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Branching Out
10-17-2005, 10:38 AM
When placing a bid, what kind of a mark up on plantings do you guys factor into the project before all other costs like, labor and machine work? I have been toying with different percentages to test my market and was just curious what you guys use.

Ronnie
Braching Out

AGLA
10-17-2005, 01:56 PM
The qualifying unanswered question is "marked up from what?". I can pay a widely varying price for the same plant depending on where I buy it. If I applied the same markup % for each, the prices would be all over the place.

If I double the price from the region's largets re-wholesaler, I can be reasonably close to what a homeowner can buy it for in a garden center. If I bought from others and doubled, the homeowners would be seeing that they could buy plants for far less than I sell them for. That would cause problems.

olderthandirt
10-17-2005, 04:32 PM
bought whls. sold at 3x retail generally

AGLA
10-17-2005, 06:59 PM
The mark up that I mentioned is taxable price of the plant. It is not the price of the plant installed.

Green-Pro
10-17-2005, 07:26 PM
bought whls. sold at 3x retail generally


Mac, just curious, does this include your labor for installing? I.E. you get woody plant for $20, charge $60 for the plant, does this include all cost associated from beginning to end or is it simply for the plant itself?

SouthernYankee
10-17-2005, 07:37 PM
I used to buy from a nursery that had a marked up price already on the tag, but next to the retail price was a bunch of numbers with some letters. The nursery would give you a book that showed you how to read the codes for what the wholesale price was. The mark up was very generous and I made a lot of money when I sold large trees ect.

Has anyone else bought from a nursery like this?

Gilla Gorilla
10-17-2005, 07:48 PM
There is a couple nurserys around here that do it like that but I dont buy my plant materials from them, just mulch, super fines and fertilizer.

They guy that I deal with will sell me a 3 gallon Firepower Nandina for $12.50 plus tax and the cheapest I can get it at any other nursery is $20 to $24 and customer price is $27.95 so I sell it for that plus labor to install which includes the soil amendment and fertilizer.

olderthandirt
10-17-2005, 08:04 PM
Mac, just curious, does this include your labor for installing? I.E. you get woody plant for $20, charge $60 for the plant, does this include all cost associated from beginning to end or is it simply for the plant itself?

I don't just plant 1 plant, I plant beds so yes the price would be all inclusive for the plant but would not include the top-soil, mulch etc. When I do a planting it gives me a quick way to estimate for a residential customer, they like getting a price and a plant selection to choose from. I have about 20 plants that I know I can mix and match at each home to make a nice lay out and I know the price for each so its just a matter of how many and which ones they like. First one to give a price and an idea means I have the best chance of grabbing them as a customer

DVS Hardscaper
10-17-2005, 08:16 PM
We do not do big mark ups on plants or any materials. We are in the business of selling labor. So we make dinero off of labor.

We do mark up plants for warranty purposes. But plant mark up is NOT calculated UNTIL the labor and net profit has been finalized. Not all plants have the same mark up. Being in biz since 1990 an having planted countless trees - to this date we have NOT replaced 1 deciduous tree. So our deciduous trees may only be marked up 50%. We have replaced countless Leylands - so Leylands get marked up 100%. We have never replaced any Otto Luykens, so the get marked up 25-50% depending ghow bad we want the job. We have replaced thousands of azaleas - so they get a 100% mark up.

Sounds confusing!? Really its not. You have to see our job costing sheets to understand.

Green-Pro
10-17-2005, 08:33 PM
I don't just plant 1 plant, I plant beds so yes the price would be all inclusive for the plant but would not include the top-soil, mulch etc. When I do a planting it gives me a quick way to estimate for a residential customer, they like getting a price and a plant selection to choose from. I have about 20 plants that I know I can mix and match at each home to make a nice lay out and I know the price for each so its just a matter of how many and which ones they like. First one to give a price and an idea means I have the best chance of grabbing them as a customer

I didn't mean to imply that 1 plant is all we are dealing with, like you I also do beds, and my formula is similar in that it is designed to give a quick estimate. I actually pulled over in a parking lot today for about 5 minutes to prepare an estimate (had to calculate mulch, and cant chew gum and walk art same time :rolleyes: ) I also feel it gives me an edge and eliminates dickering with the customer, the price is what it is. My question was more directed at the variety of pricing methods I see here quite a bit, as in you charge 3x + mulch, topsoil, etc. then some cowboy gets on here and charges something like 3x for the plant only. So just trying to gain some perspective on the methodology used seasoned fellas such as yourself.

