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GroundScapesIncorporated
08-24-2006, 10:27 PM
Ill start by saying that Im usually not one to discuss prices, but Ive been a little stressed out lately with the local hardscape guys prices.

I have priced 3 paver driveways this summer and have lost two of them due to the competion bidding these jobs dirt cheap (in my opinion)

There are 3 well known co. in my area (besides myself of course) that hardscape and are very well known and good at it. One of them prices work for about the same as I do. the other two who are hardscape only co. are dirt cheap.

I met with a client this morning with my bottom bottom dollar price on a Belgard dublin collection paver driveway proposal (approx 3000 sf). We are also doing a complete softscape install for this client as well. Anyway my price for the Drive was $10.50 foot. I knew that the guy was getting prices from these other 3 installers so I priced the job at my lowest price. To make a long story short, I lost the job to $7.00 a foot. The client showed me the other proposals, they where $7, $8 and $11.
Can someone please tell me that its not just me and that this is a stupidly low price.
Ive been streesed out all day over losing this job, as I really wanted the whole install.
This is actually the second drive and the third large job I have lost this season to one of these two guys.

What do you all think?

ACutAbovesiny
08-24-2006, 10:38 PM
I say let them kill themselves for the little pay. I would never go that low. Plus they cant be offering as good of quality for that price. Another thing is time and labor. This will catch up to them when they have 3-4 jobs going on at the same time and wont have the man power or enough money to pay that many crews. Be professional.

Mike33
08-24-2006, 10:44 PM
This is what you call elements of business. I dont do pavers so i cant comment high or low. I think your price was in line i heard a guy here does that for that kind of money. Is the lower guy doing a good job and using the correct materials? I do a boat load of srw and have been known in my area to be lwer price. I do quality work and make a nice profit. I do notice one reason im cheaper is that i produce more than some of my competion. I get in and out quicker and that is how i make my money. I do the job right but some of these other guys have a bunch of idiots working for them and cant produce. They have to charge these prices to make money to overcome there overhead. Im a 2 man company earlier we built a wall, excavated and layed 5 skids of block in 1 day. sat the caps but did not install to next morning. My competiters crew was 2 houses down doing a smaller wall and they actually spent all day digging a footer 45' long, and it waent rock either. The boss wasent there and they pissed around all day. Now he would have to charge more than me to overcome things like this to make money. Im not saying this about your company but there are a lot of variables out there. I have told many people we all have different price structures we work with. I really dont feel they were giving quality for that kind of price though.
Mike

tthomass
08-24-2006, 11:07 PM
maybe in a couple years you can make that 4 other companies :)

just have to know your costs and what its worth, if you get it you get it..........a lot of people back home are really tight no matter how much money the have

PerfiCut L&L
08-25-2006, 09:00 PM
GroundScapesIncorporated;

I'm constantly tuning my prices, you have to. About every 6 months I print out all my statements, job costings, review them to see where I can improve profits.

I will offer this suggestion, it may work for you, it may not. Check with your suppliers, see if you can get additional discount $$$. We get a nice 15% off the retail price at the local aggregate for our pavers and stones, but on occasion, when we do a large job, my rep may give me 20% and sometiems 25% off the retain. He's a great guy, and im hoping after another year increased business my regular 15% off will change to a constant 20%. Doesnt hurt to ask.

Granted this may not be enough to bring your $10.50 /sf down to $7/sf but its a may be a good start, especially on these big projects that your really would like to get, and need to be competative.

Just a thought. Wish I could suggest something else.

PS: Might be a bigger job around corner for you, thats why you didnt get this one.

DLS1
08-25-2006, 10:13 PM
Why is it people always assume that a low price means not good quality work. I hear the same comments in lawn care area. You can have quality work and low prices meaning that person is a bad business person when it comes to charging for their work.

On the flip side high price work does not equal quality work.

