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jasonw
06-29-2009, 10:38 AM
Ok so first one has to do with a charge I have. I put on the price list on the website a $10 surcharge for any job requiring me to drive more than 20 miles from my office. Is that pushing it or do you think that's 100% acceptable? The last job was a little over an hour away and cost me about $10 to get there. This is why I implemented this idea. Next is about taxes. Should anything be passed on to the customer? I am not selling products but I am paying tax on all the products I need to buy "such as bug spray" Should some of this be passed on or should the service price be high enough to cover any of my losses by its self?

XtreemGreen
06-29-2009, 10:56 AM
I would not add a surcharge... Just add it in to your estimates..
Down here in Florida, I only charge sales tax on stuff like mulch, sod.. Stuff the customer is buying from you such as mulch, sod, plants etc.. You cant tax services here..

jasonw
06-29-2009, 12:51 PM
I am pretty sure I can not tax a service here as well. Ok so I have my prices on my website. Should I take them off so I don't get someone arguing with me that is over 20 miles away saying "but your website says $60 not $70."

MikeO
06-29-2009, 05:34 PM
i wouldnt list prices to anyone because every job and site are always different. Thats where u could end up hurting yourself. xtremegreen is right just add the ten bucks on and dont say anything. Its given if you have to drive further that its going to cost something. if your estimate in your head is 65 dollars tell them its 75.

Steve
06-30-2009, 06:36 AM
I agree. I wouldn't show prices.

Also I wouldn't show a surcharge. I would simply include it in the price of the service.

Keep us posted on how this goes.

turfmaster
06-30-2009, 08:48 AM
I wouldn't show prices either. Doing that gives your competition an advantage as well as you may not get the chance to even bid on the job.

jasonw
06-30-2009, 11:47 PM
Sounds good I am going to remove the prices. The good news is I got another job. I need to go bid it tomorow afternoon. the problem is one of the things the customer wants done is some bushes trimmed. Any advice? I have never even trimmed bushes yet

MikeO
07-01-2009, 12:22 AM
bushes are a funny thing. i always ask them to show me what there thinking of how much they want off. that way you cannot get blamed for cutting too much down. take a rake with you and when you get a certain distance lets say 10 feet or 20 feet shake that bush to see if theres any strands that you have missed on top. i always go down on the sides once you get the top cut. again, have them show you or tell you where outside. take your time and you'll be fine. clean up is part of the bid so, don't forget that part of it. might take you an hour to clean up and unload it as well. watch for bare spots in the bushes cut or trim to thin it will show. its just a haircut thats all. take pictures and show us the aftermath. you using gas trimmer or hand or electric?

jasonw
07-01-2009, 12:46 AM
bushes are a funny thing. i always ask them to show me what there thinking of how much they want off. that way you cannot get blamed for cutting too much down. take a rake with you and when you get a certain distance lets say 10 feet or 20 feet shake that bush to see if theres any strands that you have missed on top. i always go down on the sides once you get the top cut. again, have them show you or tell you where outside. take your time and you'll be fine. clean up is part of the bid so, don't forget that part of it. might take you an hour to clean up and unload it as well. watch for bare spots in the bushes cut or trim to thin it will show. its just a haircut thats all. take pictures and show us the aftermath. you using gas trimmer or hand or electric?

What would you recommend using? I like gas stuff but saw an 18V trimmer yesterday. I don't have one yet but according to my business plan will buy it once I bid the job.

jds2381
07-01-2009, 04:43 AM
What would you recommend using? I like gas stuff but saw an 18V trimmer yesterday. I don't have one yet but according to my business plan will buy it once I bid the job.


The only thing I can recommend is an electric trimmer. I hate electric anything when it comes to yards but this is all I have used. My friend has one and instead of renting or buying one, I borrowed his. The customer, my friend and my wife were all very VERY happy with the results. Oh yeah, my first time using them too. lol It was an experience. I probably wasn't the fastest he could have gotten. He wasn't paying me by the hour though so my loss. ;) That was the squarest bushes I have ever seen! They were great. He (my customer, 76years old and picky as hell) went on and on about them! He said "looks like a professional did them." I said "Who do you think you are dealing with buddy?" and we had a nice laugh. My highlight for sure. :)

jasonw
07-01-2009, 10:28 AM
I explained to my wife that's what I am worried about. This customer is an older guy. In my experience they want everything perfect for as cheep as possible. I saw a B&D 18V trimmer at Wallyworld the other day, maybe I will pick that one up. It really depends I may find out this guy has 4300 bushes and have to get something more heavy duty as I have found B&D to be only good for minor stuff.

