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I've had several people ask me to do loader, box blade or aerator work for them. Until I became self employed, I've always declined. Now that I could use the tractor to make money, I don't want to overcharge or sell myself short.I'm in central NC where there's a lot of landscape companies and "mower operators" (hacks that cater to people who don't want to pay much).

I generally charge $30 an hour for handyman type work, but don't charge travel time.

I'm thinking $50 an hour for operating equipment and same rate for travel both ways. Local rental places get around $300: 8 hour day for rental and anywhere from $50 - 125 for delivery and pickup.

Any advice is appreciated. *Note everything I own is paid for, so I'm not working to pay for the equipment.
 

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I've had several people ask me to do loader, box blade or aerator work for them. Until I became self employed, I've always declined. Now that I could use the tractor to make money, I don't want to overcharge or sell myself short.I'm in central NC where there's a lot of landscape companies and "mower operators" (hacks that cater to people who don't want to pay much).

I generally charge $30 an hour for handyman type work, but don't charge travel time.

I'm thinking $50 an hour for operating equipment and same rate for travel both ways. Local rental places get around $300: 8 hour day for rental and anywhere from $50 - 125 for delivery and pickup.

Any advice is appreciated. *Note everything I own is paid for, so I'm not working to pay for the equipment.
IMO $50/hr for tractor work and $75/hr for pto work is a fair price. I just quoted my in laws new neighbors $75/hr for some brush hogging and he didn't even bat an eye, crap,,,,,,,,,,maybe I should have said $100/hr. :laugh:
 

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I've had several people ask me to do loader, box blade or aerator work for them. Until I became self employed, I've always declined. Now that I could use the tractor to make money, I don't want to overcharge or sell myself short.I'm in central NC where there's a lot of landscape companies and "mower operators" (hacks that cater to people who don't want to pay much).

I generally charge $30 an hour for handyman type work, but don't charge travel time.

I'm thinking $50 an hour for operating equipment and same rate for travel both ways. Local rental places get around $300: 8 hour day for rental and anywhere from $50 - 125 for delivery and pickup.

Any advice is appreciated. *Note everything I own is paid for, so I'm not working to pay for the equipment.
First bit of advise - get insurance.

My homeowner’s insurance only covers my tractor at my home - no liability or damage otherwise.

I had liability insurance when I had my mowing business - not really all that expensive. However if I were to do any landscaping work where I might dig down more than 2” the insurance rate skyrocketed.

My few mowing comtepetitors were people who did it on the side with their Murray junk tractors and no insurance. I would never mow any properties without insurance let alone to any type of PTO work or loader work.

People are sue happy.
 

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“Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”

― G. K. Chesterton

:laugh:
:laugh: I think that Chesterton fella is nuts. :laugh: Previous owner didn't tell me why. I've been taking fence down pretty much since we moved in here. :laugh:

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I've had several people ask me to do loader, box blade or aerator work for them. Until I became self employed, I've always declined. Now that I could use the tractor to make money, I don't want to overcharge or sell myself short.I'm in central NC where there's a lot of landscape companies and "mower operators" (hacks that cater to people who don't want to pay much).

I generally charge $30 an hour for handyman type work, but don't charge travel time.

I'm thinking $50 an hour for operating equipment and same rate for travel both ways. Local rental places get around $300: 8 hour day for rental and anywhere from $50 - 125 for delivery and pickup.

Any advice is appreciated. *Note everything I own is paid for, so I'm not working to pay for the equipment.
I don't do tractor work for pay usually. I did help my neighbor on one of his job sites this past Tuesday and for 3 hours of work I was given $300.00. It depends on the job if I even charge. Most of the time my time and equipment use is done for free so I'm the wrong one to ask.
 

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I've had several people ask me to do loader, box blade or aerator work for them. Until I became self employed, I've always declined. Now that I could use the tractor to make money, I don't want to overcharge or sell myself short.I'm in central NC where there's a lot of landscape companies and "mower operators" (hacks that cater to people who don't want to pay much).

I generally charge $30 an hour for handyman type work, but don't charge travel time.

I'm thinking $50 an hour for operating equipment and same rate for travel both ways. Local rental places get around $300: 8 hour day for rental and anywhere from $50 - 125 for delivery and pickup.

Any advice is appreciated. *Note everything I own is paid for, so I'm not working to pay for the equipment.
Well, the minute you do work for :gizmo:, you are now in "commerce". This puts you in a whole different category with your tractor. I noticed you said you are self-employed so you probably already have liability insurance on your business. That said, be sure they know what you plan to do with your tractor.

