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Unreal estmate

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by larryinalabama, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. Caddyshack Lawn Care

    Caddyshack Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 737


    To be fair, we all know that there ARE people who would sandbag a job so you can't fault the homeowner for thinking this. But for most people they don't want to hear an hourly rate with no estimate - that's why she asked for an estimate. I mean no offense to anyone here when I say this so please, no flaming. But when someone asks for an estimate it's because they want a ballpark figure - nothing cast in stone - and most of us claim to be diligent and professional in our line of work so she has every reason to expect one of us to be able to come up with a rough figure.

    If you give someone an hourly rate it doesn't matter if it's $10/hour it sounds like too much.

    We've all been burned by jobs we underestimated the amount of work it would take. And we've also been amazed at times at how quickly we were able to finish a job. If I can't give a firm price my standard reply is "This looks like it will take me x hours, and if so the price would be $xxx. It's a rough figure so if it takes me longer it may be a bit more. If it goes quicker than that it will be a little less."
  2. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,002

    I have no idea what she would have said if I priced it at 175$, that's what I was thinking. The problem is some of those jobs wind up taking a lot longer than you think and I didn't want to spend 2 days for 175$.

    I don't think asking for 200$ per day is even close to being out of line. Especially since expenses are included in that price. And not to mention I wasn't seeking year round employment with her.
  3. SWMichigan

    SWMichigan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 18

    I always go the fixed price route. I had one the other day that was almost too small but I told her $50 and she went for it. I was already there with a trailer full of other brush trimmings and she was on the way to the dump. I was on her property less than 30 mins. That is $208,000 a year!:weightlifter::laugh:
  4. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,002

    The ball park figure I gave was 5 to 6 hours which would be around 150$.

    I didn't really want the job and should have bid it at 45$ per hour.

    The thing is Ive been working for the neighbor for years and they are friends.

    Im just avoiding something taking 2 days for 150$.

    Like I say it is not a typical trimming job and really didn't know how to bid it.
  5. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,984

    Sometimes better to go hour then under bid.

    I trimmed a tree this Saturday for a regular customer. She had a christmas tree shape hew that had been allowed to over grow way to much. Had to use a ladder.

    Was not sure. Told her $180. She tried to get me to give her a better price. I told her I'd rather be safe and err that a job will take more time then it will and when done give a bill with a lower price then err that a job will take less time then it actually did and have to ask for more money. I did not give a price per hour but a price for the job.

    She said is $180 going to be the highest price. I told her yes. Even if it takes me more time. She said go ahead.

    When done it was a $120 job. I got what I should of made for my time and she was happy that she saved $60.

    Now two weeks ago people called me up for a quote. They called me, and two other LCO's that advertise in the local paper.

    Unknown to me, one company never got back to them with a price. The second company said we do not do this type of detail work, we come in with a crew and blow in and out. Contrary to what their newspaper ad said.

    They have a small lawn. The rest of the property is all beds with all types of shrubs, trees, flowers. I have been doing 4 hours a week pruning, trimming, weeding for the last two weeks with more to come until the property is caught back up on maintenance. Then 1 hour a week to maintain once everything is caught back up.

    I told them that the scope of the work is too large to give a price for all the work.

    However I would do all the bed maintenance needed for $60 an hour.

    $240 last week, $240 this week, $240 next week.

    I'm happy. They are happy with the quality of the work.

    So even though I try to quote by the job all the time. I sometimes will quote by the hour to protect myself. Better to lose getting a job then to lose money on a job.

  6. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,002

    Especially when Im already overbooked. I really didn't want the job to start with.
  7. RSK Property Maintenance

    RSK Property Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,486

    yup there out there, and people probably call the person too. lol

    tough for me to drop that kind of speech for since im in a 6,000 dollar truck, with a 14,000 dollar mower on a 6,000 dollar trailer, but i get what your saying. I do bring it up sometimes, when i have to rent my dads mini x....sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. I don't tell customers i am renting it, and because i am renting from him and not a rental place, it looks like i own it, so they understand then. but my truck really needs upgrading lol. its last on the list!
  8. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Posts: 7,884

    The thing is, it is your business. You can price it any way you want to. They are free to say yes or no. If they say no, then walk away and forget about it. I think you should be glad she said no. $25 per hour is below the annual poverty level when it comes to running a legit seasonal lawn care type business.
    There is a down side to ballpark estimates. If you go too far over the ball park figure then you risk not being paid.
    If you are not desperate for business, then you should think how long it would take and then double that figure. This is if you are not sure how long it would take. Just be prepared to walk away. Go do something more profitable. The season is just too short(in many areas of the country) to work for cheap on any job.
  9. Chineau

    Chineau LawnSite Member
    Posts: 35

    Admit it some times it is just fun to see the jaw drop/ spasm when you give the number. When I started out I worried about every estimate, I have an estimate out for a group of properties and the mgr says I could hire someone full time for that price. Yes and you could by them a truck and all related equipment to get the job done plus supervise them, I think not. You have to be prepared to walk, you can run your business or the customer can. I worked thirty years for others, no more.
  10. Colaguy

    Colaguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 599

    Originally Posted by alldayrj
    thats when i drop the speech about a 60k truck, 40k skid steer, etc etc and watch their eyes glaze over. shake hands and walk away

    I've given that speech a few times. They say X will do it cheaper. I say hire him. I've had plenty of clients call a certain competitor of mine. He quotes prices over the phone sight unseen. They call me & I quote triple his price "in person" & get most of his jobs as a result. I'm more experienced than the other guy & give out plenty of free advice re insect damage seen etc. I'm not a know it all & will tell client I dont know if I dont know. But it seems to impress the client more when the guy giving the quote knows his stuff.

    Charles is right. $25 per hr is way to low at the LCO poverty level. I'm currently charging $85 per hr. My minimum is (3) hrs+more if debris is hauled away. 85 sounds high but I can do quite a bit of work in one hour w/my commercial equipment. I dont mow yards. I do the work that the LCO client has, doesn't do. Harder work & I damn well am going to charge more for labor intensive work.

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