turfmaster
07-01-2009, 10:52 AM
If you can lay a tarp down and around the bushes to catch the debris it will save you a lot of work. The cleanup is the worst part of a hedge trim job.

jasonw
07-01-2009, 12:26 PM
Im sure the first service will be the worst of it. Seems everyone waits until things are overgrown and ugly before calling us. He wants the bushes trimmed and the lawn cut and edged every 3 weeks so hopefully with only 3 weeks of growth the bushes will be a cake walk after the first service.

jasonw
07-02-2009, 01:01 AM
Well good news and bad news. The good news is we got the job. Its weekly and offers a ton of work. So much that I may employ the services of my brother in law for it each week. Bad news is this guy has a ton of bushes, literally. They are neatly shaped and one even looks like a perfect elephant siting in his back yard. Quite intimidating sence I have never trimmed bushes before. I went strait away and purchased a battery powered hedge trimmer. Got it home and decided with only one battery a 16 hour charge is not acceptable to killed the warranty by modifying the plug for use in my 20 minute field charger. Lucky for me I have a large bush out back that I have yet to trim sence buying my house last November so I went to work. Its actually not really any big deal but true the clippings are a job to pick up. Most of this guys property is white rock so every single little green clippings will have to be carefully removed or it will be an eyesore on the ground. I decided to quote him an hourly rate rather than a per visit rate as for sure it will take several hours per visit to keep everything as nice as they want it.

Steve
07-02-2009, 05:50 AM
This should be a great learning experience.

I'd love to see some pictures of these hedges!

jasonw
07-02-2009, 10:01 AM
This should be a great learning experience.

I'd love to see some pictures of these hedges!

You know what, while looking at the yard and walking around with the old guy I told myself to get my cell phone and take some pictures before I leave. Then I got in the car and told myself to turn around so I was facing the right way to leave and get those pictures. Then after turning around I drove past and went home. I will try to get those pictures tomorow when I get out there and start working

jasonw
07-02-2009, 10:12 AM
Steve. Here is the Google Earth view of the front of the house.

MikeO
07-02-2009, 10:02 PM
thats the old manual routine. i dont think i could take an electric trimmer to those. speed is 2 fast and what happens if you do make a mistake? i dont think i would personally, some could of course, i just dont think i would chance it. plus, your getting paid by the hour whats the rush..LOL:D

jasonw
07-03-2009, 12:36 AM
I almost agree. I am bringing some manual old clippers just in case. There are some large bushes on the side of the house that they want cut back so they can walk through the area without brushing them. They are large enough to take a few days so I will go at them with my electric trimmer and get it done. I am not so much worried about getting paid by the hour as much as I am about the customer being happy with the service so my plan is to get in and get out as fast as I can and have there yard in top shape for the coming weekend.

kdexpd
07-03-2009, 01:22 AM
Hey Jason
Just my 2 cents worth on the bushes. I hate trimming bushes because I'm always afraid I'm gonna screw it up. However, once I started I found out it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. The biggest key in cutting hedges or bushes is to take off just a little at a time. I start by just trying to shape them first, and then I work on trimming them back. This way you have a good guidline to go by. Also, if you come to a thin spot, always leave a little green on there. It looks better and keeps it from looking like it was your fault. The trimmer I use is just a Poulan Pro. It's the one that has the removable attachments. It came with a pole pruner but I went to Home Depot and bought what they call an "Expand-It" hedge trimmer attachment. The pole pruner really comes in handy for customers wanting a small pruning job. It's heavier than an electric hedge trimmer, but it sure makes quick work of bushes. I also like the extended reach as well.

