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kris
01-23-2002, 09:07 PM
I've been working on the tedious job of "job costing" this week ... going through work sheets etc. We have decided that next year all information will go to the secretary daily and she will input the info.

I'm interested in any one else's routine ... do you do it all at the end of the year as I am? I understand that doing it as each job is complete has allot of benefits. One being that you may catch many problems as they arise.

Lousy but important job.

Rex Mann
01-23-2002, 10:22 PM
When we do a proposal we use an Excel spreadsheet. In it we put all our costs and estimated costs. Then we bid the job based on that information. If we do get the job, then we keep track of the actual vs. the estimated. All of that info goes into a job jacket. A file for that particular job.

At the end of the year, which is now for us, I go over each one. I see how the actual copared to the budgeted numbers. From these I see if we had any areas which could be improved. Last year I found our material ordering was lax. (BTW: that's my department). I made an improved effort this year and it was much better. My point is: If I did not keep the records and use the information it generated I would not have known why we had delays on some jobs. The more timely your information is the more valuable it is.

Rex

kris
01-24-2002, 10:00 AM
Originally posted by Rex Mann
If we do get the job, then we keep track of the actual vs. the estimated. All of that info goes into a job jacket. A file for that particular job.

At the end of the year, which is now for us, I go over each one. Rex

We do the same ... I was saying that I think it will be much better having the information input daily ... as soon as a job is complete I will have the numbers.

Stonehenge
01-24-2002, 10:57 AM
Well, you are both way ahead of me. I aspire to that. Right now, I have a year calendar on the wall, with work schedule. It's all in dry-erase marker, and when we complete a job I change the calendar to reflect the time (measured in crew half-days) it took to do the job.

At year end I go through the projects, (try to) match up payroll, materials, etc.

Mine is nowhere as exact as yours. I don't mind the process. I even like it a little, because I feel like I'm discovering little nooks and crannies where money is hiding.

diginahole
01-24-2002, 06:48 PM
Effective job costing should be reviewed on no less than a weekly basis. Using canned accounting packages like MYOB or QB makes this task nearly effortless. As purchases are entered you have the opportunity to charge that purchase to a specific job and a P/L report is printed off after each job is complete. This is important stuff in the construction sector. Doing job costing after the year is over IMO is way to late. If you are consistently over budjet in a particular area you will be better served to know this in May and remedy the situation now. JOB COSTING is easy, you are doing 99% of it already just to pay the bills. Pay attention to the numbers now.

If you keep your eyes on the road, you can drive with the pedal to the metal!!!!!

kris
01-24-2002, 07:32 PM
Originally posted by diginahole
Effective job costing should be reviewed on no less than a weekly basis. . Doing job costing after the year is over IMO is way to late. b]

I agree diginahole and that's why things are going to change... I do believe it is still worth doing even though it's late.

diginahole
01-24-2002, 09:27 PM
That's great kris you'll be happy you did it. You will find that it takes very little effort. One thing I find helps out alot it to print the job number on the packing slips when picking up materials. You are right on last years data though, better late than never.

kris
01-24-2002, 09:38 PM
Originally posted by diginahole
. One thing I find helps out alot it to print the job number on the packing slips when picking up materials

Every job we do is assigned a PO # and reciepts are kept in this folder. Any other information is taken from the estimate material list and worksheets ... Our worksheets are very detailed with each task given a code , and what equipment was used...eg...base prep code 5 laying sod code 6 etc etc.Bobcat used for 6 hours ... 3ton 6 hours ... Foreman are required to keep track of time for each task ... may sound like alot of work but it's not.
Another advantage of having the gal input this information daily is that it will force the foreman to keep very good paperwork because if not, it will be noticed quickly

lawn and stump
02-02-2002, 10:16 AM
I have been using Clip classic and job costing can be done for any time period and it takes 5 mins. Clip pro will sort your jobs in order of dollars per hr. so you could just print out your loser jobs.

dan deutekom
02-02-2002, 11:35 AM
I agree with diginahole. You got to do jobcosting right away. I like to do each job soon as it is billed. That way you can correct problems right away and not blow a whole year. It dosn't matter what system you use as long as you use it all the time.

LawnLad
02-03-2002, 04:17 PM
It looks like all agree on the construction/installation side of job costing and how beneficial it is to do it right away.

My challenge has always been to job cost a maintenance account (I'm sure this is where CLIP would be beneficial - don't have it though). One account takes more or less time depending on the season, as well, there are always extras for which you bill. Any suggestions here?

I've been trying to watch my labor very carefully. I look at our billable % related to our payroll hours. If we're going to pay out the dollars in payroll... I'd like to billing a client for that time. Otherwise, that labor is an overhead cost.

Does anyone use a program to track labor hours and how they are applied to different job functions? We use a spread sheet now, which isn't bad and starting this year, I'll finally get a weekly report telling me how many hours on the crew were spent doing mowing, bed maitnenance, fertilizing, travelling, equipment maintenance, etc. for the week. It would be easier if we had a database where I could query per person for a period of time, a crew or the company. We use an outside payroll vendor, so we don't use the Quick Books payroll function. We just dump the numbers in.

