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View Full Version : Change a quote, or tell the customer i can't do it?? help


DillonsLawnCare
10-18-2008, 01:07 PM
hey guys!! a couple of questions.....

i quoted a mulching job that is just strictly mulching, no weed pulling..etc...

i quoted the job about 3 months ago, and the guy took the quote of $240.00 to mulch an area. well, 3 months ago i was a little ignorant to the fact of quoting mulching jobs, landscapes...etc....

so my question to you is:

Should i do the job and take the hit?

Should i tell the guy that i can't do it for that amount of $$??

or, Should i tell him that I'm going to have to raise the price..?

Thanks, in advance.:waving:

1cooltreeguy
10-18-2008, 01:28 PM
Cost of business has gone up and there has to be an adjustment to the price as the quote is 3 months old...REDO the quote!!

DillonsLawnCare
10-18-2008, 01:31 PM
ok, but what do i tell the guy???

Thanks

davis45
10-18-2008, 01:40 PM
Did you give him a computer printed quote? All of mine state that the quote is only valid for so long after the given date.

LushGreenLawn
10-18-2008, 02:46 PM
Its pretty standard in any industry that quotes are good for 30 days. How far off is your quote? How much mulch ae we talking about here?

DillonsLawnCare
10-18-2008, 03:28 PM
i gave him a quote on a slip of paper, and put it in his mailbox.

I will probably have to get around 10- 14 scoops of brown mulch. i can get brown mulch for $8.50 a scoop. 2 scoops= 1 yard at the mulch place i get it. since i inherited the 1977 5x10 single axle trailer, i can only put 2 scoops on at a time, before i start to notice the tires going flat. I also have a helper who gets paid $10.00 an hour, and the job will probably take 2-4 hours.

Mulch delivery- $30.00

so... 14 scoops x $8.50= $119.00

Quote: $240
----------------
Mulch- $120
Delivery- $30
Employee- $45
BS- $15
-----------------
Net profit of $30.00 for me. my helper makes more money than me at this quote!!
I dont know what i was thinking at the time, but what should i do??

Thanks..

chesterlawn
10-18-2008, 04:15 PM
I don't know what kind of prices you get in your area, but I would just tell him that you made a mistake and under bid the job Tell him it should be x amount, but you will meet him half way. Be honest with him.

AJ Lawnscapes
10-18-2008, 05:27 PM
Did you sign a contract, and when?
When did he agree to the price? Just recently?

Sorry, but a quote from 3 months ago is no longer valid sir, Your price is now X.

DillonsLawnCare
10-18-2008, 05:48 PM
no contract was signed. he agreed to the price back in late july. he said, " ok, the quote you gave me sounds reasonable, but i want to wait until most of the leaves fall, before you put the mulch down."

I would tell him that the quote is no longer valid, but i agreed to him to wait until the leaves have fallen.

so..i kinda screwed myself.

Green Team Landscaping
10-18-2008, 06:09 PM
Hey, thank you for starting this thread by the way. The problem with adults is they dont always respect the kids. They look at you as some little kid doing it so he can go to the movies with his friends, but really, you've got lots of equipment to be paid for and other things since you're the one running the business. I think you should let him know that you made a mistake and take treeguy's advice. Tell him the cost of business has gone up since, and you will need to requote or not work. That should earn you respect from him. Or a big kick in the pants and he'll hire someone else. How much higher are you talking going?

topsites
10-18-2008, 06:44 PM
I didn't vote because I think it depends how busy you are.

Genlandscape
10-18-2008, 06:59 PM
There is a big difference between 5 and 7 cu. yd. of mulch. Typically one yard (or two of your scoops) will cover 100 sq. ft. @ 2" depth. Myself and one other person can install 5 yd. of mulch in about 2 hours tops. We charge for mulch by the yard installed. I would explain to the client that your materials cost has risen and also imply that your original estimate was only good for 30 days, and if he is still interested requote the job. If you need the work take the hit, you are not making a bundle but you are not losing either. A few weeks ago I took a sod job, and only took home $100- for a full day, but this job sold me a big install and further renovation, so it was worth it for me to take a little hit. IMO you are the only one who can determine if this should be done as is or needs to be re bid.

