First Estimate

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Common Ground, Sep 25, 2007.

  1. Common Ground

    Common Ground LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    i just started running an ad in the local paper and ive gotton 3 calls for estimates in as many days. I went to talk to one of the people who called today. The yard was completely overgrown. I thought wow this will be a good account. palms needed pruning weeds were knee high and just needed to be worked on. The customer however wasnt interested in triming back the massive overgrowth. She wanted me to make the concrete sidewalk to her steps wider and build a 15' x 10' flower garden. I told her that i needed to dig up some information on what best materials to use localy to build a flower garden. She wants the medium dumped over the grass and built up into a mound. She wants flowers dug up from another area in the yard and transplanted to the garden too. Then she asked if i charged by the hour and how i estimated what a job would cost. I told her that I was going to give her a very resonable price because i am pretty new in the area. She wanted to know how much an hour? so i told her between $30 and 45$ depending on if i ran into any unforseen issues. She seemed suprised and said ill talk to my husband and get back to you. I also added that i would be happy to trim the yard up with a nice clean cut look but she stated oh my husband likes doing the yard. every place around her house was beautifuly landscaped and trimed. Is this worth following up with researching what the best way to build a local flower gardens is and calling her back with a more thorough plan or was she just unsure of what she wants in the first place. The yard was not worked on in at least 6 months. I was totaly not expecting this when i went to give the estimate and didnt really have a good idea of what needs to be done or how much i shouldve quoted her.:confused:

    Thanks ahead of time to any of you who post to this thread.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Don't worry about it, this crap happens a lot :laugh:
    Sorry, but it does, I remember feeling like you did, but I just kinda got used to dealing with it, time after time builds practice and you get better, it's not so bad, just takes time.

    Here's one tip:
    Q: How much you charge by the hour?
    A: I estimate the job by the amount of work that needs doing, what is it worth for someone else to do it, my equipment tends to make a short afternoon out of it :)

    They seem to like that, and it's not bs.
  3. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    charging by the hour is sometimes dangerous for the customer. It works out for you, but the ones who know about it will, turn you down.

    If a homeowner pays you by the hour, dont be surprised if they ask for your ss#, doing it this way means if you get hurt on there peoptery they are responable, if you contract it. your responsable.

    its the ole insurance thing,

    I always feel funny about giving my ss# to people, but you have too,
    they will claim you on there taxes,

    Good luck
  4. Common Ground

    Common Ground LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    ok well thanks for the tips guys!! I will use them. I did another estimate today on a 1/2acre property with sm house. It was an over grown jungle, literaly!!! Anyway id have to weed eat the entire lawn portion and cut down many junk trees that grow like weeds here. Nothing over about 15 foot and skinny tho. The back of the property was hugely overgrown with dense trees, vines and weeds. I am estimating it will take 8 hours just to cut the "junk" trees down. Then another 4 to pile them up somewhere. Another 3 to clean up the area then 3 hours to weedwhack it all and another 2 to go over what i can with a mower. To top it off dense vines are covering all the landscape plants on the property. Another 3 hours to pull down all the vines. So im looking at a 3 day job bustin my balls. I gave him a quote of 650$. I think it might be a bit low. what do you think? i am just starting and this is my second estimate. He also said he wanted me to come back monthly and service the yard. i told him it would be 75$ per month after the initial clean up. Do you think i undercut myself on this? Im getting calls everday. I have two more estimates this week set up. I am pleased with the response but i need to get hired!!!!!! Any advice will be much appreciated. thanks
  5. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    First of all don't give an hourly quote most people don't like open ended quotes like that. Figure out how long you think it will take you to get done and what materials are going to cost to get the job done then ad a couple hours to what you figure its going to take and go from there. If this is your first job go ahead and do it to gain the experience then next time you will have a better idea what to charge. Just remember if you bid a job by the hour and get it your customer will be watching every move you make and what time and how long you take your breaks.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Yes, you are too low but that's fine starting out, if you need the money as bad as you say then just remember don't come down no more but if anything go up in price and you'll be fine. I would've quoted more for that one job, but my first year my quotes were about where yours is now, so it's about right.

    A lot of these guys come in here thinking they can go off and quote $60 per hour all day long, but it takes years to get there, I started out at $30 and less an hour which is about where you are, that to me is the proper way of doing it. It's hard and it takes time, but doing things the hard way pays off in the long run, one looks back later and realizes I would never have made it quoting much higher than what I did then either, so...

    I might recommend slowly start thinking of this as your business, where you are the boss. In other words they are not hiring you, they are contracting with you, it is a trade, but it takes time to see all of this don't worry about it too much, just something I thought I'd mention for later.
  7. Sweet Tater

    Sweet Tater LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,123

    Topsite, I just have to say, you seem to always have an encouraging answer thats makes good sense.
  8. Common Ground

    Common Ground LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Got it Top Sites!!! I got two jobs today!!! Got the half acre of jungle and got another weedwhackin job. Thats the good.

    The bad u ask? I went to this house to give an estimate and the woman wasnt there. Her HUGE german sheperd was and was barking, drooling and hair standing up and all that. I called her from inside my ride and she forgot. She asked me to give her a quote from inside my vehice. this was to cut down heavy growth on the other side of her back yard fence. I told her i couldnt do the estimate like that. She said well i need the estimate because im not going to be around next week. I should have put my foot down and said no but i just blurted out a high price for what i saw. I probably could have done half of what i told her but i just couldnt even see what needed to be done from my ride. ABSOLUTELY INSANE!!! She said, ill talk it over with my husband and get back to you. I was so mad!! She was wanting me to do a lot of work for nothing i think. Im learnin this stuff real fast!! Never again will i estimate anything i cant walk into and see exactly how much and what needs to be cut. Whats up with that? She think i got the time to just drive all over the place for kicks? mmmm well anyway i got two fat jobs today!! yee haw......:weightlifter:

    thanks top sites for the aplicable advice, great stuff!!:laugh:

    lawn pro I figured it out pretty quickly after i told her my method of coming to an estimate. The woman who wanted the flower garden sorta traped me in the conversation, so i learned a lot. I contract the job not charge by the hour. I knew this all along but the conversation was sort of twisted. weird. hummmm. :dizzy:

    Tater, im quickly startin to pee like a big daw:cool2:

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