Estimating Fall Clean ups

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by SW Landscape Maintenance, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. SW Landscape Maintenance

    SW Landscape Maintenance LawnSite Member
    Messages: 64

    Estimating a fall clean up is difficult sometimes. I do a lot of residential clients who are on a contract for 1 year. Some are priced right and I think some are too low. The bigger the property the harder it seems.......and than you have the neighbours leaves blowing in as well.

    Is there a way to do it .......and remember I'M giving a customer a price for year round service For example Lawn cutting, spring and fall cleanup, shrub trimming and snow plowing so I CAN'T GIVE AND HOURLY RATE .Thanks in advanced guys.:canadaflag:
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,652

    Yes, but you need your customer's trust (more on this later).

    Because I'm starting my 7th year soon and I still can't nail that crap on the money :laugh:

    The way I do it, I do leaves first and foremost for regular customers who have been with me at least the entire season. That is the key, it prevents a lot of bs. Because with these guys I get the least resistance, I do sense some fear but they do trust me and I don't mess them around. I let them know, just like you found out, leaves are impossible to estimate ahead of time.
    I've probably done a few 100 leaf jobs and still I wouldn't dare try to estimate one today.
    I got burned just like you, more than a few times, pita bs job.

    Because basically I don't estimate leaves at all, I do them and then after I am done I give the price based on how long it took. It works out good because I get a lot of energy out of the knowledge I am getting PAID, so it gets done fast and in the end it is fair. It makes the most sense, once I got burned enough times on this garbage of a job I couldn't hardly pull myself out of bed anymore, today it still drags some but it's not nearly as bad.

    For the few customers that do fear sticking their neck out, I give a ballpark figure but it's a ballpark from Washington D.C. to New York City, as in I give a wide range... I might say something like "anywhere from 50 to 150 or so," most accept that, all they wanted to know is that it wouldn't cost 5-600 so to speak.
    Ballparking is fine, with regular customers it works, even if it's like uhhh probably 1-200 maybe 250 idk not sure.
    This will take some time, you do need some experience but the longer you do it the easier it gets.

    Oh yeah, the trust part...
    You have to be accurate, I usually run my stopwatch and I also go by the amount of fuel used, plus my own mind gauges the work as I go. I usually have at least two but really three different ways to add it all up, I want to be 99% sure I am on the money, and if I am not sure then I usually give them a break if it comes to that (vs. over charging).
    Don't overcharge is all I'm saying, get paid what you have to get paid but no more.
    The reason I say this is not saying you would do it, but because the temptation exists.

    btw the 'fuel used' method: MOST commercial machines run right about an hour on a full tank, see how that works?
    Some last longer, others less, but learn how much fuel each of your machines use in how much time, then you can use that to gauge yourself, based on a full tank lasts how long? Ok, and you used 1.5 tanks? Add it up. I tell you this helps in a pinch, even if it's not 100% to the second accurate.


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