DillonsLawnCare
10-18-2008, 07:39 PM
ok, if i did requote it, i would probably put it at around $315. so that i break that hundred dollar mark, myself.

ill be pretty busy with leaf removal, fall-cleanups, and some more last minute landscaping jobs.

but now that i think about it, its probably going to be more like 10 yards of mulch. i suck at quoting things and telling how much mulch im going to need. thats another thing i need to work on...

10 yards= 20 scoops @ $8.50 + $30.00 delivery, that brings me up to $200.00 just in mulch.

so my quote should really be like $450.00.......jeez...

Green Team Landscaping
10-18-2008, 07:44 PM
Did you every tell him that you were bringing in the mulch? If he paid for the delivery(totally separate/ between him and the mulch company) then you spreading the mulch would be worth your original quote, depending on how quick you are with spreading mulch.

mattfromNY
10-18-2008, 08:16 PM
Is the delivery on your old trailer 2 yards at a pop, or will the mulch dealer deliver for $30? Wish I could get 10 yards delivered for $30.00, it would be $80 minimum around here to have 10 yards delivered.
I agree with the above posts- quote only good for 30 days, standard practice. Late in the year, availability of (quality) mulch is low, price is going up. This time of year, everyone around here is sold down, & I mostly get the last little bit of mixed color, been run over a few times, some rocks mixed in, think I got 5 yards left if I dig a little deeper mulch. Not pretty.

DillonsLawnCare
10-18-2008, 09:47 PM
The mulch people will deliver the mulch at a $30 minimum, depending on distance. They have a Huge Chevy with a dump insert. just back the truck up and dump.

I get what all of you are saying about the quote only being good for 30 days, but i never said anything like that to him....

W.L.M.
10-18-2008, 10:07 PM
I agree, be honest and change your quote. Explain that your cost of running your buisness has gone up and you need to adjust the quote.

BDLC Mikey
10-18-2008, 10:47 PM
http://www.gardenplace.com/content/calculator/mulch_calc.html first make sure your mulch estimate is accurate... I've found this tool to be a huge help. Just get the sqare feet and plug it in... But like people have said before me you have two options... 1 explain yourself and be honest and try to get a new quote approved (you look like an amateur, but you are honest and have self respect...) 2 Just do the job YOU agreed to do and chalk it up as expensive learning experience... (what i have done and would do). But the important thing is not repeating the error.

stewartje
10-19-2008, 01:21 AM
Let me be transparent as well...I am learning how to bid jobs as well. There are not a whole lot of LCO's in the area, so the chances of me low-balling another LCO is minimal. I will say that I probably low-balled myself some. When this has happened though, I stick to my price.

shane mapes
10-19-2008, 01:43 AM
Suck it up and learn from it. Th ats what we all do and we learn the hard way. Just my cents...

heather lawn sp
10-19-2008, 06:54 AM
no contract was signed. he agreed to the price back in late july. he said, " ok, the quote you gave me sounds reasonable, but i want to wait until most of the leaves fall, before you put the mulch down."

I would tell him that the quote is no longer valid, but i agreed to him to wait until the leaves have fallen.

so..i kinda screwed myself.

Your time for changing the quote was when he asked for a change in the delivery date.

"Oh you want it that late, okay the price will be higher then"

You let it slide by and now you want out

Offer made. . .offer accepted

lawns Etc
10-19-2008, 07:08 AM
Well I know that my cost on mulch has went up $5 per yd as of July at all 3 places here so I wouldnt honor the price just be honest. Also is there edging and weeed pulling added I hate to bust your bubble but 7 yds just delivered and spread even a low number should be about $350 and edging and raking the leaves out should get at least another $100. I know that if I cant walk with at least $150 a day in my pocket after filling the truck with fuel I might as well stay home and watch TV or go hunting.

delphied
10-19-2008, 07:33 AM
Is the delivery on your old trailer 2 yards at a pop, or will the mulch dealer deliver for $30? Wish I could get 10 yards delivered for $30.00, it would be $80 minimum around here to have 10 yards delivered.


