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Estimating procedure

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Gr8WhiteNorth, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 465

    How do you estimate smaller jobs? ($3-8k)

    I've been mulling over my process because I'm having a hard time getting estimates back to people in a timely manner.

    My Process:
    1-Customer calls and books estimate time
    2-I do site visit for landscaping estimates (3 days of the week as organized as possible in 45 minute time slots) (excluding lawn maint quotes which are done via satellite)
    3-I meaure and record the job proportions
    4-Once I'm back at my office I do a small scaled drawing and price out the work which usually takes me 1-2 hours per estimate. Anything over 2 hours I bill for.
    5-I email or mail a copy of the drawing and price to the customer and then wait for feedback.

    So what I'm asking is-
    1- Do you think I should be spending so much time on a basic estimate?
    2- Would a verbal ballpark price cut it?
    3- Does anyone use triplicate onsite to give an immediate price and unscaled drawing?

    Ideas or feedback would be appreciated.
  2. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,099

    Number five is where you are falling short. You need to deliver the estimate/drawing to the in person and go over it with them.
  3. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 465

    What do you think about having them meet me at the office to sit down and go through it instead? I can meet 3 people per hour that way instead of 1 per hour. Its nice to have the computer there too for viewing photos, etc.
  4. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,099

    That is strong! If they will come to you, you are halfway there.
  5. OrganicsMaine

    OrganicsMaine LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 553

    My advice:

    Invest in a design program and a laptop...with a large screen. Once you become efficient with the program you should be able to design those smaller jobs in less than an hour. Now, you have two options: set yourself up to design right on site, spend 45 min. talking/measuring, 45 min designing, and another 20 selling. Now you have spent a total of 2.5 hrs on the whole process, plus you are now only making one trip and you could secure the job in one shot. This will take a large change in your processes and thinking, but it will streamline your operation and you will have more time, and you could hit 3 jobs in a day.

    If not the above, you absolutely need to deliver the design/estimate in person, at their house or in your office, but in person.
  6. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    Time is a wicked thing....isnt it ?

    It's impossable for me to give most people 5 to 10 minutes of mine. and others are the same. I always try my best to cordanate a meeting time. sometimes ofter hours.

    looks like you may have several bids hanging out there, What also works for me.
    Is the starement at the bottom of the bid... In large letters of corse...


    Best of luck to you
  7. 1984buzzard

    1984buzzard LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    I saw an article somewhere a few years back about a guy that bought a Ford E-series panel van and installed a desk, drawing table, and computer in it.
  8. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    What is more successful selling your service from the confines of your office. Or selling your service and describing what you can do for them with plans in hand on their property where the work will be done?
  9. lawnangel1

    lawnangel1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from KY
    Messages: 601

    I see your point. However I do think that there are many advantages to selling in the office. Having a computer is there is the main advantage. I tried using a laptop with me in the field but it just never really worked out. To each there own.
  10. Gr8WhiteNorth

    Gr8WhiteNorth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 465

    I estimate all day everyday. Its unbelievable how many people haven't got a clue what they are getting themselves into. 50% of my wages are wasted on tire kickers. I am looking for ways to be more efficient in my procedure. Even if I could shave off an hour per day, I would get a lot more accomplished.

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