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Old 07-20-2014, 09:24 PM
burnthefurniture burnthefurniture is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 94
Originally Posted by McFarland_Lawn_Care View Post
For any projects like this you need a written contract and explanation. As soon as the budget will allow, I would purchase a program where you can show her a good picture of what the completed project will look like. This will reduce change orders somewhat - a picture's worth so much more. The other guys above have great advice, just realize people are going to change their minds all the time, that's just part of it - but you need to keep making money so stick to your guns and explain it will be more for this or that. Sometimes if a customer is not 100% sure of 2 or 3 things, I'll give them a price for all three difference scenarios and they can decide. Just some ideas....good luck!
^ a picture is worth a thousand words.

Design is the first component of any project we do. Doesn't have to be a Rembrandt drawing, but I don't know how to make an accurate estimate unless I have a dimensioned plan of what it is that I am estimating. Check with your local governing licensing body, as most states allow only landscape architects to charge for designs, however anyone can use a drawing they've generated for internal purposes. This also establishes a clear line in the sand. What is on the drawing is included, what isn't is not. Some folks are experienced in what is called "project creep." They do little change orders repeatedly and can end up spending twice the budget, if you let them. If you let them, you just gave them the job and then some. When a change order comes, stop right there and do an estimate. Get their approval before continuing. ALSO, I think it is key what was mentioned above about several options. Sometimes spouses want to play you against the other during a project when the truth is they can't decide between themselves what they want. Several options can be helpful but it is best not to proceed until THEY are on the same page. Meet with both if both will be paying the bill. If they don't approve the change order, finish what you've estimated and move on. You CAN be selective with jobs. Better to do 3 jobs selectively and make money on all three than to make money on one, lose money on one, and make money on a third. You've done three jobs both times and worked your butt off but when you're not selective you only got essentially paid for one.
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Old 07-25-2014, 08:46 PM
Best Value LC Best Value LC is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Boone, NC
Posts: 21
Customers changing the scope is the worst. The last one that did it to me was (luckily) an hourly job. Started out as a cleanup/weekly maintenance thing that I gave a fixed price for. Sure enough, after I reclaimed his yard from the blackberry brambles, he decides he wants to start thinning out a few trees. Fair enough, we started doing that. After I had thinned out about 3 acres of hardwood forest (which he claimed to be pleased with), I arrived at the job one day to find the 3 acres that I had been working, and one additional, clear cut. I mean, not a tree in sight. So, he asks me to keep clear cutting, and says he's selling the timber. Fine, I say. I get a call 3 days later informing me that the guys that did the initial clear cut will be handling the rest of his work and his weekly maintenance. Can't win 'em all, I suppose. On one hand, A job that I figured would gross roughly $1250 this year ended up making me better than 5 grand. On the flipside, I lost a good maintenance account over it.
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Old 07-25-2014, 09:01 PM
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McFarland_Lawn_Care McFarland_Lawn_Care is offline
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Location: Sedgwick, Maine
Posts: 1,333
^ "Sometimes spouses want to play you against the other during a project when the truth is they can't decide between themselves what they want. "

This is VERY often true. If there's conflicting direction, mention it to them. Tell them that they need to discuss it and give you clear information. You basically need to figure out which one of them is paying for and/or is in charge of project.
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