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do you charge....?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Brianslawn, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

    do you charge a new customer fee? like dentists and doctors do. do you have new customers fill out a credit application and do a credit check before putting them on billing cycle?

    Also, when a customer calls for an 'estimate on landscaping' and it turns out to be a three hour consoltation and design visit.... do you charge for those services? what if they take your three hour 'free' design and hire someone cheaper? charge for design services and credit ammount to installation if they have you do the work?

    ... or just let customer dick you around half the day for free?
  2. jgc8fan

    jgc8fan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    Don't... Had it happen last year. I'd say I spent a good 70 hours overall designing jobs for customers thinking to add the fee to the invoice only to have the jobs done by someone else with my designs. I figure I lost $2800 based on our standard labor rate, but more like $5600 as I will charge double for design services in the future.
  3. Shawns Lawns

    Shawns Lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 638

    I have a customer that wants a price for EVERYTHING so she can see is she can get it cheaper somewhere else. So i have a rough idea and add a whole bunch and save on wasted time doing a formal quote. Sometimes i get it sometimes i don't
  4. daveyo

    daveyo LawnSite Senior Member
    from N.J.
    Posts: 907

    What I do is I charge for the design. I tell them there is a design fee x amount of dollars, however, if they use me for the install I incorporate that price into the total job. In other words sign my contract and it's basically free. I like your idea of a credit check, I think I'm going to seriously consider that idea. How do you think that could work? I have more problems with regular maintenance collection than I ever do with installs.

  5. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

    for credit checks... register with one of the credit bureau companies and have customer fill out credit app. charge new customer fee to cover your costs on the check. (you can also do credit checks on employees/applicants)

    any other opinions or do people only respond to bobbys post anymore?
  6. General Landscaping

    General Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 802

    Is there a way to "copyright" your design for that property? You could then threaten legal action if your intellectual property is stolen. Should be enough to deter the average Joe.
    Maybe put a legal warning at the top and bottom of your design sheets.

    On another note..... can your write of dead-end estimates as a business expense?
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    This is completely accurate. Definitely the way to do it.
    As far as the credit check thing....for what? I couldn't care LESS what kind of credit they have...as long as they pay their bill. It's the people that HAVE money and credit that don't pay their bills. The guy that comes home from work dirty and getting out of his Chevy Caprice, carrying his lunchbox, is going to pay his bill...the guy that comes home from work with the tie on in the BMW and his wife's Meredes is sitting in the garage is the one most likely to hold out on you. Incidentally, they have credit.
  8. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    Don't leave the designs behind.....take em with you....if they request that you leave them, then you leave them with a bill for the design work....

    If they are your regular clients, then I would leave them though....no charge...

    CAL-LANDSCAPER LawnSite Member
    Posts: 48

    There are way too many price shoppers and idea stealers out there.
    We charge for the consultation and we let them know on the phone that there is a consultation fee. Those that are serious about having the job done by a professional understand and pay for the time. Those that are just wanting your time and ideas usually say they will have to check with their wife or husband first, and will get back with me.
    Never hear from them again, but I didn't waste my time.
    I charge for my services whether it be consultation or design.
    When we finish with the landscape or sprinkler system install is the only time the customer gets a copy of the design to keep.
    The copy of the system design they get is 'as installed' showing all lines for future reference.
    I also credit the design time from the job, if we do the installation.
    If they like the design, but not the price for install, they can buy the design and attempt to do it themselves or hire someone else.
    Either way, I don't give away my time, my knowledge, my skills.
    My time has value and I charge for it same as you should.

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