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lawnfreak09
03-24-2009, 11:52 PM
I started a leaf job today and i got burned on it. I bid it to low. I just thought i could get it done faster and easier than i can. so my question is does anybody ever change an estimate after they give one. I know this will be a simple question to some. I have just never under bid something so badly:hammerhead: My first thought is no but just wanted to see what you guys thought.

sweetz
03-25-2009, 12:10 AM
I started a leaf job today and i got burned on it. I bid it to low. I just thought i could get it done faster and easier than i can. so my question is does anybody ever change an estimate after they give one. I know this will be a simple question to some. I have just never under bid something so badly:hammerhead: My first thought is no but just wanted to see what you guys thought.

Talk to your customer about it. Some are caring, nice & understand & will make up the difference. Others could care less. If the latter is the case, you kind of have to eat the loss, because, in the end, it was your mistake.

lawnfreak09
03-25-2009, 12:16 AM
yea that is my thinking, that i am just going to bite it. i mean he was very clear on what he wanted done and i gave him a price. My fault i screwed it up

Edmonds Lawn Service
03-25-2009, 12:25 AM
I did that a few days ago on a mulch job. If the guy seems nice and understanding i would talk to him, be honest with him. Most people are understanding.

dwlah
03-25-2009, 12:31 AM
yea that is my thinking, that i am just going to bite it. i mean he was very clear on what he wanted done and i gave him a price. My fault i screwed it up
If you gave him a firm price Id say chalk it up to lessons learned and let the customer know IN A NICE WAY that next time it will be more
Dont feel like the lone ranger everybody underbids at some point

Scagguy
03-25-2009, 12:52 AM
We have all screwed ourselves on a bid at one time or another. Honor your bid and learn from your mistake.

Sherry Lawn and Landscape
03-25-2009, 12:54 AM
yeah we did a clean up in the fall that took 10hrs 4 men!!! Huge property, way under bid that one. It sucked but the customer gave a "tip" $25 extra lol! Better then nothing lol.

Grits
03-25-2009, 12:55 AM
Ya gotta eat it. Lesson learned. It will happen again though. It happens to everyone once in a while.

topsites
03-25-2009, 01:16 AM
Nope, so long we gave the quote, unfortunately we are responsible. :cry:

ferdinand711
03-25-2009, 01:22 AM
we have all screwed ourselves on a bid at one time or another. Honor your bid and learn from your mistake.

amen..........

GracesLandscaping
03-25-2009, 01:30 AM
i hate bidding leaf removal jobs... i reallllly suck at those! lol the only ones im good at are the lawns i actually mow every week and they dont have many trees so its easy "double the price of mowing and plus 25 if i haul away" (our city picks up leaves in the fall for free but alot of ppl dont want them on the curb for a week or two)

ALC-GregH
03-25-2009, 09:27 AM
If you never did work for them you could use the "this is a estimate" on them and let them know the estimate was low and you felt it would have taken less time then it did. Even then your going to look bad though. I would say eat it and politely tell them that your estimate was low but you'll honor the price this time.

lawnwizards
03-25-2009, 09:32 AM
just make up some fees to add to the total. an environmental collection fee or something like that. or maybe a green fee. you know, you want more green. :laugh:

i'm just joking by the way.

M and S Lawn Care
03-25-2009, 09:33 AM
I burned myself on a small tree/brush removal job yesterday. I thought it would take about an hour doing it myself, it took 3 hours with two guys. The customer walked out and said "You didn't charge enough for this, did you?"

I said "Well, it's taken longer than I thought it would, but dont worry about it. You've been a great customer and I dont mind helping you out"

He gave us a decent tip and said "Well, we appreciate it, we'll be sure to keep you busy with some other stuff"

kaferhaus
03-25-2009, 09:47 AM
Count your lucky stars that it was a one time job.

While I've been in this business well over 20 yrs and pride myself in my ability to estimate labor costs within a few minutes on every job we do, large or small..... I screwed up two years ago on a commercial bid for annual service.

The bid was due, I was tired and had been constantly distracted while putting it together. I missed several thousand sq ft of mowing area and two beds that would require over 50yds of mulch along with the routine maintenance.

Of course we got the job and on the first day on it the lead man on that crew called me and said "no way we're getting this done in the time you have allowed... we're gonna be working overtime or we're gonna miss 2 jobs scheduled for this afternoon".

So I stop what I'm doing and drive over there (thinking he's made a mistake and thinks there's more to do than there really is) Get there.... yeah there was a mistake a huge one and it was all on me.

We lost $4,000 on that contract over the course of the year. I never said a word to the client, why would I? All I would have accomplished was telling them that I was too stupid to properly estimate the job.

We still got the account the following year (still have it) but obviously the bid was about $7,000 more per year.

It was the largest mistake on a bid I've ever made and I was far from a "newbie" when I made it. Everyone makes them. The moral is that it should be a learning experience (in my case a very expensive one) so that it isn't repeated.