Concerning what to charge. Even though your equipment is paid for, you must consider the cost of this equipment in your pricing because you are going to have to replace it and you are wearing it out working for someone else.

Concerning cost for the tractor: Figuring a tractor cost. If you depreciate a $25000.00 tractor over 5 years, the depreciation is $416.67/month (not considering any interest). Figuring about 300 hours/year of usage, this would be 25 hours of usage/month. Now, this would be personal and business usage. So, if you divide $416.67 by say, 15 hours of business usage, you get $27.78/hour depreciation.

Now, how much for fuel and maintenance costs. You can figure about 2 gallons/hour for fuel and $5.00/hour ($75.00/month) for maintenance and insurance.

So, your cost to run the tractor, 15 hours per month in business, is about, $37.78/hour quickly throwing some numbers down. Now add to this $20.00/hour labor (or more) = $57.78 per hour cost. Add 25% profit to this - $57.78 + $14.45 = $72.23.

Based on this, I wouldn't do any work with a 1025R for less than $70.00/hour or you will probably be working for free and on top of this, you have to consider the cost of travel. I definitely wouldn't travel at no charge.

I would consider $1.50/mile travel charge. This isn't enough, but it will at least recover some for fuel, truck maintenance, trailer depreciation and maintenance, etc.

So, IMHO, my per hour charge would be $75.00 (on site) and travel charge would be $1.50/mile.

Of course, not to mention you have to comply with all commercial motor vehicle DOT rules when you are "in commerce" driving. This means you will have to have a DOT physical exam card because your combination truck and trailer will be in excess of 10000 lb., you have to have a DOT number on your truck and you have to have an FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association) vehicle inspection done on the truck and trailer unless your state requires state inspection on your truck and trailer.
 

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Well, the minute you do work for :gizmo:, you are now in "commerce". This puts you in a whole different category with your tractor. I noticed you said you are self-employed so you probably already have liability insurance on your business. That said, be sure they know what you plan to do with your tractor.

Concerning what to charge. Even though your equipment is paid for, you must consider the cost of this equipment in your pricing because you are going to have to replace it and you are wearing it out working for someone else.

Concerning cost for the tractor: Figuring a tractor cost. If you depreciate a $25000.00 tractor over 5 years, the depreciation is $416.67/month (not considering any interest). Figuring about 300 hours/year of usage, this would be 25 hours of usage/month. Now, this would be personal and business usage. So, if you divide $416.67 by say, 15 hours of business usage, you get $27.78/hour depreciation.

Now, how much for fuel and maintenance costs. You can figure about 2 gallons/hour for fuel and $5.00/hour ($75.00/month) for maintenance and insurance.

So, your cost to run the tractor, 15 hours per month in business, is about, $37.78/hour quickly throwing some numbers down. Now add to this $20.00/hour labor (or more) = $57.78 per hour cost. Add 25% profit to this - $57.78 + $14.45 = $72.23.

Based on this, I wouldn't do any work with a 1025R for less than $70.00/hour or you will probably be working for free and on top of this, you have to consider the cost of travel. I definitely wouldn't travel at no charge.

I would consider $1.50/mile travel charge. This isn't enough, but it will at least recover some for fuel, truck maintenance, trailer depreciation and maintenance, etc.

So, IMHO, my per hour charge would be $75.00 (on site) and travel charge would be $1.50/mile.
Great post Ray.

To add to that - once into commerce your truck that pulls the trailer with your tractor would have to be DOT registered.

It goes on and on......what about medical insurance for yourself - is that included in your hourly rate (plugging that in to Ray’s scenario above)?
 

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Great post Ray.

To add to that - once into commerce your truck that pulls the trailer with your tractor would have to be DOT registered.

It goes on and on......what about medical insurance for yourself - is that included in your hourly rate (plugging that in to Ray’s scenario above)?
coaltrain, the $75.00/hour will definitely not make you rich. You may make some money at this $75.00/hour rate, but as you indicate, if you way all the costs, which you really need to, of being in commerce with a tractor, your per hour charge should be closer to $100.00/hour. :bigthumb:
 

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Great post Ray.

To add to that - once into commerce your truck that pulls the trailer with your tractor would have to be DOT registered.