Just curious if others have a solution for watching your over all labor costs?

diginahole
02-03-2002, 04:51 PM
LawnLad

I too spent many years developing and using excel spreadsheets for accounting and various data collection. These days I would almost call that lunacy. With the readily available and economically feasible canned packages available in today's marketplace you have a full time staff of dedicated professionals constantly improving the techniques by which we collect this invaluable information. In your case, many maintenance contractors on these pages will recommend CLIP or LAWN MONKEY. Many years of collaborative effort between contractors, accountants and programmers have gone into developing these packages to the point they are today. If you are truly inspired to collect and analyse this data efficiently and accurately look into a canned software package TODAY. I have even heard that data can be collected in the field via handheld computer with some of these packages along with many other benefits far to numerous for this constuction contractor to even think about.

kris
02-03-2002, 04:59 PM
Sorry I can't be of much help lawnlad...I also did the maintenance "costing". We don't break it down into each task on the daily worksheets ...just the time spent on site, travel and shop maintenance. We had a couple sites that were real losers. The problem I can see with maintenance ( and you mentioned this ) is spring will take longer than late summer. Soooo if we enter this information daily it may look like the site is a loser in the spring, but it could very well make up for it in the summer. What do others do in this situation?
Next dilemma ... what do you do if you find over time that the site is a loser ( say half way through the year )... I'm not sure I'm comfortable dumping the contract.
Any opinions?

LawnLad
02-03-2002, 05:38 PM
When Estimating a Maintenance contract, I look at a property (through eye ball, or measurements) and apply a factor of time for a crew to complete the job, and we bid based on the amount of time that the crew will be there... on the average. Job costing that once we produce it is obviously a different matter.

April/May they will be 30% over and June/Sept right on, Jul/Aug they'll be under the bid. Oct/Nov we're billing for fall clean up - so that's a different matter all together.

With CLIP/Lawn Monkey, I'm sure you can track each customer and the amount of time you spend there (assuming you track the time in the field - which we do). I'm sure then reports are available to see if you're on the mark. You just have to be careful to see if your report in May says you're over... you have to temper that with your knowledge of the season and that your flat rate for a maintenance visit has to factor in 10 months, not just one month. But after one year of data collecting - you then have a bench mark to share with your foreman. Are they hitting the mark? If not - then why? We just haven't made this move yet... but looking at CLIP now. And on your guys suggestions, I'll look into Lawn Monkey too.

If I see a looser mid season I'll look for ways to tighten it up during the season. Otherwise, we'll eat it until we send out renewals.

I remember bidding my first job of the season a couple of years back. I way under bid the job (a little rusty from the winter). We took a bath on it. The following year I almost doubled the price to where it should have been originally. I explained the customer about my error in estimating the first year and that the recent cost adjustment was due to knowledge on the property. He's still with us today - at the new rate.

We use spread sheets where canned programs (Quick Books) dont' fill in for us. Tracking labor and where the guys time is spent I think is critical to knowing if you're applying their time appropriately. As well, when you plan in the winter for the upcoming year, you'll know how much labor you need for fall clean ups, mowing, fertilizing, equipment maintenance, travel, etc.

Anyone else track billable versus non billable hours? How do you track it? What #'s are you looking at?

diginahole
02-03-2002, 06:27 PM
Sounds to me more like an estimating (budget setting) dilemma. If you want to gather such comprehensive data why would you use a seat of your pants method of estimating? When you bid a job you know there will be different tasks to perform at different times of the year. You create a schedule of services and price that job to reflect the expected time it will take to perform those specific tasks. Right?? Frequent analysis of your predictions (job costing) will paint a clear picture of your predictions accuracy. Poor predictions in the spring almost certainly guarantee poor predictions come summer time. What you do with this information is up to you as a business owner. Dumping a client most often isn't the best answer, but armed with all the data, the solution should be easier to find.

Gathering data will allow you to make more reliable predictions. I have never used Clip or Lawn Monkey but am just assuming that it would allow task specific data collection. For that matter I have never done an estimate for lawn maintenance so I could be blowing hot air here as well. It's just the way I would think I would go about it. It is the same basic principles that apply in my sector. Set a budget and keep a close eye to make sure you are achieving your goals and make corrections when necessary.

kris
02-03-2002, 07:51 PM
Originally posted by diginahole
Sounds to me more like an estimating (budget setting) dilemma. If you want to gather such comprehensive data why would you use a seat of your pants method of estimating? When you bid a job you know there will be different tasks to perform at different times of the year.

Diginahole ...not sure if that was directed at me but I'll respond.
Let me say this division is only a couple years old, so we are learning. We use measuring and factor in degree of difficulty for estimating(times collected the first year).. I then x that by our hourly rate(per cut rate) x amount of visits divided by 6 for their monthly rate ... spring & fall cleanups are estimated separately.... What happens then is that we may go over the time in spring but make up for it in the summer...perhaps I am way off on this method ... are you saying that I should look at each cut separately? eg...spring cut takes 1.5 hours and then summer 1 hour... etc? I may consider that or any other suggestions.
I must say that most of my estimating has been right on
the money and I am ashamed to say that the ones that were not was because I quoted them in a hurry last spring ..Sight unseen ...YES sight unseen.... I had a drawing with square footage and no knowledge of the property.

diginahole
02-04-2002, 07:36 PM
kris- being only a couple of years into this venture still gives you a couple of years on my experience, so please, take my words with a grain of salt.

If your method produces the results you desire by all means stick with it. I have never been one to rob Peter to pay Paul. So for me, setting a price for each and every task to be placed on that customers schedule would make me feel confident in my proposals. It may well be overkill for the more experienced, but the desire to collect the detail of data that has been discussed in this thread indicates to me a thirst to know where and how every dollar is earned (or lost). My method may provide a clearer picture of where we stand at any given point of a contract. Then again it may not, because this is only a theory not a well thought out plan based on real world lawn mantainance experience.