Around here, mulch is closer to $30 a yard. I dont think delivery would be 30 bucks either. I think Dillon should just tell the guy Im sorry I cant do the job. The guy took it because of the low price anyway and thats what he gets when dealing with a lowballer............no guarantee.

robtown
10-19-2008, 08:50 AM
I dont get how people install 10 yards of mulch for $350-$450.
This should have been bid at no less than $600.
Customers always say...no weeding or edging ...so they can try and get a lower price but while you are doing it or right after you are done they will complain.
Plus if there were weeds and the edge looked bad and i was suposed to mulch it I would just fix it.
If a neighbor saw you do a half a$$ job they will not hire you.
DO it the right way and stop low balling.
Oh yeah you should eat it. and do the job for your Original price.
Education cost money ....and you just paid for a how to bid class.
hope you learned something.
I cant speak for everyone but I have had a job or 2 eat into my profit .

IN2MOWN
10-19-2008, 09:00 AM
i gave him a quote on a slip of paper, and put it in his mailbox.

I will probably have to get around 10- 14 scoops of brown mulch. i can get brown mulch for $8.50 a scoop. 2 scoops= 1 yard at the mulch place i get it. since i inherited the 1977 5x10 single axle trailer, i can only put 2 scoops on at a time, before i start to notice the tires going flat. I also have a helper who gets paid $10.00 an hour, and the job will probably take 2-4 hours.

Mulch delivery- $30.00

so... 14 scoops x $8.50= $119.00

Quote: $240
----------------
Mulch- $120
Delivery- $30
Employee- $45
BS- $15
-----------------
Net profit of $30.00 for me. my helper makes more money than me at this quote!!
I dont know what i was thinking at the time, but what should i do??

Thanks..



What is this?

BS- $15.00 ???

A profit of 30 for you but your paying your employee 45?

Cmon man!


I charge $85.00 per cubic yard of mulch installed. You need to come up with something better then what you had. BTW, where is your sales tax?

DLAWNS
10-19-2008, 09:02 AM
I say suck it up and take the hit. It sucks but it happens. Use it as a learning experience. You did tell him he can wait so like you said you kind of screwed yourself. In the future measure the area to get the square footage and use a mulch calculator. There are like 1000 of them online. Always make sure you put the 30 day clause in the contract that way you can change an estimate and protect your profit.

ALC-GregH
10-19-2008, 09:05 AM
I get $80-100 for 1 yard of mulch installed! 10 yards would be close to a $1000 to complete the job. Being it was 3 months ago, I'd re-quote the job. A simple explanation on why the price needs to go up (economy) should be all you need to do. If he tries to barter the price, just tell him your sorry for any inconvenience and if he needs anything else or has any problems to give you a call. At the price you quoted, I'd be paying HIM to do the job. Also, you said the company has a minimum delivery charge. Chances are, you'll get hit for 4x the delivery if you need 10 yards of mulch. 10 yards will not fit in a dump insert on a pickup truck. I'm lucky if I get 3 yards on my 6x12 trailer.

DillonsLawnCare
10-19-2008, 12:20 PM
What is this?

BS- $15.00 ???

A profit of 30 for you but your paying your employee 45?

Cmon man!


I charge $85.00 per cubic yard of mulch installed. You need to come up with something better then what you had. BTW, where is your sales tax?

I know, like a said, i messed up.

You guys can call me a low-baller all day, but i didn't lowball on purpose. i made a mistake just like any one of you had done before. I'm not going to take it offensively, because i know where i sit.

Sales tax= 9.25%

I guess one way to spiff up my quoting would be to charge by the yard, life many of you mentioned.

Thanks for all the replies and help!

DillonsLawnCare
10-19-2008, 12:33 PM
I will get out to his house and measure the area** I think that will help! AND,
"The Mulch Stop" where I get my mulch from, was kind enough to give me an equation on seeing how much mulch I need based off of the size of their bobcat.
x/108=y
x= sq ft
y= how many yards of mulch I shall need
108= size of bobcat...i think..?

example: 1200 sq ft / 108 = 11.11 yards of mulch!

So if i start charging like $75.00 per yard then the 7 yards would be like $525.00.

3 hours tops.. thats pretty good money...

White Gardens
10-19-2008, 12:38 PM
It all depends on the Customer Dillon.

If he is offended by the new quote, then work with him to come up with a price you can both agree on, even if you take a loss.

Always put a 30 day disclaimer in the quote in the future. The more professional, the better it holds up in court in worst case scenarios.