Thanks for the reply.
G-P

olderthandirt
10-17-2005, 08:40 PM
GP, The meathod I described works well with about the 20 plants that most customers want at least some variety of. If its something differnt or a larger size etc. I will price it accordingly, but for the most part I know how much I need to make and prefer to make it on the top-soil and mulch as most home owners don't have the equipment to move 15-20 yds of dirt or 10 yds of mulch.
That takes 2 hrs or less to form the beds and drop the plants in and mulch the front beds in MOST cookie cutter sub divisions homes.

DLS1
10-17-2005, 08:51 PM
We do not do big mark ups on plants or any materials. We are in the business of selling labor. So we make dinero off of labor.

We do mark up plants for warranty purposes. But plant mark up is NOT calculated UNTIL the labor and net profit has been finalized. Not all plants have the same mark up. Being in biz since 1990 an having planted countless trees - to this date we have NOT replaced 1 deciduous tree. So our deciduous trees may only be marked up 50%. We have replaced countless Leylands - so Leylands get marked up 100%. We have never replaced any Otto Luykens, so the get marked up 25-50% depending ghow bad we want the job. We have replaced thousands of azaleas - so they get a 100% mark up.

Sounds confusing!? Really its not. You have to see our job costing sheets to understand.

I just started this year to branch out into small plant installs. This thread has some good ideas. This might be asking to much to give away your secrets but can you list what plants you install that you replace the most? :D

Green-Pro
10-17-2005, 08:57 PM
Know what you mean about the mulch & topsoil, our markup on these materials is healthy. Markup on plants is healthy also and easily covers costs for us to remain solvent from the business end and still profit personally. We deal in a larger variety of plants but all are in a pretty much two price realm, basically nearly all perennials are going to be the same price for me and nearly all woody ornamentals will be consistent at another price. This makes it easy for me to throw out the estimate quickly. Trees are another subject in regards to price however and usually requires a call to my nursery, no price list on hand for these but need to look into compiling one this winter. Thanks for the info, btw do you find it a "tougher" sell in regards to "cookie cutter" designs when dealing with the new home constructions that seem to be done in the cookie cutter fashion than vs. the older established homes? I don't mind pushing them out to folks but have no idea why this homeowner wants their sh*t to look exactly like so & so's, actually have people say I saw jones blah blah blah and I want mine to look just like it, wierd but I'll keep selling it.

olderthandirt
10-17-2005, 09:25 PM
btw do you find it a "tougher" sell in regards to "cookie cutter" designs when dealing with the new home constructions that seem to be done in the cookie cutter fashion than vs. the older established homes? I don't mind pushing them out to folks but have no idea why this homeowner wants their sh*t to look exactly like so & so's, actually have people say I saw jones blah blah blah and I want mine to look just like it, wierd but I'll keep selling it.

No I have 15-25 differnt plans drawn up, dif. bed outlines with dif plants in each but I or the customer can pick one out that they like and I can make substitues or shape changes fast. So they may all be the same they are all a little dif. Plus the customer gets to see dif. plans immediatly, It has help sell many jobs that they don't have to wait. The cost for the package is there and they can see it. Now if they want to swap out a burning bush for a rhodo its really no problem, I can adjust the cost up or down a few dollars if I need to but most of the time the cost is still so close to what I already have it priced at that it don't matter.
Once your initial plans are drawn up you will have almost no time in the estimating of this part of a job.

