Getting The Client to Tell You Their Budget

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JimLewis, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Unless you live in a magical fantasyland, you're not going to stay in business as a design-only company if you're consistently designing projects that never get built. There's a reason I have two sales boards on my wall, one for design sales and one for installed work (even if I'm not involved directly in the project).
  2. Fine Gardens Landscaping

    Fine Gardens Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    Good Thread, all though I didn't manage to get past page 3 with all the back and forth

    What I took from this thread is that it's good to have a few different approaches for bids. It's probability not good to try the what's your budget trick with everybody for the reason AGLA stated (somebody who has clearly spent big money on landscaping before so they have an idea of the cost). It could be really good to use that trick on people who maybe never had any installs done before and are utterly clueless about costs which is probability the majority of calls we get. Also, it seems to me like home values would offer some clues as to what a person might be willing to spend. No reasonable person would drop 50k on a kitchen for a 200k house, same rule applies to landscaping imo.

    I'm just speculating on the above points as I don't have tons of experience doing installs and have never done anything high end. My biggest install was a $10k job. I have a question regarding bidding smaller landscape projects. How do you guys get compensated for your design time on those? I'm not a landscape architect so I've been hesitant to charge a design fee but I could do that if that is best. The projects I'm going to be bidding will most likely be in the 5-10k range.

    Here are my options:

    1) Small design fee ($100-$400 depending on project) for a sketch and a description of plants/materials and their locations. If they don't want me to do the job they can keep the sketch/ bid as they will have paid me for it. I'm OK with lowballing on design fee since I don't really have the experience to justify standard design fees.

    2) Bid the job to figure everything but plant selection and include a budget for what the plants will be but don't spend the time to choose and lay out the plants (longest part of the design process for me). Include that $100-$400 fee in the bid so that when I have to spend time figuring out plants I'll be compensated for it.

    3) Not charge anything (I've tried this one already :) )

    4) Open to other suggestions
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
  3. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    We do design landscapes for the $1-3k range. Every design that I do gets charged, and I'm up front with the client about this. The lowest design fee that I have is $75. What I tell the client is that they will get an overhead design, a plant list, and an estimate for install. If they choose not to go with us the design is theirs. If they use us for installation, we will subtract the design fee from their final bill.

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