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JContracting
11-04-2011, 01:12 AM
So long story short, got in an argument with my parents (I'm 20 for those who don't know) about my pricing for work, they say I'm gouging people on my bids and I've hardly gotten any work this year, only a few mowing accts, clean ups, and one decent sized install that brought in a good amt of money. The 2011 season (year 1) is coming to a close and I brought in 20% of what I expected based on my advertising volumes. I look at my prices for estimates I send out to prospects and think they're right in line and competitive. Because I didn't put all the work into starting a full business to work for "lawn boy neighbor kid" prices.



So my question is, should I lower my prices a tad to obtain the cash flow?? I know that can snowball very badly and then it's expected you work for dirt cheap forever and you're screwed for your career, but is it advisable to lower to an extent where I'm still making money but bank on it leading to a lot of referrals and slowly increase prices of all services and drop extremely low paying customers??

I'd love to read you guys' opinions on this.
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knox gsl
11-04-2011, 01:20 AM
Too many variables here, give more details. Are you inline with others in your area for pricing? Are you a know-it-all kid or do you have some business sense? Do you have quality equipment? Does you work sell itself?
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JContracting
11-04-2011, 01:27 AM
I'd say I'm right in line with the established companies in my area. I have a lot of business sense, I nearly have an associate's in accounting and am currently am almost half way to an associate's in Hort. I have a pic thread going on here and I have my equip info in my Sig which doesn't get posted when i post via my phone.. I have a chevy half ton, 5x8 trailer, Exmark 48" metro and echo and husky handhelds. I'd say I do great work. You be the judge...
http://i443.photobucket.com/albums/qq157/dowork614/IMAG0351.jpg
Phone pic but you get the idea, this is from a week ago..
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Glenn Lawn Care
11-04-2011, 11:16 AM
If you are in line with other companies in your area I wouldn't lower prices if I were you. Where in Mn are you from?

JContracting
11-04-2011, 11:29 AM
Problem is that I need cash flow. Ill try some different marketing strategies early 2012. But I'm out of Champlin, the exact opposite side of the metro as you lol.

How was the pesticide exam? I'm planning on taking it over the winter so I can offer fert/weed cont services, I've already taken the first weeds class in my Hort program @ Anoka Tech last spring, didn't seem too challenging...

mnglocker
11-04-2011, 11:36 AM
Problem is that I need cash flow. Ill try some different marketing strategies early 2012. But I'm out of Champlin, ...

The problem is that if you lower your prices too much you can end up in the hole more. The more you use that equipment with increased business the more you'll spend on blades, oil, grease, gas and parts. Same goes for your truck and so on. The biggest trick is to start asking potential customers now about work next season and getting them into a contract.

SNAPPER MAN
11-04-2011, 11:37 AM
I would lower prices until you get more work than you can handle, then I would just raise rates on new business.
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wbw
11-04-2011, 08:20 PM
So long story short, got in an argument with my parents (I'm 20 for those who don't know) about my pricing for work, they say I'm gouging people on my bids

Are your parents in business? Do they have budget responsibility?

and I've hardly gotten any work this year, only a few mowing accts, clean ups, and one decent sized install that brought in a good amt of money. The 2011 season (year 1) is coming to a close and I brought in 20% of what I expected based on my advertising volumes. I look at my prices for estimates I send out to prospects and think they're right in line and competitive. Because I didn't put all the work into starting a full business to work for "lawn boy neighbor kid" prices.



So my question is, should I lower my prices a tad to obtain the cash flow?? I know that can snowball very badly and then it's expected you work for dirt cheap forever and you're screwed for your career, but is it advisable to lower to an extent where I'm still making money but bank on it leading to a lot of referrals and slowly increase prices of all services and drop extremely low paying customers??

I'd love to read you guys' opinions on this.
Posted via Mobile Device

If you are in line with the established businesses in your area, why should a potential customer choose you over them? My point being that you have to offer something they don't as they are a known quantity. That something is usually price. Don't give it away but you have to be very competitive to gain market share. If you live at home, don't lease shop space and aren't an idiot with your money you should be able to price aggressively and still profit. Keep in mind that this is a short term strategy. I charge much more than I did when I started and I am realizing that it still isn't enough. As your business grows so do your expenses. Get a decent base of customers and then price new work at the rate that you really want/need. As you continue to add new customers raise the rates on 1/4 of the existing ones at a time. If you lose a substantial number of them you will know your pricing is out of line, this is why you raise it on a few at a time. Good luck and let us know how it works out.

djagusch
11-04-2011, 08:54 PM
I'm in Chisago County so not too close to you.

You mentioned 20% of the expected return to your advertising volume. For the expected return, do you mean net jobs or net calls? If you got calls but didn't close the sales it "could" be a pricing thing but there is alot more to it than that. If you didn't get the calls then you need to find a better means of advertising until word of mouth starts kicking in.

If it is a closing deal it could be many things presentation, apperance, language, etc. Being young isn't always the easist thing to overcome but present yourself and company it shouldn't be a factor. You can cut the grass, trim like a madman, know every weed in the book and what to do but if you can't communicate it to the customer professionally then it doesn't matter. It seems like you know that stuff maybe spend some time reading how to sell books. If you learn to sell you will do well.

If it was a call thing how did you advertise this year?

JContracting
11-05-2011, 11:34 AM
I'm in Chisago County so not too close to you.

You mentioned 20% of the expected return to your advertising volume. For the expected return, do you mean net jobs or net calls? If you got calls but didn't close the sales it "could" be a pricing thing but there is alot more to it than that. If you didn't get the calls then you need to find a better means of advertising until word of mouth starts kicking in.

If it is a closing deal it could be many things presentation, apperance, language, etc. Being young isn't always the easist thing to overcome but present yourself and company it shouldn't be a factor. You can cut the grass, trim like a madman, know every weed in the book and what to do but if you can't communicate it to the customer professionally then it doesn't matter. It seems like you know that stuff maybe spend some time reading how to sell books. If you learn to sell you will do well.

If it was a call thing how did you advertise this year?

