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GreenMonster
02-14-2004, 04:01 PM
I got a call from a customer I did a small planter wall for this fall. I picked up the job doing two larger waterfront walls down the street.

At that time, this customer asked me to bid a large waterfront wall for her as well. Wall is fairly complex in nature -- 8 or more courses, geogrid requirements, waterfront application, arcs and curves, bringing in lots of fill, a lot of compaction required -- you get the picture.

I submitted a more-than-fair price. I won't even tell you how much because you'll probably say I'm doing it too cheap:o I followed up after the holidays and they waffled about the price, so I offered a 4% discount if the booked b4 feb 15.

Lady calls this morning and asks if I can drop the price another $500?!?! I explain the difficulty building the wall, tough to get at with equipment, small window of oppurtunity in the fall, this IS my best price, blah, blah, blah.

I got off the phone, then really started stewing. This is about a 10k wall. If they are asking for another $500 off, doesn't it just seem as though they want to "feel" like they got a deal? If $500 is make or break, I don't think I want to do the f****** job!

She is supposed to call back today or tomorrow after talking to her husband. I'm tempted to tell her that I don't even want to do the wall for her anymore. Seems like this could be an indication of things to come.

Tell me I'm right in sticking to my guns. Would you guys willingly lose this job over $500?

DUSTYCEDAR
02-14-2004, 04:07 PM
yes if they r already loballing u and u havent started wait till u start and they will pry mess with u some more
tell them deadline came and went and the price went up because u have other work she will have to wait and u will re-bid her job

MudslinginFX4
02-14-2004, 04:36 PM
I honesly don't think I would do it. I agree with Dustycedar, tell her the deadline came and went. If you aren't going to be making much money for the trouble why bother?

DFW Area Landscaper
02-14-2004, 05:21 PM
Don't drop the price. You may have un-intentionally opened the door to haggling by telling her you'd discount it by 4% if she met a certain deadline. If it were coming from a large corporation, she'd know the deadline was real. Coming from a small business owner, she now feels comfortable in haggling price.

You've done good work and she knows you do good work. Otherwise, she wouldn't be offering you anything. If it's a $10K job, she wants to make sure she doesn't hire a poor quality contractor for that kind of money. She wants the $10K job to be done right and she knows you'll be able to do it right.

Politely explain that the 4% was the most you could have come down, but that's it. As for whether or not you still want to come down by 4%, that's your call.

At this point, she probably just wants to feel that she got a good price. She may be willing to risk hiring a poor quality contractor if you're not willing to negotiate on the 4%. You're the one who opened the door on discounts, not her.

I'd recommend speaking with her, preferably face to face, and politely explain that you have certain costs, insurance, blah, blah, blah, and that you'd love to come down another $500, but you just can't do it. Give her examples of how hiring an incompetent contractor can cause problems. Use FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) to sell yourself over another contractor. But don't badmouth a specific contractor. Give her the 4% that you've already offered and try to make her like you. She'll probably go with you if you handle the negotiations right.

Thats my advice. Good luck.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

westernmdlawn
02-14-2004, 05:25 PM
I would definitely stick to your guns on that one. Sounds like a crappy customer anyway who just wants to feel like he/she won in the bargaining process. If anything, those customers should be charged MORE, not less, because of the increased aggravation. Just my .02.... :angry: Remember, you only do this for the payup

D Felix
02-14-2004, 05:29 PM
If you decide to do the wall, all I can say is get EVERYTHING in writing. You may already do that, but it can't be said enough.

Personally, if they were quibbling with me over the price, trying to reduce it by 5% on a job this size, I would probably tell them that the price is firm and if they wanted me to do it, that's the price. If they decide to have you do it, be sure to lay out the wall alignment BEFORE you start, before you collect a single cent from them. That way you are on the same page as they are. If they want to change anything, make sure they understand it will cost extra $$$.

If you are firm with them now, they won't be as tempted to try to pull something in the future. If you aren't, then they will think they can walk all over you....

Who knows, they could turn out to be your best repeat customers in the future....?


