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mario491
02-18-2010, 10:20 PM
Just trying to get some input on proposals. When you write a landscape
proposal for a complete landscape design and installation do you break
down prices to show a labor charge plus seperate cost for materials, or
do you list all products and labor as one lump sum???? Just trying to figure
out the best way to get customers to sign up, with the least amount of
sticker shock.

Thanks
Mario

AGLA
02-19-2010, 07:06 AM
If you separate out materials, people tend to go to nurseries and box stores to compare prices. It can put you in the position of looking like you have high mark ups, but more often gets the prospect to argue that they can buy the materials and you can plant them.

Most contracts by others that I see will list the plants in groups, sometimes by bed area or general area of the site, or all of the plants and then a total price for them including the labor, materials, amendments, and warranty toplant them. That is also the way that I did it.

yamadooski
02-19-2010, 07:23 AM
The way I do it is give them one price for the whole job. List everything that will be done.
I give the quantity and group items but no price next to those groupings.
If they say that is out of budget then I say if you go up on the budget a little I will come down a little.
If they dont want to do that. I then tell them we can start taking out plant material and then warn them it wont look like the design. They can later add more material later when they have a surplus of money to spend.
We just finished a job.
Budget..3,000 and my price was 5400. I came down 400 and they went up to 5,000.
After the job was completed they called me back the next day and we did the front yard also.
They then called me again and said they wanted more in the back added to what we finished the first time.
Now we are coming back a 3rd time to do sod.
All said and finished they ended up spending 8,000. So they went from 3,000 to 8,000. They saw how thing added up and now they are the happiest people on the planet and got 2 more jobs just from them telling all of their friends to just do the whole thing all at once and dont get sticker shocked.

White Gardens
02-21-2010, 03:33 PM
Some good posts in this thread.

I've seen this topic debated a couple of times in the past.


I break down everything into groups and price them individually. I haven't had the problem yet of people wanting to go get the materials themselves.

In my estimates I have a disclaimer that all material price includes hauling and handling.

If there is an issue with budget, then I try to work with them as much as possible to give them the best landscape for the budget.

Ultimately, I'm trying to give my customers the best value for the money. With that I tell them that I take the time to hand pick materials to make sure they meet my quality specifications.

PerfectEarth
02-22-2010, 08:35 PM
....I tell them that I take the time to hand pick materials to make sure they meet my quality specifications.

Exactly- I think most of my customers understand that I take the time to hand-select the best material for their project. If they don't, or have a question about pricing mark-ups, I explain it to them.

9 times outta 10, a customer is not going to have the time, knowledge, or resources to find the materials I list on a landscape plan. You can't exactly buy a 7-8' Foster Holly at Lowes... and they get that.

As for an estimate or proposal, sometimes a drawing is included...but all include a clear write-up with LABOR, MATERIALS (hardgoods, soils, etc), and PLANTS.... Plants are marked up accordingly but that's obviously not shown. The labor segment includes the entire scope of work, a description of everything I'll do- explanations of preparation, soil work, planting, pick-up and deliveries, watering-in, everything! I try to be very descriptive in my LABOR section... just lets them know it's not just "LANDSCAPE FRONT YARD"

White Gardens
02-22-2010, 09:30 PM
Exactly- I think most of my customers understand that I take the time to hand-select the best material for their project. If they don't, or have a question about pricing mark-ups, I explain it to them.

9 times outta 10, a customer is not going to have the time, knowledge, or resources to find the materials I list on a landscape plan. You can't exactly buy a 7-8' Foster Holly at Lowes... and they get that.

As for an estimate or proposal, sometimes a drawing is included...but all include a clear write-up with LABOR, MATERIALS (hardgoods, soils, etc), and PLANTS.... Plants are marked up accordingly but that's obviously not shown. The labor segment includes the entire scope of work, a description of everything I'll do- explanations of preparation, soil work, planting, pick-up and deliveries, watering-in, everything! I try to be very descriptive in my LABOR section... just lets them know it's not just "LANDSCAPE FRONT YARD"

Good post.