My 20% expected was total revenue, not ROI on doorhangers. My phone rang off the hook, then they saw the price from the estimate for whatever service they wanted, they had nothing to say. I was definitely dressed professionally, company shirts, cleaned up, spoke like a professional. I can communicate well, but I will need to work on some of my sales techniques. Not that I'm bad but there is always more to learn.


WBW - They're not in business for themselves but they're very good with their money.
Snapper - I think I will go with that as a short term strategy and see what it yields and as soon as I have the customer base I'll slowly increase prices across the board.

BPS##
11-05-2011, 12:00 PM
My 20% expected was total revenue, not ROI on doorhangers. My phone rang off the hook, then they saw the price from the estimate for whatever service they wanted, they had nothing to say.





That should have been an indication right there that you are a little high for the market.


It never hurts to ask them what they were hoping the price would be at the point when its obvious they aren't going to go with you. Some times $50 or $100 can make the difference of a sale. (obviously bigger jobs than weekly mowing)

If you start getting too many customers in a row act like this about your price and you need the work that much you should start stepping it down some so that you can pick up the work.

If you've got all the work you want and are looking for those cream of the crop customers then you might hold your prices up at that point.

JContracting
11-05-2011, 09:17 PM
That should have been an indication right there that you are a little high for the market.


It never hurts to ask them what they were hoping the price would be at the point when its obvious they aren't going to go with you. Some times $50 or $100 can make the difference of a sale. (obviously bigger jobs than weekly mowing)

If you start getting too many customers in a row act like this about your price and you need the work that much you should start stepping it down some so that you can pick up the work.

If you've got all the work you want and are looking for those cream of the crop customers then you might hold your prices up at that point.

The statement in bold is the absolute key.
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Darryl G
11-05-2011, 11:54 PM
What's with the bent stripes?

JContracting
11-05-2011, 11:59 PM
Folliowng the contour of the steep hill in the backyard
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MarkintheGarden
11-06-2011, 12:34 AM
I think that it sounds like you should bring your pricing down a bit. You might find that some customers will be wiling to pay more than others and naturally you gravitate to that, but you have to keep busy. It really is better to work for less than you want than to not work.

Getting the high end customers does take salesmanship and time but it is worth it.

I read that you are using door hangers and getting a low number of estimates accepted. That suggests to me that the door hanger might not be doing a good job of representing you and your services. If the people you are meeting with are expecting a cheap price, then maybe the door hanger makes it look like that is what they can expect.

In any case, I find that parents are often right but of course not always.

JContracting
11-06-2011, 12:41 AM
Ohh Noooo they're not cheap looking at all, a'deas and then plan-it graphics.com for my doorhangers expensively to design and very high price looking.
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wbw
11-06-2011, 10:37 AM
WBW - They're not in business for themselves but they're very good with their money.
.

I was not picking on your parents but until you run a business you have no idea how much overhead there really is. You just don't. Anyway this was the least important aspect of my post.

Darryl G
11-06-2011, 10:58 AM
OK, I tend to mow straight stripes whenever possible...kind of the norm, at least around here.

Finding the right price is difficult, especially at first and can be a bit of trial and error. I made the mistake of being too low when I first started out and soon was booked with low rate work by word of mouth...when people find someone who will work cheap the word spreads fast, especially among senior citizens.

It's hard to say why you're not getting work without knowing details. It could be your presentation, your price or any number of other factors. If you give someone a price and they clam up and essentially close the door on you, there's nothing wrong with asking them what they were expecting to pay or even asking what it would take to get the job. Being 20% high is one thing, being 50% high is another. Another thing is that I always follow up on jobs that I don't get to find out why...not that people will always tell you...it makes some people uncomfortable discussing it. I sometimes have my wife do the follow up calls....sometimes people feel less threatened talking to a female about it, especially if they were not directly involved in the sales call.

Sometimes it may be necessary to drop your price just to get yourself "out there" and visible.

djagusch
11-06-2011, 10:59 AM
Jcontracting. A typical house that takes 30mins to mow what is the estimate for that? $40?

JContracting
11-06-2011, 11:10 AM
Neither of them have run a biz and until i started I didn't know all the overhead it would take, now I've realized it.

And thats the problem with lowering prices, word spreads fast about it. And I think from now on before I do an estimate for a decent sized job, ($500+) I'm going to ask them their budget for it to see if it is even worth my time to go through the process of running the numbers.

A 30 min mow depending on terrain and obstacles is anywhere from 30-40. My view with everything is that people know I'm young and think ill work for cheap or they're just cheap a$$es and don't care.
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djagusch
11-06-2011, 11:21 AM
Neither of them have run a biz and until i started I didn't know all the overhead it would take, now I've realized it.

And thats the problem with lowering prices, word spreads fast about it. And I think from now on before I do an estimate for a decent sized job, ($500+) I'm going to ask them their budget for it to see if it is even worth my time to go through the process of running the numbers.

A 30 min mow depending on terrain and obstacles is anywhere from 30-40. My view with everything is that people know I'm young and think ill work for cheap or they're just cheap a$$es and don't care.
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If someone turned down a estimate at $30 they are cheap and don't realize what it costs just to show up. I thought Champlin was a higher end area that getting the higher prices wouldn't be that tuff.

I would qualify your leads alittle bit more like you just posted. If some calls on mowing just state you start at $40 (or $xx) and depending on size of lawn and trimming could be more. If they hesitate ask them what their budget is. At this point they may say $30, explain to them the costs involved, and that is why I start at that price. I also say they may get someone at that price but how reliable and I don't see how they can be at that price for the long term. This puts the idea that they might need to get a new lawn care service shortly or yearly compared to a steady company if they go with the low price. If they go low you don't want them anyway.

BPS##
11-06-2011, 11:51 AM
Neither of them have run a biz and until i started I didn't know all the overhead it would take, now I've realized it.

And thats the problem with lowering prices, word spreads fast about it. And I think from now on before I do an estimate for a decent sized job, ($500+) I'm going to ask them their budget for it to see if it is even worth my time to go through the process of running the numbers.

A 30 min mow depending on terrain and obstacles is anywhere from 30-40. My view with everything is that people know I'm young and think ill work for cheap or they're just cheap a$$es and don't care.
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My first stint at a lawn biz was from 22 to 28. And again since 09.
I can assure you that now that I'm "older" I do get more respect.

