breakdown of materials

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mcdow, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,559

    Still haven't heard from him

    Cheap ass ..... Probably went to Home Depot to compare prices. They're $2 a foot at Home Depot mine are )10-16 lol

    The ones at Home Depot dissolve
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  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    I review bids for some of the homeowners that I have done design work for. I have never seen any of them line item a plant list. It is always done in paragraph form such as a general description of a patio and a bottom line price for that item, then either the plants listed in a paragraph or "as per plan dated x/y/z" with a description of using proper amendments, labor, and warranty.

    My suggestion is to let them know that your plant pricing includes you selecting, shipping, amending soils as necessary, watering them in, initial fertilizer, and warranty. And that your control of that is what allows you to stand behind your work. You can also, if you can put it delicately, let her know that your free estimate is very difficult and time consuming to produce and are offered free one time as a courtesy part of doing business. It is a one time courtesy until a contract and retainer have been received. You may make minor changes to get it within budget, but it is not a free service for the public to use at will.

    Your pricing method is both competitive and allows for you to execute the work properly and stand behind it with warranty. If that is what she wants, that is what she pays.

    She'll either get it and not be a PITA anymore, or she'll move on to be a pain in someone else's butt.
  3. TJLinc

    TJLinc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    First of all, never show anyone your cost. You buy at wholesale, they buy (from you) at retail. Your dealer doesn't tell you what he paid for the mower you just bought.

    Secondly, the line item list has more to do with what price range you're in. On a $5000 and under job I will never give them a plant list or a copy of my design unless I have my 50% deposit. However, when I am doing my jobs of 15k, 30k, and people spending over 100k, they have every right to know exactly what they are getting for their money. I give a line item proposal and show them the design. I will not give them a copy of my design unless I have been compensated. It's pretty easy to tell if you're going to get the job or if they are just price checking or trying to steal ideas.

    Cost is one thing but a line item quote is different. First of all it shows them that you are honest on not going to try to see what you can get away with short cutting. It helps them to understand exactly what they are paying for.

    The fact of the matter is, as long as you are in the ballpark on price, that's not what matters. A good reputation and presentation is what gets you jobs. We did 2 15k+ jobs last month without even having to provide a quote because of our reputation for quality and integrity.
  4. Snyder's Lawn Inc

    Snyder's Lawn Inc LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,530

    I do it all the time That's how I operate

    That way they know what they are getting and how much each item stuff cost and the size of it
    $$ for materials $$ for Labor

    80% of the time I win cause having my bids itemized and other 20% the people don't care all they are looking at the cheapest price then later they regret going the cheap route
  5. 94gt331

    94gt331 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,718

    I sleep better pricing my materials out and labor seperatly. I like my customers knowing where ther money is being spent. And also so I don't get in these situations. Not saying your wrong by any means, it just works for me.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    We've provided detailed line item proposals for our clients for many years. It's fairly normal and IMO a homeowner has a right to know what they are spending money on - how you arrived at the total. It also serves you, as the contractor, well to give a proposal that is detailed. Because it shows that you've actually taken the time to consider all of the materials, exactly what the labor will cost, etc. You're justifying your total price to your customer. Otherwise, they often think you were just "winging it." And if the price is more than what they were thinking, they are left thinking you were gouging them. Which is now what you want your client thinking.

    We detail out every bid/proposal we give. Over 40 a week between me and the other 3 estimators here.

    I can't tell you how many times I've heard something like this from our customers, "Well, this is a lot more than we expected to spend. But it makes sense, once we look at all the costs. I guess we'll go ahead with it. What do we do next?"

    It just makes you look more professional and customers LOVE it. An example of one of our proposals is pictured below....

    Also, you shouldn't assume that you lost this customer because he was a cheapskate. You very well may have lost the customer because they found someone who was able break down the costs for them. I don't know about you. But we put a lot of time and money into finding new customers, walking through their properties, writing up their proposals, etc. I don't take any of it for granted. If I'm losing bids because of something I'm doing wrong, I want to know why and see if there is something I can do to correct it, so we don't have that happen again. Yes, there are plenty of cheapskates out there. I fully understand that. But don't assume that's why you haven't heard back.


  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    By the way, that's just the first page of a 3 page proposal. We put a lot more detail at the end about our payment terms, availability, warranty information, our ratings, etc.

    And another nice thing about giving a line-item proposal is that often the customer will not have the budget to do everything they wanted. For instance, they may want a paver patio, seat wall, sod lawn, sprinkler system, lighting system and plants. But all that adds up to $25,000. And their budget is only $18,000. So with a line-item proposal like that they can see exactly how much they would save if they cut out a few items. I often have clients cut out one or two items on the bid and take us up on all the other items just so they can meet their budget. They may not get the lighting system and new plants they wanted. But at least they get the paver patio, seat wall, sod lawn and sprinkler system - which were the main things they wanted. And most of the time they'll do the other items the following year. So not only do we get the job because we broke it down for them but we get the REST of the job the next year too!
  8. 94gt331

    94gt331 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,718

    Jim, very nice estimates, I like to do our's about the same way. I think both parties like every thing written in black and white. Good job.
  9. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,734

    EXACTLY my thinking and what we do. I also write detailed, line-itemed estimates (Labor and scope of work portion, and then ALL materials needed to do the landscape job.) We never give a blanket priceĀ… it has to be broken down, because like Jim said, that gives the customer a sense we have REALLY thought about it and done the homework. Our estimates serve as our budget and job guides. PROFESSIONALISM goes a long way with smart customers. It sets you apart in the proposal game.

    I could say more, but Jim already said it all!
  10. PLLandscape

    PLLandscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,495

    Sorry for digging up an older thread but I really like the idea of itemizing your proposals. I've been itemizing my side of the proposal and often just submit the final price. But I can see where people can say "$3500 for what?" whereas if they see it they can maybe understand it better.

    For those that itemize, you can obviously see what you are charging for each material part of the job (based on Jims example which I assume is an actual real one). With the labor section have you ever got the "you want what for this!?" "Well how long is that going to take you for that price!?" which then leads into the "you want what per hour!!?" Basically any questioning of the labor amount.

    Besides the cheapskates how have you handled questions like that if they even come up? I know JimLewis and PerfectEarth have established themselves as quality vs cheap so they may not get that type calling for an estimate anyways but even if you have experienced that what is your typical response? Or is it just not encountered this much?

    Thanks guys

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