If you try to work with him as much as possible, then he'll use you now and in the future.

You'll get the hang of quoting, it takes a good 4-5 jobs of each type to be able to just look at it and come up with a quote. Sometimes you take a hit, and hopefully that's not very often, but it does happen to even the best of us.

Try to make sure your using the best mulch possible. Good hardwood mulch holds it's color 3 times longer, stays in place well, and looks the best. Goes for $35 a yard around here.

ALC-GregH
10-19-2008, 12:59 PM
It all depends on the Customer Dillon.

If he is offended by the new quote, then work with him to come up with a price you can both agree on, even if you take a loss.

Always put a 30 day disclaimer in the quote in the future. The more professional, the better it holds up in court in worst case scenarios.

If you try to work with him as much as possible, then he'll use you now and in the future.

You'll get the hang of quoting, it takes a good 4-5 jobs of each type to be able to just look at it and come up with a quote. Sometimes you take a hit, and hopefully that's not very often, but it does happen to even the best of us.

Try to make sure your using the best mulch possible. Good hardwood mulch holds it's color 3 times longer, stays in place well, and looks the best. Goes for $35 a yard around here.

What he said, but leave out the "even if you take a loss" part. If the mulch costs more then you thought, let him know what the cost is. Try to work with him on the new price but whatever you do, don't do it if it's going to "cost" you money.

White Gardens
10-19-2008, 03:23 PM
What he said, but leave out the "even if you take a loss" part. If the mulch costs more then you thought, let him know what the cost is. Try to work with him on the new price but whatever you do, don't do it if it's going to "cost" you money.


I agree, you shouldn't take a loss. In a situation similar to this last year, I didn't profit on a job I underbid for myself (not lowballing, no one else put in a bid). The final bill was still a little more than the estimate, but I didn't make much on it compared to other similar jobs.

The only reason I justified doing the work at the quote, was only because I knew that this gentleman had more work he wanted me to do. In the end I did a $12,000 patio for him this year, and I made plenty of money off that.

brucec32
10-19-2008, 05:14 PM
i gave him a quote on a slip of paper, and put it in his mailbox.

I will probably have to get around 10- 14 scoops of brown mulch. i can get brown mulch for $8.50 a scoop. 2 scoops= 1 yard at the mulch place i get it. since i inherited the 1977 5x10 single axle trailer, i can only put 2 scoops on at a time, before i start to notice the tires going flat. I also have a helper who gets paid $10.00 an hour, and the job will probably take 2-4 hours.

Mulch delivery- $30.00

so... 14 scoops x $8.50= $119.00

Quote: $240
----------------
Mulch- $120
Delivery- $30
Employee- $45
BS- $15
-----------------
Net profit of $30.00 for me. my helper makes more money than me at this quote!!
I dont know what i was thinking at the time, but what should i do??

Thanks..

This is why experience working for others before putting out one's shingle matters. This is not a complicated job. You underbid because of inexperience. It has been 3 months so it's a gray area, but bailing on a job you quoted doesn't make you look great to the customer. You can cite price changes but nobody's going to buy that prices went up the 50% or so the job should really be priced at. Last I heard there was no worldwide problem with "peak mulch" causing rapid price increases : )

It sounds like you also still don't really know how much time this job will take or how much mulch you actually need. It sounds like you're charging for 7 yds and deciding that if it doesnt' need that much you just won't bring the rest out, which is borderline unethical, depending on the specifics of the agreement. For example, did you quote for 3" deep of mulch or 7 yds of mulch? If its the latter you need to deliver and spread 7 yds.

It's also cheaper in labor costs and fuel to have it delivered to the jobsite than to go make 5-7 trips with your trailer to get it. Even if the mulch supplier was down the street that's still a lot of time used up loading/unloading/etc. For $50 or so it's worth it to have the supplier drop it off if feasible.

You might also want to upgrade that trailer before it cracks up with your equipment on it. A yd of mulch isn't all that heavy!