But everyone knows everyone on this site does quality work with good prices. No low-ballers or slackers on this high class site. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

spieritz
08-26-2006, 12:17 AM
I feel your pain..........I recently started my own business, do a little of everything. I also have another full time job. I figure the time spent busting my butt in the sun and away from my family is very valuable. i charge accordingly, not to high but definetly not too low. I have run into a couple of "low-ballin" landcapers in the area. Maybe they aren't licensed, maye they don't carry insurance, maybe they have illegals working for them, or maybe they can get by with less money. What ever the reason, I don't lose any sleep on it, and neither should you. Just be on time, proffesional, and do good quality work.........and the rest will take care of it self. Maybe you should also rethink your advertisement........focus on a certain group, instead of general. I like to focus on upper middle class baby-boomer population. They are established, know what they want, and some have extra money because their parents might have "passed on" some money to them. Also, try to specialize in something that your competitors might not do. I started doing vegetable and cut flower gardens. If you can get it down to a science, you can make some money. Who has time these days to plant a vegetable garden. And of course they will need you once a week to weed and check on the garden........:weightlifter:

YardPro
08-26-2006, 08:14 AM
the materials alone will be almost $7.00/sqft!!!!!!!!!!!!!

we install alot of belgard products and unless material prices are way cheaper there there is no way they are making a decent profit with those prices...

i would meet with the other guys and "fix " the prices.... just let them know how much money they are leaving on the table..........

we will not touch a job for less than $10.00/sqft.... normally our prices are closer to $12.00/sqft...
our cost in doing paver work averages about $8.00/sqft...

DVS Hardscaper
08-26-2006, 12:21 PM
This is not a get rich business.

This message board is a prime example of logistics of the hardscape installation industry.

10 yrs ago, my company and one other company were the only 2 companies in our county to offer full fledged paver installation services. Shortly there after, 2 other small companies came along. Not a big deal, we all had work and all was cool.

Well, within the last 2 years so many lawn mowing guys have decided to start laying pavers, that I can not even tell you how many people in our area offer these services.

They are working for next to nothing.

Making it VERY difficult for a legitiment, veteran hardscaper contractor to charge the amount THEY KNOW is necessary to complete the job in a profitable manner.

You think people are cut throat now....just wait 2 more years, it'll be WORSE.

GroundScapesIncorporated
08-29-2006, 10:05 PM
This is not a get rich business.

This message board is a prime example of logistics of the hardscape installation industry.

10 yrs ago, my company and one other company were the only 2 companies in our county to offer full fledged paver installation services. Shortly there after, 2 other small companies came along. Not a big deal, we all had work and all was cool.

Well, within the last 2 years so many lawn mowing guys have decided to start laying pavers, that I can not even tell you how many people in our area offer these services.

They are working for next to nothing.

Making it VERY difficult for a legitiment, veteran hardscaper contractor to charge the amount THEY KNOW is necessary to complete the job in a profitable manner.

You think people are cut throat now....just wait 2 more years, it'll be WORSE.

Im afraid that you are on to something.

GroundScapesIncorporated
08-29-2006, 10:13 PM
The craziest thing about the two guys that priced this job so low, is that both have been in the industry for years.
I talked to the third company today and it was a relief when the guy told me that he couldnt even match my price on this job. Lets me know that their is atleast one local company that doesnt mind getting paid for their work. This guy talked like I was to cheap, and I agreed, because I really did feel as thought I was pushing the limits of being to cheap.

Im over it now. If they want to work for nothing though, so be it. Ill keep making enough to make the shovel payment.

Pavers Plus
08-30-2006, 10:56 AM
DVS is right on about the lawn maintenance companies that are popping up all over the place like weeds trying to install pavers and retaining walls. I see it everyday. Always new companies stopping in saying they want to install. This doesn't even include the companies that still buy pavers/wall from Home Depot/Lowes. Now that's some really good quality stuff!!!!!

