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View Full Version : http://www.nilssonbooks.com/ Anyone Bought these Before?


CrewCutEnterprises
11-12-2008, 09:58 PM
Im looking into more Insight on the commercial bidding end of things. Im just looking for more information and more Ideas.

Any Other thoughts??

cpel2004
11-12-2008, 10:43 PM
Keep looking, I purchased it and found it to be a waste of time and money. Most if not all the info in his books can be found on LS just do a search for it. I purchased it when I first started in the business he has some basic info so you must way the cost, every little bit of knowledge is helpful, I guess when you first start. I would give a C-/D grade. Purchase Sean stuff and you will get a better value.

dougaustreim
11-12-2008, 10:57 PM
Pretty much a ripoff

CrewCutEnterprises
11-13-2008, 05:48 PM
I have seans Information and it is great. Im looking for more information on unit pricing, or square foot pricing etc. Im triing to set up a job sheet where We know all of our rates and how to charge so I can send someone out bidding jobs for me.. Any ideas.

cpel2004
11-13-2008, 06:32 PM
I have seans Information and it is great. Im looking for more information on unit pricing, or square foot pricing etc. Im triing to set up a job sheet where We know all of our rates and how to charge so I can send someone out bidding jobs for me.. Any ideas.

Unfortunately what you are looking for doesn't exist, there's too many variables, in this business its a learn as you go for the most part. If you keep good records you eventually have a price sheet to reference from, other than you are on your own. If you do decide to go with the Nilson book I will sale you mine for half price, although he did a very poor job in coming up with time standards.

CrewCutEnterprises
11-13-2008, 06:54 PM
Thanks, And It does exist, No one will share their information. Your telling me all these big corporations just wing it.. Doubtful.

arg....

Unfortunately what you are looking for doesn't exist, there's too many variables, in this business its a learn as you go for the most part. If you keep good records you eventually have a price sheet to reference from, other than you are on your own. If you do decide to go with the Nilson book I will sale you mine for half price, although he did a very poor job in coming up with time standards.

cpel2004
11-13-2008, 10:33 PM
Ok hotdog, since you know so much..... when you find it, you let us all know Cowboy!

CrewCutEnterprises
11-13-2008, 11:01 PM
:) If I knew, I wouldent ask, I would be like select few on here that tell everyone they know what they are talking about. Ill be the first to tell you I dont. Im in the process of compiling our man hours and rates and cost of each material etc, but its alot of data and It would be nice to compare to someone else.

My point is, Brickman. Your telling me they dont have a bid sheet that tells them how much to charge for each sq ft or linear ft or acre or whatever. They have to to bid the volume of bids they do. Same with Tru green. Someone knows the information, but most of the time it remains company secret.

Just triing to gather thoughts and more information.

Ok hotdog, since you know so much..... when you find it, you let us all know Cowboy!

DLAWNS
11-13-2008, 11:17 PM
:) If I knew, I wouldent ask, I would be like select few on here that tell everyone they know what they are talking about. Ill be the first to tell you I dont. Im in the process of compiling our man hours and rates and cost of each material etc, but its alot of data and It would be nice to compare to someone else.

My point is, Brickman. Your telling me they dont have a bid sheet that tells them how much to charge for each sq ft or linear ft or acre or whatever. They have to to bid the volume of bids they do. Same with Tru green. Someone knows the information, but most of the time it remains company secret.

Just triing to gather thoughts and more information.

You are 100% correct. Brickman does have a program for this. It is called COINS and I believe they had it designed specifically for them.

CrewCutEnterprises
11-14-2008, 10:57 AM
You are 100% correct. Brickman does have a program for this. It is called COINS and I believe they had it designed specifically for them.

Thank you... Atleast I know it exists....... There are not generic ones out there for purchase??

cpel2004
11-14-2008, 11:17 AM
lol, I wonder how much that program cost Brickman, I think only a handfull of LCO could afford the amount, that Brickman paid for. Yeah anyone can have any type of software that will do whatever you want it to do as long as you have the cash.

Stihl036pro
11-15-2008, 07:57 PM
Hey Crew Cut, I am trying to do the same thing with my business. I have looked every whare for a program this does what you are looking for. Since I did not find anything that was any good. I started making a program though Ex-cell that is built to my company. Its basically a round about way to estimate everything for lawn maintenance. I also track all of my time though a computer program called timescape. It uses bar code scanners to track time on each of my customers property. Each employee gets a scanner. A good time keeping program and some ex-cell spreadsheets will give you the information to create your own estimating guide. The guy that said what you are trying to does not exist. Now that's funny. I can help you because I am developing the same type of program. After I get done building my estimating guide I will be able to give a small binder to a salesman and send him off on his way to get my company more business. It is the only way to do business.