So yes, your age does have some thing to do with it.

JContracting
11-06-2011, 04:24 PM
Champlin, north Brooklyn park (new developments), and maple grove are all rly nice areas, I've just experienced the cheap people of the area.

DJagusch - ill use that tactic when people ask for mowing prices
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MarkintheGarden
11-06-2011, 04:52 PM
Champlin, north Brooklyn park (new developments), and maple grove are all rly nice areas, I've just experienced the cheap people of the area.

DJagusch - ill use that tactic when people ask for mowing prices
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Sometimes the high end areas have the cheapest people, especially at a time like now when many people are finding that they have been living beyond their means. The people who have money and are willing to spend to get what they want are likely to have already found someone who they are happy with. So, expect to hear from the price shoppers a lot more than you hear from the affluent.

It takes time to build a good clientele. Work cheap if you have to, but keep building the good accounts. There is no rules or laws against mowing the same size lots for different prices.

JContracting
11-06-2011, 07:54 PM
Sometimes the high end areas have the cheapest people, especially at a time like now when many people are finding that they have been living beyond their means. The people who have money and are willing to spend to get what they want are likely to have already found someone who they are happy with. So, expect to hear from the price shoppers a lot more than you hear from the affluent.

It takes time to build a good clientele. Work cheap if you have to, but keep building the good accounts. There is no rules or laws against mowing the same size lots for different prices.
Very true unless they know eachother.
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MarkintheGarden
11-06-2011, 11:46 PM
Very true unless they know eachother.
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Even still, they are never going to get around to comparing prices that they pay for goods and services. Even if they are the same sized yard the lawn service is not necessarily the same price, due to time for service.

And like I said, there is no rules about same price for everyone, just ask the airlines.

JContracting
11-06-2011, 11:54 PM
Even still, they are never going to get around to comparing prices that they pay for goods and services. Even if they are the same sized yard the lawn service is not necessarily the same price, due to time for service.

And like I said, there is no rules about same price for everyone, just ask the airlines.

That is true, the distance/driving time, terrain even if they are the same sq footage, no lawn is the same price
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Efficiency
11-07-2011, 05:49 AM
here is what it comes down to: what is your unique competitive advantage?

5 years ago when I was just coming out of college, I knew I needed something that gave me instant credibility because my age was against me. PLANET's CLP certification gave that to me. I promoted the heck out of that every time I was with a lead. You need something like that too. Ultimately, without a reputation or strong referrals, you are just an also ran and a no name in the clients eyes. Face it, they have a ton of choices.

You need to answer for them, with items that truly matter, why you are better than the rest. Saying things like you have insurance, you sharpen your blades daily, etc does mean bunk to them. Come up with a unique competitive advantage or you will have to sell on price alone. The worst thing about selling on price is that there will always be someone cheaper.

JContracting
11-07-2011, 08:36 AM
I have 2 semesters left until I have a hort degree, that's my advantage.
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Glenn Lawn Care
11-07-2011, 10:08 AM
Problem is that I need cash flow. Ill try some different marketing strategies early 2012. But I'm out of Champlin, the exact opposite side of the metro as you lol.

How was the pesticide exam? I'm planning on taking it over the winter so I can offer fert/weed cont services, I've already taken the first weeds class in my Hort program @ Anoka Tech last spring, didn't seem too challenging...

Do you remember any of your high school biology classes? Some of the test reminded me of biology. If you read the material and understand it you will pass. I thought it was easy. You can take the workshop class so you don't have to read all 3 books cuz its prolly right around 500 pages.

JContracting
11-07-2011, 10:18 AM
Do you remember any of your high school biology classes? Some of the test reminded me of biology. If you read the material and understand it you will pass. I thought it was easy. You can take the workshop class so you don't have to read all 3 books cuz its prolly right around 500 pages.

I hardly remember it that was 5 years ago :laugh: But the weeds class I took for my program helped out, plus the books for the class were the books you'd need to study for the test.

Glenn Lawn Care
11-07-2011, 06:16 PM
Yeah just read the books and you will be fine. Don't rush yourself, you do get 3 tries at it if you fail. Some of it is common sense and some of it is more complex.

JContracting
11-07-2011, 07:19 PM
I didn't even buy the books when I took the class though, couldn't afford it at the time, still did well in the class none the less lol. But I was just talking to a girl that's in the turf program that is in the weeds class right now and she was saying over half the stuff in the books is common sense.

Kelly's Landscaping
11-07-2011, 07:33 PM
My phone rang off the hook, then they saw the price from the estimate for whatever service they wanted, they had nothing to say. I was definitely dressed professionally, company shirts, cleaned up, spoke like a professional. I can communicate well, but I will need to work on some of my sales techniques. Not that I'm bad but there is always more to learn.

.

You speak of your advantages the truth is at 20 years old you do not have any. You have no work experience you have no real industry experience and you are a young kid and the 30 or 40 year old that has been in business for 5 years plus is going to come across as more reliable. That's a fact which will not be over come by how cleaned up you are or how professional you believe you speak. Sales are not about talking someone into something when ever you do that they will be looking for the way out soon after. Your selling yourself are you honest do you come across that way if you don't your done. Do you know what your talking about and can you educate your customer and answer their concerns again if you can't you just lost the sale.

Of all the estimates I gave this year I only didn't get one sale and it was the one area I hate please leave the contract in the mail box. On those estimates I am in your shoes my personality cant help me my knowledge cant help me those are strictly price. I tend to get about one in three of those but you get me in-front of the client and I sign them up and rate over 90%. Now am I clean sometimes others I come from a job sometimes a dirt job iv went completely filthy and score nearly every time. So its not how clean you are some times iv shaved other times I got a 4 day old beard. Do I wear a company shirt I use too no longer has no effect on my ability to close. Personally I prefer to show up 10-15 mins late in a dump truck it lets them know that one I am busy and two I do have at-least a work truck so perhaps I am serious and not some part timer in a pick up.