Anyway, lawn mowing as turned into a commodity based business and within the next few years, the same lawn mowers that turned mowing into a commodity will soon completely turn pavers into a commodity. The legitimate landscape contractor will find it harder to compete against the unlicensed, uninsured, under the table, illegal employed worker, oh yeah....and uneducated companies.

I'm not saying that pricing needs to be at a certain level, because every company has a different cost of doing business and a different structure. There are varying pricing for many companies because of overhead costs, equipment costs, own vs. rent vs lease, educated & trained employees, accounting for future warranty costs/repairs, fuel costs, EFFICIENCY ON THE JOBSITE, Efficient sales process, costs for designer on staff, cost for design plan, cost to measure the property to get accurate measurements, how desperate they are to get the job (working job to job vs. several jobs ahead), profit needed to grow the business, money needed by the owner to live at the level they want to live (expensive house, cars, lifestyle, etc.).......

So many factors go into the cost that it's tough to say they aren't making what they need to at $7/sf to live happy while at $10/sf the other guy is struggling.

Basically, you need to price for what you need to succeed and operate the business. If you don't get the job, get the next one. Learn to be a better salesman. explain why your price is why it is and why they should choose you. Better warranty, better products, better employees you can trust, clean worksite every day, not leaving the project until finished, etc.... You're not gonna sign every project, so work hard to meet with as many people as possible and if you bat .300 (like in baseball), that is supposed to be a good rate of success. (The better the sales rate, obviously the better you will do).

Branching Out
08-30-2006, 01:17 PM
DVS is right on about the lawn maintenance companies that are popping up all over the place like weeds trying to install pavers and retaining walls. I see it everyday. Always new companies stopping in saying they want to install. This doesn't even include the companies that still buy pavers/wall from Home Depot/Lowes. Now that's some really good quality stuff!!!!!

Anyway, lawn mowing as turned into a commodity based business and within the next few years, the same lawn mowers that turned mowing into a commodity will soon completely turn pavers into a commodity. The legitimate landscape contractor will find it harder to compete against the unlicensed, uninsured, under the table, illegal employed worker, oh yeah....and uneducated companies.

I'm not saying that pricing needs to be at a certain level, because every company has a different cost of doing business and a different structure. There are varying pricing for many companies because of overhead costs, equipment costs, own vs. rent vs lease, educated & trained employees, accounting for future warranty costs/repairs, fuel costs, EFFICIENCY ON THE JOBSITE, Efficient sales process, costs for designer on staff, cost for design plan, cost to measure the property to get accurate measurements, how desperate they are to get the job (working job to job vs. several jobs ahead), profit needed to grow the business, money needed by the owner to live at the level they want to live (expensive house, cars, lifestyle, etc.).......

So many factors go into the cost that it's tough to say they aren't making what they need to at $7/sf to live happy while at $10/sf the other guy is struggling.

Basically, you need to price for what you need to succeed and operate the business. If you don't get the job, get the next one. Learn to be a better salesman. explain why your price is why it is and why they should choose you. Better warranty, better products, better employees you can trust, clean worksite every day, not leaving the project until finished, etc.... You're not gonna sign every project, so work hard to meet with as many people as possible and if you bat .300 (like in baseball), that is supposed to be a good rate of success. (The better the sales rate, obviously the better you will do).

That's the best answer. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Get your price. And, NEVER, let the competition determine your price. They'll probably be gone next year and you're looking to be in it for the long haul. It's better to do 1000 sqft at $12 rather than 1500 sqft at $8 to make the same money.

rb_in_va
08-30-2006, 02:07 PM
DVS is right on about the lawn maintenance companies that are popping up all over the place like weeds trying to install pavers and retaining walls. I see it everyday. Always new companies stopping in saying they want to install. This doesn't even include the companies that still buy pavers/wall from Home Depot/Lowes. Now that's some really good quality stuff!!!!!

