View Full Version : my residential bid...opinions?

03-24-2011, 06:54 PM
I have focused mostly on mowing prior to this year, though I have plenty of landscape experience with companies that I have worked for. I am taking on some landscape jobs now.

Company background: 2 man crew, a third if needed. Licensed and insured.
No debt! One truck and trailer.

I did an estimate today on a spring cleanup. There are 6 beds. A total of 10.5 cubic yards of mulch is needed for 1700 sq ft. at a depth of 2 inches. There is already existing mulch. I will be raking off the top layer only. There are about 15 shrubs (boxwoods) to trim up. Property has easy access all around for wheelbarrows. The beds need very little edging.

I estimated 4-5 hours for mulch, 1 hour for trimming and 1 hour for clean up at the end, so 7 hours. I charged 35 a yard for the mulch (plus tax) and 420 for labor (7 hours) for a grand total of 819.66.

I think that we will finish in under 7 hours, probably about 5 as this is a very clean existing landscape.

What do you think? I feel this is a good estimate and bid, but I wanted to get some feedback from the guys who have done a lot of clean up bidding.

If you need more info, please ask. Thanks in advance for any feedback!

03-24-2011, 09:45 PM
seems low but you know the market there better than me. I would be around 750 just for the mulch installed and that doesn't include any bed prep, edging, or shrub trimming.

03-24-2011, 09:59 PM
Thanks for the reply bigkid, this is what I'm looking for. I believe my bid was fair, and I'll make profit on it, but I would like to make sure that I am in line with others. I don't want to be lowballing. I dont care if I'm higher than others, but I don't want to be pitching low prices and screwing others. I mark mulch up $10.00 per cubic yd (to the retail price) and then just charge my labor rate. I know some mark up material 300%, but I don't feel that is fair. I won't budge on my labor rate though. My customers can by the materials for what I charge, but they are paying for me to do it.

Sound right?

03-24-2011, 10:02 PM
On paper, it looks great. But, I have no idea if you're making money @ $60/hr....or, if it takes $100/hr for you to turn a profit. Heck, you could be making money @ $20/hr..

Hard for anyone here to know.

03-24-2011, 11:11 PM
Well the important thing is that your making money. I think you will find that most guys don't charge for the mulch and then try to guess how long it will take to put it down. Instead they charge a price per yard that covers the mulch, delivery and installation. I try to keep my price per yard around 75, but that number changes depending on the size of the job, how far i have to move the mulch to get it to the beds, and how much stuff i have to work around in the beds. I then charge edging by the foot and bed prep and cleanup is by the hour. Things like edging are tough to charge by the hour because if you go in their with equipment and knock out several hundred feet in an hour you are shorting yourself if you just charge for an hour of labor. You paid for the equipment to make the operation more efficient and easier for you, but don't forget that you still need to charge accordingly to cover that expense. We all know what we need to make to cover our expenses but if you want your business to thrive you need to cover more than the expenses you have now, but also the expenses that you will have in the future like new equipment and unexpected repairs. If 45 an hour covers your expenses now and puts some money in your pocket then charge 50 an hour and put that other 5 an hour aside.

03-25-2011, 12:12 AM
Hi. When you say you're "raking off the top layer of mulch" are you actually removing it?
Can you just smooth out any big bumps and leave the old mulch in place?.
It just gets covered up. In fact are you doing the hedges first?
You can leave clippings on top of the old mulch. It will help the shrubs.
That would put time in your pocket.
I'm sure the job would still look fantastic.

Note: decomposing bark mulch depletes nitrogen in the garden.

03-25-2011, 08:45 PM
I have found it better to just figure a per yard price.
Example: XX per yard that covers mulch, delivery, bed prep and labor
With your price I would be around $800 just for mulch plus labor for trimming.

03-25-2011, 10:00 PM
As long as you make $50 to $60 a man hr. in labor you be o.k. Removing existing mulch can be time consuming. Have to charge to dispose of it also. Good for shrubs to remove especially if it's a dyed mulch. Doesn't break down and creates a barrier for rainfall / irrigation. Try to talk them into cultivating it and using a natural mulch or sweet peat.

