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Gr8WhiteNorth
06-17-2010, 03:13 PM
How do you estimate smaller jobs? ($3-8k)

I've been mulling over my process because I'm having a hard time getting estimates back to people in a timely manner.

My Process:
1-Customer calls and books estimate time
2-I do site visit for landscaping estimates (3 days of the week as organized as possible in 45 minute time slots) (excluding lawn maint quotes which are done via satellite)
3-I meaure and record the job proportions
4-Once I'm back at my office I do a small scaled drawing and price out the work which usually takes me 1-2 hours per estimate. Anything over 2 hours I bill for.
5-I email or mail a copy of the drawing and price to the customer and then wait for feedback.


So what I'm asking is-
1- Do you think I should be spending so much time on a basic estimate?
2- Would a verbal ballpark price cut it?
3- Does anyone use triplicate onsite to give an immediate price and unscaled drawing?

Ideas or feedback would be appreciated.

wbw
06-17-2010, 03:56 PM
Number five is where you are falling short. You need to deliver the estimate/drawing to the in person and go over it with them.

Gr8WhiteNorth
06-17-2010, 04:32 PM
What do you think about having them meet me at the office to sit down and go through it instead? I can meet 3 people per hour that way instead of 1 per hour. Its nice to have the computer there too for viewing photos, etc.

wbw
06-17-2010, 10:21 PM
What do you think about having them meet me at the office to sit down and go through it instead? I can meet 3 people per hour that way instead of 1 per hour. Its nice to have the computer there too for viewing photos, etc.

That is strong! If they will come to you, you are halfway there.

OrganicsMaine
06-19-2010, 07:55 AM
My advice:

Invest in a design program and a laptop...with a large screen. Once you become efficient with the program you should be able to design those smaller jobs in less than an hour. Now, you have two options: set yourself up to design right on site, spend 45 min. talking/measuring, 45 min designing, and another 20 selling. Now you have spent a total of 2.5 hrs on the whole process, plus you are now only making one trip and you could secure the job in one shot. This will take a large change in your processes and thinking, but it will streamline your operation and you will have more time, and you could hit 3 jobs in a day.

If not the above, you absolutely need to deliver the design/estimate in person, at their house or in your office, but in person.

bohiaa
06-20-2010, 03:30 PM
Time is a wicked thing....isnt it ?

It's impossable for me to give most people 5 to 10 minutes of mine. and others are the same. I always try my best to cordanate a meeting time. sometimes ofter hours.

looks like you may have several bids hanging out there, What also works for me.
Is the starement at the bottom of the bid... In large letters of corse...

THIS ESTIMATE IS VALID 7 DAYS FROM THE ABOVE DATE....

Best of luck to you

1984buzzard
06-20-2010, 06:15 PM
I saw an article somewhere a few years back about a guy that bought a Ford E-series panel van and installed a desk, drawing table, and computer in it.

Stillwater
06-22-2010, 03:05 AM
What is more successful selling your service from the confines of your office. Or selling your service and describing what you can do for them with plans in hand on their property where the work will be done?

lawnangel1
06-22-2010, 09:28 AM
What is more successful selling your service from the confines of your office. Or selling your service and describing what you can do for them with plans in hand on their property where the work will be done?

I see your point. However I do think that there are many advantages to selling in the office. Having a computer is there is the main advantage. I tried using a laptop with me in the field but it just never really worked out. To each there own.

Gr8WhiteNorth
06-22-2010, 01:24 PM
I estimate all day everyday. Its unbelievable how many people haven't got a clue what they are getting themselves into. 50% of my wages are wasted on tire kickers. I am looking for ways to be more efficient in my procedure. Even if I could shave off an hour per day, I would get a lot more accomplished.

big acres
06-26-2010, 04:01 PM
If the cargo van office/laptop won't work for you, tha I agree with wbc... #5 is where your falling short.

Your emailed "bid" doesn't stand a chance against an "in person" proposal where you can romantcize the project while walking the property answer all of the little questions easily. It's those little questions which are realy doubts about committing that you will rarely satisfy through email/phone calls.

You do the walk-through with pen in hand and once you've answered everything then whip out the brass cajones, click the pen, and hand it to them.

Aside from that, it sounds like you feel that your turnaround time is the reason for lackluster sales? I would guess that this is because you are in the field so much and actually supervising your installations personally?

Turn your longer turnaround into a sales point by explaining that because you do the work, it will take you a week to get them the proposal... then meet whatever commitment you made. Remind them that they are getting YOU on site personally and they will be patient.
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seabee24
06-28-2010, 09:57 AM
odds are if its over 3k there is alittle more to it than just "put a tree here, edge this, mulch that"

so i show up in person, walk the property get as much info as possible, ask for their plot of survey..which most poeple oddly have handy...

Then i talk them into a small design....after all with out the design they are compairing apples to oranges against other contractors... if you can be come really good at selling this point, the fact that "do you really know what the other guy is offering with his price" and will you be happy with it.

Then once thats sold, we charge for the design but we will credit there account if they choose to install it...so they already spent between 500-1000 for it, they would be stupid not to let us install it.

2nd meeting is optional, but have them come to your office. show them pictures, and have actual material in front of them...this step is to make them feel more comfortable with you as a contractor, maybe show them the design in person even if its not completed. this is really your chance to up sell the whole project..."use this product, it looks alot nicer"

final meeting , be perpared walk the property again, and sell what you just created.


If they dont want to spend the money for a design then odds are they are a tire kicker, or just price shopping...ill give them 30 mins of my time at a meeting, and no more than 30 mins from start to finish on a bid proposal. no drawing would be done, it would be a line item bid, with lots of verbage about extra items...for example "customer must walk the property and set flags for tree placement" once that point has been picked, and work begins any changes made will be done on a time/material basis plus the original price.

i found these are the type of people that will let you plant a tree, and then ask you to move it 3 feet to the right after its all planted.... yep we will move it, open your check book

clydebusa
06-28-2010, 10:04 AM
I saw an article somewhere a few years back about a guy that bought a Ford E-series panel van and installed a desk, drawing table, and computer in it.

I know of a lock smith this way. He does all his locks, prints invoice and then on his way. Sweet deal, generator, AC unit

seabee24
06-28-2010, 10:05 AM
another tip is to have a excel spread sheet fully filled out with prices for anythign under the sun you might do, then you just fill in the QTY, and delete the line items that are not needed. this takes alot of time to set up and a very long time to perfect, but once completed any moron could complete a bid in less than 15 mins and if you had other sfatt memebers creating the bid, in theory they should all come out the same, provided that you all entered the same measurments for things... anothither advangage you can creat a second page that is a "material needed" page...it auto copies line items, but it gives you and your guys a form for which to go buy the materials.