The price you charge to rake leaves should be a happy medium between what you'll be satisfied earning and how much your customers are willing and able to pay. The exact amount will depend on whether you work in an affluent or low income area, and how good a job you're willing to do. If you charge too much you're likely to alienate potential customers, but if you charge too little you may not make enough to justify the time and energy you spend. Look on locally focused sites such as Craigslist and NextDoor to get an idea of what people are charging for leaf raking service in your area, and use these figures as a starting point.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Look on locally focused sites such as Craigslist and NextDoor to get an idea of what people are charging for leaf raking service in your area, and use these figures as a starting point. You may be able to charge more to rake leaves if you pay attention to details and provide a service that your customers feel is worth the extra expense. Your leaf raking services will be worth more if you carry bags to the curb or haul them away yourself than if you leave them on a customer's lawn.
Pocket Money or Business?
Before setting prices and approaching neighbors, it's worth considering whether you're interested in raking leaves to earn some extra money during leaf season, or whether you intend to start a full fledged leaf raking business. If you're simply interested in earning pocket money, you really only need to charge enough to pay yourself as much as you realistically hope to earn.
Think about your thoughts and expectations. Will you be satisfied earning what you'd earn at a conventional job, but working as your own boss? Do you have a financial goal you want to meet? If you're interested in starting a business, you'll likely need to charge more than if you just have to pay yourself. Even if you only need to pay yourself when you're starting out, it's a good idea to project what you'll need to charge to maintain your business and make some profit once you start paying other people to do the labor.
Calculating Your Costs
Even if you're raking leaves as a part time side job, you'll incur some expenses. The amount you charge should cover these costs in addition to paying for your labor. Obviously you'll need a rake, but you'll be able to get more done in less time if you have a good quality rake, and a good rake will also be easier to use and will leave you feeling less tired at the end of the day. If you're planning on building a full fledged leaf raking business, you'll eventually need to buy additional rakes for your employees to use. You'll also need leaf bags. Biodegradable bags are more expensive than disposable plastic but you may be able to attract customers willing to pay a higher price if you add value to your leaf raking services with features such as sustainable practices. You'll also need to charge enough to cover transportation costs unless you're only raking for people close enough to reach on foot.
You may be able to charge more to rake leaves if you pay attention to details and provide a service that your customers feel is worth the extra expense. Customers may be inclined to pay more if your clothes aren't noticeably torn or dirty, or if you're polite rather than surly. Your leaf raking services will be worth more if you carry bags to the curb or haul them away yourself than if you leave them on a customer's lawn. You may also be able to earn additional income offering to do extra chores. Experiment with different approaches to find one that works for you and brings in enough money to meet your needs.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.