BTW-- I found that customers love to be able to be invovled or take credit with the neighbors for the design so I often tell them to lay out the "exact" design of the bed with a hose the nite before were to begin. Thats help to build good relationships and more importantly referrals

Green-Pro
10-17-2005, 11:37 PM
No I have 15-25 differnt plans drawn up, dif. bed outlines with dif plants in each but I or the customer can pick one out that they like and I can make substitues or shape changes fast. So they may all be the same they are all a little dif. Plus the customer gets to see dif. plans immediatly, It has help sell many jobs that they don't have to wait. The cost for the package is there and they can see it. Now if they want to swap out a burning bush for a rhodo its really no problem, I can adjust the cost up or down a few dollars if I need to but most of the time the cost is still so close to what I already have it priced at that it don't matter.
Once your initial plans are drawn up you will have almost no time in the estimating of this part of a job.

BTW-- I found that customers love to be able to be invovled or take credit with the neighbors for the design so I often tell them to lay out the "exact" design of the bed with a hose the nite before were to begin. Thats help to build good relationships and more importantly referrals


Good points and thanks for the info, I know you have posted some thoughts and basic how to's before about the merits of having established plant bed plans already laid out and ready for the customer to see. I have experienced and learned a great deal this first season, I know I got the pump & jump to get "it" done, now going into off season will be working extra hard (after 1 week of uninterrupted sleep) to develop some pre designed plans with prices. Heck I thought I was putting out a fast turn around time for customers, in fact maybe I was, but more than once I got ate up time wise with indecisiveness on the customers end. i.e. we would still get a job but the amount of face time with the customer has been a consideration. If we could present them with a number of pre conceived plans maybe we could eliminate that and get right to the job.

anyway thanks for taking the time to give more detail it is appreciated

G-P

cleancutccl
10-18-2005, 12:50 AM
I take the wholesale price and mark up 3.5x. That includes installation and a one year warranty on trees and shrubs. Anything other than digging a hole and putting the plant in it, such as prepping soil for annual bed, is extra labor cost.

DVS Hardscaper
10-18-2005, 10:06 PM
DLS1 - I would tell you what plants we replace the most of, but off the top of my head - I can't answer!



Folks - this marking up 3 times is not good. Not good at all. You need to base jobs on TIME. You need to calculate every second affiliate with the job.

Marking up 3 times and leavin a price at that is great if you are working in the front yard that is easy access and level.

Now take the exact same materials and install them in a backyard that is a STEEP hill and you have to wheer-barr through a small gate, and you'll loose your tail. I can assure you that all medium to large companies calculate estimated time and seperately calculate materials. This industry is all about time, production hrs.

olderthandirt
10-19-2005, 12:30 AM
DLS1 - I would tell you what plants we replace the most of, but off the top of my head - I can't answer!



Folks - this marking up 3 times is not good. Not good at all. You need to base jobs on TIME. You need to calculate every second affiliate with the job.

Marking up 3 times and leavin a price at that is great if you are working in the front yard that is easy access and level.

Now take the exact same materials and install them in a backyard that is a STEEP hill and you have to wheer-barr through a small gate, and you'll loose your tail. I can assure you that all medium to large companies calculate estimated time and seperately calculate materials. This industry is all about time, production hrs.

Not necessarily true, you can also average your jobs/ time through out the season. Yeah 1 job might take 6 hrs and you figures are for 4 hrs so your 2 hrs short on that job. But the next one takes only 2 hrs and its also figured at 4 so now your up 2 hrs. If you know what your doing and the type of work your doing averaging works great and saves a boat load of time with estimates. Besides if you do an estimate and see that its gonna be a real PITA and go way over the average billable hrs you can adjust that 1 job accordingly. The industry is about service your survivability is about profit. And it don't matter how you reach the point that you need to be at to be profitable. If I can sell 1 yd of mulch for 250k a yr and have no employees and no equipment I'm still a very profitable company. and the hrs it takes to make the call for the mulch won't matter, whether I spend 1 hr setting up delievery or 10 hrs. My cost per hr. drops but my profit still stays the same.

sheshovel
10-19-2005, 01:01 AM
I double retail nursery price..+ get my 20%contractors discount and I charge the plant material seperately than my labor.Otherwize I don't give my price "installed".So a 1gallon plant that sells retail for 6.00,I sell for 12.00 and only pay 5.80.
I do it like this is how much for the plants and this is how much for the labor to p/out-p/up-&deliver and plant them.It's this much for your materials and this much for labor.