So you need to build your image, for me I let them know right off that I work in the field and likely will be the one that does their lawn. Now what was my best record for sales one weekend in late march in 2004 I had 29 estimates Friday-Sunday and by Sunday night I had 27 new lawn accounts 2 new seeding jobs and 1 or 2 mulch jobs. Price had little to do with it they just felt comfortable with me and it wasn't hard at all some sales took less then 5 mins but I will spend and hour if it makes them feel comfortable.

You are very careful not to be specific on your prices in 4 pages I know nothing about what you charge. It's almost like you avoid that yet you want help on weather you are too high. If you client gets that vibe your done so bring yourself into their shoes and act accordingly. As for the pesticide license we have 2 of them trust me they are over rated were even considering dropping fert in a year or so. That market is pure gimmicks sign up now get a few grub control so they charge for the fert and claim the grub was free. Get a free lime application oh boy 1 or 2 bags of lime we on the other hand test the soil and have used as much as few thousand pounds on some properties. If that's your idea of where you want to be then go that rout if your honest and don't like trying to trick your future clients your find it rather difficult to gain market share in the fert industry.

JContracting
11-07-2011, 07:49 PM
You speak of your advantages the truth is at 20 years old you do not have any. You have no work experience you have no real industry experience and you are a young kid and the 30 or 40 year old that has been in business for 5 years plus is going to come across as more reliable. That's a fact which will not be over come by how cleaned up you are or how professional you believe you speak. Sales are not about talking someone into something when ever you do that they will be looking for the way out soon after. Your selling yourself are you honest do you come across that way if you don't your done. Do you know what your talking about and can you educate your customer and answer their concerns again if you can't you just lost the sale.

Of all the estimates I gave this year I only didn't get one sale and it was the one area I hate please leave the contract in the mail box. On those estimates I am in your shoes my personality cant help me my knowledge cant help me those are strictly price. I tend to get about one in three of those but you get me in-front of the client and I sign them up and rate over 90%. Now am I clean sometimes others I come from a job sometimes a dirt job iv went completely filthy and score nearly every time. So its not how clean you are some times iv shaved other times I got a 4 day old beard. Do I wear a company shirt I use too no longer has no effect on my ability to close. Personally I prefer to show up 10-15 mins late in a dump truck it lets them know that one I am busy and two I do have at-least a work truck so perhaps I am serious and not some part timer in a pick up.

So you need to build your image, for me I let them know right off that I work in the field and likely will be the one that does their lawn. Now what was my best record for sales one weekend in late march in 2004 I had 29 estimates Friday-Sunday and by Sunday night I had 27 new lawn accounts 2 new seeding jobs and 1 or 2 mulch jobs. Price had little to do with it they just felt comfortable with me and it wasn't hard at all some sales took less then 5 mins but I will spend and hour if it makes them feel comfortable.

You are very careful not to be specific on your prices in 4 pages I know nothing about what you charge. It's almost like you avoid that yet you want help on weather you are too high. If you client gets that vibe your done so bring yourself into their shoes and act accordingly. As for the pesticide license we have 2 of them trust me they are over rated were even considering dropping fert in a year or so. That market is pure gimmicks sign up now get a few grub control so they charge for the fert and claim the grub was free. Get a free lime application oh boy 1 or 2 bags of lime we on the other hand test the soil and have used as much as few thousand pounds on some properties. If that's your idea of where you want to be then go that rout if your honest and don't like trying to trick your future clients your find it rather difficult to gain market share in the fert industry.

I'm sorry but you really need to use commas, run-on sentences are next to impossible to read...

As for me not having any "real industry experience", I've been in the industry since I was 15. 80% of the idiots out there have never mowed a lawn with anything but a push mower.

Sorry that some of us are starting out and are not going to make the investment in a dump truck when it's clearly not needed for the time being.

With not displaying my prices on here, one question has been asked and the number can certainly vary as terrain & obstacles have most of the effect on price.

Kelly's Landscaping
11-07-2011, 08:02 PM
I'm sorry but you really need to use commas, run-on sentences are next to impossible to read...

As for me not having any "real industry experience", I've been in the industry since I was 15. 80% of the idiots out there have never mowed a lawn with anything but a push mower.

Sorry that some of us are starting out and are not going to make the investment in a dump truck when it's clearly not needed for the time being.

With not displaying my prices on here, one question has been asked and the number can certainly vary as terrain & obstacles have most of the effect on price.

I appreciate the English lesson. , : ' ?; truth is this I do not see that stuff when I read. So it has no importance to me when I write. What matters are the ideas what is it you believe? what is it you think? all the rest is just an exercise in masturbation. You asked why it is you can not sell and I told you weather you can accept it or not that's on you. I noticed that in all your responses you highlight in black what you want to see but seem to miss what was actually said.

Dr.NewEarth
11-07-2011, 08:09 PM
My parents try to micro-manage my life too...so I don't talk business with them. (I'm 50)

I have only read the first few posts, but you convey an intelligence that will help you find the path you seek.

The recession has still got alot of people holding onto their money. I believe things will get better eventually. All we have to do is ride out this low time.

JContracting
11-07-2011, 08:31 PM
My parents try to micro-manage my life too...so I don't talk business with them. (I'm 50)

I have only read the first few posts, but you convey an intelligence that will help you find the path you seek.

The recession has still got alot of people holding onto their money. I believe things will get better eventually. All we have to do is ride out this low time.

Thanks. I too think that once this Nobama fueled recession is done the industry as a whole will be better and if a business can make it through this, it can make it through really anything.
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Dr.NewEarth
11-07-2011, 09:52 PM
Gee, I'm in Canada and some of us blame Bush. hahaha

JContracting
11-07-2011, 09:54 PM
We blame slowbama. But that's a whole-nother discussion
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punt66
11-07-2011, 09:59 PM
It takes time to build a profitable business. Stick to you guns with proper pricing. Get a part time job somewere while your building it. When you finally get there you will have a profitable buiness with good clients and not a list full of cheap scabs.