Kennedy Landscaping
10-19-2008, 06:51 PM
Its an estimate for a reason. It is an estimation of the actual price. I quoted a cleanup last week for 475 and when i showed up to do the job she wanted some extra stuff done so the price went from 475 to 750. She didnt have a problem with it. I was just like, hey you wanted more done so I had to re-estimate

DillonsLawnCare
10-20-2008, 10:47 PM
This is why experience working for others before putting out one's shingle matters. This is not a complicated job. You underbid because of inexperience. It has been 3 months so it's a gray area, but bailing on a job you quoted doesn't make you look great to the customer. You can cite price changes but nobody's going to buy that prices went up the 50% or so the job should really be priced at. Last I heard there was no worldwide problem with "peak mulch" causing rapid price increases : )

It sounds like you also still don't really know how much time this job will take or how much mulch you actually need. It sounds like you're charging for 7 yds and deciding that if it doesnt' need that much you just won't bring the rest out, which is borderline unethical, depending on the specifics of the agreement. For example, did you quote for 3" deep of mulch or 7 yds of mulch? If its the latter you need to deliver and spread 7 yds.

It's also cheaper in labor costs and fuel to have it delivered to the jobsite than to go make 5-7 trips with your trailer to get it. Even if the mulch supplier was down the street that's still a lot of time used up loading/unloading/etc. For $50 or so it's worth it to have the supplier drop it off if feasible.

You might also want to upgrade that trailer before it cracks up with your equipment on it. A yd of mulch isn't all that heavy!


I agree with every point you made. I still haven't gotten the hang of quoting landscaping jobs on the sight. This is my 3rd year mowing, and just started quoting mowing jobs accurately and on the spot a couple months ago.

Im only 15, and still learning the ways of being a Landscaper/ Lawn Pro.

When the guy calls me, I will then measure the area and find out how much mulch I will need. Then, I will calculate it at a 3" depth, and give him the new quote. I will simply tell him the truth; that I did not give him an accurate quote.

As for the trailer, i've been looking for months. I plan on getting a 6x12 and trading my trailer in to a small business who buys, sells, and trades trailers. The guy said he would give me between $300-$400 for my trailer, then I can apply that to a new trailer.

Heres the link, tell me what you think....
http://nashville.craigslist.org/grd/887131008.html

Thanks for all the Help!!

02DURAMAX
10-21-2008, 01:39 AM
Tell him you cant do it for that price anymore.

kyfireman2004
11-30-2008, 04:05 PM
It would depend on the customer. If I thought I could get more work from him or even better he would pass your name to other people I would do it. Its not his fault you didn't quote the price out right. We all do it ......or have have un seen problems happen later in a job.
I would highly suggest that you try to up sell a leaf removal, shrub trimming, tree pruning, lawn seeding, ect.........you could always make more money then. You should always up sell ...........never accept selling one thing to a customer........

NC Greenscaper
11-30-2008, 05:18 PM
Go back out and measure to make sure. Get your price right and explain the situation to him. Yeah, you might feel dumb, but your 15 years old. I think he is going to understand. I don't think he wants to take advantage of you. If he does, go find another customer. Don't take money out of your pocket to put mulch in the customer's yard.

topsites
11-30-2008, 05:52 PM
Some folks would like to make one think that we have to get $60 an hour whether we're doing work with a million-dollar caterpillar
loader or raking up a few leaves with a rake, I keep telling these people it ain't the same thing and it doesn't work out like that,
we don't charge as much when we only have a $100 in wheel barrow and pitch fork and rakes invested as compared to 5 or 10
grand worth of machines, and you can quote any price you like but watch how many customers look at you funny and then come
tell me about how that worked out lol.

So is it 5 or is 7, who cares compromise and use 6 and be done with it, if you pay attention and make sure that each scoop
covers enough space then 12 scoops x 90 square feet = 1,080 square feet look dude time to spread the mulch a little thinner
than you're used to, might as well get used to it because that foot deep moron-spread is for folks who got too much money and
yes we would all love those kind of customers but there ain't too many of them out there.

So 6 cubic yards, 12 scoops x 8.50 = $100
I know by myself I can spread about 2 cubic yards an hour so two hours labor, we're not exactly using $10,000 Ztr's here so 40
an hour x 3 = $120 + $30 for the delivery fee and $30 for the bs.

250, 240, 270, 275, whatever, so you bid on the low side but it's on the money.
We're not getting rich doing mulch, two of you doing it won't take 2 hours, if all you get for 1-2 hours is 30 dollars that's pretty
good because all the rest of the money covers your costs and 30 x 2 is still better or as good as the $20 or $30 your friend is
getting for the two or three hours and if it's a little marginal and you lose 20 bucks oh well suck it up oh and by the way pick up
your friend on the way BACK from the mulch yard.