CutRight
10-20-2005, 08:17 PM
I am just a small business starting up, just me and my retired father. I have accounts with many different wholesale nurseries around Connecticut and what I have heard from the owners at these nurseries and now what i do myself is that I mark up the individual plants or materials anywhere from 50%-250%....depending on distance traveled, income levels in the area and whatnot. so at a 100% markup a $80 hemlock would be billed to the customer as $160. Also in my bill i then add on labor. I dont know if you have any machines, but using my Kubota backhoe for planting I estimate my hours and charge a minimum of $70/hr and up depending on the terrain and difficulty of digging. ($70/hr is probably cheap, im still figuring that out myself) But a great quote that i got from my professor in my landscape architecture program. "Charge your client as much as you think you can, because otherwise they wont respect you" Now you may lose a few jobs here and there, but if you back up your price with good work then it will pay off in the end.

olderthandirt
10-20-2005, 08:33 PM
I am just a small business starting up, just me and my retired father. I have accounts with many different wholesale nurseries around Connecticut and what I have heard from the owners at these nurseries and now what i do myself is that I mark up the individual plants or materials anywhere from 50%-250%....depending on distance traveled, income levels in the area and whatnot. so at a 100% markup a $80 hemlock would be billed to the customer as $160. Also in my bill i then add on labor. I dont know if you have any machines, but using my Kubota backhoe for planting I estimate my hours and charge a minimum of $70/hr and up depending on the terrain and difficulty of digging. ($70/hr is probably cheap, im still figuring that out myself) But a great quote that i got from my professor in my landscape architecture program. "Charge your client as much as you think you can, because otherwise they wont respect you" Now you may lose a few jobs here and there, but if you back up your price with good work then it will pay off in the end.

Do you have a min. number of hrs if you using a hoe? I would not think of only charging $70 an hr if I was only gonna get 1 hrs pay for the load, travel, unload and use. 4 hrs min would be a good Idea, thats what a homeoner would have to rent equipment for if they did it themselves

DVS Hardscaper
10-20-2005, 09:52 PM
Not necessarily true, you can also average your jobs/ time through out the season. Yeah 1 job might take 6 hrs and you figures are for 4 hrs so your 2 hrs short on that job. But the next one takes only 2 hrs and its also figured at 4 so now your up 2 hrs.


Mac - no successful contractor bases a job cost based on x-tra hrs from a previous job! All jobs are priced for THE JOB at hand :)

When a new shopping mall is built, the GC does not say "well we made out like bandits on that last job, so we can afford to come up short on this job".

its about charging to DO the job at hand.

Not charging to GET the job.


"Well gee Frank Homeowner, its your lucky day! Sir you see your steep hill in the back is not a problem! We came out ahead on our last job for Bob Hairyback, so we can do your job as if there are no variables!"

olderthandirt
10-21-2005, 12:36 AM
Mac - no successful contractor bases a job cost based on x-tra hrs from a previous job! All jobs are priced for THE JOB at hand :)

When a new shopping mall is built, the GC does not say "well we made out like bandits on that last job, so we can afford to come up short on this job".

its about charging to DO the job at hand.

Not charging to GET the job.


"Well gee Frank Homeowner, its your lucky day! Sir you see your steep hill in the back is not a problem! We came out ahead on our last job for Bob Hairyback, so we can do your job as if there are no variables!"

Besides if you do an estimate and see that its gonna be a real PITA and go way over the average billable hrs you can adjust that 1 job accordingly.

