Thank you to everyone who gave genuine advice. To everyone else I am still learning here. I am pretty sure there was a time when you didn't quite know what you were doing either. And if you are one of those shocking cases where you woke up one morning decided to open a business and knew exactly what to do and how to do it the right way, I highly congratulate you.
To TuffTurfLawnCare, thank you for the advice on taking a class or getting a book. I rented 5 of them from the library and I plan to read each of them.
Jrs.Landscaping, I have read quite a few threads on estimating. That is actually how I came up with the quoting system that I (was) using.
Alldayrj I did add in a profit I marked up the number by 15% on the number that I came up with using the quote system that I was previously using.
Problem: I wasn't adding in all actual costs. I was only figuring a few things like gas cost to drive there, employees wages, (which I know now was way too low!) and a few other things. This is why my numbers were coming out too small. Also I was not accounting for growth, and replacement of equipment.
Another problem: Quoting was taking way too long! It would take me sometimes an hour to measure the yard space then calculate the actual square footage and figure out a number that way.
Solution: (or at least I hope so) I am creating a spreadsheet with everything, separated by what the expense goes to, and how frequently I pay it. For instance Insurance, licenses, and tires... yearly... oil, spark plugs, belts, ect... monthly... gas, and employees wages, ect... weekly. Calculate those costs to determine total cost per year to run business full time 40 hours a week. Divide that by how many hours run, and raise it by 20% to get my cut, and I have my cost per hour.
Quoting: Now when I get called to a property I will do a quick walk around. Guesstimate if it will take a half hour or full hour, and based on my number I will know how much to charge the person.
I have a good idea on how long it will take to mow yards based on the yards that I have been doing. (Most of the yards here are approximately the same size. My time is with one person and I will keep that with one person in mind, although when I do get big enough to hire employees the time will be faster but I will keep it at one person times to accommodate expenses that were not figured or raises of things and so on.
Can anyone point out anything that I am missing here, or where I could be going wrong. Helpful advice is always greatly appreciated!