Dan

John Allin
02-14-2004, 06:32 PM
I quoted $10,000 to do the job. Can I do it for $500 less ?

Yes I can..... however..... I'm going to make the same profit at either cost......

At $10K my experience works for you. At $9500 my experience works for me.

Who do you want me to work for ??

John Allin
02-14-2004, 06:34 PM
Another suggestion.....

Customer has three choices.....

Good.
Fast.
Cheap.

Pick two......

bcx400
02-14-2004, 06:39 PM
One of the hardest things to learn in this business, is when to walk away from a job. There is nothing wrong with not getting the job due to lack of profit.
Let the customer know this.

little green guy
02-14-2004, 08:02 PM
I also have a simuliar situation with a customer. I quoted 12k for a landscape job and the guys playing games with me now, the way I look at it, once i get into the job It can only get worse. I'm pretty much ready to tell him to get lost, I have plenty of other work for people that aren't idiots and willing to pay and not play games. If you don't realy need the job I would not take it if you can't get things square now, but thats just me.

GrazerZ
02-14-2004, 10:36 PM
Don't drop your price! I quite often tell people that I do not apologize for my prices. By haggling with customers and lowering your prices, its like saying that you would have been charging them more than they needed to pay at the origional price. We do offer discounts for large jobs, but once offered we don't keep lowering. Also by sticking to your prices you show that your a proffesional and your price structure is fixed and far. We also at times tell folks like these after you give your estimate, that if there is a probelem with the price, offer references, and encourage them to seek out other prices from reputable installers. This may call there bluff and is a professional way of saying that they are cheap skates and you know it. Above all don't make yourself look desperate. if they agree to the price do it and do it well. Its very possible that once they see your work they won't have any problems spending more money. These happens to us often.

heritage
02-14-2004, 10:41 PM
Walk away....this person will give you headaches.
Anytime the potential client says anything about lowering price....red flag. Not worth my time. JMO

Pete D.

GreenMonster
02-15-2004, 09:11 AM
Originally posted by GrazerZ
Don't drop your price! I quite often tell people that I do not apologize for my prices. By haggling with customers and lowering your prices, its like saying that you would have been charging them more than they needed to pay at the origional price. We do offer discounts for large jobs, but once offered we don't keep lowering. Also by sticking to your prices you show that your a proffesional and your price structure is fixed and far. We also at times tell folks like these after you give your estimate, that if there is a probelem with the price, offer references, and encourage them to seek out other prices from reputable installers. This may call there bluff and is a professional way of saying that they are cheap skates and you know it. Above all don't make yourself look desperate. if they agree to the price do it and do it well. Its very possible that once they see your work they won't have any problems spending more money. These happens to us often.

Like I said in my original post, they've seen my work, actually had me do small planter wall for them -- which they changed half-way through.

Whereas this wall can only be done in the fall after draw-down, I took the approach that I would discount for early committment. That wasn't an invitation to open a bargaining session.

I just wanted to make sure I was thinking straight by telling this lady to go fly a kite. Seems to be the consensus here. Thanks for the input guys.

edger
02-15-2004, 09:28 AM
Originally posted by John Allin
Another suggestion.....

Customer has three choices.....

Good.
Fast.
Cheap.

Pick two......

Well said John. Had some one just the other day that is a contractor in my area tell me. You can offer clients 3 things quality, service and price. You can only give them 2.

Like DFW said it, face to face. So you can explain the good the bad and ugly of a job like this.

Chris

Coffeecraver
02-15-2004, 11:29 AM
The customer has seen your work and approved enough to give you the call.

Do not second guess yourself on the price. You have carefuly worked up the estimate and most likely did not make a 500.00
mistake.

If you drop the price by 500.00,that makes a statement that it was 500.00 too high to begin with.

As someone mentioned above the client will not stop there.
This job could be a nightmare if you drop your price,you could be nitpicked too death.If you get the job at your price you may be nitpicked but you will get paid for it.

Keep a pad of change orders with you and have one signed with each change.