It goes on and on......what about medical insurance for yourself - is that included in your hourly rate (plugging that in to Ray’s scenario above)?
coaltrain, the $75.00/hour will definitely not make you rich. You may make some money at this $75.00/hour rate, but as you indicate, if you way all the costs, which you really need to, of being in commerce with a tractor, your per hour charge should be closer to $100.00/hour.
Great analysis! However, most of us are not in the biz. If I was, I would definately charge the C-note/hour. When just trying to help folks & recover some expense in the process, $75/hr. sounds fair. I just finished a road grading job for a good friend’s very sweet landlady who is 90 & mentally & physically sharper than most folks I know. It feels great to have done right by her & that is worth a lot. She was quoted $7,000 for one of the 2 sites but my friend and I fixed both sites for $500/8 hr. day (2 old men & a 1025R $62.50/hr.) + materials. 3.5 days labor was $1750 & 5 loads of 21A subtotalling $2500 resulted in a grand total of $4250. We were able to have 2 loads spread by the trucks but 3 loads were moved & spread by John Fawne.

We used the 48” Frontier box w/scarifiers to dig out, drain, & grade holes, high spots, etc., recovering as much existing gravel as possible. We removed all dirt which had washed into the roads. All was graded before & after spreading the 21A. A ditch on part of one road was full of brush & we used a chainsaw & 5’ Frontier yard rake to clear it. This was the most physical work we had to do besides using a pole saw to clear overheads so the trucks could pass. We hauled a 5x10 utility trailer full to a field where there was a large brush pile.

The landlady was very happy! We also secured hunting rights as long as she owns the property!!
 

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Great analysis! However, most of us are not in the biz. If I was, I would definately charge the C-note/hour. When just trying to help folks & recover some expense in the process, $75/hr. sounds fair. I just finished a road grading job for a good friend’s very sweet landlady who is 90 & mentally & physically sharper than most folks I know. It feels great to have done right by her & that is worth a lot. She was quoted $7,000 for one of the 2 sites but my friend and I fixed both sites for $500/8 hr. day (2 old men & a 1025R $62.50/hr.) + materials. 3.5 days labor was $1750 & 5 loads of 21A subtotalling $2500 resulted in a grand total of $4250. We were able to have 2 loads spread by the trucks but 3 loads were moved & spread by John Fawne.

We used the 48” Frontier box w/scarifiers to dig out, drain, & grade holes, high spots, etc., recovering as much existing gravel as possible. We removed all dirt which had washed into the roads. All was graded before & after spreading the 21A. A ditch on part of one road was full of brush & we used a chainsaw & 5’ Frontier yard rake to clear it. This was the most physical work we had to do besides using a pole saw to clear overheads so the trucks could pass. We hauled a 5x10 utility trailer full to a field where there was a large brush pile.

The landlady was very happy! We also secured hunting rights as long as she owns the property!!
Doing a favor is all good and is a very respectable think to do.

The issue is, you charged for this work which puts you in the classification of "in commerce", like it or not and believe me, when you officially charge someone for something, you are in business. Respectfully, what you call it is irrelevant.

There have been plenty of people who have been doing someone a favor by charging them a small fee for a job and have found themselves in court due to an unforeseen incident happening, especially if a passerby gets injured or even thinks they got injured, they can file a lawsuit against you and you will have no choice but to defend yourself. Even if you "win", you will have laid out maybe thousands of dollars in legal fees to "win".

I am not trying to discourage anyone from helping anyone, just if you do, don't officially charge them and even if you do not charge them, you still what to make sure your homeowners insurance will cover you and your tractor off your own property. Some homeowners policies do and some do not.

Don't think it cannot happen to you, it can!!!!!! Remember, it isn't just the people that you are working for, it is what others do!

And yes, unfortunately our legal system and litigious society has made it really hard to do someone a favor!!! Its all good until something unforeseen happens, then its too late.

Respectfully, everyone has to decide for themselves as to what they will do or not do. Just know, if you charge someone for something, your are in business which means you are "in commerce" which puts you in a whole other world, it doesn't matter if you are doing someone a favor or not.
 

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And Ray’s last post brought up something else in my mind...

OK - you go over to a friend’s place to do some work - and it is a favor - you are not getting paid for the work.

I don’t care if you’ve known a person for many years - oh he won’t get mad if something goes wrong. Then the worst thing imaginable happens - someone gets hurt. Let’s say it is one of your friends kids.

Your “friend” can very quickly become your enemy in the other side of a courtroom. Without proper liability insurance you can loose everything you have and more.

And as Ray said - the person getting hurt could be a neighbor’s kid or a passerby. That’s why I always had insurance when mowing. All it would take is one small rock getting pickup up by the deck and flung across the yard and hit a kid in the next yard or across the street in the eye. You can argue that you weren’t negligent when you were mowing and had all the safety equipment in place. It doesn’t matter - a lawyer will chew you up and spit you out.
 

