Company Day Rates for Customers-- thoughts

southsoundtree

Been here a while
Location
Olympia, WA
It's going down steep, sometimes undercut, slopes, sometimes to a drop off, where the trees are located.

I just had to neighbors lose a bunch of bluff and a couple of mature trees.
Canopy raising on trees downhill at the edge of the bluff is not uncommon.
 

Z'sTrees

Branched out member
Location
NW NC
Good thread here.

We do alot of view work, it's really tough to price. Most situations I really push the hourly rate, with a ballpark or a cap if needed by the homeowner.
"New" views I basically won't bid because they're so subjective. You almost always end up with one guy on the deck communicating what the client points out. Pretty hard to stay on a bid that way.
I do use a man hour rate in my number crunching but I tend to look at work in half day increments. It's too complicated to try and get more than two small jobs done in a day in my mostly rural, spread out market. If it's a 10hr job we usually will try to bust it out in one day, but 11 I'm gonna do it at a day and a half.
 

southsoundtree

Been here a while
Location
Olympia, WA
A laser pointer used with discussion before, and the climber being on the phone with a customer, directly, is better than getting a third person in the mix, IME.
Sometimes another worker is a help, and can be called up to the vantage point.

Generally, I know what I'm after before climbing, so an employee might be more of a distraction than help.
 

Z'sTrees

Branched out member
Location
NW NC
Generally our clients can't ID a tree in general, it's helpful to have another worker mediate. If I was working alone I might give them the crane headset, although I could see that driving a man crazy.
 

Brady Chapman

Participating member
Location
Bethel, ME
Ya, bank view work is inaccessible to bid, indeed.


People think we're magicians.

How much to match the tall shrubs in this side to the ones growing out from under the Leyland Cypress that's being removed?

Let me get out my Crystal Ball.

I either need to bid high to not get screwed, maybe losing the job, compared to making a fixed rate that I know is profitable.
I always do view enhancement work by the hour. It is often times impossible to estimate exactly how much work it will take to achieve the customer’s desired view, and often difficult to know exactly what they desire. So often with view enhancement, you end up taking a tree down (or pruning a limb) just to reveal more material that needs to be removed behind it to open the view. I usually request the homeowner to be present whenever possible while doing view enhancement work because it helps them to tailor fit the view that they want and also help budget it (they also see they we don't dilly dally and they're getting a good bang for their buck) . Sometimes you have a situation where the view looks decent but you’re only a couple hundred bucks away from making it much better, but sometimes it’s more like a thousand dollars to take it to the next level. Putting the decision of whether or not to proceed in their hands eliminates potential problems.
When I work at an hourly rate by myself whether it’s all ground work or climbing too it’s always 150 ph with a 50 dollar travel fee. If it’s more than 20 miles away I adjust the travel fee accordingly. I think that is more than fair for a fully insured arborist that works hard and gets shit done.
2 guys truck and chipper:$250ph, $125 move
3 guys truck and chipper: $290, $125
4 guys truck and chipper: $330, $125
Mini gets $150 hour and I use the hourly rate to load it and move it to and from the job. I try not to charge for it sitting there doing nothing however, a lot of times I’ll use the hour meter as a barometer.
These numbers allow me to make money working by the hour, and some jobs are just better off being done by the hour in my experience, but as much as possible I bid by the job.
 
Last edited:

Brady Chapman

Participating member
Location
Bethel, ME
Generally our clients can't ID a tree in general, it's helpful to have another worker mediate. If I was working alone I might give them the crane headset, although I could see that driving a man crazy.
We do a few view jobs while i find it completely necessary to have a guy on the deck with a sena, and the homeowner is always onboard with it. The added efficiency is worth the price differential. And yeah, most people we do work for can't distinguish a maple from an oak and think any conifer is a pine.
 

Brady Chapman

Participating member
Location
Bethel, ME
I always do view enhancement work by the hour. It is often times impossible to estimate exactly how much work it will take to achieve the customer’s desired view, and often difficult to know exactly what they desire. So often with view enhancement, you end up taking a tree down (or pruning a limb) just to reveal more material that needs to be removed behind it to open the view. I usually request the homeowner be present whenever possible while doing view enhancement work because it helps them to tailor fit the view that they want and also help budget it. Sometimes you have a situation where the view looks decent but you’re only a couple hundred bucks away from making it much better, but sometimes it’s more like a thousand dollars to take it to the next level. Putting that decision in their hands eliminates potential problems.
When I work at an hourly rate by myself whether it’s all ground work of climbing too it’s always 150 ph with a 50 dollar travel fee. If it’s more than 20 miles away I adjust the travel fee accordingly. I think that is more than fair for a fully insured arborist that works hard and gets shit done.
2 guys truck and chipper:$250ph, $125 move
3 guys truck and chipper: $290, $125
4 guys truck and chipper: $330, $125
Mini gets $150 hour and I use the hourly rate to load it and move it to and from the job. I try not charge for it sitting there doing nothing however, a lot of times I’ll use the hour meter as a barometer
These numbers allow me to make money working by the hour, and some jobs are just better off being done by the hour in my experience, but as much as possible I bid by the job.
I'd like to add that our hourly rate is contingent on steady production. I almost feel more responsibility to produce when working by the hour to give the customer what they paid for, and they appreciate it. I have never had anyone complain about our rates when they see what we can accomplish. If we have a breakdown though, or any other snafu that is our fault, I adjust the billable hours accordingly.
 
