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View Full Version : grumble, grumble, grumble...


Turf Terror
06-05-2007, 02:40 PM
Twice in the past two months I've been called to give landscaping estimates...
This old lady called and I went to her house, briefcase in hand, laptop with ProLandscape program, all spiffed-up and ready to present a professional image. She wanted 35 areca palms planted along a fence, 2 hardscaped flowerbeds in front and alongside her house(filled with an assortment of colorful tropical plants), pygmy date palms, hedge plants to hide her A/C unit, a stepdown paver patio off her existing one with another flowerbed in the backyard, and around 40k square feet of sod. I told her that since she was buying such a large package of work, I would throw in a custom made(at my welding shop) ornamental wrought iron railing on her existing patio--free of charge with the deal. I went home with the pics of her house and designed a beautiful landscape for her. I brought the pictures back to her and her husband, with the price for the work and they loved it. We sat around on the patio, BSing and sipping coffee, and generally getting to know each other. They said that the prices were great and they would call me when they were ready to start(after the other contractor's were finished running underground wires and building a concrete driveway). So...3 weeks go by and I drive by the house to check on progress. All the other work was done, so I gave her a call and asked if she was ready for me. She tells me that her husband(74yrs old) decided he was going to do the work himself....ACK!!!
Seven hours of work, 3 visits back to her house, plus the other time spent kissing her wrinkly old a$$, and "poof".... I asked her if she got a lower estimate and she said "No....that her husband really IS going to do it.........eventually." hahahahaaa Beeeee-atch!!!

Next case(I said it happened twice):
Read the above and substitute "old geezer" where it says "old lady".


I know it goes with the job--when you offer "Free Estimates". That isn't the issue.
I just wanted to vent a little. :cry:


*thinking of calling Kervorkian on the geezers*

topsites
06-05-2007, 03:17 PM
Yup, this is one of the main reasons I almost never get large projects to do...

Soon as it starts off with the firly whirly fart around the yard crap where I feel like the lawn faggot, it's as good as over. Once they invite me inside the house, that's even better, I can almost guarantee that outcome...
We'll call you = now you're at our mercy, just what we wanted...
Translation: Either they say no, or if they do say yes I get took.

Something about the whole rigmarole, looking back on things like that, I can see where once things get off on that foot, I've made the wrong impression. I can see they now think of me as their little lawn toy, something to throw money after when you're in the mood for a horse and pony show, so to speak.

Nowadays I don't play these games anymore...
I go out, take one look, and either I can see a finished product in my mind, or I can not.
Either way I take it from there:
- If I can not see it, sorry, I can not help you at this time.
- If I can see it, I give them the price, yes or no, and thank you.
> Be glad to spend a few minutes (5 or 10 at most) explaining a few things, but real basic like: Ok, mulch here, this there trimmed up, and a bit of blablabla but really it's got to be 1-2-3 and we're done, yes or no?
>> Some say ok, do it... Others tell me that's not what they had in mind, ok, fine, no problem, but sorry I gtg.

Basically, if they agree, then whatever happens is my plan, I do as I please and in that sense it should turn out really nice (and it usually does)... The customer, however, may not have the same thing in mind: This has to be determined early on and fast, because if we're not a good match, time to go or it's a nightmare a-brewing.
If it is a good match, w.o.w., minimal time and effort bs'ing, most of the labor went into the project itself, and I got paid for that and the customer, so long we had at least the same rough idea, is happy.

If they disagree, one or two minor changes or adjustments I am ok with, but any major deviation from MY plan isn't happening.

I just got tired of getting ran around like their little office gopher, I don't mind kissing a little tail but once I become their lawn toy, it's as good as over. This is why I don't go to these 'meetings' with other business owners and what have you, here's my plan: Take it, or leave it.

Most of the time it doesn't work out, that I have to accept.
But, I am in charge of my business, and anything that comes in, and goes out, the customer only controls what they want done, not how, when, or where. Again, either we click, or we don't.
But when it does, I feel my frustration levels so low, and limited to stupid stuff (like a rake tine breaking lol).

MarcSmith
06-05-2007, 03:27 PM
never leave the plans behind....Unless they want to pay for them...

Estimate was free, but the design wasn't. You still own the design...and should not have left with them...

Turf Terror
06-05-2007, 03:39 PM
never leave the plans behind....Unless they want to pay for them...

Estimate was free, but the design wasn't. You still own the design...and should not have left with them...

I didn't leave them anything...

MarcSmith
06-05-2007, 03:50 PM
thats pretty sneaky when they pick you brain like that....

Turf Terror
06-05-2007, 04:21 PM
thats pretty sneaky when they pick you brain like that....