Anyway, lawn mowing as turned into a commodity based business and within the next few years, the same lawn mowers that turned mowing into a commodity will soon completely turn pavers into a commodity. The legitimate landscape contractor will find it harder to compete against the unlicensed, uninsured, under the table, illegal employed worker, oh yeah....and uneducated companies.

I'm not saying that pricing needs to be at a certain level, because every company has a different cost of doing business and a different structure. There are varying pricing for many companies because of overhead costs, equipment costs, own vs. rent vs lease, educated & trained employees, accounting for future warranty costs/repairs, fuel costs, EFFICIENCY ON THE JOBSITE, Efficient sales process, costs for designer on staff, cost for design plan, cost to measure the property to get accurate measurements, how desperate they are to get the job (working job to job vs. several jobs ahead), profit needed to grow the business, money needed by the owner to live at the level they want to live (expensive house, cars, lifestyle, etc.).......

So many factors go into the cost that it's tough to say they aren't making what they need to at $7/sf to live happy while at $10/sf the other guy is struggling.

Basically, you need to price for what you need to succeed and operate the business. If you don't get the job, get the next one. Learn to be a better salesman. explain why your price is why it is and why they should choose you. Better warranty, better products, better employees you can trust, clean worksite every day, not leaving the project until finished, etc.... You're not gonna sign every project, so work hard to meet with as many people as possible and if you bat .300 (like in baseball), that is supposed to be a good rate of success. (The better the sales rate, obviously the better you will do).


I can understand people getting into hardscaping. After seeing some of the work on this site it seems like it would real satisfying work to create something that will last for years and years. But realistically I myself will confine any hardscaping I do to my own property!

DVS Hardscaper
08-30-2006, 06:41 PM
Here's some more insight -

approximately 8 years ago the average price to install a paver patio was around $8.00 / square foot.

Today, a 400 - 600 SF patio averages $17.00 / SF (not including seat walls, retaining walls, burying of down spouts, etc).

Thats an increase of over 100%.

Gasoline costs have gone up (incase you didnt know that :dancing:)

Grocery costs have gone up.

The cost of life has gone up.

Yet - most folks incomes have not increased as drastically as living expenses have.

Selling patios in these times is gettin harder.


So if you think "I'll start a hardscape bidness and make bank.......you're wrong, it ain't gonna happen.

GroundScapesIncorporated
08-30-2006, 08:40 PM
You guys are right about every Tom, Dick and Harry that retires, drops out of school or gets laid off from their factory job coming into the industry, its everything from softscapes to hardscapes to Mowing, its not just one specific feild of the industry, and obviosly its not just my area, it looks like its everywhere (from what you guys are saying).
Ive got a question for you guys though, Why is this? Why does Landscaping look so easy to get rich off of? Is it, because its easy to mow grass, in a round about way?

For the record though the two guys that I mentioned at the start of this thread are not beginners, and have been in the industry for years. (Just so everyone knows that Im not calling these guys beginners)
There prices are just ridiculusly Cheap. To be honest after a few conversations Ive had the last few days with freinds of mine that I met around the time I come into the industry (when I was 15) , I almost think that these two guys kinda are competing against each other, almost like a grudge.
There are a few reasons why I would think this among the conversations Ive had that I cant really discuss.

Mike33
08-30-2006, 09:08 PM
I dont do pavers but do a lot of srw's. 8 years ago a few of us almost had a monoply. Now every body is doing them. Also what has been worse for me is i was the first person in my area 11 years ago to start a bobcat business. In fact my company name is Bobcat Landscaping Service i am actually registered with bobcat because i use the bobcat logo in my advertisement. There was other contractors out there who had bobcats but they had larger eqpt. and the bobcat was a fill in. However i was the only guy in town that only offered a bobcat service only. Well i was a good salesman for bobcat because thats all we have now in landscaping companies with bobcats. Hell i was even refered to as the bobcat man.
Mike