The Art of Estimating?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by SDNCLAWNCARE, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. SDNCLAWNCARE

    SDNCLAWNCARE LawnSite Member
    Posts: 232

    This is my first year in the business Solo... This week is my "REAL" first week of getting calls and giving estimates. Well Estimating has to be an artform. This is byfar the hardest part of the business to learn. The whole time I'm adding up cost, insurance, fuel, labor, materials, etc. I'm thinking to myself, is this too much, too little, UGG! I have a different respect for you guys now!

    Steve
     
  2. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    Grass cutting gets a lot easier to estimate once you get thru one season, to the point where you can quickly eyeball it and know how long it will take you.
    Hedge trimming and cleanups for example are always a little harder, because you always got to think in the back of your head, "this is going to take longer than i actually estimate it to." So always pad these types of jobs so you don't short yourself in the end.
     
  3. Young Lawn Boy

    Young Lawn Boy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 53

    ya you start to get the feel for it...iv been doing this for five year and still screw up on occasion...always give an estimate calculating anything you think will come into play and remember this is one of those things you get better at when you do it more
     
  4. cward

    cward LawnSite Member
    Posts: 190

    Major Tom is 100% correct, it will come. Here is an easy way to learn to be competitive when bidding (with professionals)! Get on a bid list with your local municipality and bid the projects to the best of your ability. If you're not sure you want the job don't submit the bid and just make a note of what your bid would be. Most of these bids are open to the public and easily accessible on the internet. Once the bids are open compare notes. You should recognize the "big guys" that bid it by name sake and pay attention to their numbers. The lowballers will also be there (don't be like them). Try to figure out where you need to be from the numbers. If you can get close to the big guys you are on your way to giving out good estimates.
     
  5. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Posts: 1,624

    I found myself low in the begining and then got the feel for it after about 10 accounts. Then I feel I was hitting the nail on the head every time during late spring. I look back at my summer estimates and wonder how I got them because I was greedy.
     
  6. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,510

    learn your cost for everything, It takes time and is fustrating but hang in their and remember to always adjust your cost as you grow the cost grows. Don't for get the extras dump fees upsells extra cuts sell items that make mowing easier and quicker. We always try to get owner to do things that are neater cleaner and more profitable. Remember number and paper work if you don't know your numbers you can't make money
     
  7. WJW Lawn

    WJW Lawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,330

    You may take your knocks on a couple properties...but if you dont...you'll never learn the art of estimating. As long as you dont run yourself into the ground with mistakes, then you'll be fine. But soon enough you'll be able to estimate a property like it's nothing.
     
  8. supercuts

    supercuts LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,785

    its tuff if its your first year, you wont know how much fuel is going to cost you, or how long it will take. one way i like to think about it is how long would it take with a push mower. if you think it would take hours, the customer may think the same way. if its a Doctor, how much would he make in a few hours?? a few hundred, so what is $50 to him, he'll still be able to make alot more money in that time even after paying for you. dont underbid yourself, when using larger mowers, alot of trimming may take longer than mowing, keep that in mind.
     
  9. AllSeasonsMaintenance

    AllSeasonsMaintenance LawnSite Member
    Posts: 40

    good advice guys thanks
     
  10. SDNCLAWNCARE

    SDNCLAWNCARE LawnSite Member
    Posts: 232

    Thanks for the information.. I picked up a small clean up job today. Not a whole lot of money but a small start. We'll see what happens, its still a little early.
     

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