I agree with the drawing or at least a write-up with the proposal.

I use Pro Landscapes Image Editor for just about any job that I do that requires a renovation or new installation.

I think the images definitively help sell the job, and everyone is on the same page with what the final product will look like. I think that is key to be able to show why you price your service the way you do.

Isobel
02-23-2010, 09:59 AM
I try not to break thigns down too much, mainly for simplicity but also b/c I don't want to get into a discussion about high prices. I give a lump sum of labor and a lump sum of materials. I do tend to break down what the materials are, but not give them prices. Same thing with plants, a plant list, but no prices.

glaciator
02-23-2010, 05:29 PM
Yes, this is a good post. I also separate individual areas of the landscape project (soil prep for sod and sod, boulders, walls, trees, shrubs & perennials, mulches with pro fabric, etc.). I provide a total cost (labor and materials) for each item in the list. That way they can see where the costs are for each phase of the project.

JB1
02-23-2010, 05:43 PM
break the invoice down into labor and materials. There is no tax on labor so need to keep it separate.

STRINGALATION
02-23-2010, 10:43 PM
i break down as well. sometimes you have to be creative in your billing, to get your value without explaining why or leaving holes for opt outs.
i use the term " soil preperation" to pay for the things i don't want to explain, they are gonna pay for.

glaciator
02-24-2010, 09:48 AM
JB1...here in CO, one can pay the tax on materials from the wholesaler. Then I do not pass the tax onto my customer and simply provide a "service" which is the delivery, handling, installation and warranty of my "service", all for one price, broken into sections as described in my previous post. Then I don't have all the paperwork and headache of calculating taxes. Check in your state, but if you can, pay the tax yourself on materials and then bundle it all as a "service". Essentially, there is no "markup" on materials, but my labor costs are higher (but they don't see that in my breakdown as the price is for the "service"). Makes life 10 times easier from a paperwork standpoint.

NmScapes
02-24-2010, 03:09 PM
We have typically only given one lump sum price for a landscape install, we've found that most of the time people don't really care how it breaks down (if they are serious about doing the job and/or using you), they just care about the bottom line and whether it meets what they had in mind. If it doesn't, then we can sub in different grades of stone edging, etc, or suggest ways they can break the project down into pieces/phases.

We like to create a landscape 3D design up front to show them - it helps visualize and close the sale. However, has anyone else had trouble with feeling like the customer possibly keeps/uses this design to bid the job out to other companies, or to later do the project themselves (if they don't go with you)? At what point do you "release" the drawing to them - or, do you just show them the drawing in person only? We deal a lot with customers through email, leading to often email drawings and ideas before a deal is closed. Its hard to walk the line of giving the ideas/drawings away, versus showing what needs to be shown to close the sale. Thoughts?

mcw615
03-03-2010, 08:38 PM
We have typically only given one lump sum price for a landscape install, we've found that most of the time people don't really care how it breaks down (if they are serious about doing the job and/or using you), they just care about the bottom line and whether it meets what they had in mind. If it doesn't, then we can sub in different grades of stone edging, etc, or suggest ways they can break the project down into pieces/phases.

We like to create a landscape 3D design up front to show them - it helps visualize and close the sale. However, has anyone else had trouble with feeling like the customer possibly keeps/uses this design to bid the job out to other companies, or to later do the project themselves (if they don't go with you)? At what point do you "release" the drawing to them - or, do you just show them the drawing in person only? We deal a lot with customers through email, leading to often email drawings and ideas before a deal is closed. Its hard to walk the line of giving the ideas/drawings away, versus showing what needs to be shown to close the sale. Thoughts?