jasonw
07-03-2009, 10:28 AM
Thanks for the tips. I am leaving in about an hour or so and I am pretty nervous. As I said I trimmed my bush and it wasn't really hard but it dose not look like a seasoned professional did it however doing my own bush gave me the feel and that was a lot of help. As far as the trimmer I got I decided to go cheepo and get a 7.2V black and Decker that came with 2 attachments. As I said I didn't like the fact that it took like 16 hours to charge so I modified it to use my fast charger. My biggest concern now is this damn Elephant, hopefully I can just to minimal work on it until I can learn some more. Also a concern of mine is the trimmer has an optional poll attachment but Lowes didn't have that in so I am bringing my ladder as some of the bushes are beyond my reach. I am hoping my ladder will be able to get me high enough to do a good job. The bottom line is if I cant then I will have to go back and buy more stuff to get the job done correctly. We have a huge gathering at my house tomorow so that is out. I was going to go back and finish Sunday if I could not get it all done with the time available today however a friend of mine who is it the handyman trade said that's not professional. He said always to give the homeowner there weekends to them selves. Is this true? I don't mind working weekend and as a matter a fact with a day job and 2 kids the weekends are the best time for me. Anyway hopefully I am just over reacting and everything will go smooth and I will get r done today.

jasonw
07-03-2009, 11:02 AM
I just found this while reading about the subject. to to to funny.

jds2381
07-03-2009, 12:40 PM
I just found this while reading about the subject. to to to funny.

Ive gotta get this good. lol

MikeO
07-03-2009, 04:08 PM
hmmm..i understand the schedules on both sides however, work when you can work people dont mind they really don't. I work on the weekends and nobody ever said anything to me before. just tell your client that your backed up and right now this is the only time you can do it. sometimes when you bid on a job you take extra money just in case you dont have the equipment. alot of people do that and i think its ok too but, dont work for free either when you have money to buy on equipment then its paid for sooner or later you will have to buy it again. make cents?

jasonw
07-04-2009, 11:19 AM
Well I didn't finish yesterday so I am going back tomorow to get r done. Every time I turned around I was being given more work which is great. So much that I have hired my first person to help me get it done tomorow. I am not sure who said it but someone said the clean up was the hard part well I see what you mean now. I cleaned up every little peace I could find on the ground and still seemed to miss some. Especially when the small peaces got down in the rocks. I finally came to the conclusion that picking up every single little peace was not acceptable as I would be sifting through the rocks for days. Was this the right thinking? Anyway I was in such a hurry packing up at the end of the day I forgot the get a picture of the front yard. I will try to remember tomorow but attached is my handy work on the side yard. The home owner complained that the last guy ignored him and rounded the bottom of the bushes when he specifically asked for them to go strait to the ground. I explained it would be a while before we could do this because they were cut back so bad at the bottom. Sorry for the quality but the picture was taken from my Blackjack.

jasonw
07-04-2009, 11:21 AM
One more picture.

MikeO
07-04-2009, 01:35 PM
do you have leaf blower? that would help in the rocks department

jasonw
07-04-2009, 01:50 PM
Yes I tried that. It just spread out the mess. We are talking an acre of rock here so forget blowing it out oif the rock, the whole property is rock.

musician/lawnman
07-04-2009, 07:49 PM
Then lay down tarps 1st, Trim them pick up the tarp.

kdexpd
07-05-2009, 01:41 AM
Looks like you did just fine! I have used tarps in the past and they work out great. It all depends on how big the project is. As far as getting all the clippings, I've yet to run into a customer who has wanted every single clipping picked up...however I haven't had a customer with all rock and no grass. HAHA! And as far as working on the weekends..I work weekends AND holidays. In fact, I worked today on the 4th of July. If there's money to be made, I'm working..period. But I'm single and have no life so that makes a difference too! I've only had one time when a customer demanded I not work and that was because she was trying to look out for me when our temps were in the lower 100's. I understand her concerns, however I hate it when someone throws a wrench in my schedule, especially when I'm finally getting caught up.

Steve
07-05-2009, 05:08 AM
Jason,

Everything looks fantastic! Can you give us a little feedback on what you would have done differently with the job, looking back at it? What did you learn from the job? Would you charge differently or performed the job differently if you were to do it all over again?

jasonw
07-05-2009, 10:18 AM
I am not sure there is much I could or would have done differently. The older couple is very nice, the pay is great and the work is not hard so I am good. I hired my brother in law to help me finish it up today, that's the one thing I would do differently. I would have hired help the first day as while it is not hard work the property is rather large and a big undertaking for one person to get done in one day. Today we start on the back yard which I am a little paranoid about. They have bushes cut into zoo animals back there and while I must say they look very good I am nervous I may screw them up. Lucky for me they look so good and I may be able to just ignore them for now.

