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Scottler
07-09-2009, 08:42 PM
Okay, forgive me. I'm actually not a dummy, but after working the day job all week, my brain is just fried! I'm trying to create an Excel spreadsheet to help me in better estimating my jobs. (I'm actually kinda just thinking aloud here, but any input would of course be appreciated!)

I'm trying to calculate my operating expenses (equipment only), so I did a quick test in the back yard. Since I'm just using my current push mower for now, I'm a little slower than a lot of folks on their riders.

I plotted off an area about .01 acres (roughly 440 sq. ft.) I was able to mow this area in exactly 2 minutes.

I then did a second test, and calculated that my mower is using approximately 1 cup of gas in 11 minutes. Since there are 16 cups in a gallon, I'm using 5.45 cups, or .34 gallons, per hour.

So continuing with this way over-thought formula, I should be able to mow 1 acre in 200 minutes, and using 1.33 gallons of gas.

Okay, with that part out of the way - if my secret hourly rate is $35/hr (and let me know if that is about on track with the rest of you guys), a relatively standard half-acre, suburban subdivision residential lot would mean I'd spend about 100 minutes mowing, use .63 gallons of gas, and bill for $58.

For those of you whose heads have not already started leaking, does this seem overpriced to you? I can't imagine paying $58 per cut on my half acre lot. I figure since I'm not calculating the footprint of any structures on the property into the acreage, $58 would cover the extra time doing the detail work.

Am I even remotely close to on track? Many apologies for my long-winded post!

mark123
07-09-2009, 09:05 PM
I don't use an hourly rate for mowing because the time varies due to conditions, mistakes, equipment and 1000 other things.

My price for half acre is $36. Of course upstate NY may have higher billing than downstate PA. :p

turfmaster
07-09-2009, 09:54 PM
My goal is $1.00/minute from the time I arrive to the time I leave a job site for mowing. At the very least I like to make $45.00 to $50.00 per hour. That more than covers my costs for labor, gas , maintenance and travel time.

For me a average 1/2 acre with a fair amount of trimming would bring me $40.00 to $45.00.

Scottler
07-09-2009, 09:55 PM
Thanks, Mark - That's in the range of what I'd originally thought, but then I did the math and it seemed to say I should be charging more, and to be honest, those numbers seemed ridiculous! Thanks for the info!

Scottler
07-10-2009, 08:40 AM
Randy - thanks for your tip. When I was looking at my own yard, trying to mentally estimate it, I figured between $40 and $50 for mowing and edging. Like I said, when I overthought the math and came up with $60, it just didn't seem right, so I wanted to make sure I wasn't overthinking it....as suspected, I was! I think I'm going to be looking at about $40 for a half acre and then, as Steve says, as I upgrade equipment and get faster/more efficient, I can do more lawns in a shorter time, and thus be more profitable.

Great advice as always, gang. Thanks a million!

jasonw
07-10-2009, 01:24 PM
I have a very hard time trying to get 35 per hour in my area. Closer is about 20 per hour. I am sure there are those out there that would pay it just not so much in my area.

turfmaster
07-10-2009, 05:31 PM
I have a very hard time trying to get 35 per hour in my area. Closer is about 20 per hour. I am sure there are those out there that would pay it just not so much in my area.

Wow, $20.00 bucks an hour. I would either move or get out of the business.
If your legit and paying taxes, insurance and maintenance on your equipment , gas,travel time, advertising, there won't be anything left. How do you eat? :eek:

jasonw
07-11-2009, 02:57 AM
If you followed my other topics you would know I eat with the nearly 5K per month from other ventures that I bring home. I am at this time attempting to massage the market up here and give it more professionalism while raising the bar on the prices. I actually had one person I know today say I was a crook because I charged a customer $35 per hour. Its hard to explain but we have so many people up here that mow lawns for $5 or $10 its extremely hard to get good pay out of it. These other people however are extremely unreliable with horable work ethic and no pride in there work. I have been promoting pride in our work as of late and it seems to be paying off. Business is still coming in more and more so I am happy. Soon will be the time to start bumping up the prices little by little until we have the market share in this area at the price we are happy with. I just started a job for a real estate investor that looks very very promising as he supposedly owns a lot of houses in and around the area That must be looking good in order to sell.