Design work is a service, in which you SHOULD be getting compensated for and should be paid for before you do anything past the initial consultation. Other than that you are giving away free time. The initial consultation YOU interview the client, don't let them interview you, explain how you can be of better service and sell them the design process which goes into another consultation of their needs, function, preferences and then coming up with a design, following up with them, making adjustments if needed, and resubmitting it. Then you sell them the build aspect.

mcw615
03-03-2010, 08:50 PM
And as far as materials, plant materials usually are marked up by a percentage to cover the costs to pick up material, handle material, deliver material. Ranging from 15-35% on average. Ex. (15) Nandinas................... $xxx.xx If there is any question or they try and bark that they know nandinas only cost $xx and times 15 is 75% of what I am charging them for; I usually try and explain the cost of plant and material covers the price to hand select the plant, handle it, deliver it, and WARRANT it. If they say they will save me the hassle and go buy all the plants and have them waiting for when we begin the job I clearly explain then we will not warrant any of the plant material. I get 30% off everything at my nursery, customers don't know that, I mark up plants from what they would have to pay to cover my costs for handling and the profit I do make off the plant goes into an 'insurance fund' for warranting plant material.

I just simply put in the description the contractor will include all costs to select, handle, and deliver plant material in the costs of plants.

By just saying to do the install per the design it will cost $8000, but you have $5500 in plant material, they need to know that. But all these details SHOULD have been worked out in the consultation/design process when you set a budget and explain that the budget is to give them the most of what they desire and to design what they want that is suitable for their budget. If you know your working with a tighter budget you will probably go with the cheaper more common plant types, but if it is more open ended you can design for higher costing plants and make the finished project look great and explain this to the client that it's all to give them the most, not how much the contractor can squeeze out of them. If you know during the design process they are looking at 3 areas they are paying you to design then quote and the front entryway is one of the 3 in which they are certainly going with, price that area a little higher, and make the other areas more of an la carte.

STRINGALATION
03-03-2010, 11:42 PM
i dont leave anything without some money and a signature

andyslawncare
03-06-2010, 05:42 AM
I've taken landscape contracting classes at college...

Charge one lump sum. explain what you will do and what materials you will use. It just depends on circumstance...Mulch/soil/sod/etc I tell customers how much I'm installing usually, but never a breakdown of material vs. labor. Its helpful to bid for profit, so don't forget your overhead costs, which also covers time in the office bidding the job, calling people, etc....

You don't need to separate these items. When you do a bid, total up the following: Equipment costs (rental costs or if you can figure a per hour cost for your machines). Find your break even point. And apply it to the information in the next paragraph.

Labor (other than yourself. Figure hours and employee pay), Materials + tax and delivery, Overhead costs (if you don't know an average per day or week or job, then charge your customer ~15% of your labor charges (more or less depending on amount of labor help, and if you provide workers comp, etc..), and charge them ~10% on materials after taxes, charge them 5% for a subcontractor's involvement). These numbers will be what keeps your truck, equipment, insurance, phone, etc paid for indirectly during the year if applied on all jobs...

After getting a total dollar amount from Equipment, labor, material, subcontractors, and your estimated overhead; apply a profit and contingency percentage to it.

Usually I'll aim for 20-25% profit on a job.

A contingency charge will help cover the unexpected, emergency, shortage of supplies, or underestimation of labor... you can get about 5% for it.

Add everything up and you have a total that you'll make money with.


Don't put the details in the cost, put the details in their yard! After all, that is what they called you for, isn't it! PM me if you have any questions on the ideas stated above; They work, and if you follow exact steps in bids you will profit what you expect.

loupiscopolandscaping
03-15-2010, 11:16 AM
i give a list of what we are installing/removing/doing.lol with a price...some clients will request seperate quotes such as a design in the frontyard and a design on the sideyard. ill seperate the 2, then at the bottom state if they accept both ill give a discount since we can do both projects at the same time together

nlminc
03-15-2010, 07:31 PM
LOL! I've had people come back and want me to break down my quote by plant and what MY COST is on each plant so they can compare my prices to the local HD. I get hot when I get emails from these people "harmlessly" asking me to do this for them so they can make a decision. Get lost!