Quote includes.....?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by PlatinumLandCon, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,315

    Hi Everyone,
    I've been in a couple newspapers recently and on a few popular blogs that have done and article on myself and my business. Naturally, I have some good leads coming in.

    My question is, When preparing a quote for a customer, what do you include (3D drawing, 2D plan, individual materials break down, etc..)? Basically, what do you hand (or e-mail) the customer after you've done everything?

    Also, do you guys get a general budget from the customers before starting the project?

    Thanks.


    p.s. I can't wait to post a few pics of the finished jobs!
     
  2. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    I try to alway walk out of the first meeting with a deposit, work up some type of sketch while you there to give you an idea of how much it would cost, ask customer for feedback, make sure somehow to go home with a budget set, be it by directly asking the customer for it or deciding a price range.
    Never send plans or proposal trough e-mail unless you have a deposit or clearly understanding that the job is yours and try to always meet with the customer to go over the plans to make sure everyone is on the same page, I'd suggest to always have the wife in the meeting in case of a couple.
    There is a sign on one of my suppliers that reads.
    "husband choosing colors has to have authorization in writing from wife"

    We always give verbal estimates free but anything on paper will cost you $.
    You can be as elaborated as you want with the design 3d 2d, paper, pencil and colors, etc. but make sure you get paid for it.

    Try to include all the exact specifications of the job, aprox. start date, materials to be used, colors, size of plant material,etc. measurements of any structure to be build alway put aprox. size so customers has no excuse to not pay because you made that patio 2" larger or smaller, how deep it will be excavated, what type of base, etc.
    But try not to break the price down for every single item just in case customer decides he can get that Japanese maple at a lower price and all you have to do is go pick it up.
    Always make sure they sign all pages of the contract and always have a price set before starting anything.
    Good luck to you.
     
  3. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,315

    Alright, Thanks.

    I just have a question about giving a price estimate. Whes a customer says "I don't really have a budget, you're here to give me a price" are these people the type that will get "sticker shock" when they hear the price or are they just the price-shopping type?

    I gave a quote for a ~350sq ft patio (raised 6") with for four 42" tree rings and 3 curved, half-circle planting beds, two 5' radius beds beside a 7' radius bed (no plants, the wife wanted to do that). The price I worked it out to be was about $13k (charging only $30/hour x 2 guys, 100 hours total for labor). The customer said I was "way overpriced" but I just told him that all his design elements couldn't be included if he wanted to lower the price. When I said I could give him a revised plan and estimate he just said "I don't want you to spend lots of time on this only for me to say No again". My guess is he was price shopping.

    I'm not very good at estimating a job on the spot, but I guess that just comes from experience?

    Thanks
     
  4. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    Yeah most likely they are.
    and that is the exact reason you have to make sure you have a realistic number to work on, that way you won't be wasting your time making proposals.

    I see you are very young and most likely you will atract many people that will think "cheap labor" and many times you will loose jobs not because of price but due to your age, so you have to find a way to contradict that, and prove to people that you are as competent and profesional as any other company, I can sense that in you.

    I have an old spread sheet I use to use to calculate walkways and patios is in excel if you want I 'd happy to look for it and send it out to you, pm me
     
  5. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,315

    I'm really trying to build a business and a name for myself. I'm finally old enough to get my driver's license in November so I'll be buying a truck then. That'll help me cause I pay big money for delivery fees and i waste so much time taking the transit or getting a ride to see a client.

    I'm really annoyed that people judge me ALL THE TIME about my age.

    "Oh, so you're working for your Dad this summer?"
    "Actually no, I own the company"
    "Uhh, ok." Then all the sceptisim sets in and they start thinking I don't know what I'm doing.
     
  6. ncls

    ncls LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 441

    And you have how many years of hardscaping experience? Seriously.You don't have your license, but you're qualified to understand soil conditions, etc?
    bid the job low, hope you don't screw it up, and your parents get sued..
     
  7. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,315

    Thanks for the help.:hammerhead: :dizzy:
     
  8. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 863

    that sounds low to me (your boxing in the patio to raise it yes?)

    experience will help you sniff out the tire-kickers,

    never lower your price,

    I will point blank ask "whats your expected budget, because I would hate to spend 14 hours on a design just to find out I'm 10k over", then if they say something low I'll suggest some low budget alternatives. If everything goes well with the initial estimate I'll take pictures and measurements, and jot down any pertinent info and go do up a design. But I will top dollar it, (from my old retail up-sell days) but include a few lesser priced options, the least being their "high-end", which generally is not. Since many people hiring our services don't have our vision for landscaping this up-selling in the drawing helps them see the potential and often does land me more work.

    definitely get detailed in your plans but not dollar itemizing the project as mentioned above, i would add though a clause that allows you to make substitutions if the lay of the land doesn't work for you or the nursery was out of stock.
     
  9. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,315

    Yeah, this is what I'm thinking exactly. I see a vision for the place and it would have looked STUNNING but I guess they really don't see it the same way as us.

    I should ask for a budget to get an idea of what they're after. The thing is, people don't realise how much some of the stuff really costs. Like somehow they think I can do their patio for $500.

    I hate being treated as a minimum-wage earning teen. People think I'll charge less than others (which I might, but not lots less). I have no problem going in 5-10% lower than lots of other people would because I don't have personal bills to pay at the end of the month.
     
  10. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,406

    The first step in making a sale is:

    *creating a perception of value*

    And this is accomplished by: a professional appearance and vocabulary. An extensive portfolio of your completed jobs is a must.

    You must understand that people are about to spend thousands of dollars on their home. And despite that I started in the green industry at a young age - I know I would not shell out 5k to 10k to someone that has limited experience. Now that I look back I think to myself "I can't believe they entrusted me to do that for them, I had no clue what we were doing."

    So you're going to have a lot of hurdles if you wanna do hardscapes.

    Good Luck!
     

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