Thats why I added this one part your steep hill in the back would be adjusted accordingly.
After 30 yrs I consider myself a successful contractor and apperantly so do my customers, and I price my jobs on an average. If your taking the time to estimate down to the penny then thats time on the job. I have come up with a way that work extremly well for me with out wasting time on ESTIMATES. Its not how much you make its how much you keep at the end of the yr and the hrs to get to that point. If I'm installing 30k ft of sod or seeding I know that cost and it changes very little if the ground is not as flat as a pool table. If I'm doing 100 sq. of paver patio on a sq or a retangle my cost change very little as long as base will be the same. I don't estimate right down to the nickle to get jobs I have enough profit built into everything that if I'm off by a few hundred or a few k depending on the job I'm still going to be making a good profit with out spending hrs chasing pennys. I quit charging to get jobs about 15 yrs ago, I pick the ones I want and for the price I want to do them for, if Hairy Homeowner don't like my price he should move along to the next contractors and eventually he will find one that will work it into his budjet.

DVS Hardscaper
10-21-2005, 10:08 AM
Mac - I can agree with all that! Sounds good to me!

But see, I read these internet message boards, and have done so for at least 5 yrs now, and I always see where these guys/gals veer off from mowing and venture into construction or installation. And they all say "we multiply the material costs by 3, works for us"!

When in reality they have no clue how their numbers are playing out at the end of a job.

So I am big on speaking up and saying "hey, thats not a good method", as its not.

This is something I posted on another board over the summer (just to give further explanation of pricing for those that are new, struggeling, or just starting):


Never cost out a job with the intent of being "competitive".

If you wanna be competitive, then you find ways to increase production. Find innovative machinery. Find innovative ways to perform tasks, etc.

When pricing work, for installs, the way you mentioned is a big no no. And I'm going to explain why:

Naturally you have to calculate materials. And depending on the job / materials, you may need to calculate a waste factor.

All jobs need to be estimated based on production hrs. Not percentages of materials. Not necessarily number of workers. And I use the word "necessarily" as yes, number of works has role in it, but not as you're referring.

You need to base production hrs on the following:

1. Initial load time of trucks/trailers/equipment/materials at your yard/shop.

2. Drive time per employee per hr per day to and from the job.

3. Unload time when you arrive at the job.

4. You need to break down each task performed and estimate how long each task will take to perform.

5. Include daily clean up.

6. Factor in variables. Such as inclines. Staging area. Distance of work site from staging area. Temperature - people tend to usually work slower when its hot outside. ETC.

7. Factor in hauling spoils from the job site.

8. Factor in final clean up.

9. Factor in loading equipment, tools, trucks, trailers, etc and returning to the yard.

(I have a set number of hrs I use for all load and unload time)

The reason you do not want to price install work as you mentioned is because:
1. Say the materials cost $2000.00. Say you charge $4000.00 for the labor, which is 100% of the materials. Say youíre planting trees in the front of a home, right off the road. And you do it on 2 days. $4000 labor divided by 2 days equals $2000 / day.

2. You have materials costing $2000.00. Again, labor is $4000.00. You're planting trees. This time the trees are in the back yard, and you have to wheel-burr everything up a steep hill. Because of the difficulty in accessing the work area, the job is gonna take you 4 days. $4000 labor divided by 4 day equals $1000 / day.

As you can see from my super dooper looper examples, using incorrect pricing can have a big impact on your bottom line.

Take time to estimate EACH job correctly. Break down every single material needed and itemize it on your cost sheet. Break down each task to be performed in regards to labor and itemize it on your cost sheet. Factor in every variable you can see.

