Did I over Bill this job

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by SEB, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. JimMarshall

    JimMarshall LawnSite Senior Member
    from NW PA
    Messages: 316

    You say that your invoice would have been 565 if they hadn't added on. This is after you quoted $350??????
  2. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,743

    this is why most people where i live never get any job like this done although their landscape could totally use it. they don't wanna spend $1000 or more on landscaping done correctly. they prefer just to spend like $100 and have you throw some mulch down even though the weeds will grow up through it since they have no paper down under it. :laugh:

    landscaping done correctly costs alot of money and takes alot of labor and man hrs to do. tell them your price upfront like you did. if they want more tell them the price will be alot more before you begin any extra work.

    you don't have to always give an exact number. you can say it's gonna be in the $750-$1000 range. it's hard to pinpoint big jobs and it's hard to know how many hrs it's gonna take. you never know what you are gonna run into. explain that to them. just give them a range and don't go above the high point of that range on your bill. the range is to protect you. if you say $750 and then it takes you longer than you thought and costs more than you thought then you are out money. if you give a range you can charge $950 or whatever and everyone is happy in the end.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
  3. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,743

    forgot to say it's pretty common for jobs like this to take longer than you thought they would. that seems to happen to me everytime i do anything like that. that's why i give the ballpark figure because i'm 75% sure it's gonna take a little longer than i'm thinking in my head it will take. this gives you some breathing room so to speak should something come up which usually happens.

    an estimate is just that. an estimate. you need to be close to your estimate though and not way over it.

    don't estimate $350 and then charge $565. that is way off. a proper estimate would be to tell them it will be in the $400-$600 range. then if you say $565 you are in good shape.

    it all comes with practice. the more you do the more you learn and will know about how long things take to complete. the bigger the jobs the harder it is. that's why on bigger jobs i always aim high with my estimate just in case. you can always charge less. the customer will be thrilled with that but they will be upset if you charge more than your estimate.
  4. Will P.C.

    Will P.C. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 966

    This is super confusing to follow regarding the all the price talk.

    However, it does look like the customer got almost a complete overhaul for cheap even if they have to lay down the mulch and pop the plants in the ground themselves.

    It does sound like the customer played you though. Basically they wanted to buy the materials and have you do the labor. Also walking over you with the whole "can you do this and can you do that"

    I assume you only take checks or cash. They were quoted at 400, but you came out with ~1000. Many people simply do not have it in the bank. Just something to think about when you do future jobs.
  5. SEB

    SEB LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    Well I feel like I completely blew this job on so many different levels. But in my heart I think I did my very best & held my self to the standard of doing it right. I just didn't take in account for the soil in my bid which alone was $150 & I didn't take in account for my fuel hauling out the 3 truck loads of old Mulch & soil that was mixed in when I raked out the old mulch & fuel to pick up 3 loads of dirt & 1trip to get the Tiller on & once I pulled out the root system on the Nandina's there was just clay left & that is when I relized I needed to bring in soil & then when the customer wanted to extend the flowerbed & add to the job after my original bid I relized I had to rent a tiller which bumped the cost up another $100

    So there was over $300 in Equipment cost & Material & fuel cost that I didn't even think to put in the bid. But had I ate the cost of the fuel & Tiller I would have lost money on the job & I get the impression that the customer thought I should have ate the cost of Fuel & Tiller. Im sure they wouldn't have had a problem paying for the soil.

    My Biggest regret was not finishing the job & getting After pics cause it would have been a nice project on my resume for my business. That Flower bed job was HUGE & the biggest Flower bed job I have done to date
  6. 205mx

    205mx LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,393

    Really? Wow!
    I've had AT LEAST 1,000 in the bank since 19
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    You say 2 men at 15 hours that could be taken 2 different ways which I guess is why the wording of it bothers me. Does it mean you have 15 hours, in which case you should say 15 man hours I don't need to to know how many guys you had on the job I don't care. What I want to know was how long the job took plain and simple. It could mean 15 hours each man which would mean 30 man hours hence the problem with writing it the way you did I don't know what you meant.

    If it's 15 hours than 600 for labor is on the money if its 30 that you left 600 on the table.

    Fuel charges are gay your charging for your time and equipment is suppose to be calculated into your time. Now a dump fee for disposal is perfectly ok and you should be compensated for dumping but not for your fuel to get there.

    Tiller rental you should be compensated for but I wouldn't write it in the bill I'll explain in a bit.

    You said 3 yards of soil 150 that seems high for the purchase price but thats your call.

    The way to write up the bill is this do not put in labor as a separate category. Instead come up with a price for each part of the job and write that down. Now these prices will not reflect the time you spent since I don't know it but your see what I mean.

    Pull 4 Yaupon Holly Bushs $55
    Pull 8 Hawthorne Bushs $130
    Pull 6 Nandina Bush & Pull root system $130
    Dump and disposal $60
    Tilling and extending bed $225
    Installed 3 yards of top soil $240
    Lay Landscape Fabric $40
    Set Border Bricks in dirt $50

    Now I got the same $930 you got but my labor rates are not shown and the customer is happy you itemized the bill and it looks legit to her.
  8. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,743

    i never itemize any bill. i just would put landscaping and then the price next to it for everything. that's how it works where i live. i've never had any trouble. of course noone ever gets anything done that costs more than $250. at least i haven't ran into that yet. :laugh:
  9. Lawn132012

    Lawn132012 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 175

    When she said they wanted to extend the flower bed you should right at that point mentioned that the cost is going to be much higher or at least have thrown out a number (Like WEEZE said) or a range so that she would have an idea of how much it was going to cost. Saying something like "Extending the flower bed is going to double my original estimate" OR telling her that with just renting a tiller that is going to add $200 to the overall cost and the additional labor,etc could run another $500 or so. .

    You do not tell them $250 and then slap a $1,000 as a final bill. Not good business. IT is HARD to build a good rep and VERY EASY to get a bad one in a town. Just a thought The loss of a few hundred now is better then getting SLAMMED in the future on future possible accounts. You will get known as the Ba estimate company.
  10. SEB

    SEB LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    I did tell her this! I called her before I rented the Tiller, I called her before I brought in soil. She was well aware that it was going to be more. I charged $600 in labor for all the work you see above. That is 2 men working 15 hours in two days. Total of 30 man hours invested between us two. That's $20 a man hour.

    Had she not extended the flower beds the labor would have come in at $400, Which is still $50 more then my bid & prolly would have ate the $50. But once she wanted to go all the way around the side of the house. REFER TO PICS! That is when labor went up $200 which is about right. In the pics there is 3 large flower bed, TWO FRONT BEDS & EXTENDED BED ON SIDE OF HOUSE which makes 3 beds. If this is making sense with charging in short $200 per bed to pull up All the plants listed in first post & bring in new soil & till it & then put Landscape fabric down.

    The only money August Landscaping made off the job was $600 in labor for 30 man hours & the other $330 was $150 FOR HER SOIL that I called her before I bought & $100 for renting the Tiller & $60 for FUEL in my truck to go get all this **** & $20 for HER landscaping stakes, I did a good job & I do good work! I know I bust my ass out there in the sun & im good at what I do. Im just still learning on some stuff on how to bid. But if anything, I think I under bid myself to get the job & then kick myself in the head for not bidding more. But more of what I need to learn is BE CLEAR ON MY BID & ANY CHANGES I WILL PUT IT ON PAPER & BID IT RIGHT THEN ON JOBSITE WITH CUSTOMER!

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