I always do view enhancement work by the hour. It is often times impossible to estimate exactly how much work it will take to achieve the customer’s desired view, and often difficult to know exactly what they desire. So often with view enhancement, you end up taking a tree down (or pruning a limb) just to reveal more material that needs to be removed behind it to open the view. I usually request the homeowner to be present whenever possible while doing view enhancement work because it helps them to tailor fit the view that they want and also help budget it (they also see they we don't dilly dally and they're getting a good bang for their buck) . Sometimes you have a situation where the view looks decent but you’re only a couple hundred bucks away from making it much better, but sometimes it’s more like a thousand dollars to take it to the next level. Putting the decision of whether or not to proceed in their hands eliminates potential problems.
When I work at an hourly rate by myself whether it’s all ground work or climbing too it’s always 150 ph with a 50 dollar travel fee. If it’s more than 20 miles away I adjust the travel fee accordingly. I think that is more than fair for a fully insured arborist that works hard and gets shit done.
2 guys truck and chipper:$250ph, $125 move
3 guys truck and chipper: $290, $125
4 guys truck and chipper: $330, $125
Mini gets $150 hour and I use the hourly rate to load it and move it to and from the job. I try not to charge for it sitting there doing nothing however, a lot of times I’ll use the hour meter as a barometer.
These numbers allow me to make money working by the hour, and some jobs are just better off being done by the hour in my experience, but as much as possible I bid by the job.
Do you use the same hourly rates for estimates? I've been doing a higher man hour rate for estimates if I'm climbing vs. ground work. Seems easier for the client to accept paying more for something they know they can't do.
 

Stumpsprouts

Branched out member
Location
Asheville
We do a few view jobs while i find it completely necessary to have a guy on the deck with a sena, and the homeowner is always onboard with it. The added efficiency is worth the price differential. And yeah, most people we do work for can't distinguish a maple from an oak and think any conifer is a pine.
I did this so often we had a term for it, the “cooler”. As in, the person on the deck cooling the client from their unreasonable requests. What fun there was to be had with sena.. annoying the cooler and making fun of their silly clientisms, making fun of the client, hearing the cooler saying intentionally ridiculous things to get a rise out of us... wow.

Day rates are tempting, but if you are the bidder and you aren’t also going to be the person on site, it’s really doing the crew a disservice. Those are shitty days, siting in the mire of subjectivity, not being able to crush it and go home early, not being able to slow down and move at a leisurely rate, jumping at every little idea the client has. If you’re bidding and not doing the work, an itemized bid shields the crew from bullshit.

If you will be there on site, that’s a different story, but you’re basically doing a 7 hour estimate, so I try to avoid it.
 

southsoundtree

Been here a while
Location
Olympia, WA
They can do any of it
I always do view enhancement work by the hour. It is often times impossible to estimate exactly how much work it will take to achieve the customer’s desired view, and often difficult to know exactly what they desire. So often with view enhancement, you end up taking a tree down (or pruning a limb) just to reveal more material that needs to be removed behind it to open the view. I usually request the homeowner to be present whenever possible while doing view enhancement work because it helps them to tailor fit the view that they want and also help budget it (they also see they we don't dilly dally and they're getting a good bang for their buck) . Sometimes you have a situation where the view looks decent but you’re only a couple hundred bucks away from making it much better, but sometimes it’s more like a thousand dollars to take it to the next level. Putting the decision of whether or not to proceed in their hands eliminates potential problems.
When I work at an hourly rate by myself whether it’s all ground work or climbing too it’s always 150 ph with a 50 dollar travel fee. If it’s more than 20 miles away I adjust the travel fee accordingly. I think that is more than fair for a fully insured arborist that works hard and gets shit done.
2 guys truck and chipper:$250ph, $125 move
3 guys truck and chipper: $290, $125
4 guys truck and chipper: $330, $125
Mini gets $150 hour and I use the hourly rate to load it and move it to and from the job. I try not to charge for it sitting there doing nothing however, a lot of times I’ll use the hour meter as a barometer.
These numbers allow me to make money working by the hour, and some jobs are just better off being done by the hour in my experience, but as much as possible I bid by the job.
Is this 150 per hour for the mini with one of the already allocated staff as operator? A you are charging that as portal-to-portal?
 
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Location
Canada
It is always advisable to quote jobs based on hours, types of equipment, and crews used. This will ensure that all your quotes are standardized and can be calculated easily. There are software that can help you with estimates and even the final quote such as ArboStar.
 

