit?

Also 30-40 clients a week would be great! How did you get all those clients? How long did it take? Any suggestions?

Steve
02-03-2009, 08:32 AM
We are just starting out mind you(January was our first month of business)...but everyone I've had a quote with has signed up for annual service.

This is a fascinating topic too. We talked a little bit about this in the past. One of our forum members said he wanted to fill up his mowing schedule when he first got started and tried to get 100% of the estimates he gave. Then as he went he raised his prices until he started getting to the point where he wasn't making every estimate. When he landed a higher paying customer and his schedule was full, he would get rid of a lower paying one and this is how he began to earn more profit.

Quite fascinating!

c4trash
02-03-2009, 01:45 PM
This is a fascinating topic too. We talked a little bit about this in the past. One of our forum members said he wanted to fill up his mowing schedule when he first got started and tried to get 100% of the estimates he gave. Then as he went he raised his prices until he started getting to the point where he wasn't making every estimate. When he landed a higher paying customer and his schedule was full, he would get rid of a lower paying one and this is how he began to earn more profit.

Quite fascinating!
Every one to their own way of doing things
Like I said Id get bored just doing Yards/Lawns what ever with my jobs 99 times out of 100 there is no pressure to complete them and if an urgent job comes up I can go do it the return and complete the other one
A word of caution to those out there be careful should your Government change the criteria for Welfare Beneficiaries or those made redundant
If when applying for Welfare they put on the application they pay $US XX.XX for getting the lawn mowed the government may let them buy one on them and say to them to drop you
This way I keep my costs to my few regular domestic customers (who have been with me since I started and always pay cash on cutting) at a reasonable rate only changing the prices as gas prices change and make any fat off the 1 offs and corporates/real estate/landlordshttp://www.gopherforum.com/images/icons/icon7.gif

Steve
02-03-2009, 02:57 PM
If when applying for Welfare they put on the application they pay $US XX.XX for getting the lawn mowed the government may let them buy one on them and say to them to drop you
This way I keep my costs to my few regular domestic customers (who have been with me since I started and always pay cash on cutting)

Can you tell me a little more what this means? If a person is signing up for welfare and they write down in their application they pay a weekly lawn care fee, the government may have them buy a lawn mower?

How does that help the lawn care business owner?

SprinklerRepair
02-03-2009, 04:06 PM
Okay, I don't cut grass, BUT I have under-bid jobs. Because I do sprinkler repair, and everything is underground, I've learned that without a "get out" you can find yourself in a no-pay job.

The worst one was 15 years ago. the guy had 10 non-working impact rotors. I normally charge $45 a rotor to replace each rotor, BUT from previous experience with Rainbird impacts, I assumed that they would be side mounted.

Since I had 10 'easy' rotors to replace I said "$45 a rotor and $20 for each swing joint (I knew due to the design and age of the system that the heads were hard piped)."

So $650 minus $125 for parts = about $400+ (minus overhead) for an hour for an hour and a half job. Good enough.

The guy says OK, I'm on my way to the airport, here is your check. Cool.

WRONG!!!!

Each head had a bag of concrete and rock poured around it (just under the turf) the size of a 55 gallon drum lid. I was breaking rocks like a convict for 10 hours! THEN, I had to load my truck with concrete, with my tailpipe scraping the ground, all the way to the dump!

Moral of the story? If you "flat rate" your pricing per task, include a disclaimer at the bottom stating "Standard Service".

Standard Service means whatever you want it to mean, but for example, if you add a spray head for $85, "standard service means 15 feet, not 300 feet around the retention pond!

Steve
02-03-2009, 07:30 PM
Moral of the story? If you "flat rate" your pricing per task, include a disclaimer at the bottom stating "Standard Service".

Standard Service means whatever you want it to mean, but for example, if you add a spray head for $85, "standard service means 15 feet, not 300 feet around the retention pond!

Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you had your Standard Service disclaimer and then had to recalculate a job once you found the project had gotten more complex? How did you go about handling that?

VPS Lawn Care
02-03-2009, 10:53 PM
I think the 7 multiplier is what I will use from here on out. Its hard to know exactly what or how long something like that would take, but as a general idea I think that would work. We just used the local dump to dispose of the leaf/debris bags. There was no charge. I don't know if that applies for all places, but when we pulled up the guys just asked us what was in the bags and told us which bin to put them in.

Does anyone think there should be an extra charge for the 2nd trip to pick up the bags?

There was no way we could of fit all those bags on our trailer with all our equipment.


www.lawnsalonforyou.com

yes you as a lco trying to make a profit, every trip has to count, and be in the price, also another thing alot of start ups dont think to add in the price is the cost of your bags when used, though it seems they are cheap it is still a cost to you that needs to be expensed to the job.

c4trash
02-04-2009, 01:29 AM
Can you tell me a little more what this means? If a person is signing up for welfare and they write down in their application they pay a weekly lawn care fee, the government may have them buy a lawn mower?

How does that help the lawn care business owner?
In these tough times
It makes them aware that their customers may not be their customers forever and they should not be letting even their long time regulars get to far behind in their payments
Unless you have a good relationship with them you wont know if they are struggling financially
and have been laid off or been caught by the credit squeeze
If a domestic customer hasn't paid when the second cut is due I text them reminding them that I will be round to cut the lawn this week
If the customer is home I tactfully remind them they forgot to pay for the last cut based on their response I either cut the lawn or not