JContracting
11-07-2011, 10:10 PM
One step ahead of you Punt. I just got a part time job, within retail, while it's not ideal it pays the bills. I really can't get myself to want to lower my prices, I sent out two bids today for clean ups and the fact that I need the work, I brought down my prices a tad but these b@stards are off Craigslist. In my experiences they're cheap SOB's anyway and wouldn't want to pay more than 50 bucks for a fall clean up when the price should be $100.
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punt66
11-07-2011, 10:17 PM
One step ahead of you Punt. I just got a part time job, within retail, while it's not ideal it pays the bills. I really can't get myself to want to lower my prices, I sent out two bids today for clean ups and the fact that I need the work, I brought down my prices a tad but these b@stards are off Craigslist. In my experiences they're cheap SOB's anyway and wouldn't want to pay more than 50 bucks for a fall clean up when the price should be $100.
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must be small lots? I have a $250 min for fall leanup in my area. How do you figure your pricing?

JContracting
11-07-2011, 10:19 PM
Based on leaf cover of the lawn and the price to mow and how long the whole process of blowing out the beds and bagging everything will take. And yes the lots are pretty small, trees are small too, no 80 ft oak trees unfortunately.
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GMLC
11-07-2011, 10:23 PM
I was taught(back in the day)a good close rate was around 60-70%. You will have to find the sweet spot on pricing until you can turn down work.

punt66
11-07-2011, 10:27 PM
Based on leaf cover of the lawn and the price to mow and how long the whole process of blowing out the beds and bagging everything will take. And yes the lots are pretty small, trees are small too, no 80 ft oak trees unfortunately.
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how long will you be on a job for a $100 cleanup?

JContracting
11-07-2011, 10:30 PM
An hour and a half, no more. We (at least I) can't get the 80-100/hr you guys out east with the forest yards are getting.
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Glenn Lawn Care
11-08-2011, 12:03 AM
I didn't even buy the books when I took the class though, couldn't afford it at the time, still did well in the class none the less lol. But I was just talking to a girl that's in the turf program that is in the weeds class right now and she was saying over half the stuff in the books is common sense.

Yup, pretty much don't eat it and don't spray people.

JContracting
11-08-2011, 02:12 AM
Lmao, and I can almost guarantee someone out there has done at least one of the two.
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coolluv
11-08-2011, 07:17 AM
It takes time to build a profitable business. Stick to you guns with proper pricing. Get a part time job somewere while your building it. When you finally get there you will have a profitable buiness with good clients and not a list full of cheap scabs.

I agree. If you lower your prices you chase your tail and work your @SS off for peanuts. Good clients are hard to come by. Cheap @sses are a dime a dozen. I'm in business to make money not work for peanuts or pay people to do work for them.

I see it all the time down here. If they won't pay then someone else can have them. Ive learned that where you advertise and to who you advertise has a lot to do with closing the deal. Craigslist is a joke and if you want to have a bunch of foreigners and cheap @sses then that is a good place to advertise.

Sure the phone will ring and you will run around giving estimates but your close rate will suck unless your a lowballing hack, then you will get all kinds of work and referrals. If I needed a repair to my home or a service I would not be looking on Craigslist. I want a reputable company that can afford to advertise through the normal channels with company trucks and equipment and uniforms etc.

A customer has to trust you first, if not they will not even think about using your service. But the cheap @sses are just looking to have the work done and they don't care what you look like or what you show up in. Good customers do care but those are far and few between.

Not to mention that the competition in this business is like no other. Like someone else posted, you will be running around wearing out your truck and equipment and wasting your time barely making money on these cheap @sses. More hours on your equipment and gas and blades and on and on.

What too many around my area fail to realize is the more customers you have the more your expenses go up and profit goes down, especially with low paying work.

But by the time they realize it they are broke and gone and the new bread takes over. Where you advertise and who you advertise to makes a big difference in your close rate. But just because someone lives in a nice house doesn't mean they are not cheap either.

The middle income customers are the best, they usually know what to look for in a service provider and they are reasonable in what they want to pay. Those are the good customers for me. Too rich and they are usually a pain in the ass, too poor and they are not worth the time.

I wasted a lot of time when I first started returning calls from foreigners and going on estimates for foreigners and cheap @sess.

Be knowledgeable and be fair but not cheap with your pricing and don't worry about the cheap @sess rich or poor.

Dave

AI Inc
11-08-2011, 08:36 AM
One step ahead of you Punt. I just got a part time job, within retail, while it's not ideal it pays the bills. I really can't get myself to want to lower my prices, I sent out two bids today for clean ups and the fact that I need the work, I brought down my prices a tad but these b@stards are off Craigslist. In my experiences they're cheap SOB's anyway and wouldn't want to pay more than 50 bucks for a fall clean up when the price should be $100.
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I wouldn't bother with craigslist. Its like the white trash of the internet.
Market the neighbors of your existing customers.

wbw
11-08-2011, 08:40 AM
I have 2 semesters left until I have a hort degree, that's my advantage.
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Getting a degree will benefit you in many ways. This is not one of those ways. You are looking at this from your prospective. You need to look at this from the customers perspective. When I get home from work I want my lawn to look nice. I don't care if the guy that cut it has a degree or not. You would be far better off to take a Dale Carnegie course than anything else.

Put together a package with some testimonials in it, add a copy of your liability insurance. Photos of previous jobs are also nice. The customer wants to feel comfortable.

"While we are a small family owned business that prides itself on old fashioned service we are large enough to provide any service you might need."

Explain to them that you answer your phone 18 hours a day. Then answer it. Tell them that your youth is an advantage for them. That while you are young, you do have 8 years of experience, all the equipment that you need and the energy and enthusiasm of youth. Do not try to impress them. Make them comfortable with you.

I apologize in advance for any spelling, grammatical, sentence structure or punctuation errors. I don't have a degree, barely attended high school and the few days I spent in class were in KY. I do, however, know how to sell.

P.S. I guarantee you that you will be better off if you concentrate your efforts on this business than if you work in retail part time.
Believe in it. Work in it. Don't take your eye off of the target. Good luck.

punt66
11-08-2011, 10:37 AM
I agree. If you lower your prices you chase your tail and work your @SS off for peanuts. Good clients are hard to come by. Cheap @sses are a dime a dozen. I'm in business to make money not work for peanuts or pay people to do work for them.

I see it all the time down here. If they won't pay then someone else can have them. Ive learned that where you advertise and to who you advertise has a lot to do with closing the deal. Craigslist is a joke and if you want to have a bunch of foreigners and cheap @sses then that is a good place to advertise.