Price the work to DO IT. Never price work simply 'TO GET IT'.

olderthandirt
10-21-2005, 11:02 AM
I don't know where the difference is. Your example 1-9 is either a know or very quickly figured in my head,and I already said that if there was a variable such as a big hill that would take twice as long you would adjusted accordingly.
The only thing difference in what your saying now is that you charge by billable hrs. Well so do I, its just a difference starting point and some things never change and those figures are in my head.
If I buy a tree at $100 whls. and sell that tree $450 retail installed I'm still making $300 profit after cost.
I said I do not plant 1 tree but beds so multiply that by 10 customers cost $4,500 my costs $3000
Now add in 20 yds of topsoil at $50 a yd = $1000 my cost is $14 a yd
5 yds of mulch at $70 is $350 my cost is $12
$3000 + $720 +290
So I know I'm gonna make $4,110 before my machine cost and other incidentals "cost" of doing business. I can do 2 of these jobs in an easy day so my gross profit before operating cost is $8220 whether its up a hill or I can drive right to it. If one jobs takes 2 hrs longer than the other it still makes no difference to me. because I'm making enough profit that those 2 extra hrs are not worth my time or gas to go back to a customer with an exact dollar figure. I've built in the cost and to drive back and spend the time would actually cost money.
I'm at a stage where I never price work simply 'TO GET IT'.
and my pricing structure covers the cost of "DOING IT"
You are assuming that I don't know my cost and I'm basing my estimates on trying to be competitive and still get the job. I'm not I don't care whether I get a job or not and my method works extremely well for me and it will for anyone else that knows there cost. Using your examples the only thing that would be a variable is #2 the rest should be known, and like I said adjust accordingly for #6. So I could sit in there drive and come back in 10-15 min with a price and a contract ready for them to sign. Or I can leave and figure it down to the penny and hope they don't sign with someone else before I get back with a price.

Green-Pro
10-21-2005, 05:30 PM
I agree with Mac, this is a process I will be refining over the off season. The way I see it the cookie cutter, know the cost/retail price will work in most cases. That said I certainly understand DVS's concerns about anybody solely relying on such a method and agree with his thoughts that this would be an unsound business practice, mainly because, well duh, it would be unsound to not account for variables.

I like the idea and will simply use it on a job by job basis, if I take a look around potential job site and for see difficulty in completing the project, simple the price goes up. I look around, it looks pretty straightforward, then, borrowing Mac's idea/logic, I will be able to throw out several plans with prices to choose from thus increasing my chances of landing the job immediately.

All in all I see it as a win-win for the contractor, if he or she is wise enough to make the judgment call as to what the job will entail from a labor standpoint.

-Geoff

Ramairfreak98ss
10-28-2005, 01:58 PM
do you disclose how much each plant is in the contract? I price contracts everything included for one price...


Anyway, i usually charge a fee for delivering all plants, truck or trailer whatever, then mark up plants say as such, $2 items are $4-5 , very large trees etc, say are $100 id charge $225 for. then install fees etc, smaller plants around 1/2hr each to put in and large stuff quote per type or 2hrs per tree.

Green-Pro
10-28-2005, 10:01 PM
do you disclose how much each plant is in the contract? I price contracts everything included for one price...


Anyway, i usually charge a fee for delivering all plants, truck or trailer whatever, then mark up plants say as such, $2 items are $4-5 , very large trees etc, say are $100 id charge $225 for. then install fees etc, smaller plants around 1/2hr each to put in and large stuff quote per type or 2hrs per tree.

Thats pretty much how I bill it, labor, plant, any extras specifically for the plant, like organic peat, nutrients, etc. I use seperate line for items such as mulch, top soil, any tilling, etc.

Branching Out
10-30-2005, 12:43 PM
For landscaping and design services, I usually do it in reverse. I always start by asking for a budget from the homeowner. And then I work from there.

IE: If a budget is $5,000.00, I usually take half ($2500.00) from the top for costs of materials, machine work, labor, etc. and then work up a design from there......It works most of the time when a customer asks for a landscape design and install.....

It won't work for things like a paver patio, driveway, and stone walls.. For that I have a per sq.ft. or a Per.lin.ft. wall price, and then add cost of materials..... There are some factors that may make for additional charges like, exceptional and unusual conditions. But for the most part it generally works......

Ronnie
Branching Out