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Pricing is the wrong question

Soleil Shepherd

New member
Hey Guys,

I really hate piece work, however we really seem to be getting pushed into it.

As always the question is How Much?

I see this question being asked over and over again. A standard price is impossible to come up with as we are all from different regions. Would it not be a good idea instead to post something with average timelines to complete a piece?

This would enable everyone to see an average time, figure in their own costs and labour and make an educated decision. It would also be a point to refer to in order to gauge efficiency.

I'll start:

We use a 5gpm hot water pump, run at about 120 degrees when fleet washing. My husband can do 2.5 to 3 Highway Tractors an hour including under the hood. However, one of our guys takes 35 minutes a truck.

Another one we wash Bi-weekly, it's a small job but fits into the schedule no problem.
He Has 2 belly dumps and a Volvo Tractor. It takes our guys approximately 2 hours to complete.

We foam, then it still requires a light brush, rinse and done. No acid on these jobs.

Are they slow? Is my husband fast? Is our guy just slow?

What about the rest of you? Anyone care to add to this?

Terry Miller

New member
Soleil ,
This is a question only you can answer. We all have different cost. Fixed and variable. We work in different areas and have different abilities. I may wash the same vehicle twice as slow or fast as your company. There is no set value for our work. There could be numbers replicating values for each project. This can only be used as a guideline. It could make you money or break you. Finding our own Values is essential. For a month or two, or even longer, keep track of your numbers. Figure the average and you will have some sort of guideline. Again, you still need to know your cost and what it takes to run your business. Hope this helps. Thank you.

Soleil Shepherd

New member
I agree with what you say with all the variables, as well as costs. I also agree that we all do things a little differently. I know the averages of my guys, and I also know that every job is a little different. But I always wonder, are my guys doing it fast enough while providing quality? I love money and always push them to get a little quicker. I'd like to know how they are fairing. Maybe I should lay off, maybe there's a trick they are missing, but unless I actually go work for the competition I'll never know.

With the amount of times you find this question about pricing asked, especially with ouber competitive fleet washing, it stands to reason that some would like a way to gauge their pricing and or services.

I will use the automotive service industry as an example of what I am thinking.
In Canada (I am assuming the US as well) there are books put out called the Mitchell books, there are also computer programs put out as well. What the Mitchell book does is gives a time frame for job completion. You look up the work that you are doing and it will tell you how long it should take.

For example, a mechanic is asked to fix brakes, he looks it up in Mitchell and it says that the work should take 2.5 hours. He then knows that this is the average time taken. One mechanic may do it faster than the next. Maybe he has air tools and the other guy only has a non powered wrench. Maybe he's been in the business forever and the other guy is new.
What it gives is a base line to work from.

I do not suggest we do anything fancy, but set a base line in terms of time line. It will maybe give some a goal to strive for, perhaps it will give others an ego boost. No cost are considered or mentioned, that is all up to the business owner, so is the time he charges/takes. It is a guide. What harm is there in trying?

I talk a lot don't I?? Wait till you meet me in person, I get very passionate about the topic sometimes, Type AAAAA+ personality. :redface:

Ken Fenner

Soleil, you are right up my alley. Efficiency and evaluation of your own costs is exactly how one should determine pricing. So many new companies shoot themselves in the foot by trying to compete with established companies without knowing what it costs for them to do business.

Unfortunately your chosen topic of cleaning is out of my realm. I know for a fact that I am the guy that would land very few mobile accounts because of inexperience and the need to price over what the general fleet washing market would bear. I have a fleet account that we have done for over a year. Initially, it took three guys 10 hours. I now send two guys and it takes six. I priced it for the former and now the job is nicely profitable. If the company asks for rebid I am now equipped and experienced enough to lower my price and still make margin. I am also not disillusioned enough to know that there are compaies out there that may be able to do this job with cheap labor in four hours.

I guess I'll propose this to you. Look at your efficiency rates and always think "we can do better". Even if you are the fastest company on the planet, there is always room for improvement. While establishing a milestone via comparison is a good practice, even if you don't get the data you are seeking here, constantly look for things that can make you faster without sacrificing too much quality is prudent.