Sure the phone will ring and you will run around giving estimates but your close rate will suck unless your a lowballing hack, then you will get all kinds of work and referrals. If I needed a repair to my home or a service I would not be looking on Craigslist. I want a reputable company that can afford to advertise through the normal channels with company trucks and equipment and uniforms etc.

A customer has to trust you first, if not they will not even think about using your service. But the cheap @sses are just looking to have the work done and they don't care what you look like or what you show up in. Good customers do care but those are far and few between.

Not to mention that the competition in this business is like no other. Like someone else posted, you will be running around wearing out your truck and equipment and wasting your time barely making money on these cheap @sses. More hours on your equipment and gas and blades and on and on.

What too many around my area fail to realize is the more customers you have the more your expenses go up and profit goes down, especially with low paying work.

But by the time they realize it they are broke and gone and the new bread takes over. Where you advertise and who you advertise to makes a big difference in your close rate. But just because someone lives in a nice house doesn't mean they are not cheap either.

The middle income customers are the best, they usually know what to look for in a service provider and they are reasonable in what they want to pay. Those are the good customers for me. Too rich and they are usually a pain in the ass, too poor and they are not worth the time.

I wasted a lot of time when I first started returning calls from foreigners and going on estimates for foreigners and cheap @sess.

Be knowledgeable and be fair but not cheap with your pricing and don't worry about the cheap @sess rich or poor.

Dave

I agree with most of this except the foreigners comment. Maybe its my area but the foreigners are the frst ones to put a check inthe mail. They are picky and want it done their way and done correctly. But some of my best cients are indians and Jews. The ones i have issues from are the typical christian americans living above their means that string you out. But again, that might just be my area. Most of the indians here are doctors. I even get free medical advice hahhaha.

To the OP,

I have been in business before (excavation contractor) and i went into this already knowing how to deal with clients and how to build a good list. Take it from me and do not give in to cheap skates. Stick to your guns. If you do that you will have a strong list of clients (takes time) that pay their bills and the phone will rarely ring. They are smart people and they know you will take care of things as long as you build that relationship.

For example, i do not send a single notice out at the change of seasons. They know i will service them. If they want to cancel they know to contact me. I have all their email addresses so ifi have a question, concern, suggestion i will shoot them an email from my Droid right from my truck and move on. If i raise prices i just do it without notice. Never a complaint. WHY? Because they trust me, know i will always be there and they will not find another srvice provider easier to work with. They hire us because it makes their life easier. My clients dont have to think about a thing. I know what time they all need to get to work in the winter. How I ask them when they sign up for plowing. I make a note of it on my sheet. I have memorized their needs. They are so happy to see me and to have me servicing their property. I turn away most of their referals because i am full. I get paid well and dont need anymore nor do i want to grow. I am not chasing my tail for peanuts.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. If you want to last in this business you need to grow a strong company.

Exact Rototilling
11-08-2011, 12:43 PM
You speak of your advantages the truth is at 20 years old you do not have any. You have no work experience you have no real industry experience and you are a young kid and the 30 or 40 year old that has been in business for 5 years plus is going to come across as more reliable. That's a fact which will not be over come by how cleaned up you are or how professional you believe you speak. Sales are not about talking someone into something when ever you do that they will be looking for the way out soon after. Your selling yourself are you honest do you come across that way if you don't your done. Do you know what your talking about and can you educate your customer and answer their concerns again if you can't you just lost the sale.

Of all the estimates I gave this year I only didn't get one sale and it was the one area I hate please leave the contract in the mail box. On those estimates I am in your shoes my personality cant help me my knowledge cant help me those are strictly price. I tend to get about one in three of those but you get me in-front of the client and I sign them up and rate over 90%. Now am I clean sometimes others I come from a job sometimes a dirt job iv went completely filthy and score nearly every time. So its not how clean you are some times iv shaved other times I got a 4 day old beard. Do I wear a company shirt I use too no longer has no effect on my ability to close. Personally I prefer to show up 10-15 mins late in a dump truck it lets them know that one I am busy and two I do have at-least a work truck so perhaps I am serious and not some part timer in a pick up.

So you need to build your image, for me I let them know right off that I work in the field and likely will be the one that does their lawn. Now what was my best record for sales one weekend in late march in 2004 I had 29 estimates Friday-Sunday and by Sunday night I had 27 new lawn accounts 2 new seeding jobs and 1 or 2 mulch jobs. Price had little to do with it they just felt comfortable with me and it wasn't hard at all some sales took less then 5 mins but I will spend and hour if it makes them feel comfortable.

You are very careful not to be specific on your prices in 4 pages I know nothing about what you charge. It's almost like you avoid that yet you want help on weather you are too high. If you client gets that vibe your done so bring yourself into their shoes and act accordingly. As for the pesticide license we have 2 of them trust me they are over rated were even considering dropping fert in a year or so. That market is pure gimmicks sign up now get a few grub control so they charge for the fert and claim the grub was free. Get a free lime application oh boy 1 or 2 bags of lime we on the other hand test the soil and have used as much as few thousand pounds on some properties. If that's your idea of where you want to be then go that rout if your honest and don't like trying to trick your future clients your find it rather difficult to gain market share in the fert industry.
This has been my very concern in getting into herbicide applications. All the national Co. and a few local Co. have prices that are far below what I can buy the fert for and their herbicide rates are down well below $45 for liquid weed and feed for an average property.

I put down fert for only a few of my clients and that is it.


All this talk of my prices may be too high but zero mention of what your mowing rates are?

You’re getting an applicators license but are you insured?

.....every spring I see thread here on lawnsite where so & so Co. just passed off a PRICE INCREASE for their mowing clients and it went well lost a few gained more.

You never hear about the other side of the coin “I raised my mowing rates this spring and lost nearly ALL my clients”.

My take on this is....you need to have enough business and cash flow from this to make it worth it. When there is talk of taking a retail job along side this business that makes me wonder? If it is for the winter only I can see that but if time spent working retail [during the growing season] takes away from the lawn biz growth I can’t see it.

