View Full Version : Should have stood by my estimate...

01-27-2001, 10:11 PM
Anyone ever do this. I bid a hauling job and then tree trimming and cleanup as separate jobs. Customer agreed. The first job, (hauling away yard debris), was estimated too low about by about 35%. My fault, live with it. I am usually right on estimating or close to it. I got a little ticked off at myself and looked over the second part of the agreement for tree trimming, cleanup and hauling and realized I was about half of what it should have been,( I know, that is WAY off but I was anxious to get the work, it's been slow and maybe I was subconciously thinking to make up some of my profit on the second part of the work). I then did a very unprofessional thing. I called and explained that I had to re-estimate the cost of the rest of the work agreed on, (I was paid for the first job at completion). To make a long story short, I am not finishing the work for this customer as he has not called me back. And I don't blame him. We must estimate and then bid work based on our experience and knowing what profit we must realize to stay in business. I am slow this time of year so now I'll probably be doing no work come monday versus some work even though it was underbid initially. I wish I had let my initial word stand and done the work as agreed, even though it would have worked out to less than my minimum of $30/hour. I have not altered an estimate and agreed on price in the past once it was agreed to and will not again. I must have been having a bad day. My reputation and integrity means everything to me and I feel badly about this. Friends, if you bid a job and see you screwed up and are in over your head, do the right thing and complete the job as agreed.I pride myself on my work and my word and it's the first time I felt like a hack and dirt bag for this behavior. I guess it's a good lesson to NEVER repeat this again. Any one else ever re-think a job after a too quick, too low estimate or am I the only one?

[Edited by Bassman on 01-27-2001 at 09:16 PM]

01-27-2001, 10:21 PM
I know the feeling. You get about halfway through with the work, and you know "I have screwed up!" It's a terrible feeling. There has been a few times when I might have given my business to the first person that offered to finish the job, and drop me off at the house. (Not in that order) But I've found if you will suck it up and keep your word, you'll be alright in the end. You reap what you sow and it always seems to work out. On the other end of the spectrum, I've walked away from many jobs saying, "I can't believe that I made that much money for that little effort."
And I'm sure you probably have also.

01-27-2001, 10:36 PM
I know how you feel sometimes it seems you just can't win. You may think you are bidding the job to include the unseens but you still end up getting nailed.

Now, if you are still feeling bad about this specific situation just copy and paste your initial response and mail it to the customer. I think you pretty well state all that needs to be said.

cutting edge
01-27-2001, 11:05 PM
I agree with Currier.

01-27-2001, 11:32 PM

I know the feeling. Years ago, when I was first starting out, I bid a plugging job for a county deputy sheriff. 3/4 of the way through the job I realized I had made a mistake figuring the Sq Footage and would be short about 30 trays of plugs. What should I do? Tell him I made a mistake and chance getting a ticket everytime I go 2 mph over the limit. I did the right thing, I told him I made a mistake but that it was my own fault and that I'd stick by the estimate and finish the job for the agreed price. The cop told many of his co-workers and I received many more jobs from other deputys, plus, and this is a big plus, I've never gotten any tickets for the last 11 years!!!

01-28-2001, 12:27 AM
I'm taking Curriers advice. Sending a copy of my post along with a letter of apology to this customer monday. With a P.S. that I do not want or expect future consideration for work, only that I sincerely regret my unprofessional handling of this agreement for service. (A conscience is a terrible thing, yes)?

[Edited by Bassman on 01-27-2001 at 11:46 PM]

Bob Shoaff
01-28-2001, 01:07 AM
Bassman. I would also go ahead and say if he still wants the work done you will stick to your original estimate. It sucks when you mess up an estimate but if you do good work, then the smile on the customers face makes up for the loss. Plus rather then telling all their friends bad things about you, they say good.

01-28-2001, 01:09 AM
bassman--I take a big man to do what you are doing. congrats and good luck!


01-28-2001, 01:30 AM

I think we all at one point made a bad estimate.

It happened to us our very FIRST call. At the time, we had jumped right in and we were winging it. Lawnsite wasn't around to help us out or we would have done things differently.