Stihl036pro
11-15-2008, 08:01 PM
Crew Cut, How do you track all of your time?

Roger
11-15-2008, 10:45 PM
Do a search on LS, with user name Nilsson Associates.

He was very active on LS a few years ago, and shared much of his information in posts. I think he formalized his information into materials that he could sell, and left LS.

cpel2004
11-15-2008, 11:38 PM
The guy that said what you are trying to does not exist. Now that's funny.

Your the one that is funny, based upon your own words there's no programs that exist. There isn't any good lawn care industry standards that exist and readily available to the public, it exist in other industries but not this industry as of right now. If the information does exist please provide us with the website and the #.

You would have never created your own excell spreadsheets if it did, by the way you dont have a program you have time standards which is completely different than having a program.
Furthermore your so called "program" is specially designed for your business and your business only, which makes it moot for the rest of us. Your just trying to let us all know what a good job you're doing. You're trying to boost about yourself. What valuable information have you provided us with?

The best advice anyone can give to someone thats starting and needs help with estimating is to keep good time records and use those records as parameters not guidelines, that can help you guesstimate a more accurate estimate, but you still will need experience and the ability to eyeball properties. Think about this... if this information was readily available then we wouldnt have so many "help me with this bid" questions on this site.

In order for him to become efficient with estimating he has to create and record his own time standards based upon his equipment and property type.

So based upon my initial statement this information doesnt exist.

Lol, lets us all know your outcome when you get your "salesman," I think we all would be interested in hearing from you then, Cowboy!

dougaustreim
11-17-2008, 09:00 AM
Actually there are programs that will get you the information you are looking for. Many accounting and estimating packages include a job costing feature. Take Quick Estimator for example. If you estimate a job with this program and then inut your actual times for each task after the job is complete, it will give you the time cost you are looking for. As more jobs are completed utilizing the same task, the program builds the average time for that task, and thus you end up with your time.

Stihl036pro
11-17-2008, 11:39 AM
Your the one that is funny, based upon your own words there's no programs that exist. There isn't any good lawn care industry standards that exist and readily available to the public, it exist in other industries but not this industry as of right now. If the information does exist please provide us with the website and the #.

You would have never created your own excell spreadsheets if it did, by the way you dont have a program you have time standards which is completely different than having a program.
Furthermore your so called "program" is specially designed for your business and your business only, which makes it moot for the rest of us. Your just trying to let us all know what a good job you're doing. You're trying to boost about yourself. What valuable information have you provided us with?

The best advice anyone can give to someone thats starting and needs help with estimating is to keep good time records and use those records as parameters not guidelines, that can help you guesstimate a more accurate estimate, but you still will need experience and the ability to eyeball properties. Think about this... if this information was readily available then we wouldnt have so many "help me with this bid" questions on this site.

In order for him to become efficient with estimating he has to create and record his own time standards based upon his equipment and property type.

So based upon my initial statement this information doesnt exist.

Lol, lets us all know your outcome when you get your "salesman," I think we all would be interested in hearing from you then, Cowboy!


You sound like a hot head with the last statement. I just wrote you off. lol If anyone else is interested in the systems that I have spent so many countless hours thinking and trying to develop please let me know and I will try to help. After my business gets built to the way I want it. I want to travel the country and try to change the way landscaping businesses do business. Try to educate people in this industry on the correct ways to run a landscaping/ maintenance business. The industry as a hole is hurting and I believe I can help. As far as knowing your cost of doing business and having a good estimating system that is a must for anyone who wants to stay in business for the long haul.

cpel2004
11-19-2008, 07:44 PM
Like I keep saying, landscaping and construction is not a cookie cutter job for estimates, every property is different, regardless of the size. You will lose your shorts if you rely greatly on a program that will spit out an estimate. These programs and spread sheets may give you a parameter for cost estimating but to give you a detailed pricing information it will not. That takes skills, ie eyeballing and using your past experience. So for you guys that keep telling me it exist and that Im crazy, as of today no one has provided me with any websites or phone numbers of these companies that make this type of software.