JContracting
11-08-2011, 01:29 PM
I agree. If you lower your prices you chase your tail and work your @SS off for peanuts. Good clients are hard to come by. Cheap @sses are a dime a dozen. I'm in business to make money not work for peanuts or pay people to do work for them.

I see it all the time down here. If they won't pay then someone else can have them. Ive learned that where you advertise and to who you advertise has a lot to do with closing the deal. Craigslist is a joke and if you want to have a bunch of foreigners and cheap @sses then that is a good place to advertise.

Sure the phone will ring and you will run around giving estimates but your close rate will suck unless your a lowballing hack, then you will get all kinds of work and referrals. If I needed a repair to my home or a service I would not be looking on Craigslist. I want a reputable company that can afford to advertise through the normal channels with company trucks and equipment and uniforms etc.

A customer has to trust you first, if not they will not even think about using your service. But the cheap @sses are just looking to have the work done and they don't care what you look like or what you show up in. Good customers do care but those are far and few between.

Not to mention that the competition in this business is like no other. Like someone else posted, you will be running around wearing out your truck and equipment and wasting your time barely making money on these cheap @sses. More hours on your equipment and gas and blades and on and on.

What too many around my area fail to realize is the more customers you have the more your expenses go up and profit goes down, especially with low paying work.

But by the time they realize it they are broke and gone and the new bread takes over. Where you advertise and who you advertise to makes a big difference in your close rate. But just because someone lives in a nice house doesn't mean they are not cheap either.

The middle income customers are the best, they usually know what to look for in a service provider and they are reasonable in what they want to pay. Those are the good customers for me. Too rich and they are usually a pain in the ass, too poor and they are not worth the time.

I wasted a lot of time when I first started returning calls from foreigners and going on estimates for foreigners and cheap @sess.

Be knowledgeable and be fair but not cheap with your pricing and don't worry about the cheap @sess rich or poor.

Dave

Couldn't agree more with the bolded statement.

My irrigation guy (one of my best friends) were just talking about that last night. I had some asian guy call me yesterday evening (must have been from my Craigslist ad which is at least a week old) and I could hardly understand a word he was saying but was asking for an irrigation blowout. I wasn't sure if my buddy still had the compressor or not so I told the guy I'd call him and then call the guy back. Told my buddy that it had to be off Craigslist because the guy was some foreigner, and we both pretty much came to the conclusion that Craigslist is a waste of time even though it's free. Anyway, he said since it's so late in the year the price was going to be higher (standard rate is at least $10/zone, this guy had 5 zones), the price was going to be $75 + sales tax (this job would've taken us 20 min and it was 2 miles down the road). Called the foreigner back and he just about blew up about how expensive it was, said what I believe to be "whoa wow that's so much, I go with neighbor, he do for $50" that was the end of that...

I've gotten lots of calls and estimates including one SOB that had his hack of a friend that's a "handyman" that could somehow get the prices for a list of shrubs and trees from Bachman's (you MN guys will know who they are) and you have to also have a nursery license, and I'd love to know if that guy had it or not. But, the prospect told me the total price for everything was $600.00, after I got prices for everything excluding 2 River Birch trees because they're out of stock of them and it came to $670.00 which would have been another $250.00+. The ignorance of some people is amazing...



Getting a degree will benefit you in many ways. This is not one of those ways. You are looking at this from your prospective. You need to look at this from the customers perspective. When I get home from work I want my lawn to look nice. I don't care if the guy that cut it has a degree or not. You would be far better off to take a Dale Carnegie course than anything else.

Put together a package with some testimonials in it, add a copy of your liability insurance. Photos of previous jobs are also nice. The customer wants to feel comfortable.

"While we are a small family owned business that prides itself on old fashioned service we are large enough to provide any service you might need."

Explain to them that you answer your phone 18 hours a day. Then answer it. Tell them that your youth is an advantage for them. That while you are young, you do have 8 years of experience, all the equipment that you need and the energy and enthusiasm of youth. Do not try to impress them. Make them comfortable with you.

I apologize in advance for any spelling, grammatical, sentence structure or punctuation errors. I don't have a degree, barely attended high school and the few days I spent in class were in KY. I do, however, know how to sell.

P.S. I guarantee you that you will be better off if you concentrate your efforts on this business than if you work in retail part time.
Believe in it. Work in it. Don't take your eye off of the target. Good luck.

Our season up here is over, I have really no other options than to work somewhere else until at least spring.

With your package of testimonials and the copy of the liability insurance, when are you saying to do that? With my advertising? Because there's no way I'm including my insurance info on a piece of advertising that could be blowing away in the wind.

I wouldn't bother with craigslist. Its like the white trash of the internet.
Market the neighbors of your existing customers.

See above.

JContracting
11-08-2011, 01:49 PM
I agree with most of this except the foreigners comment. Maybe its my area but the foreigners are the frst ones to put a check inthe mail. They are picky and want it done their way and done correctly. But some of my best cients are indians and Jews. The ones i have issues from are the typical christian americans living above their means that string you out. But again, that might just be my area. Most of the indians here are doctors. I even get free medical advice hahhaha.

To the OP,

I have been in business before (excavation contractor) and i went into this already knowing how to deal with clients and how to build a good list. Take it from me and do not give in to cheap skates. Stick to your guns. If you do that you will have a strong list of clients (takes time) that pay their bills and the phone will rarely ring. They are smart people and they know you will take care of things as long as you build that relationship.

For example, i do not send a single notice out at the change of seasons. They know i will service them. If they want to cancel they know to contact me. I have all their email addresses so ifi have a question, concern, suggestion i will shoot them an email from my Droid right from my truck and move on. If i raise prices i just do it without notice. Never a complaint. WHY? Because they trust me, know i will always be there and they will not find another srvice provider easier to work with. They hire us because it makes their life easier. My clients dont have to think about a thing. I know what time they all need to get to work in the winter. How I ask them when they sign up for plowing. I make a note of it on my sheet. I have memorized their needs. They are so happy to see me and to have me servicing their property. I turn away most of their referals because i am full. I get paid well and dont need anymore nor do i want to grow. I am not chasing my tail for peanuts.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. If you want to last in this business you need to grow a strong company.