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Great analysis! However, most of us are not in the biz. If I was, I would definately charge the C-note/hour. When just trying to help folks & recover some expense in the process, $75/hr. sounds fair. I just finished a road grading job for a good friend’s very sweet landlady who is 90 & mentally & physically sharper than most folks I know. It feels great to have done right by her & that is worth a lot. She was quoted $7,000 for one of the 2 sites but my friend and I fixed both sites for $500/8 hr. day (2 old men & a 1025R $62.50/hr.) + materials. 3.5 days labor was $1750 & 5 loads of 21A subtotalling $2500 resulted in a grand total of $4250. We were able to have 2 loads spread by the trucks but 3 loads were moved & spread by John Fawne.

We used the 48” Frontier box w/scarifiers to dig out, drain, & grade holes, high spots, etc., recovering as much existing gravel as possible. We removed all dirt which had washed into the roads. All was graded before & after spreading the 21A. A ditch on part of one road was full of brush & we used a chainsaw & 5’ Frontier yard rake to clear it. This was the most physical work we had to do besides using a pole saw to clear overheads so the trucks could pass. We hauled a 5x10 utility trailer full to a field where there was a large brush pile.

The landlady was very happy! We also secured hunting rights as long as she owns the property!!

That's a great deal, nowdays hunting rights are hard to come by and precious.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for all the replies. I have a DOT card and GL insurance. Some of the points made, give me pause about using my tractor for business. I helped a friend today for about 6 hours, with a 3 hour round trip drive. We were cleaning up 4 downed trees, and fixing a ditch line.

I’m not sure the 1025 is the right tool for brush moving and dirt work people ask about. Between the extra stress on the equipment, slow hydraulics and limited size it doesn’t seem worth the extra hassle with paperwork and liability. If I was just pushing snow or mowing grass, maybe.
 

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Personally, I won't do anything for less than $95 per hour for the machine with me as operator, as I have been through the true cost calculations and having been self employed my entire life, I have a good handle on the "true costs".

Homeowners insurance generally won't even cover your machine off the property. At all.......Let alone working on someone else's property. Home owners coverage won't even cover all types of losses, you really need to have a sit down with your agent and explain how your tractor is being used. My insurance for to cover the tractor and work isn't expensive compared to the risk it covers. I want to say its about $400 per year for the tractor and implements and damage coverage of up to $50,000 per occurance. I actually increased the total coverage to $250,000 as it was another $100 per year.

Also, I ALWAYS run Go Pro Cameras (2) whenever I am doing ANYTHING for anyone, including plowing snow, etc. That way if they discover something damaged and want to pin it on me, I have video dated evidence. I am the type that would immediately admit anything I damaged and I would take full responsibility for its repairs. I have been fortunate that in years of plowing snow and other things, I haven't had an issue.

However, one of my close friends was using his Kubota with the FEL and bucket to help neighbors clear the blizzard snow we had in January. He was pushing a pile about 15' feet away from the overhead garage door "towards the door" so he could scoop it up (MAJOR NO NO) and the snow near the door moved as the pile he was pushing gathered and he ended up buying a $900 garage door. And he wasn't even charging.......

You need to set some very strict rules for how and what you will do and don't get talked into things which are sketchy. If you aren't comfortable with the project, don't get involved. For example, one of my rules for plowing snow is I DO NOT plow snow for any drives where there are vehicles parked outside. I make it clear in my agreement. If I show up to plow and there are vehicles parked in the drive, either they are moved or I move on and plow elsewhere. You can not be plowing around parked cars and not eventually have a problem.

Also, in my snow plow agreement, it makes it very clear that I am NOT guaranteeing the finished work site to be "free of all risks and deemed to be safe" as there are numerous conditions outside of my control. I do my best to remove the snow and treat the pavement surface to aid in it's removal of slippery conditions, but I can not be responsible for any slips, falls and other injuries by anyone who uses the area which is cleared of snow.

I prefer to set a fixed price for plowing and have the client agree to that amount. I used to vary the price based upon snow depth but that is just setting up situations where people will question your assessment of the snow depth. So, I charge a flat amount based upon "average" snow fall and when its extreme, I take it on the chin, but the price for each plowing builds in a margin to cover for when I am plowing snow 12" to 18" deep.

I also charge by the hour when I have to come in and move snow piles with the FEL as the variables there and between each driveway make trying to bid for FEL work in addition to the plow rate confusing for the customer. Each driveway plow is a set price, regardless of snow depth (minimum 3" to plow) and the Road plowing is also per plowing. The application of snow melt is also a set price per application, as I am not going to get into the measuing of snow melt before each application plus the record keeping. Some driveways ALWAYS require snow melt and most RARELY need snow melt applied. That's the advantage of plowing with a rubber squeegee edge. It provides a really clean surface.