There, all done.

BP348
11-30-2008, 08:05 PM
15 with your own business, that's great!!!

Now, since I haven't even started my business you can take what I say plus $1 and that will buy you a coke.

But, I agree with everyone else. Do the job at the quoted price and chalk it up as a learning experience. Now you know to put "quote good for 30 days only" on all your quotes. plus you learned to measure the area and use the mulch calculator to give an accurate quote so you never make this kind of mistake again. How much is that worth?

Does it suck? Sure does but sometimes we have to learn things the hard way.

That's how I would handle it, if it was me. Let us know how it works out.

TomberLawn
12-01-2008, 05:40 PM
It never hurts to ask if you can adjust the final price. When you gave the price to the man, was it an estimate or a quote? Not that it matters much, but estimates are more fluid and subject to change. Tell him you're still learning how to do this, and at 15, you are still learning and he should be fine with that. Shoot, I'm 21 and have lots to learn about estimating, etc. If he understands your position and pays some extra, fine. If not, do it and let the money you lost be a cheap education. My preacher always says his dad told him, "Bought sense is the best sense, so buy all you can afford."

georgiagrass
12-02-2008, 11:11 PM
Some of you guys really crack me up. Giving this kid advice to "Be honest, tell the customer that the price of mulch has gone up, so I have to increase my estimate by 50%!"

If you want to be a pro, do a great job at the price you quoted and learn from the experience.

jlawnman
12-02-2008, 11:34 PM
I charge 40 yd installed for dark hardwood mulch, minimum 5 yards. It takes me about 2 hours with a helper to put it out.... don't forget that you need to charge extra for bed prep... (weed pulling, pruning, bed edging, etc).. I tell my customers that they're wasting money putting out mulch or pinestraw if we're going to prune afterwards. Your mowing crew can take care of that before you get there with the mulch... If they don't like the price they can get someone else... simple as that

jlawnman
12-02-2008, 11:35 PM
sales tax???? comeon fellas.. keep it simple...

sflannig
12-03-2008, 03:43 AM
man i wish i could get a cubic yard for $17 i'm paying $24 right now. I charge $75 a cubic yard for customers. Bid jobs based on how much work you do, and not on time. Tell the guy that you made a mistake and that you will requote him if he would like. Give him a dollar amount to lay a cubic yard labor and cost combined.

JimLewis
12-03-2008, 04:06 AM
Suck it up and learn from it. Th ats what we all do and we learn the hard way. Just my cents...

That's what I would do as well.

Here's what will usually happen if you rebid this job at a higher rate. First thing is the customer will be ticked off. Right or wrong, he will. People hate it when contractors don't honor their quotes.

Second thing that will probably happen is he will not hire you. He'll just move on and hire someone else. The next person may be the same price. But he won't have bad feelings for that person, because that person didn't give him one quote and then change his mind.

Third thing that happens is he'll never call you again.

Now, let's look at the other scenario;

You go ahead and do the job - and do it well - at the original price. When you're done, you explain to the customer, "Mr. Smith. I gotta tell you. I wasn't happy with myself taking on this job. I really underbid this job. I realized that even before I began. It really should be more like a $315.00 job. But I am a man of my word. And the last thing I wanted to do was hike up the price on you just for a mistake I made. That wouldn't be right. I appreciate you hiring me. And I won't take a dime more than $240.00. But just so you know, it won't be that cheap next time."

Now the scenario looks like this;

First, because you agreed to do the work at the originally quoted price, Mr. Smith hires you.

Second, because you did good work, Mr. Smith tells his friends AND calls you in the future when he has more work.

Third, because you were honest with him at the end, he has a TON of respect and admiration for you. He sees you as someone who is honest and trustworthy. He's now dead set on using you for all his future landscape work AND even more excited than normal to spread the word about you -- all because you were honest with him and stuck to your word.

That's how I believe it works, most of the time. And that's what I believe you should do.

mike1948
12-03-2008, 08:44 PM
Hey, If you would put your buddy on another job
and take an extra 1hr or 2 labor mite help?