As far as laying down tarps, that is a good idea but unfortunately I don't know if it is the best idea or even doable with the scope of work there. I want to do very good and make them very happy but at the same time I must look after myself and the amount of work that is going in for the per hour pay and tarps would double my time there just hauling them around and dumping them. Lucky for me as you said they don't seem to mind some clippings here or there as there were already some older ones around the rocks when I got there. On that note they did fire the last guy and hire me so maybe I should clean up better lol.

jasonw
07-05-2009, 10:23 AM
This just may be the answer to my problem.
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=79600-70-BV2500&lpage=none

FloridaBoy
07-05-2009, 12:14 PM
Job looks good to me, as long as you feel you got paid fairly, then good to go. one thing would be to ask the customer, be straight forward, ...... what r u expecting , you want these rocks spit shined or just cleaned up when i'm done. let them tell you, then you know exactly what you have to do to make and keep them happy. Always do your best and just a little more and whatever the outcome, you can walk away proud.:D

jasonw
07-05-2009, 05:03 PM
I finished the job today. Got paid, Paid my helper and took some pictures. I am very proud of how it turned out. Here are the pictures. Let me know what you think or if you have any recommendations for the next time which the customer tells me will be in about 3 weeks.

Steve
07-06-2009, 04:33 AM
That is freakin amazing! How do they initially get the bushes to be that shape? What an art form!

I applaud you!

jasonw
07-06-2009, 01:25 PM
Steve. I assume you are asking about the animals. They were not hard at all. The actually have a wire framework that the bush grows with. All I did was give them a haircut As far as the other bushes the shapes were nothing other than exaggerating the natural shape the bushes had already taken to make them round or square. There were a few hard ones for example the bush would be naturally square and the customer would want it round and visa versa. He also wanted the bottom of all the bushes to be cut strait to the ground but unfortunately the last person hacked them so badly I could not do that for him. I told him we will have to wait and see if the lower part of the bushes recover then trim them accordingly. I was very happy though, After getting paid it was almost hard to leave. The wife wanted to feed me and my helper and said "Now we must keep you around" I take it they were very happy, especially sence the customer did not even blink when he read the bill and filled out the check.

Steve
07-08-2009, 07:33 AM
Yes I meant the animal shaped ones. WOW! You should use pictures from them in your marketing material. That would really help you stand out.

I am happy to hear the customers were so pleased with you. Maybe you could ask them if they have any other services they need you to perform around the property. This could open up a lot more doors.

Keep us posted.

jasonw
07-08-2009, 12:20 PM
I was thinking about using the pictures. Especially on the website. I explained to them that I will pretty much to any landscape work as well as home repairs so long as they are not the kind that need special licensing or anything. I am amazed at how things just exploded. I am averaging one new client every day and very happy for that. Unfortunately I still barely make enough to cover costs but each day its looking more and more promising.

Steve
07-09-2009, 08:44 AM
What kinds of services are you seeing your customers ask for?

jasonw
07-09-2009, 09:36 AM
So far the majority all seem to ask for some kind of weed control weather it be weedwacking an area next to there house or spraying for weeds.

swstout
07-09-2009, 04:08 PM
Steve. I assume you are asking about the animals. They were not hard at all. The actually have a wire framework that the bush grows with. All I did was give them a haircut As far as the other bushes the shapes were nothing other than exaggerating the natural shape the bushes had already taken to make them round or square. There were a few hard ones for example the bush would be naturally square and the customer would want it round and visa versa. He also wanted the bottom of all the bushes to be cut strait to the ground but unfortunately the last person hacked them so badly I could not do that for him. I told him we will have to wait and see if the lower part of the bushes recover then trim them accordingly. I was very happy though, After getting paid it was almost hard to leave. The wife wanted to feed me and my helper and said "Now we must keep you around" I take it they were very happy, especially sence the customer did not even blink when he read the bill and filled out the check.

Did you make the wire frames or purchase them?

Steve

jasonw
07-09-2009, 05:01 PM
Neither. These animals have been there for god knows how long. I assume they plant the shrub when its very small, then place the frame directly over it and just keep the shrub trimmed back to just above the frame to keep the shape.