I have already been contracted to mow with the RC2048 mower this season for 9 hours per month, April through October for two different sites. The mowing is at $95 per hour. Mowing lawns, with the zero turn is a per mowing price and right now I have 5 for sure and possibly 6 in addition to my own to mow.

One HUGE advantage I have is I can drive my equipment to all of my projects. If I had to load and unload I would have to build the time and costs into pricing into it.

People are happy to let you wear your equipment out "giving them a hand". I don't mind helping people and I often do, but if my equipment is going to be providing a service which others would charge to provide, then I outline payment terms in advance.

Also, be clear how you are going to be paid. I have some who want to send me electronic payments which is fine, but they incur the cost I am charged for accepting the payment method which is convenient for them. If the service charges a flat fee or percentage, that amount is added to the amount for my services when collecting payment. If someone doesn't want to pay the service charges for the payment methods, now they know just how I feel about paying the fees as well.........
 

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I've had several people ask me to do loader, box blade or aerator work for them. Until I became self employed, I've always declined. Now that I could use the tractor to make money, I don't want to overcharge or sell myself short.I'm in central NC where there's a lot of landscape companies and "mower operators" (hacks that cater to people who don't want to pay much).

I generally charge $30 an hour for handyman type work, but don't charge travel time.

I'm thinking $50 an hour for operating equipment and same rate for travel both ways. Local rental places get around $300: 8 hour day for rental and anywhere from $50 - 125 for delivery and pickup.

Any advice is appreciated. *Note everything I own is paid for, so I'm not working to pay for the equipment.
When your equipment is not paid for, you are partially working to pay for the equipment.

When your equipment is paid for, you are partially working to pay for the NEXT equipment purchase, as well as maintain the equipment which you have.

The very best advice I can give you is Know your costs to be in business down to the penny. Analyze it and build in the contingencies. Number one reason why businesses fail, they underestimate operating costs. When you are in business, you are the last person to get paid each month after paying all the expenses.

Second best Advice - DO NOT SELL YOURSELF PRIMARILY BASED UPON YOUR PRICE
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Sell yourself as HIGH quality and conscientious and deliver what you sell. When you focus on price, any idiot can and will under bid you. In the race to the bottom, the first one to reach the bottom is the loser.

Just remember, the rental equipment at the prices you quoted doesn't come with a qualified operator and your machine does.

When you quote hourly, it protects you against "project creep", which is the customer saying "Oh, while you are here, would you also ......" which wasn't originally mentioned. So that makes sure if they decide to keep you there all day, then you are paid for the time.

Another way to deal with that is to simply set a price for the specific project and when they add on items, stop and clarify that each new request or requirement adds a certain amount to the cost and make sure they are clear about the total costs.

But when you are charging by the hour, customers will NOT tolerate you taking cell phone calls or sending texts as they feel you are on their time and they are correct. They also expect every minute for the wheels to be turning on their project. So that's a downside to be aware of.

When you are quoting by the hour, make sure to also give the customer your estimate of the maximum costs. For example if you are quoting $50 per hour and you expect to take 10 hours to complete the project, then tell them the rate is $50 per hour and you estimate the total cost will be $500. Amazingly, some people won't balk at the hourly rate but are shocked by the total. Always avoid surprises and everyone gets along much better.
 

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IMO $50/hr for tractor work and $75/hr for pto work is a fair price. I just quoted my in laws new neighbors $75/hr for some brush hogging and he didn't even bat an eye, crap,,,,,,,,,,maybe I should have said $100/hr. :laugh:
I have to admit, I have chewed on this one and I don't see the distinction to warrant either a 33% price reduction from $75 to $50 if the PTO isn't involved and vice versa, the 50% bump from $50 to $75 when it is.

Problem is, the customer likely also won't see the difference (and they certainly won't know it) and instead think "Well last time he did something with the tractor, he charged me $50 and now this time, it's $75." You run the risk of instead of him thinking he got a good deal last time, he might think he is getting gouged this time.

Just like mechanic shop rates. If your shop rate is $120 per hour and the job takes one hour, people get hung up on the $120 per hour number.

If the shop labor rate is $90 per hour and the customer is billed 1.3 hours so the bill totals $117, they focus on the $90 per hour and feel its fair........

Hey, I never said people's logic makes any sense........:laugh::lol: It's all about perception :dunno: even though the reality is only $3 difference.
 
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