I looked at that program "Estimator" go ahead and spend your $500+ and be disappointed. Doug did you purchase the Estimator? If you didnt, then I would like to know why you didnt? I think its a great value for the price, if it does the things we are talking about.

As for the Stihl guy, I mean no disrespect to you but you are trying to tut you own horn. You still havent provided us any creditable information that we can use today. I stated the facts when I told this guy it didnt exist. Estimating is a learned skill, on its face we call it eyeballing but it is actually alot more than that. It takes time to be able to estimate properties correctly and estimating is the # 1 reason why people fail in this business. If this program existed I would be the first in line to purchase it.

Just a few questions for the Stihl Guy....
How long have you been working on your program?
Have you tested it, if so what were you results, how accurate of an estimate did it give you?
Are you the only person using it? How long do you think it will take you to perfect it?

Let me leave you with this, we all have dreams I wish you the best, but all that we have is you talking about it, when it actually exist let us know, what you currently have is what I expect any experienced LCO would have after several years in the business. And that my friend is the hard core facts. We all wish you the best. But help us all out right now.:confused:

Stihl036pro
11-19-2008, 09:02 PM
Well, My systems are not fully developed yet but I have a good idea on how to go about doing them. I have a Excell spread sheet for starters. It has all the customers on it and the services that we provide. It also has the driveway square footage and the lawn square footage. Other items such as linear feet of trimming, and how hard the property is to blow off. (Ex, Easy med. hard) How many leaves. (Ex little trees, some trees and wooded areas with lots of leaves. I also will figure out the square footage of the beds. Once I gather all the information. I figure out approximately how long the property is going to take to mow based on the square footage and the linear feet of trimming. I base my information off other jobs that I have complete and go back into my spread sheet and look at the closet property that meets the criteria. Then I base my quote off the time I spent at the other property. Its not perfect but as I progress with the system it will become better and better. Every minute of my employees day is tracked. From windshield time to actual working hours. I track the info threw a computer program that is based for the service industry. Mostly landscapers use this program. I have a bar code for each customer and the tasks that I provide to them. When my employees get to the job they scan into the customers property and then scan the task that they are preforming. Also I track the amount of material I use such as mulch, topsoil. stone. I have been tracking time for a year now and just came up with this estimating system 2.5 months ago. I agree that the reason why must landscaping businesses fail is because lack of knowledge estimating. Any other questions I might be able to answer?

cpel2004
11-19-2008, 11:17 PM
If you could take a 3D image of the property and all of the obstacle and swells, hills etc you could get a very accurate estimate. This technology does exist but at what cost are you willing to pay for it and I haven seen it designed specifically for our industry maybe aerospace/auto makers but not landscapers and earth movers.

I was in search for such a program and I couldnt find anything that would even come close to the type of detail you described so I just started measuring everything, its really a time consuming pain in the chops but I have no choice, my method gives me basic parameter and that is all, I still have to guess/estimate the bid. Many software companies will blow smoke up your chops about their program and make claims but at the end of the day they are waste of money. Like you, I measure every and anything that pertains to the services we offer, I draw out the property with pics etc, its very time consuming, I give grades based upon age and overall condition I try and account for every living thing on a customer's property and pool/patio, drive ways linear ft and beds, trees and etc. fence lines you name we account for it.

Tyler7692
11-20-2008, 12:20 AM
Here's what you do.

Hire an estimator (salesman)

Train them one on one, and on site many times as to what all is involved in the entire scope of work.

Then train (and physically show) him how many man hours are involved in certain tasks. This guy needs to do a lot of observing in his training.

After he has observed the cababilities of the machines, the men at work, and what they can accomplish (on all levels of landscape maintenance), he should be able to do what you want if he is any good. Test him.

Step one is finding this employee. I don't know how you're planning on paying him, but he needs to be motivated, "street smart', friendly & negotiable. And he needs to be able to do his task at hand.

Its up to you to train him. Any sticky situations he runs into or that are above his head come to you.

You can also review his every decision and his stats.

BOTTOM LINE: You need a good person, not a computer program.

