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An approach to project bidding

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by steveparrott, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Some valid points there. Just some ideas off the top of my stressed out brain.

    I would never reveal to my client my pay structure and my economics. Thats my business.

    I do agree with comparing the scope of work. All to often in my short career as a lighting technician have I seen or heard "well my landscaper said he can light everything for around 900 dollars" Well your landscaper is not offering you the quality I am. I do see a trend where when someone wants an apple contractors move t sell the whole pie. This is where I came into offering the key system at a base price then allow the client to add on the additional systems that I reccomend. I have been on a few sales calls where the client just wants the home lit. I price it with lighting the home then I add in a reccommended additions section in my proposal with a price so they can add it now or later.

    I do see some competitors in my area with lawn care and landscaping at a huge discount. They are generally not lic nor insured. I cant compete with that. That is generally the type of guy who has nothing to lose if sued and is mowing for beer money and rent on his trailer.

    As far as the lighting goes most of the big guys here are selling lowes and home depot lighting. Some have fair design but the systems become a burden when they consistantly break down creating a bad name for low voltage lighting.

    When I price I do leave a bit of wiggle room. This allows me to either issue a final invoice a few dollars cheaper making the client build even more trust in me or allows me to compensate for unforseen issues or toss in a little something extra. I find it much cheaper to retain clients and build a relationship than to find new ones.

    If someone comes in 30% cheaper they cant be offering the same thing I am. I do find myself guilty of offering the ferrari to the client shopping for the GMC. Again a DETAILED proposal instilling the fact you are offering something more or special can help. If your a high end provider your just going to have to live with being denied your price.

    Now on the note of buying your way in with a lower price then raising to sustainable rates is a bad idea. We did this with commercial mowing. We still have a managment company who started with 4 apartment complexes to maintain. We came in as the lowest bidder. We made money at first but barley. We have priced the 12 additional apartment complexes placed in our care at sustainable rates. We do however constantly sweat having all our eggs in one basket like that knowing if someone came in with the same scenario we did then we would be out shopping for accounts as soon as our contract was up.

    Sorry for the long post... Its friday im going fishing
  3. kerdog

    kerdog LawnSite Member
    Posts: 129

    Great site--wow--! Looks like some good reading, thanks Steve.

  4. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    I was very impressed by this trust-based method of selling as presented in the articles in this site. It really does set a high standard for relationship building between the contractor and the client. Here's a few salient quotes:

    "Trust is personal, not institutional; it's emotional, not just rational. Above all, it has to do with the firm's intent. Is your intent to help the client, or is it to make money by helping the client? Your client knows the difference."

    "Buyers don't just want a solution: they want to feel good about it. They want to sleep well at night, to believe that surprises will be resolved satisfactorily, and that the salesperson has the buyer's interests at heart."

    "There are only two good objectives for every sales interaction. The first is to move the relationship forward, and the second is to help the client. If you have achieved the second objective, you’ve almost always achieved the first."

    The reason I'm harping on this trust-based model is because in my manufacturer role, I often get calls from homeowners complaining about their contractors - most of them abandonned after the installation. From these discussions, it's clear that many lighting businesses are all about getting the sale then moving on to the next sale. Clearly, these businesses do not intend to build relationships with clients. Such an approach is only successful if their intention is to build a reputation of untrustworthiness.

    Professional landscape lighting is a very personal business where a relationship is developed during the sales process and continued afterward. I think the industry needs an army of professionals building these relationships of trust. Only then will it grow in respect and homeowners will more and more see the value of hiring a professional rather than doing it themselves.
  5. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Our clients seem to trust us whole heartedly. They cant always afford our services but I always ask a client who doesnt buy why they didnt use us.

    Some will say our product and service is just more than they are looking for or can afford.

    Others will say they need to wait for financial reasons. (this is where doing a base system then adding on additional areas later becomes cruicial)

    Of course you always get the price shoppers as well.

    Never once has a client told me they felt I was taking advantage of them or over priced for the caliber of service we provide. Many rest easy in the fact that they are on refferal from another pleased client or that we do things like just check in with them periodically to make sure all is still well. Continuing to let the client know we are there if anything should arise seems to make them feel like they got a saftey net.

    Case in point. Client called us at 730 one evening. A bulb had failed prematurly. This was a very high end but down to earth client who really appreciated our hard work (bought us 100 buck steak dinner one night and made a full meal for us another night when we worked late) We stopped by and changed the bulb within 30 min. They were so impressed with this as they were having a party that weekend that it earned us an extra c note for a tip.

    Im always honest and up front with my clients. I guess that is just the way things are down here in the south. If you rip people off your going to be out of business faster than a bugs A$$ hittin the windshield
  6. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    Sounds like you're doing everything right. That steak must have been tasty!
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    I just need more quality LEADS! Steaks are always better when someone else buys. We are still doing only a small percentage of the lighting jobs we would like to do. I would like to see one large project each week or a few smaller ones. I have never been one to over book myself to where I cant meet my obligations.
  8. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    This is why I don't have to spend $1000 a month in advertising. I include 3 years of service on all residential projects. This helps me develop a relationship with my clients. It does mean that I have to bite off the cost of this maintenance, but I don't spend the money on advertising. The clients come to know that I am not just selling them lighting, but I am invested in their project. When they see that I am fulfilling my promise of maintenance, they learn to trust me and my company. They are very willing to recommend me to their friends and family and therefore generate even more business for me. They also seem to find ways to add to their systems. At the end of this 3 year term, they always renew the maintenance plan and therefore generate the business of service.

    The point that I am trying to convey is that if you are honest with your clients and you build a relationship with them, your business will be on a solid foundation and you will not have to worry about things like "competitive pricing". You will already be trusted to give the best product (your lighting system) at a fair price.

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