Foreigners here are unbelievably cheap. I had one customer for a few weeks this year that was a top director for Ameriprise and was a cheap SOB like you wouldn't believe. He tried to plant a flower garden with the plants in the pot still and stuck them in the ground :hammerhead:

But I'm sticking with my guns, I've read from just this thread from guys like Punt that know the biz.



And Exact..

I stated my base price, I'm not displaying my entire list of prices because they're all across the board, every yard is different. As for the fert stuff, I don't have my license yet, I'm taking the exam in the winter and who said I wasn't going to be insured for fert?? As for the working retail, WHY the hell would I want to have that as a full time job when I'm going to school for Horticulture, think a little bit. I have that job because I have to pay bills and as soon as the snow starts melting I'll be leaving. I plan to either work for a fert company for guaranteed income starting this spring (which would count as the required internship for my Hort program) and/or run the biz as well, depends on my advertising response. That plan may change also but guaranteed income is a must.

AI Inc
11-08-2011, 04:54 PM
Some of my best are retirees. They dont have a mortgage payment to make.

coolluv
11-08-2011, 04:57 PM
Funny thing is down here, the areas and neighborhoods that you think are well off and can afford it are the ones that don't have the money and are the Pita.

I was talking to another LCO a few weeks ago and he has a lot of customers in a million dollar country club neighborhood that owe him money. He said most are broke and in hock up to their @ss. But everyone will trip over their dick to try and get customers in these areas.

He told me he was going to get rid of all of them and only do commercial from now on. Just because they appear to be rich doesn't mean they are.

Dave...

AI Inc
11-08-2011, 05:00 PM
Everyone loves working ( or thinks they do ) in new developments. Those people are the most strapped.

coolluv
11-08-2011, 05:03 PM
Some of my best are retirees. They dont have a mortgage payment to make.

My best customers are the high middle income that both work and don't have time to mess with maintenance. Like Punt said, they want someone they can trust and is reliable. Do that and you never hear from them.

I don't have the issues that a lot have, sure I still have some that are not prime but I need them right now but eventually they will be kicked to the curb.

I don't want a million cheap @sses or pita's. Just enough good customers to make a good living. But that takes time.

Dave...

JContracting
11-09-2011, 01:11 AM
Let's try this again, mods can deleting that first post I bumped post on accident and it took over 10 min so I couldn't edit

Kelly could be a last name...

Anyway keep the posts coming guys, just don't get racial because I don't want this thread deleted! I got one story of some stupid (they seriously were brainless) somolians. I was doing doorhangers a couple weeks ago and they were outside, talked to the wife (while the husband went in circles with their junk lawn tractor to bag leaves) and she screwed me down to my base price for blowouts, but its a mile away from home so the highest expenses (fuel) were minimum and they wanted some sod installed as well as a patio. Stupid lady thought I could do the blowout right then and there, as if I'm a magician...
We agreed that the next day (Saturday) late morning we would be there to Do the blowouts, arrive at noon, no sign of the people, called them twice on the number she gave me, said f@ck it and left, called again 2 more times in the next hour and nothing back. So I went on and enjoyed my Halloween wknd. Monday morning while I'm in class I get a call from an unfamiliar number, it was the somolian lady saying how we didn't do the blowout yadda yadda.

The day of doing doorhangers, she pointed out the neighbors patio and how they want something like it, quoted them a 20x20 patio with about 18" height of steps off their sliding glass door, total came to about $5150 with tax. Bid the sod to be about $600, it was 660 sq ft and the access with equipment was easy. Anyway, I sent them the bid for the sod and patio as well as an explanation why their irri system didn't get blown out because they weren't home... They probly sh!t their pants when the saw the price for the patio, they probly thought it would cost $500 and the sod would be $50 and even that's too much for these cheap morons
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wbw
11-09-2011, 08:23 AM
Anyway, I sent them the bid for the sod and patio as well as an explanation why their irri system didn't get blown out because they weren't home... They probly sh!t their pants when the saw the price for the patio, they probly thought it would cost $500 and the sod would be $50 and even that's too much for these cheap morons
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Always deliver the bid in person and go over it with them. Do not pre-judge...it will cost you much business. You may have been a little higher than the next guy and he may have bid a smaller patio. If you are not there you will never know. They may do it next year.

The other post about the testamonials etc., I would leave that any time I didn't have a commitment before I left there house. It is the little things that make the difference. I sell pool service. Most of the time there are two or three competing bids. I always test the pool water with the customer watching. I can't tell you how many times they call me and tell me I got the job and they make the comment "You know we had three guys out here and you are the only one that tested the water." This little act gave them confidence that I was thorough and truloy cared about their pool. It is the little things that matter. They weren't impressed with the fact that I am a CPO, they were impressed that I seemed to care.

AI Inc
11-09-2011, 02:15 PM
Always deliver the bid in person and go over it with them. Do not pre-judge...it will cost you much business. You may have been a little higher than the next guy and he may have bid a smaller patio. If you are not there you will never know. They may do it next year.

.

Exactly, I never mail an estimate or I would become just a number. Sell yourself , not the job.

JContracting
11-09-2011, 04:39 PM
I would go broke spending my money on fuel to deliver bids on just a small resi job that's not an install which is what I primarily do. I certainly would on bigger resi's for maint or installs and comm's whether it be maintenance or installs, but it does not make sense to drive another 20 miles round trip to drop a bid off for a fall clean up. I know I'm stubborn but that 20 miles is another $11.08 @ 55.40 cents per mile (IRS).

AI Inc
11-09-2011, 04:47 PM
95 % of jobs I look at ( Im irrigation and landscape lighting only) I bid right then . I typicly spend an hr on an estimate. 20 min if its one I dont care about. Sometimes over an hr if the rapore is going well I think I have him sold.
first 20 minutes I sit down and explain the system and how it works to them. I used to do this after but realized people were not paying attn , they were waiting for the price.
Doing it this way , they know I dont know the price yet and listen to what I say.
Then it takes me 25 min or so to look at where the water connection will be , measure the yard . Look at any unusual circumstances ( walkways to be drilled or anything creating time consuming extras) Then figure a price.

Then I spend the last 15 minutes answering any questions and trying to sell them.