Scottler
07-11-2009, 08:09 AM
Jason - I completely understand where you're coming from as far as the focus on service and client satisfaction. While I was waiting for my DBA and tax certificate from the state, I was putting together my website and an informal business plan and one of the angles I'm going to be really marketing is service. In a way, I'm "justifying" my prices by reminding people that they're not paying for a product, they're paying for a service.

If they're in the market for a product, and you can get the same product in 18 different stores, it makes sense to shop for the best price. But if you're shopping for a SERVICE, you've got to buy the best service for your money. No two services are the same.

If you're faced with the "You charge WHAT?" dilemma, explain it that way and see how it works.

musician/lawnman
07-11-2009, 10:05 AM
I plotted off an area about .01 acres (roughly 440 sq. ft.) I was able to mow this area in exactly 2 minutes.

I then did a second test, and calculated that my mower is using approximately 1 cup of gas in 11 minutes. Since there are 16 cups in a gallon, I'm using 5.45 cups, or .34 gallons, per hour.

So continuing with this way over-thought formula, I should be able to mow 1 acre in 200 minutes, and using 1.33 gallons of gas.

Okay, with that part out of the way - if my secret hourly rate is $35/hr (and let me know if that is about on track with the rest of you guys), a relatively standard half-acre, suburban subdivision residential lot would mean I'd spend about 100 minutes mowing, use .63 gallons of gas, and bill for $58.

For those of you whose heads have not already started leaking, does this seem overpriced to you? I can't imagine paying $58 per cut on my half acre lot. I figure since I'm not calculating the footprint of any structures on the property into the acreage, $58 would cover the extra time doing the detail work.

Am I even remotely close to on track? Many apologies for my long-winded post!

Scottler,
I understand what your trying to do here, the problem is that a 440 sq ft area as compared to a .5 acre area is going to run a little less efficient. More turning, thus down time per minute in a small area. Keeping blades on grass is the name of the game. If nothings being cut than it just don't cut it! I often double & triple check figures like this for my business. Some weeks I'll record both start & stop times for every job & calculate a clients $ Dollars per minute rate to compare to all my other clients. At the end of every day I figure up the trucks total gross for the day, $ per truck hour, & dollars per man hour (I run a 3 man crew).
We often run 20-25 & sometimes up to 30+ stops a day. So efficiency (economy of motion) is key. 2 extra minutes wasted per lawn at 25 lawns a day = 50 minutes a day x 3 men on the team is an hour and a half worth of wasted labor each day! I have strict guidlines as to who on the team does what function & when on each job. It's like a well choriographed (mispelled I am sure) dance at every property. When I worked solo as I built the business I wanted to take as few steps walking as possible at each lawn, so I learned to edge with a line trimmer as opposed to using an edger too. The trimmer was already running & in my hand! So one trim around the house with the trimmer doing trimming & all edging, & one with the blower...
Stopping to start the edger would leave down time with no blades on grass & thus no production so I decided, the hell with that step. (just to give you a couple examples). Now we pull up & 2 guys mow. One the front & one side, the other the back & the opposite side. The 3rd does the trimming & edging as I have trained them to do. The 1st two guys to finish blow off, though the rule is that the 1st one to a blower goes around the back of the house
first, Then comes up to help the 2nd guy finish the drivewaywhile the 3rd closes up the trailer. All finish at the same time & off to the next one! If the 1st guy to a blower starts on the driveway, then the 2nd would have to go around back, & thus the 1st man on the blower & the guy closing up the trailer would be done before him standing around waiting.... WASTED TIME.
It is good that you are checking numbers like this it will help you in the long run.

musician/lawnman
07-11-2009, 10:22 AM
Sorry..... That's two & half hours of wasted labor a day.... Now showing my superior math skills here.... :)