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View Full Version : To Itemize or not to Itemize!


classy
03-22-2012, 12:10 PM
I like to breakdown prices to customers so that they will get a better grasp on the situation. That said. I'd say %50 of the time, it seems to cause more confusion and perhaps silent criticism, especially when it comes to the labor rates.

What do you find makes your customers most comfortable when quoting? Itemized lists or total job cost?
Explain if you have the time.

Thanks ahead of time!

Waddle
03-22-2012, 01:01 PM
When I send invoices for lawn maintenance it's just listed as maintenance and the price. When I do it for a landscape job I itemize everything. Sometimes they say something about the labor and sometimes they don't. When they do I just explain payroll, taxes, insurance, fuel, wear and tear on equipment, and permit fees all come out of my labor rate. They usually never question anything after I explain all of they. For some reason they think that all goes in my pocket and are suddenly ok with it after I tell them.

classy
03-22-2012, 02:41 PM
Yes, I too do it for landscaping, and this is where the strange looks of "this guy is trying to rip me off", when really it's "this guy is trying to give me a decent price, and not end up spending 2 extra hours working FOR FREE.".

I really have trouble imagining other people doing it for a lot less AND doing the same quality work. But I'll be the first to tell you, I don't work cheap, we are here for PROFIT, not to earn a WAGE "on our own". I'd say I land %40-%58 of the jobs I estimate. And you can tell when people are working with a limited budget, and I try to help as much as possible, but there is only so far I can cut myself.

Hey thanks for your reply @Waddle

Weekend cut easymoney
03-22-2012, 02:59 PM
I itemize also for quotes so the customer can see how they got to the final price...I mostly try to leave out important details such as quantities and calculations-so other companies can't simply look at my estimate and just undercut the price, they would actually have to go to the sit and do their own homework-

Patriot Services
03-22-2012, 03:05 PM
Itemizing tends to send customers into vapor lock. They think your labor rate should be 10 bucks an hour and your materials should match the latest Home Depot flyer.:usflag:

GreenI.A.
03-23-2012, 01:17 AM
For resi work I do not itemize anything at all. The price I give is for materials, labor and tax. I used to put tax on a seperate line, but if you do that the customer can easily do the math and figure what the materials and labor is. People tend to be in shock when they see a labor rate for service work in the 100-125 range. If I am doing a proposal for an install then I will usually give them two prices, one for the complete job, and another without a few options.

Snyder's Lawn Inc
03-23-2012, 01:44 AM
I like to breakdown prices to customers so that they will get a better grasp on the situation. That said. I'd say %50 of the time, it seems to cause more confusion and perhaps silent criticism, especially when it comes to the labor rates.

What do you find makes your customers most comfortable when quoting? Itemized lists or total job cost?
Explain if you have the time.

Thanks ahead of time!

I itemize jobs that is seeding and landscape only

grandview (2006)
03-23-2012, 06:12 AM
I used to,but most people just want to know the price.If like others say your breaking down the labor they stare at you like your crazy. Also if you list say 8 hrs labor and get done in 5 they think a refund is due to them. But they forget you have time in getting the supplies for the job. So I list all the material needed but no price for it.

classy
03-23-2012, 10:51 AM
@Weekend, great point. They probably do take my estimates and show it to my competition. I also normally leave them with a written estimate, so that they can know the processes they need to carry out. I'M DONE WITH THAT.

@Patriot - exactly, labor rate sends them into Vapor Lock

@Snyder, as of right now, I am completely finished with itemizing, they just look like Deer with headlight eyes. But if it works for you, do it. When I get off the mower to do real WORK, ie. landscaping, the price goes up $15-50 per hour just for me. My laborer rate stays the same.

@all - Foreman rates for construction run $75-$150 per hour. I told one customer $85/hour for 2 people, one Foreman, one laborer, you could see the Great Wall of China, being erected in milliseconds.

@grandview - EXACTLY, EXACTLY, EXACTLY. Most do just want a price, and they stare at you like you're Darth Vader of Landscaping. I think your way is the best compromise.

How are you guys avoiding the "Price Shoppers"?

clydebusa
03-23-2012, 11:04 AM
I list what will be done but do not price each item out. I will itemize adders out as in an extra service. You go to most places and their is a price for the product. They don't list cost for each thing. Once the job is done I do itemize the job out to see what the cost of each phase was.

classy
03-23-2012, 11:12 AM
Good point @Green Industry... labor rates send them into shock for sure. I think they want you to be satisfied with $10-13 per hour.

I do a good bit of "Yard Renovations", straightening out 2-6 years of growth on average.

In the end, I believe most people and especially degreed people look down on construction, Landscaping, ANYONE who works with their hands. Yet they seem to be the most willing to pay the higher rates. It is the common guy/gal that feels if they make $12 per hour, that you must be insane to have the audacity to even THINK you should be paid $65 per hour for what they consider common yard work.

Just 2 weeks ago I quoted a guy for a yard $570. And they were price shopping. They told me another person quoted them $1100 and something. For the last 2 WEEKs I saw this guy DIY-ING it. And YES, he took MY advice on his land and did exactly what I told him, I would do. Oh well, people like this really don't have the money anyway, and I'm glad he got it done right. On the other hand he's the LAST, LOL.

It looks pretty good mind you, but it's taking him 2 weeks to do it, and he had a crew, lol. And this is the point of expertise. What we can do in 1 or 2 days with a crew, Can take you WEEKS to do with your crew or on your own. But it can be done. You must also realize that we are EDUCATED in landscape architecture, and you are not. So we know alot more about maximizing the curb appeal of your landscape and creating functional scapes out of your land than the average person. So there is a whole lot more wrapped up in our price and you are actually getting a severe discount, by not having to go to school for what we do.