Yup...but it's par for the course.
I should also say that during this time I got 4 other large landscape jobs(presented the same way) and they all came through.
So I'm not disappointed in the way the business goes...I just wanted to share the stories involving a couple of time-wasters.
If anything good came out of these episodes, it was that they gave me a chance to sharpen my business and presentation skills. And those are some valuable lessons to learn.

MarcSmith
06-05-2007, 04:30 PM
you can't win em all....

Turf Terror
06-05-2007, 04:38 PM
you can't win em all....

True....but when I do win one, I got a cool little "end-zone" dance I do around my house.
hahahahaaaa

lawnmaniac883
06-06-2007, 08:42 PM
Probabaly not a bad idea to charge for large landscaping estimates...

BQLC
06-07-2007, 11:17 AM
True....but when I do win one, I got a cool little "end-zone" dance I do around my house.
hahahahaaaa
video that and post it That would be funny. :laugh: :laugh: Good Luck on your next one.

bullethead
06-07-2007, 12:07 PM
When they first call, you should tell them:

You will have an initial consultation with them, at that time you will get an understanding of the scope of the project, solicit their input and budget, afford them a chance to get to know you and develop an estimate for your design fee. Tell them the first meeting is for 1- 1.5 hrs and either do this part for free or charge them some hourly rate.

Right off the bat, when they hear you charge for your design time, you will eliminate some of the pretenders from contenders. If you charge an hrly rate for your initial consultation, you will further cull the herd.

Turf Terror
06-07-2007, 04:37 PM
When they first call, you should tell them:

You will have an initial consultation with them, at that time you will get an understanding of the scope of the project, solicit their input and budget, afford them a chance to get to know you and develop an estimate for your design fee. Tell them the first meeting is for 1- 1.5 hrs and either do this part for free or charge them some hourly rate.

Right off the bat, when they hear you charge for your design time, you will eliminate some of the pretenders from contenders. If you charge an hrly rate for your initial consultation, you will further cull the herd.

Good idea...

Turf Terror
06-07-2007, 04:39 PM
video that and post it That would be funny. :laugh: :laugh: Good Luck on your next one.

:cool2:
.

Tim Wright
06-07-2007, 08:07 PM
I would charge a consultation fee and it becomes free when they actually pay for the work in full.

Tim

Kate Butler
06-07-2007, 11:06 PM
I would charge a consultation fee and it becomes free when they actually pay for the work in full.

Tim

I've been doing this for a couple of years now and it works really well for me. Then, when the almost inevitable question comes: "No, sorry, I don't do plans. I'll be happy to tell you what I'd like to do here for you."

It's like pre-qualifying another contractor for a job --- just in reverse.

Stillwater
06-09-2007, 12:34 PM
Probabaly not a bad idea to charge for large landscaping estimates...

DUH.......ya think?

Stillwater
06-09-2007, 12:43 PM
briefcase in hand, laptop with ProLandscape program????

My stuff does not leave the office

sheshovel
06-09-2007, 12:55 PM
Nowadays I don't play these games anymore...
I go out, take one look, and either I can see a finished product in my mind, or I can not.
Either way I take it from there:
- If I can not see it, sorry, I can not help you at this time.
- If I can see it, I give them the price, yes or no, and thank you.
> Be glad to spend a few minutes (5 or 10 at most) explaining a few things, but real basic like: Ok, mulch here, this there trimmed up, and a bit of blablabla but really it's got to be 1-2-3 and we're done, yes or no?
>> Some say ok, do it... Others tell me that's not what they had in mind, ok, fine, no problem, but sorry I gtg.

Basically, if they agree, then whatever happens is my plan, I do as I please and in that sense it should turn out really nice (and it usually does)... The customer, however, may not have the same thing in mind: This has to be determined early on and fast, because if we're not a good match, time to go or it's a nightmare a-brewing.
If it is a good match, w.o.w., minimal time and effort bs'ing, most of the labor went into the project itself, and I got paid for that and the customer, so long we had at least the same rough idea, is happy. Topsites


________________

I don't think Turf Terror and you are taking about the same thing at all. Turf Terror is talking about presenting a professional landscape plan and estimate to a potential client. Using the clients wants and needs as one should do. You are talking about mulching and trimming some shrubs, maintenance work.
You are talking about god knows what but it is not the way we go about presenting our ideas to our potential clients.

Turf Terror
06-09-2007, 01:23 PM
briefcase in hand, laptop with ProLandscape program????

My stuff does not leave the office
I'm a "closer"......
"Sign here:__________"
I show up in my pearl-white Caddy, looking like I'm ready to do business.
If they're intimidated by that, they were probably time-wasters and stiffs to begin with....like the two old "geezers" I grumbled about at the start of this thread.

fiveoboy01
06-09-2007, 06:11 PM
What's wrong with taking that stuff along?

I'm getting a laptop and printer to carry in the truck.