Anyway, our first call was from a guy who wanted us to fix his half-falling down sandstone wall. We didn't even
advertise this service, but we went to look at it anyway.
This guy beat our ear for at least an hour. We finally
gave our estimate which we bid LOW because we wanted the

Well the guy never called. As the season progressed, and
we saw how much work we had, we would laugh as we passed
that guy's house and comment that we were glad he never

SIX months later, in September, his wife calls and says that
she wants us to come out and do the work.
Matt politely told her that our schedule was now booked and we wouldn't be able to do the work. After he hangs up, she
calls back 5 minutes later, SCREAMING at him, saying she is
tired of this always happening to her. She proceeds to say that every time she calls someone to get work done, they give the esimate, then when the she calls them to do the work, they say that they can't. No wonder!! she waits 6 months to call!

We now learned from that estimate. All estimates (other than mowings) now have an expiration date for when the work will be completed at that price.

We all learn from our mistakes. You sound like a very honest person with good morals. With your positive attitude, you have a good chance that your business will succeed.


01-28-2001, 10:18 AM
Sounds like Bassman is doing the right thing. Sometimes I have underestimated and told the customer. Once they just looked at me with the "Tough Luck" expression. Another time I told the customer that I had underestimated my materials and told them I needed more and I would provide them at cost. They were very understanding and agreed.

Regarding 1MajorTom's problem, I always try to put on my estimates that they are valid for 60 days. This alleviates the 6 month problem that Jodi mentioned and allows you to requote if the customer calls and wants you to do the work after the 60 days have expired.


Davis TLC
01-28-2001, 10:34 AM
I have been in this same boat before, under estimate a job. In a few cases the homeowner has offered to pay me more without me even mentioning it. They stated that the job I did was worth more than what I had quoted, and add more $$ to the check. Sometimes little things show up when you are doing a job that you may have missed when you did your initial look over. These are what add extra time into a job.

Just take these as learning experiences, and hold your chin up and move forward and know better the next time. That is why this forum is so valuable to all of us, sharing knowledge and our experiences.

01-28-2001, 10:36 AM
I alwas stick to my estimate right or wrong. If not the person you are dealing with my think you do not know what your are doing.

01-28-2001, 04:19 PM
I think at some point we have all underestimated a job. My first landscaping job was a big under estimate, and I knew it before i was halfway through the work. That is probably the hardest part, to still be there and know you are going to come up short. When it was all said and done on that job, I had over 40 hrs labor in it myself, after everything was paid and I made, are you ready for this, $30 stinkin' dollars for my 40 hrs. time. Learned real quick that lesson, and OUCH did it hurt. but i never adjusted the price midway through a job, and 4 yrs. later i still would not.

01-28-2001, 06:39 PM

01-29-2001, 02:32 PM
well, i have done the same thing, many times! u may have not made aolt of money, but u got what u cant buy=EXPERIENCE! my worse a** kicking? a guy asked for an estimate on some stone and edging along a fence(450 ft. long), it was kind of far out of my service area, but it was a referel, so i said ok. he gave me the measurements over the phone, and i gave him a price. i first asked for the soil condition(for digging purposes) he said it was soft as he had just had the fence installed, and they "dug up " the ground. well, it was about i hour into the job that i realized i was screwed, the ground was harder than a rock, and contained debris(rock, broken glass etc). my problem was i had the stone delivered, so there it was. i confronted the customer and explained the ground was unworkable, it would take much more time to complete the job, and he misinformed me of the conditions, and i needed to raise the price, just to break even. know what he said? tough crap, i should have looked first, and he is right about me lookin first, but i still think he could have worked with me on this. well, i had 6 ton of stone laying on the ground, so i did the job. BUT, ill tell u what, if the matyerials werent there, i would have packed up and left.

01-29-2001, 02:51 PM
This is why I get 1/3 down minimum from all but the best repeat customers. Then you could have walked away knowing that at least you werent burned on materials.

All are correct in that sometimes the lessons learned firsthand are the ones you learn the best from.