Stihl036pro
11-20-2008, 10:03 AM
Cpel, You and I sound like we are trying to do the same thing. How long have you been doing this. I agree its very time consuming. I have alittle over 100 properties I need to get the square footage on them and the beds sizes measured out. If I started doing this in the beginning 8 years years ago. I would have all this information in place. I think it is going to take a solid year before I am really able to try it out. Other things I do is that I keep a journal of some of the jobs we do. Example, The other day we applied 3/4 inch stone on a customers driveway. I had my tractor there and it took me 35 min to spread 4 ton of stone. I spread it out with no hand raking. Just using the bucket. I then put in the time in my journal. So if I came across a job that needs 8 ton of 3/4 inch stone. I know it will take approximatly 1.10 hours to spread that smoothly with my machine. Not including trucking time. What else do people do in order to come up with a good estimating systems? I would be willing to pay someone an extreme amount of money for someone who can develop and program built to my company. Like Brickman did with there program. The problem I see in paying someone to write you a program is how do you know you are going to get a program that really works for your company. It is crucial to the lively hood my business. I like Ware this thread is going now.

Az Gardener
11-20-2008, 10:24 AM
Here is a copy/paste excerpt from a bulb thread that I outlined how to calculate your own unit cost

I charge T & M to prep the bed and I add all the bone meal and other amendments at that time so the bed is loos and fluffy ready to go. Then I charge per bulb and use a more traditional mark up formula. Get a % for the bulb, then a reasonable labor rate to plant, then a small % for warranty. If I have to hand pick the bulbs out of a bulk bin I build that time into the formula too. You will end up with a unit price per bulb.

For Example only!

* Bulb cost 1.00 use a 1.55 margin... so 1.64 for the bulb
* 1.3 bulbs per minute = 78 bulbs per hour
* 45 per hour labor rate divided by the 78 bulbs gives me .58 per bulb for labor
* Now I am at 2.22 per bulb planted
* Add 15% for warranty is another .33
* For a grand total of 2.55 per bulb

These are imaginary numbers, we don't use Tulips here so I have never bought one. But I do tons of Runuclus, Freesias, Anenome's and a few Paperwhites and Daffodils.

That is your jumping off point. Then just track your time to see that you are getting the profit you want and adjust the unit price as needed next time. Within 2-3 times you should have a good solid unit price.

This is an excellent formula to calculate unit prices for most plantings.

If you search my posts you will find more of this kind of info. Topics like tracking and bidding after you have posted it 3-4 times it gets old.

Stihl036pro
11-20-2008, 10:58 AM
Here's what you do.

Hire an estimator (salesman)

Train them one on one, and on site many times as to what all is involved in the entire scope of work.

Then train (and physically show) him how many man hours are involved in certain tasks. This guy needs to do a lot of observing in his training.

After he has observed the cababilities of the machines, the men at work, and what they can accomplish (on all levels of landscape maintenance), he should be able to do what you want if he is any good. Test him.

Step one is finding this employee. I don't know how you're planning on paying him, but he needs to be motivated, "street smart', friendly & negotiable. And he needs to be able to do his task at hand.

Its up to you to train him. Any sticky situations he runs into or that are above his head come to you.

You can also review his every decision and his stats.

BOTTOM LINE: You need a good person, not a computer program.

Tyler 7692,
I believe you can run a business on a program. I will tell you the reason why.
First thing is you need to have all of your customers on a 12 month or a nine month contract. That is important. Once you have that information you can find out the average per month price for all of your customers. Lets says I have a $150 per month average price per customer and a contract term for 12 months. Say I have 100 customers. You take $150.00 per month times 100 customers=$15,000 Times that by 12 months = $180,000 gross profit. By having a program in place that will tell you this information you figure out many customers you need in order to be profitable. Then the bidding becomes more of you need to keep the average dollar amount higher and add more customers to make more money. So in other words some jobs your going to win and some jobs maybe not. Overall is what you are concerned with. An excell spread sheet with a break even analysis will help you decide. If I want to add 20 customers. How many more workers am I going to need and if I need any more equipment to get the job done.
You need to have some sort of guide lines for the salesman. Without guide lines you can not enforce any polices. You still need to make the system idiot prof. You do need a salesman like you said but first thing is that you need to create the systems in which he is going to follow.

cpel2004
11-24-2008, 02:20 AM
The last two and half years, some item it helps some it doesnt. I have lost my butt on trying to trust the numbers. For the most part on simple properties it get me in the area. I have basic load and unload averages.

If you have the money you can get anyone to design any type of program and it would do what you want it to do and more. Think about it, we have robots that are capable of building cars, we have ships that can hit flying objects from space. The million dollar questions are, how much will it cost you and can you actually afford it. Call the company that designed it for Brickman and see how much it cost them to development it, test it and training, probably well over a million dollars. I dont know about you boys but this dawg will stay on porch for those type of prices. Oh and what about yearly updates and maintenance? It can be done.

