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south jerz
05-12-2005, 03:05 PM
You said you learned from experience to never give estimates in person. How is this possible? You would need to take precise measurements for the job in order to give an accurate estimate.

For lawn service, I do not need to give estimates in person because I price my lawns +$5 (from drop-gate minimum) corresponding with +1/4 acre intervals. If the people only have a ballpark of their yard size/trimming requirements I give them a general idea of the price and give them a regular weekly rate after their first cut which I estimate and bill them for after the fact.

But for landscaping I can see only rare instances where in-person estimates wouldn't be needed. Maybe hourly rate spring cleanups or mulching with zero prep work and an exact amount of mulch requested by the customer.

DFW Area Landscaper
05-12-2005, 05:30 PM
I don't do in-person estimates for our three primary products....

Mowing
Lawn Fert/Weed Control
Bed Weed Control

We don't take on any landscape design/install business during the mowing season.

Shrubs are a pain in the azz because everyone wants an estimate before we trim the shrubs and clean the beds. I've had real good luck in getting clients to e-mail photos of the landscape. If the photos save us a trip, we knock $10 off the price if they have us do the work.

As for free estimates for shrubs/bed cleanups, we will only do a free estimate if the shrub crew has no work to do. So far this year, we haven't done any free estimates. That is probably getting ready to change now that spring fever is starting to peter out.

Off topic a littke, but shrubs are a fool's game.

1.) Everybody wants a free estimate before you do the work.
2.) You have to own a tremendous amount of equipment to trim shrubs and dispose of the debris.
3.) Real demand only lasts for about 2 months per year.
4.) Workman's comp insurance wouldn't be a blip on my radar screen were it not for chain saws, articulating hedge trimmers and chipper shredders.
5.) The work is very easy to underestimate, so we always charge by the hour. If the customer isn't home when the work is done, and there was not an estimate already done, the customers don't understand how it could have taken so long.
6.) There is all kinds of wiggle room for a customer to say they don't like it when your done and insist on a discount. Unless they pre-paid the job with cash, they have the power to dictate the amount of the discount. They can either with-hold payment if you've done it on credit or they can dispute the charges with the credit card company.

I hate shrubs, but I know I'd lose too much business if I didn't offer it.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper