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Charging more than proposal/estimate

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by Red Shed Landscaping, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. SVA_Concrete

    SVA_Concrete LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    I agree with this post 100%

    You get what you pay for with workers too.

    Also, keep the moral up. Train them and trust them, dont micro manage, bring coolers with cold drinks.
  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,601

    i believe about 2 months ago red shed had employee issues posted here. the general consenous was poor pay.
  3. Birchwood

    Birchwood LawnSite Member
    Messages: 218

    All you can do is eat that time, I will also eat extra materials, if it is my fault. But if the customer make a change that is a whole other story.

    I had a deck guy give me a quote to alter some stairs on a deck for me this spring. He quoted $3200 and I grumbled over the price and said I would do it myself. He then said we could do T&M $20 per guy per hour. He gave me his final bill and it came in at $3700. I said how in world is that possible, and asked for a break down of his hours 3 time. He tells me its bad business for me to be questioning him. I gave him 3k and I wont be using him again.
  4. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    This is why I haven't charged for mistakes I have made in estimating or taking longer because of inexperienced or training of employees. I know and have heard many customers talk about previous contractors and how much they charged them over what they said it would be. Just like if you go to a mechanic you expect it to be right around what you quote it.

    I asked this question because I just wondered if and of you had some other insight since there seem to be unknown variables when tearing out an old landscape or when equipment breaks down.
  5. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    I have still have been having trouble with employees. Feels like I have put in at least 50% of my time dealing with employees. In the ad I have the pay range is $11-18/hr based on experience and if they have a Class A CDL. I have ads up all year in the area paper, on craigslist, on other websites across the country and have had only 20 people all year call about the job. I haven't had much to choose from. 5 or 6 of these people said they would pick up an application but then never came in.

    The current guy I have, says he had 16 years experience so I started him off at $17/hr but turns out he is slow at most everything, is out of breath after shoveling or doing anything after a couple minutes then says he has to sit down which is clearly in the handbook that states we don't sit down while on the job and even explained the reasoning behind it. He said he built patios and walls but so far doesn't show that he has much knowledge in those areas as well. He seemed like he was going to be the best employee to date but is all talk and not much for actions. Starting to think his “landscaping” was sitting on a mower all day.

    So do you start them high right away so they won't be able to get much for raises in the future and nothing to work for? I feel I can't pay someone $15-16/hr with no experience when there is so much to learn and that I would have to be right with him to teach everything which takes longer and where I have been losing money. I will pay $15-17 for someone that has a little to some experience. The factories around the area will only pay $10-12 for inexperienced workers. I have the attitude that you should prove what your worth. What do you think a better pay would be? I would be more than happy to pay someone in $19-22 range that has worked a couple years and can do anything without me being there.

    Also, no one has worked more than one year in a row, besides one guy that is a teacher that has been working for me for 8 years. So I have had to find new help every year and start the training process all over again. No one has been interested in hardscaping and has just been a job or waiting on a different job.
  6. Red Shed Landscaping

    Red Shed Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 183

    During this year, I have bought many lunches and drinks from the coffee shop for the guys to show that I appreciate them. Most of them say I am the nicest boss they have had.
  7. FLCthes4:11-12

    FLCthes4:11-12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283

    Sounds to me like you need to get out there and work with the crew not pop in for half an hour with a moral boosting speech. Then take off again.
    Back to your orignal question. No what I put on the contract is the price if it takes me one day or three weeks that's on me. Charging for extra time because you missed the mark is very shady and would probably be the downfall for red shed inc.
    on the other hand you probably wouldnt struggle to balance the workload next season
  8. Jallal

    Jallal LawnSite Member
    from SoCal
    Messages: 162

    If I fudge an estimate, that's my fault, not the customer's, so I eat it. It comes off as unprofessional to say one thing & do another, I think.
  9. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Always bid hi, and come in under. This will always make you look better.

    We always bid high and make sure to cover everything. If we are the highest bidder, then that is where salemanship comes in and you sell the job.

    Explain to your customers Murphy's law and what can go wrong will. Especially what you don't see until you start digging.

    If you are getting jobs because you are the lowest bidder, then you aren't selling quality and value.

  10. Will P.C.

    Will P.C. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 966

    I recently had an appliance repairman try and play me. It was way over the estimate. I wrote an honest negative review on google, and contacted the BBB. Now anytime someone types does a google search for appliance repair in my area they see my review right at the top and has a strike since he is with the BBB.

    The point is customers get very angry and think you are a crook if you try and pull this stuff and you could seriously damage your reputation.

    Maybe you should consider taking on smaller and less complicated jobs until you can build your help back up.

    Are you giving guys a steady work week 40hrs? It is tough to keep guys when they work 15 one week, 35 the other, etc.

    Different trains of thought on what guys should be paid. IMO there is no right or wrong answer. I worked on a larger crew with a guy who was a true linchpin for the company. Even though he had the same job title as the guy digging trenches all day, he knew how to do everything and fix complicated problems. He could do anything under the landscape umbrella and at a fast clip.

    I would prefer guys that are willing to learn and apply what you enable them to learn over someone boasting 10yrs experience. Remember, everyone claims they have experience in landscaping bc they mowed their grandmas yard once.

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