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Mower fuel charge !!!

Hello All,

I am new to LJ and have been a Sole Trader since August offering a general garden service and bigger site clearing/one off jobbs etc.

So far its going well and I am building up a good client base and some commercial clients.

As its erly days I do still kick myself on some of my costing ( espaically when some clients say how resobnable I am.....IE much cheaper than people thay have used before )

My question is - I have set an hour rate - so whats the acceptable cost for add on fuel if im cutting grass one day but not the next etc.

For big jobs I can obvouisly cost materials and mark up - but fuel is a bit vauge - £5 - £10 a client a cut.... could sound a lot but in practice is not really.

Thanks for replys and advice in advance

 

Will

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  • PRO

    Depends on the size of the job. We include it in working out the overall cost to the clients contracts, rather than adding a surchurge. The same would apply to all machinery used and complexity of visit etc etc.

  • PRO

    I had a rate for lawn cutting last year. I've scrapped it this year as I was often cutting a lawn for about half a visit and maintaining borders the other half...it all got too complicated.

  • PRO

    How many litres of petrol are you using each day in the mower and strimmer when grass cutting?

  • £5-£10 for fuel for a cut seems somewhat excessive.  Maybe you have huge lawns to cut  but I reckon on about £1 of fuel for the mower running for an hour..... maybe I have a very economicmower.  I wouldn't charge extra for fuel but just increase your hourly charge slightly ( and please, no-one start going on about the wrongs in charging by the hour!!)  

  • PRO

    Quite simply and please dont take this the wrong way - its much easier to make a profitable business on 'fixed rate pricing'. When everything is taken into account in terms of running costs, business costs etc, it will become evident that even the smallest mowing job just isnt worth doing for less than £20-£25.  In practice, with close grouping, efficent working and fixed pricing, mowing can make £60 per hour plus. 

    Only other way to do it on larger or open ended jobs is on a 'day rate' which is one price inclusive of wheter you have used any fuel or not.

    Just my observations from a decade in the business - indeed I have just partially relocated, renamed and relaunched so to speak so in a way its like being back at square one, just this time i have the benefit of experience when pricing.

    • PRO

      Completely agree Adam

  • Morning All,

    Thanks for the replys.

    And agree. So diffrent approach needed going forward.

    • PRO

      Basically work out what it costs to run the mowers a year (I don't do my own servicing, which costs far more than the fuel each year) - and build that into your standard costs, along with new blades and an amount towards a new mower

  • PRO

    We do a split, smaller places it's built into the charge so they don't see a separate line on the invoice for it, however we have two customers with 20 acre sites and they do see a separate charge mainly because of some specific site reasons for that....

  • Adam is completely right.

    Price per task and all costs included in a single fixed price.

    Grass cutting should start at £1 per minute [£60ph] and depending on the type and size of work, then £100p/h is easily achievable. Of course, I am using ride on machines on larger scale work, so there is a difference between this and hand mowing. Having said that, the very few hand mowing jobs I have all hit the £60p/h figure stated.

    I have just this season increased my hedge cutting charge from £35p/h to £40p/h. A figure in my head used for calculation and not quoted to the client, except in certain exceptional instances.

    It is possible to mix and match charging if you are doing general maintenance such as turning borders and hand weeding. You could charge the client a fixed price to mow the lawns, a fixed price to cut the hedges and then fall back onto an hourly rate for the weeding, pruning and perhaps somewhat more open ended and general tidying up.

    It’s worth mentioning that petrol has only increased in price by about 15p per litre. Hand mowers use very little fuel, but if you are under charging then this still has a negative impact as you are working too cheaply to begin with.

    The only realistic way out of under charging is to find new clients and charge the proper rates from day one. Then phase out the unprofitable clients over time. Once someone has become accustomed to paying too little for your services, you will never get them to pay twice as much. You have effectively educated them that your skills and time are a cheap commodity.

    We have all done this at some point in running our businesses. In many ways getting it wrong is by far the best education. Once bitten you never make the same mistake again. I too used to work far too cheaply, many years ago. I have been doing this job since 1985 and self-employed since 1991.

    I wish I could say that I was 3 years old when I started.

    It takes a while to gain confidence and hit your stride. If only this forum was around back in the 80’s.

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