Bidding landscape design work

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Z_SCAPES, Mar 14, 2006.


    Z_SCAPES LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    An old landscape architect/designer/contractor once told me that one the first things he would ask a customer was how much do they want to spend. And he wouldn't sugar coat it at all, he would just get right to the point sometimes beore they even had a chance to walk him around the property.
    This approach as harsh as it may seem really works quite well , but it's just getting up the nerve to do it the first time. Most of us feel as though we will frighten a potential client off by doing this or that they will think we are trying to rip them off. But if you think about it ,it benefits both customer and contractor. You as the designer do not have to waste your time by designing a layout for say 15 k and your competition comes in not knowing what the customer wants to spend either but designs a nice layout but say 10k .Chances are who ever is footing the bill is thinking that that vacation to the Bahamas is coming up next month. Now you just wasted x amount of hours and didnt get paid .They as well wasted a week for you to get back to them only with something way out of budget and waste more of the season. If they dont want to tell you , then you simply tell them you can not design anything with out knowing what you want to spend. Explain some logic behind why you do this and how it benefits them and you will very surprised by you close ratio . If they still dont budge, then the free design just went to $75.00 minimum + $25.00 for each view of home which is still reasonable .
    Like I said you just have do it once , and be prepared to walk away. Hopefully it wont happen the first time you try it. You just have to be firm and look them in the eye. If your sound to uncertain of yourself when you ask , it probably wont work though. Put the ball in your court.
    I started doing this 2 years ago and i have spent less time wasting on the losers and more on the winners.
    If anyone has used this sales approach or anything else interesting please post. Sorry this was so long Zinscapes
  2. CAG

    CAG LawnSite Senior Member
    from ct
    Messages: 344

    I totally agree with you if you don't ask then your basically taking a shot in the dark and it not really worth showing up. A landscape job can easily triple in price just by using different size shrubs.
    one thing i would add is that it seems that people always under estimate the cost of landscaping, but when it comes to hardscaping pricing they never seemed surprised usually a little relived..( yeah I'm getting going rates for hardscaping
  3. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,002

    no $h!t! i had people with $50k ideas and walmart wages. what a waste. oh. around here, the people when they call up to a design and consullting firm, expect the work to be done for free.
  4. Microbe

    Microbe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 172

    Man I got a whole lot of reality checks and I'm only 26... These older adults were they come from MARS? America being the capitalist nation that it is, I would think american citizens would understand already that services cost money. I tell all my customers that landscaping is not cheap and if done correctly will last indefinetly. Its a one shot investment. Either you wana start small budget or large. I'm never affraid to tell then how much. Better yet, customers who ask "HOW MUCH," ARE THE ONES YOU CUT OFF!!!!!!!!! :hammerhead: :hammerhead: :hammerhead:
  5. paponte

    paponte LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,366

    We always ask for a budget price first, then get an idea of what they are looking for. We will then tell the customer if what they want is obtainable in their budget. If you are having trouble getting people to say how much they are willing to spend, you can explain to them that they can have 10 different landscapers come in and give 10 different prices. Doesn't mean that the highest price guy is ripping them off, but maybe giving ALOT more.

    I also let people understand that my time as well as theirs has value. don't waste my time, and I will not waste yours. We can spit out a general idea of a design onsite, but do charge for master plans. :)
  6. PlantSolutions

    PlantSolutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    Since I am only on the design side, if I draw anything for them, they pay me no matter if they use the design or not. You have to ask how much they are willing to spend so you can design something within their budget; however, if you think it would look better with add-ons, show both and most likely they find the money. Once they agree on the desgin, I either sub-contract it out or they do it themselves.
  7. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    I am in the minority. I never ask for the budget directly. If you are working with people that are asking for certain things, that is telling you the budget. You have to listen carefully and read between the lines. The last thing on earth that I want to do is calculate a job every step of the way through the design process. If someone wants x,y, and z, I'm going to put it into my plan. If I don't, they will be dissappointed. If they don't like the price of the work that is designed, they at least have the option of finding more money and getting what they want, or deciding how they want to reduce the project to fit into the budget.

    You certainly don't want to deny them the opportunity to fall in love with the plan and make a better financial commitment. You also don't want them to think that you could not deliver the goods either. You just have to be keenly aware of whether your client is out of his league or not in the first place.

    This does not work unless you are dealing with people of means. No bargain shopper is going to hire me to draw a plan for them, so they are prequalified just by the fact that they are paying my design fee.

    Sometimes asking for a budget is insulting to people. If you are at a three million dollar house and someone asks you to design a pool and its surroundings with pretty good detail, does it make sense to ask how much they are looking to spend? The real answer is that they want to spend what it costs - not a penny more. They expect that you will present them with a price and an understanding of its value that justifies the price. You're the one who should know what it costs as far as they are concerned.
  8. start2finish

    start2finish LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 497

    AGLA thats a good point, I guess it depends on the situation whether or not to ask about the budget. I agree with you statements, but I also ask for a budget depending on the situation. I have received 20 calls this week from people fishing for free design work. no appointments booked for design work. but plenty of appoinments and closes on work that people know what they want.
  9. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I just did a design for a small job Did not ask for a budget..sometimes I do sometimes I don't.7k
    get a call from the woman"I HAD NO IDEA HOW EXPENSIVE THIS WOULD BE!"Now she wanted huge boulders brought in,tree's,a dry creekbed,plants,and a full Drip irrigation system.I offered her all those things for a lousy $7000.00 that is labor AND materials and she screamed bloody murder...but she would get right back to me after they got back from their trip to Mexico for a week!Price just went up

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