Customers Budget ?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Gene $immons, Feb 20, 2004.

  1. Gene $immons

    Gene $immons LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,028

    Often times I'll be asked to come up with a plan and estimate for residential landscaping work. I go and meet with the customer, and find out what they would like to have, Trees here, flowers here, picnic area there etc...

    I come to the point of the meeting where I inquire about their budget and the customers sometimes seems reluctant to say.

    In design work, the cost of the materials I select can vary greatly.

    One thing I like to suggest is that we create a master plan, that they can incorporate over a few seasons to break up the cost.

    How do you pros handle customers not wanting to give out their budget?
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    I never ask about a budget. Your company projects some kind of image that a customer perceives to be within their budget if they call you.

    In your initial meeting you can throw out thoughts and ideas about things that they know are not cheap like stone walls. They will let you know either directly or indirectly if it is way out of their budget. If you start discussing patios, walkways, pergolas, retaining walls, they tone you down if it is out of budget.

    They usually indicate what they want. When you go through your portfolio, they will let you know what they feel they can afford by telling you what they like. Meet their design needs first. Then tell them what it costs.

    They do not want to set a pile of money as a target for you to match. They know that it really does not make any sense for you to leave money on the table. It also does not make sense to try to design to a price and hope you land on what they want from their landscape.

    It is a delicate subject to ask about how much they want to spend. It implies that you might think them uncapable of paying for what they are asking for. Or it implies that you don't have set prices. If you go to the deli counter at the grocery store and ask how much for half a pound of salami, what would you think if the butcher said "how much do you want to spend on that?". It implies that the cost is variable. People trust you if the price is what it is. If they don't like the price, they will adjust the project to get it closer.

    Not discussing budget affirms your confidence in their ability to pay. It also displays that you are secure with what you do. You will sell more jobs by making people confident and comfortable with you than you will on price alone.

    The budget is there to be read. If you ask, it tells them that you could not read it. That is not a confidence gainer.
  3. Avery

    Avery LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,389

    I never ask about budget. My designer comes up with the best plan for the property. If it is out of their price range I will make deletions to a point with out compromising the design. If we cannot come to terms I pass on the job. My work is my billboard. I will not install a sub standard job just to meet a budget.
  4. newleaflandscape

    newleaflandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 348

    I think it is ridiculous to not ask for a budget. How can you possibly make a designs sensitive to the needs and wishes of the customer without knowing what price range they are in. You can landscape a house for one thousand or ten thousand. My landscape desing is always built around budgets. I know that it is akward to ask for a budget though. Simply explain that you need there budget, so that you can give them an estimate without insulting them by going overboard. The general population does not know how much landscaping cost and how much they can get for what. Also asking for a budget will save you alot of time. I can't even count how many jobs I have been on where they tell me they need five retaining walls put up a lawn seeded and landscape in the front of the house and they have a two thousand dollar budget. It is so common. That way I can explain that what they are talking about cannot be done for that amount. If they decide they can spend more then we can continue and if not then at least they know that simply cant afford to hire it done. Whats the point of spending hours doing a design and estimate and come back with a ten grand estimate and they didnt want to go a dollar over two. Also as a general tip, whatever there budget is I usually come back with somthing a little more then there budget. I have had nothing but success doing it this way, but I cant even count how many hours I have wasted on jobs where the customer simply didnt have the money and I was to shy to ask for their budget. Just my two cents.
  5. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    What I usually do is ask them "Ok is there a budget...No? Ok then, What if I told you that this would run about $5000-$7000, thats fine? Ok I'll be in touch in a week." If the answer is no then I bring it down a tad. Until they feel comfortable with a price. I agree with all points view here, however Ive designed scapes that were great that were only scaled down later. Id rather know up front what Im dealing with.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Well, I was going to reply. But AGLA took the words right out of my mouth.

    Although I don't see a problem with Ocutter's method too.
  7. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    You can learn ways to read a budget without coming out and asking. When you ask someone who is not on the low end, it might seem to them that you were not listening.

    In the bottom end of the market (under $20k for complete job - no, $20k is not high end), budget is much more of a concern. I can see it being acceptable to ask budget ranges there. When one tree is 5-10% of a job price, you have to know. That is the toughest market, but it is also the biggest market.
  8. Gene $immons

    Gene $immons LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,028

    Thanks for the input!

    Good stuff here at LawnSite!!

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