CrewCutEnterprises
11-24-2008, 05:41 PM
Hey, PM me, I have some ideas to share with you.

The last two and half years, some item it helps some it doesnt. I have lost my butt on trying to trust the numbers. For the most part on simple properties it get me in the area. I have basic load and unload averages.

If you have the money you can get anyone to design any type of program and it would do what you want it to do and more. Think about it, we have robots that are capable of building cars, we have ships that can hit flying objects from space. The million dollar questions are, how much will it cost you and can you actually afford it. Call the company that designed it for Brickman and see how much it cost them to development it, test it and training, probably well over a million dollars. I dont know about you boys but this dawg will stay on porch for those type of prices. Oh and what about yearly updates and maintenance? It can be done.

Stihl036pro
11-24-2008, 05:59 PM
Crew Cut,
I am interested in what you have to say. I have not had time to reply to the post. Do you mind talking about your ideas in this tread? I will definitely try to input my ideas. Thanks

CrewCutEnterprises
11-24-2008, 06:09 PM
Crew Cut,
I am interested in what you have to say. I have not had time to reply to the post. Do you mind talking about your ideas in this tread? I will definitely try to input my ideas. Thanks

Here is one of my past threads... http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=131965&highlight=crew+cut+dovetail

I also talked of my ideas of a removable dovetail dump combo... 1 year later.. a TN company now makes the beds.... I want to discuss information but some things need to be discreet. PM me.

Stihl036pro
11-24-2008, 06:32 PM
I know what you mean, I have some ideas on tracking equipment hours. I am afraid to tell anyone because I know some company is going to make ton of money with my idea. I have seen those truck bodies around on the Internet. For multiple one man shows that is a brilliant idea.

CrewCutEnterprises
11-24-2008, 06:43 PM
It works great for us. 2 man crew can knock out 600 a day in residential areas. This time of year it tows a dump trailer with a vac and they can put a 52 inch Z in the bed of the truck.

Ok, My idea is geared more toward the commercial maintenance end of the industry. Give me ideas of your commercial clients basic contracts.

Ours our 1-2 years.

Mowing service (26 Visits) April 1st through Nov 15th.
Includes Trimming around obstacles etc, and weeds in cracks.

Line edging 12 services April through Nov 15th

Weed control .. estimated at.... Done as needed with mowing

Shrub pruning 3 services done..

Basically Im making a spread sheet that will show my times and how long it takes for MY crew to do certain services. I then factor my man hour rate, cost, profit etc, and then you can use that information in an access database to just imput information..

Say. 12,000 sq ft open mowing (Z mower)
5000 sq ft tight mowing (walk behind)

600 linear ft of trimming
300 linear ft of Line edgin on the sidewalks and flowerbeds
200 linear ft of blowing off.

Using that information, you should be able to come to a price correct???





I know what you mean, I have some ideas on tracking equipment hours. I am afraid to tell anyone because I know some company is going to make ton of money with my idea. I have seen those truck bodies around on the Internet. For multiple one man shows that is a brilliant idea.

Stihl036pro
11-24-2008, 09:40 PM
Basically I do 26 mowing visits a year, spring clean up, mulching and fall clean up, pruning, plus snow plowing. I give them one set price for everything. I am able to track my time though out the year with timescape a time keeping program. When everything is all said and done I usually make an average of $50.00 per man hour on all the services I provide to the customers though out the year. The estimating side of things refer back in this thread and I gave a more detailed explanation of the estimating system I am trying to put together. It is kind of like what you are trying to do. Google Vanderkooi and associates, They seem like they have some good programs for estimating. I am a firm beleaver of creating a estimating strategy Taylor made for your company. You might find some good ideas through this website with there program but you don't know if this program is what you need or not until you buy it for $600.00 Its actually not a bad price. If you get something out it. Take a look at that website and tell me what you think.

Stihl036pro
11-25-2008, 08:22 AM
Crew cut,
I am thinking of buying the Labor Time Data handbook from the Nilson Books. It might have some good guidelines I might be able to use. To think that it is going to solve my estimating problems is unrealistic. I think we need a combination of estimating strategies. Plus our own input, Its only $70.00 I might give it a try. Did you end up buying any Nilson Books?