Brady Chapman

Participating member
Location
Bethel, ME
They can do any of it

Is this 150 per hour for the mini with one of the already allocated staff as operator? A you
Do you use the same hourly rates for estimates? I've been doing a higher man hour rate for estimates if I'm climbing vs. ground work. Seems easier for the client to accept paying more for something they know they can't do.
First I will say, since my last post, I have adjusted my hourly rate for just myself to $200 per hour with a $50 moving fee and a one hour minimum. As the price of everything else goes up (fuel,equipment,etc.) so do our rates. But I will say yes to your question. It depends on what type of ground work you are doing, but if you are a skilled chainsaw operator felling and bucking trees on a property that is worth as much as climbing to me. And most homeowners can’t do the type of stuff they hire us for whether it’s ground work or not. But that being said, I do not work very often by myself on a by the hour rate. Usually I know the scope of work and I give a firm price.
 

Brady Chapman

Participating member
Location
Bethel, ME
I did this so often we had a term for it, the “cooler”. As in, the person on the deck cooling the client from their unreasonable requests. What fun there was to be had with sena.. annoying the cooler and making fun of their silly clientisms, making fun of the client, hearing the cooler saying intentionally ridiculous things to get a rise out of us... wow.

Day rates are tempting, but if you are the bidder and you aren’t also going to be the person on site, it’s really doing the crew a disservice. Those are shitty days, siting in the mire of subjectivity, not being able to crush it and go home early, not being able to slow down and move at a leisurely rate, jumping at every little idea the client has. If you’re bidding and not doing the work, an itemized bid shields the crew from bullshit.

If you will be there on site, that’s a different story, but you’re basically doing a 7 hour estimate, so I try to avoid it.
Can’t say that we haven’t had a blast needling the “cooler” while they were face to face with a client. It’s all in good fun. And you are right, day rates or in my case an hourly rate, is very tempting as a bidder. Especially if you get up to 20 calls a week a lot of times and you look at as much work as you possibly can. But for the most part, I’m disciplined enough to give a firm price for a specific scope of work. But there are many snafus that get obviated when you assign an hourly rate for a chunk of work that is somewhat nebulous. The key to not having a shitty day when you are at someone’s whim is to pin them down on a somewhat specific scope of work so you can plan effectively. And that plan is relayed clearly to whoever will be on site working there. It’s not often that we do hourly work for the type of client you are describing, but it does happen.
 

Brady Chapman

Participating member
Location
Bethel, ME
They can do any of it

Is this 150 per hour for the mini with one of the already allocated staff as operator? A you are charging that as portal-to-portal?
Yes the mini is 150 per hour, in addition to the hourly rate assigned to the ground guy. Since my original post our rates of gone up, just like everything else has. We are now 275 an hour as a base price for two guys a truck and a chipper. And it’s $75 per man after that. If it’s two guys a truck and a chipper and the skid steer it is 425 per hour. But if the machine is just sitting there idle I typically don’t charge for it to just sit there. I do charge an hourly moving fee to and from the job. So if the job is 20 minutes away, I charge an extra 40 minutes for the skid steer to move it to and from the job.
 

dspacio

Participating member
Location
Narragansett Bay
it is great to read this. I only take my own jobs through word of mouth, coming up every month or so, (mainly contract climbing), so bidding is still very fresh for me.
I bid two jobs last week, and realized just how much room I have to grow here. I ended up offering a dayrate for me and a helper, as there is a whole little mess of woods that need general cleaning (and two primary mature trees to fell), no cleanup. Once we got into, "this could go, that could go.. hangers and openings.." the day rate made sense.

I need to get clear with myself about the rates that work for this, this year, for when these kinda things come up. I appreciate the point about skilled felling, @Brady Chapman , it doesn't require the same amount of doodads as climbing, but it's certainly a mega calculation and execution involving huge weight and potential risks.

The other job I saw was 4 bone dead trees, 30' tall, 16" dbh, about 4 feet from a shed. With trees everywhere, very slim drop paths. One is weighted crazy due to a stretching top limb. While I feel confident I can fall them safely, and the trees aren't huge; I see the amount of risk, and I am moving to that place where the risks need to be worth me getting into.

It had me thinking about felling. In some cases, I know I can drop a tree within an hour and it's straight up, nothing can really get harmed. In this case, It can likely come down in that time, but there is that looming chance the thing goes backwards, the dead top snaps out when it gets pulled, and it destroys a shed. So I want to charge triple (at least) what it really is to bring the tree down. This was a challenging bid for me!

"just get it on the ground" involves the most high-risk, high-intelligence, high-execution moments of what is typically a fully rounded day.
 

VenasNursery

Branched out member
Location
Michigan
We only do by the hour for brush piles(we dislike)

Really large projects we will also offer by the hour

We are comfortable with our rate and always tell the customer if they are not 100% happy let me know we will stop at anytime we make people happy everyday

so if they aren’t totally happy we need to move on

discounts on more than two full days
7 hrs on the job we also charge for 8 (load-unload-travel time)

3 guys ,boom truck ,chipper, chip truck, stumper, mini plus myself

We charge $250 an hour busy season
$225 an hour winter rates
Our new lift will increase our prices(when it’s needed)
Thought I would update my post 16 months later
With our new lift we are now at $300 average per hour $400 per hour good day
And still charge travel time both ways

Lift and truck
Chip truck and chipper
Wood truck with trailer-stumper and mini
4 guys and myself
(Great Crew which allows me to try to keep up with other things)
 

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