In the end, you as a customer need to calculate your hourly wage x amount of time it will take you. And it will roughly take you 5 times as long as it takes us or more. If your end result figure is more than what you would pay us, YOU'RE LOSING MONEY and time and you risk injury.
(steps off soap-box)

classy
03-23-2012, 11:18 AM
Are you saying you itemize it out to the customer at the "end", or is this for your internal office computations?

I already know what mine is when I quote them first.

clydebusa
03-23-2012, 11:42 AM
Are you saying you itemize it out to the customer at the "end", or is this for your internal office computations?

I already know what mine is when I quote them first.

Yes I itemize after the job is done.. You have the initial itemize at the begginning. I do it at the end just to double check the numbers. A job never cost what I think it does.. The is more or less money spent or made on every job.

Chilehead
03-23-2012, 12:03 PM
I always will quote maintenance services at the installed cost. Thus, if a customer purchases four different services, I will list each at the quoted price on their invoice but will not do a price breakdown of labor vs. materials.

crazymike
03-23-2012, 01:02 PM
For landscape I will sometimes itemize, but not down into labor, etc...

Give them like

decorative rocks installed $200
mulch installed $130
sod installed $1200

That way they can take out items they may not want. But you don't need to tell them how much you're paying for rocks, how much youre charging to install

classy
03-23-2012, 01:58 PM
I like this @Mike, it's a halfway-meeting point and still allows them to choose a certain amount of products/services.

Now, with that said, how do you stop them from taking your quote to your competition? As anyone can cut a few dollars off almost anything someone else quotes. It's just way too easy to say "I'll do it for 10-30 bucks less".

I personally only calculate what it would cost me to do biz, but I know many others that will simply undercut you.

grandview (2006)
03-23-2012, 02:15 PM
I like this @Mike, it's a halfway-meeting point and still allows them to choose a certain amount of products/services.

Now, with that said, how do you stop them from taking your quote to your competition? As anyone can cut a few dollars off almost anything someone else quotes. It's just way too easy to say "I'll do it for 10-30 bucks less".

I personally only calculate what it would cost me to do biz, but I know many others that will simply undercut you.

People like that will call 5 different companies and keep trying to get it lower. Then you drive by a month later and they did it themselves with the cheapest tree they could find at K mart.

Patriot Services
03-23-2012, 03:42 PM
People like that will call 5 different companies and keep trying to get it lower. Then you drive by a month later and they did it themselves with the cheapest tree they could find at K mart.

And a month after that the tree is dead and the mulch is scattered since they never cut a bed edge. Can't fix stupid. I don't let customers pick my brain too much either. My knowledge isn't free either.
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wbw
03-23-2012, 08:29 PM
If I itemized I would go broke in a month. I try to tell them a budget number "If you want x done I would budget about $500 for that." Then when I give them a bill for $480 they are happy. They always remember the first number out of your mouth, so if you are going to break it down for them give them the total first...then the breakdown.

JContracting
03-26-2012, 12:45 PM
For landscape I will sometimes itemize, but not down into labor, etc...

Give them like

decorative rocks installed $200
mulch installed $130
sod installed $1200

That way they can take out items they may not want. But you don't need to tell them how much you're paying for rocks, how much youre charging to install


I display & charge the retail prices for rock, mulch, etc. And then the labor for it.

For pavers, retaining walls, etc., I display the price per sq ft and the amount and the price
Ie. 500 sq of (insert paver type) installed @ $16/sq ft = $8000.00
That's all they say & that includes everything from initial ground breaking to the polymeric sand.

If they're a good customer, they aren't going to say anything because they know our work quality is 2nd to none.

Kelly's Landscaping
03-28-2012, 08:08 PM
Fixed price jobs like fert applications or lawn cuts we simply write the price on the invoice. But all work that unquoted trimming bushes seeding jobs mulch jobs and spring and fall clean ups we itemize every one of them. It one lets them know what you did and two if there is a problem a few months later it reminds you what you did and gives you the info needed to state your case.

GreenI.A.
03-29-2012, 03:22 PM
The funny thing is I was googling something the other morning and one of the links that came up was for a local forum on a different site. The guy that asked the question was looking for advice because he was getting quotes for a whole new landscape; front walk, stairs, rear walks, patio and raised wood deck, and all new beds and lawn, and wanted to know what questions he should ask. All of the homeowners posting were telling him to get itemized quotes from everything from the largest tree to the nuts and bolts, and labor. Some even recommended going to HD where they do free deck designs and give you the material list, then compare that to the contractors itemized materials so that you know the contractor isn't claiming to use extra materials. Their idea was that if it is cheaper to do so, hire multiple contractors depending on bids, have one do the front walk and stairs and another do the patio, another the deck, another do the plants.

What made me laugh the most was a couple of them agreed that he should insist the contractors use stone from HD since the contractor can buy individual bricks and not have to buy by the pallets. Their general concensus was that contractors should be happy to get any work they can, if one quotes 40k for the job and another 45k then go with the cheapest because all they are doing is laying the bricks on the ground and putting plants in holes. I'm glad I don't deal with any customers like that and can usually weed them out when they call so I don't waste my time. I was tempted to create an account and lay into them all

JContracting
03-30-2012, 12:01 AM
What website is it? I'm not afraid to argue :D
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