When I give a verbal price, and they agree, I can print it off and have them sign on the spot. Makes it quicker, no mailing or faxing anything, and it's done then and there...

I can also give written estimates this way.

PaperCutter
06-09-2007, 06:42 PM
fiveoboy- for a lot of jobs, that's perfect. Gotta hit them while they're in buying mode and excited. It's not the style of work I do now, but back when I was doing it that way you couldn't go wrong. On new builds, I could sit with the homeowners and based just on their survey plat from the homebuilder I could design, bid and sell $30K jobs in about an hour each.

Dave

Stillwater
06-09-2007, 10:35 PM
I did not say anything is wrong with doing that if that is a service you give away. I said that stuff does not leave my office. I perfer to show clients exhamples of work completed in a portfoilo. doing a desgine for them on my laptop in their liveing room I would expect to be paid this has worked for me for a long time. if he had done that in the first place he would not be complaining of working 7 hours on a plan and just giveing it to the customers to do the work themselves. for me 7 hours of desgine work comes to about 1500 but he just gave it to them and he is not happy. the guy worked a entire day and just handed them the product of his 7 hours

Turf Terror
06-09-2007, 11:13 PM
...he would not be complaining of working 7 hours on a plan and just giveing it to the customers to do the work themselves....

....the guy worked a entire day and just handed them the product of his 7 hours
Oh no I didn't...:)

PaperCutter
06-10-2007, 12:31 AM
I did not say anything is wrong with doing that if that is a service you give away. I said that stuff does not leave my office. I perfer to show clients exhamples of work completed in a portfoilo. doing a desgine for them on my laptop in their liveing room I would expect to be paid this has worked for me for a long time. if he had done that in the first place he would not be complaining of working 7 hours on a plan and just giveing it to the customers to do the work themselves. for me 7 hours of desgine work comes to about 1500 but he just gave it to them and he is not happy. the guy worked a entire day and just handed them the product of his 7 hours

Let me get this straight- you get $214/ hour for your designs? What exactly is the customer getting for that $1500?

Stillwater
06-10-2007, 01:27 AM
I try not to discuss my fees publicly it is kind of personal but I assume we are still speaking of the 7 hours that guy tossed away, 214.00 is extremely conservative, if it is just a residential design proposal for a home the 1,500 fee is put towards the completed job total. I do not leave a unpaid product with anybody. If I am dealing with a federal or state contract they pay a retainer, commercial properties the same. Why what do you charge?

PaperCutter
06-10-2007, 01:45 AM
PM me and we'll discuss it further.

Dave

sheshovel
06-10-2007, 04:06 AM
I try not to discuss my fees publicly it is kind of personal but I assume we are still speaking of the 7 hours that guy tossed away, 214.00 is extremely conservative, if it is just a residential design proposal for a home the 1,500 fee is put towards the completed job total. I do not leave a unpaid product with anybody. If I am dealing with a federal or state contract they pay a retainer, commercial properties the same. Why what do you charge?

Other words, you give it away when you get the job. Tell me exactly what you mean by
"put towards the completed job total"?
Are you saying you actually minus $1500.00 off the total invoice price when the job is done? Is that what you mean?
So what you are saying here is your design is free with the job, am I correct?

Stillwater
06-10-2007, 04:56 AM
No it is not free in anyway, but it may appear that way, during the first meeting with the potential customers all fees are disclosed. The cost of the project covers the time spent on the design, design does not just include a drawing. designing could involve watershed research, determining historical bylaws if any, if it is waterfront property or wetland then their is an environmental impact study if needed and land surveying, well layouts and identifing permitting requirements. The time spent on that is factored into the bid but not itemized, Requireing a deposit for the above work exhample is only common sense.

Turf Terror
06-10-2007, 03:07 PM
No it is not free in anyway, but it may appear that way, during the first meeting with the potential customers all fees are disclosed. The cost of the project covers the time spent on the design, design does not just include a drawing. designing could involve watershed research, determining historical bylaws if any, if it is waterfront property or wetland then their is an environmental impact study if needed and land surveying, well layouts and identifing permitting requirements. The time spent on that is factored into the bid but not itemized, Requireing a deposit for the above work exhample is only common sense.
I can see why you would want to get paid upfront for that kind of work, but you are talking about a level waaaaaaaaay beyond what I was talking about. My job consisted of taking a few pictures of their house, adding the plant, lawn, patio, and flowerbed images from ProLandscape, and getting the prices on plants, trees, sand, topsoil, sod, pavers, and decorative stones.
Apples and oranges....

Stillwater
06-11-2007, 01:10 AM
Turf Terror, I feel you should be paid well for that at minimum at least at your personal labor rate for time spent, and running the prolandscape. that is considered skilled labor. But I really have no idea how the market is in FL.