ALC-GregH
03-25-2009, 09:55 AM
So that's why your posts are so aggressive, your still pissed about that job you under estimated. LOL j/k

yardatwork
03-25-2009, 10:01 AM
Here is the key word...ESTIMATE. This isn't a set in stone price, but for some reason, clients think an ESTIMATE is the actual price they will pay. An ESTIMATE is a rough price of what a service might cost. Sometimes it's a good idea to give a low and high price and tell them it'll be somewhere in that range. Doing leaves is hard to give a good set price. There are sooooo many factors involved...for example...what if you show up and the winds pick up. That makes the work rather hard. What if it rained the day before you have the client scheduled...now you have wet leaves. You might be better off letting the client know you'll be charging by the hour. Do it this way until you have a good grasp on estimating leaf jobs.

kaferhaus
03-25-2009, 10:13 AM
So that's why your posts are so aggressive, your still pissed about that job you under estimated. LOL j/k

Yeah, no one has to talk smack about me.... I can do it all by myself! Maybe that's why I come off as so "stern"... over 2 decades I've made all the stupid mistakes you could imagine at some time or another. I learn from each one of them and obviously I don't make many at this stage or I'd have been broke a long time ago. It did suck to be in that contract for 2 years before making a profit on it.... second year was pretty much break even after making up the losses from year one..

On rain days like today.... I often have time to reflect on the multitude of "sins" I've commited over 20yrs and remind myself that I'm not as smart as I think I am sometimes.

The original post just brought back that memory.... We've all done it on the same scale as the OP, but the one I mentioned was so painful (and embarassing..... every guy in the shop knew the boss blew one big time) and that was the most painful for me.... they really didn't need to know that I was human.

kaferhaus
03-25-2009, 10:20 AM
Here is the key word...ESTIMATE. This isn't a set in stone price, but for some reason, clients think an ESTIMATE is the actual price they will pay. An ESTIMATE is a rough price of what a service might cost. Sometimes it's a good idea to give a low and high price and tell them it'll be somewhere in that range. Doing leaves is hard to give a good set price. There are sooooo many factors involved...for example...what if you show up and the winds pick up. That makes the work rather hard. What if it rained the day before you have the client scheduled...now you have wet leaves. You might be better off letting the client know you'll be charging by the hour. Do it this way until you have a good grasp on estimating leaf jobs.

Well different areas of the country have differing ways of doing business. Here no one will accept an "estimate" for landscaping/lawn service. You give a quote... that's the price, period.

The only service industry here that I know of that gets away with "estimates" is auto repair and there are very strict laws covering how much they can exceed the orignal estimate without getting the customer's approval before continuing... and that's a slippery slope for the repair places cause if they "think" it's one problem and they replace parts etc and it doesn't fix it... discover the "real" problem and it's way more expensive... if the customer "balks" at the overage they have to "undo" everything they've done and return the car to the original state it was in when the customer brought it to them at no cost other than a "reasonable and customary" diagnostic fee.

ALC-GregH
03-25-2009, 10:20 AM
Here is the key word...ESTIMATE. This isn't a set in stone price, but for some reason, clients think an ESTIMATE is the actual price they will pay. An ESTIMATE is a rough price of what a service might cost. Sometimes it's a good idea to give a low and high price and tell them it'll be somewhere in that range. Doing leaves is hard to give a good set price. There are sooooo many factors involved...for example...what if you show up and the winds pick up. That makes the work rather hard. What if it rained the day before you have the client scheduled...now you have wet leaves. You might be better off letting the client know you'll be charging by the hour. Do it this way until you have a good grasp on estimating leaf jobs.

I totally agree with this statement. I've done the low to high pricing before and it helped considerably. Most if talked to professionally will understand that it is a "estimate" and it's not carved in stone. I've even done this with mowing customers on the first mowing. One I told would be $50 but when I got there it was twice the size as described on the phone. He wanted a ballpark figure and being "green" last year I was dumb enough to blurt out a figure. After getting there I realized I was WAY to low on the price. I talked to the customer and he was very understanding and actually KNEW I was way to low when we talked on the phone. He kinda smiled and said just name your price and you can do the weekly mowing. I had to double the price and believe it or not, he said that sounds about right! I have retained him again this season and he's one of my best customers.

ALC-GregH
03-25-2009, 10:26 AM
auto industry, I'd been in that for 30 years. I know all to well what happens there.

You can easily set up your business in the same way. If you have it in writing and the customer reads everything then there is no reason a lawn company can't use the same means to give a price or estimate.

kaferhaus
03-25-2009, 10:35 AM
auto industry, I'd been in that for 30 years. I know all to well what happens there.

You can easily set up your business in the same way. If you have it in writing and the customer reads everything then there is no reason a lawn company can't use the same means to give a price or estimate.

I would agree Greg... except the customers here won't accept it. They'd just call the next guy that'll give them a set price. Believe me it's been tried.

I'm sure it's a regional thing, just like residential contracts..... extremely hard to get a residential customer here to sign a annual contract. Some will but most will look at you like you're crazy.

lawnfreak09
03-25-2009, 10:40 AM
thanks for all the advice i was beating myself up over this one. good to know i am not the only noodle head.lol live and learn i guess

bohiaa
03-25-2009, 11:00 AM
IT's called eating crow. take the hit, Pick yourself up, dust your self off, and keep going

ALC-GregH
03-25-2009, 11:06 AM
I would agree Greg... except the customers here won't accept it. They'd just call the next guy that'll give them a set price. Believe me it's been tried.

I'm sure it's a regional thing, just like residential contracts..... extremely hard to get a residential customer here to sign a annual contract. Some will but most will look at you like you're crazy.

I realize that. It's different anywhere you go. I personally don't have all that listed on my invoices. I try to be as close as possible on my pricing without having to say anything to the customer other then, payup