The Actual Estimating Process
Here is a very normal scenario that most lawn and landscape operate from on a daily basis. Let’s take a residential lawn and landscape maintenance scenario.
Mr. Smith calls your company and asks for an estimate. Assuming you have gone through the process of determining that Mr. Smith is the type of client you would prefer to work with, now it is time to actually go and survey his property and determine the work that will be done and what it will cost.
You go to Mr. Smith’s house and you walk the property. He has told you everything he wants an estimate for :
weekly mowing, trimming, and edging
shrubs and hedges trimmed
aeration & overseeding
landscape beds kept weed free
fertilization & weed control applications
final fall clean-up
So here is where many business owners make their mistakes…
They arrive with a notepad and pen and write down some notes and start to “guesstimate” what it will take to do the work. They finish walking the property, put their notes in their notebook and head on their way to get back to the many daily chores and tasks they need to deal with.
Now, it is later that evening and the owner is in his office. He sits down and opens his notepad and decides he is going to prepare a written proposal for Mr. Smith.
He looks at his scribbled notes and starts scratching his head. He can’t remember if there were three beds in the back of the property or four. He closes his eyes to try and remember how big the turf area actually is. He thinks he wrote down how many shrubs there were that needed trimmed, but he is not sure if the number he wrote down was the number of shrubs or the number of tree rings on the property.
So he puts his best foot forward and attempts to “remember” as best he can. He prepares the estimate and juggles around some numbers and finishes what he hopes will be another accepted job. He puts the proposal in the envelope and pops it in the mail.
Reading over this scenario, I actually hope he DOESN’T get the job, because more than likely he missed several important things he should have considered and he probably underestimated the size and scope of the work.
So how should a lawn and landscape business owner actually conduct the actual estimating process?
First of all, it’s 2013. Digital cameras are not that expensive. Get one. If you don’t have one, more than likely you have a cell phone that is capable of taking quality pictures. Use it. Regardless of how good you think your memory may be, it is not easy to remember every little detail when you have a million other things flying around inside your head.
If you don’t have a measuring wheel, go get one. They cost anywhere from $50 to $150. They are worth every penny.
If you really want to do yourself a favor, get a handheld digital recording device. Again, your cell phone probably has this capability, but if you want to keep things separate, go get a recorder. They cost anywhere from $35 to $150 – again, worth every penny.
So now you are armed with a camera in one pocket, a digital recorder in the other, a measuring wheel and you should have “The Property Site Inspection Template” in hand ready to write down everything you see and need to do.
Write everything down. Take pictures. Take notice of things that you see need attention that the prospect did not point out. Measure the turf. Measure the beds.
Look closely at the parking scenario as well. See where your trucks and crews will pull up, park and unload.
Now you are ready to go back to your office and prepare a thorough, detailed, professional proposal with nothing disregarded or forgotten.
Make sure your proposal is professional, organized, easy to understand, etc...
The prospect will be impressed with how thorough you are and you will be able to sleep better knowing that you took everything into account for that property and if you get the job, money will be made. If you did not get the job then it would not have been profitable for your company anyway.
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