Ole' Hickory
03-25-2011, 11:04 PM
Sorry if i'm too late for the post, I think your'e pretty OK with it. $60 bucks for 2 guys is not bad if this is your 1st go around. The mulch seems low, I'm sure you'll get the same action if you sell @ $40.
The edging is where you could get scrubbed. Are ALL 6 beds cleanly edged or do 2 need to be re-cut? Edging (especially wet this early in spring) can be a pain in the back - 1 hour is a crunch.
5 hours sounds right for 2 guys @ 10.5yds (should go 11 yds) but hit it hard and do it in 4 hours. Make your money there!! If you guys finish in 3.5 hours, then bump knuckles and tell your buddy that "you just kicked the tar out of that job!" You didn't add a dump fee, are you leaving all that debris on site? Could have gotten another $20 there.
Fuel isn't cheap, but @ $60/hr theres no need to get too greedy.
Now, you just gave a 7 hour estimate on some hard work, I'm sure you are not going to another jobsite after this one. My advice, tell the customer that you are charge him for one day (8 hours). Its a full days work, for anyone without 6 guys on a crew -including him and his family, and he doesn't want to do it.
And make sure you really get those edges right too. THAT is what is going to sell your mulch service. Anyone can put down the chips!

Watch it with the boxwoods, Make sure that you know how and what you're trimming on those bushes this early. How big are they and is the owner under the impression that you are "shaping" them too?

Kinda long-winded, sorry

03-26-2011, 11:32 AM
Thanks to everyone for the replies.

This job is going to be done at the end of Apr. All beds are nice and clean. No re-cutting. From what I'm reading, most go for about 75 a yard for spreading mulch. At 75 a yard, thats 787.50. So at that price and another 2 hours of labor for trimming and clean up, that would be 907.50. So from what I see, I'm not that low at 819.66.

Had this been a job with a lot of prep, edging, digging etc... I would have made it a 2 day job and charged much more. Like I said before though. Its pretty clean. Probably the cleanest property that I've ever taken over. Normally when I take over, its a crap hole. Good for b4 and after pics though.

This job is also leading to this customer's in-laws clean-up and a maintenace account for the in-laws as well.

03-26-2011, 01:10 PM
How the hell can u charge 35 for a yard of mulch installed. R u serious?
Posted via Mobile Device

03-26-2011, 01:49 PM
thats not the cost installed... its 35 for the mulch and then my labor rate.

03-26-2011, 02:29 PM
$35 is close to the retail price here.
Maybe five dollars more.

Also, our delivery prices vary depending on distance from the
bulk suppliers yard. My office is fifteen minutes away on the main highway,
and their cost is $80.63 per delivery load.

One minute to the west at their zone boundary
it is only $61.28 for a delivery.
We don't use supplies by the bag here, other than say white garden gravel
and fertilizers etc.

If it's only a couple of yards, I'll bring a trailer and collect
the same delivery fee for myself.
I have to consider our time to pick up and deliver and unload too.

If it's a large load, it's more conventient to get the supplier
to do the delivery.

03-26-2011, 09:57 PM
Yeah, the garden center I get my material from is a couple miles up the road from the shop. I have to pass it to get to my work area. My rate on mulch and such is a little cheaper. I mark mulch up about 10 dollars a yard. I consider that my delivery fee.

03-26-2011, 10:13 PM
I do not know what "conventient" means?

03-26-2011, 11:57 PM
if i am reading all of this correctly your charging 60 an hr but you said you have a 2 man crew so your only charging 30 an hr per man. I still think that is really low, but as i said earlier you know the market better than me. Also you mentioned that the edges are clean and don't need to be re cut. I NEVER do a mulch job in the spring without edging . Yes they may look good now but that is probably because they have been done every year. Trust me when you skip it now you will notice it later in the season. Also in your first post you mentioned something about removing the top layer of existing mulch. That in itself is time consuming not only while on site but then you have to transport the old mulch somehwere and offload it, so make sure you are charging for that as well.

03-27-2011, 01:43 PM
Yeah, I will clean up the edges, but it wont take too much. As far as removing the debris, I just bring it back to my property and dump it. I just use it for my own compost for my vegi gardens, same with grass clippings. I use it after two seasons.

03-27-2011, 01:54 PM
well it sounds like you have it under control.Just keep track of your time so if it takes longer than expected you have an idea on how much more to charge next time. Let us know how it goes and don't forget the before and after pictures.

03-27-2011, 03:01 PM
Definitely! The good thing about living in the country is not having to go to a dump site. Plus I get free compost. With the clipings I got last year I will be able to fill a quater acre worth of vegi beds next year.

I will be sure to get the b4 and after pics. I'm just happy that my phone is starting to annoy me! Just got another call an hour ago for a cleanup plus two installs. Going out next Saturday for the estimate.

BTW: all of this work is from word of mouth. Screw door hangers.

03-28-2011, 01:59 AM
Almost all my jobs take about an hour to trim but the cleanup is 2-4 hrs. I do clean out alot and trim alot though. and dig out weeds. Mulch prices are in line with mine. It takes me 1/2 hr to dump and $10 to facility but I wait till the truck is full.

Ole' Hickory
03-28-2011, 08:55 PM
Good bid. and it sounds like more work comes with it. Nice!

03-29-2011, 07:13 AM
Thanks Hickory!