If you are hungry, they will take advantage of you.

landscapingpoolguy
02-16-2004, 12:01 PM
Stick to yur guns cowboy....$500.00 is pay for a helper for a week.

Chuck

NCSULandscaper
02-16-2004, 01:29 PM
Tell them you are a business just as any other business, and your prices are non-negotiable. They can take it or leave it, its up to them. If you dont get the job, sounds like ure not missing out on much, ull make it back on the next job.

Mdirrigation
02-16-2004, 03:20 PM
Just ask the customer if they cant afford to have the job done right , how are they going to afford to do it over.

stevelsc1
02-16-2004, 04:26 PM
Rember the saying,cheap is expensive

When you go out to eat do you haggle with the prices on the menu. You pick the meal and the price is listed, if you don`t wamt it you can have something else cheaper.

A good businessman knows what his work is worth,you performed work fo other neighbors and they were happy.

Mr.& Mrs. Jones thankyou for calling for an estimate, based on the size of the wall to be constructed etc. the investment to construct this project is $ 10,000.00 Then shut up, the first one to speak in a negocation is the looser. Even if you have to walk away with out saying a thing, you are the winner. If you start a job comming down on the first bid it will be like that for the rest of the job. If you don`t here back from them send a thankyou card for calling for an estimate and keep them on your mailing list.

GreenMonster
03-27-2004, 08:41 PM
Hey guys, just thought I'd give an update.

Customer called back last weekend, nice as pie, and said they wanted to go ahead and schedule the wall for this fall.

I figured I'd be a nice guy and sell at the original proposed price. Sorry, early commitment date has come and gone. They also decided to pay me to haul off the old wall (her 65 year old husband thought he was gonna do it :eek: ), plus I had to inform them the price of materials have gone up for 2004 (which they have).

Well, got one wall lined up for fall drawdown. Five or six more would make me happy:D

Thanks to all for the advice.

D Felix
04-27-2004, 09:27 PM
Got to thinking about this last week, and we have a potential target area for doing seawalls after fall drawdown...

Is there anything that you need to do differently on a seawall that you don't do with a normal retaining wall?

About the only thing I can think of is not necessarily needing drainage behind the wall (or do you for winter purposes?) and possibly needing the first two or three courses below grade instead of just the first.... Is this right, and what else is done differently?


Dan

GreenMonster
04-27-2004, 09:49 PM
Originally posted by D Felix
Got to thinking about this last week, and we have a potential target area for doing seawalls after fall drawdown...

Is there anything that you need to do differently on a seawall that you don't do with a normal retaining wall?

About the only thing I can think of is not necessarily needing drainage behind the wall (or do you for winter purposes?) and possibly needing the first two or three courses below grade instead of just the first.... Is this right, and what else is done differently?


Dan

Yeah, you're pretty much on track, Dan. Let's see, differences off the top of my head

1. As you said, bury an extra course. Last year, I think I did 7 courses, and 2 were buried?

2. Larger crushed stone drain field, and deeper crushed stone base

3. Install rip-rap at base of wall to prevent undermining of base. Also helps take some of the brunt of crashing waves (depending on rip-rap height in relation to level of water)

Some manufacturers specify to wrap the fabric around the base, and in front of the wall, then put rip-rap on the fabric.

I know Allen and Anchor also still call for drains, although on a self-draining block, I'm not really sure whey they are required.

D Felix
04-28-2004, 08:11 AM
Thanks Mark!

Hopefully we will have some luck if we decide to try to target the nearby lake(s). Only one of the two has a fall drawdown, though, so the other might pose some different challenges...

Looks like we may get to remove and replace a fairly large, 3 year old wall at one of our existing clients. It wasn't built right to begin with, and someone came in over the winter and stuck a "band-aid" in part of it. Vertical Keystone Compacs (which shouldn't be a problem if they were done right...), no geogrid, probably no drainage. Oh, yeah, and they are 8-9 courses above grade.... The walls have a definate lean, and not in the right direction.:(

We are thinking it will easily be in the 25k+ range to do that work. If we end up doing it, a seawall shouldn't be a problem!

Thanks again.


Dan