Hiya! Trying to land that first bid

Discussion in 'Bidding, Estimating and Pricing' started by Newguylearninghere, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. Newguylearninghere

    Newguylearninghere LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I'm in the east Texas area and am just starting out, I'm really looking for guidance and advice here.

    I know this is a lawn site and the job I bid was fencing, but the concepts I'm asking for advice on are interchangeable. As well if like your input from a consumer prospective.

    I was contacted today by a man wanting 600 ft of fencing put in, path cleared, t posts a welded wire roll fencing. 1 x 15ft tractor gate on 4x4 post, all the materials are customer supplied. I figured myself and my two helpers will be in for a solid two days work +/-. I'm estimating 60 labor hrs for the fence, 5.5 hrs for the gate, and he aslo asked for delivery of the materials. Which is a 60 miles round trip, requires a trailer, and probably 3 hours of my time, I quoted $250 (don't really care to get the delivery). My helpers have experience and I figure them at $15 an hr. It's my understanding you double your helps rate for the rate you bill. I charged the same rate for myself. This is 60 hrs at $30 per labor hour. I quoted him $1800 for the fence and offered the gate for $250.

    After submitting my bid, he asked if this was including materials (he sent me a screenshot with his materials list at Lowe's calculated to $1900 ) and I explained to him the cost was for labor only, the rolled wire takes more time to stretch and get straight than running slick wire or even welded wire panels. He never responded.

    My question is to you in your opinion is my math off? Am I just shooting way too high for the billed rate per man hour? Does the estimate on hours seem off to you. Would this seem off putting to you in anyway?

    My rates reflect the lower end of reported ranges for labor only on these types of installs, and im not really wanting to sell myself cheap. I feel i got it right but I need to be willing to take the no to get the yeses. This is my first bid, so Any advice no matter how critical, please and thank you (ps the 15per hr is because the guy wants this started and finish within the next four days, I am having to get my help from a few friends who have full time jobs and need a little more greasing due to the last minute nature.
     
  2. Mow-Daddy.com

    Mow-Daddy.com LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,939

    I'm not a fencing guy but your rate does not seem to high for the hours you have listed. Matter a fact for 68.5 hrs it works out to $33.5 per man hr.
    Are you supplying any equipment to do this job, or is it 100% manual labor only?
    We charge $45- $48 for straight labor projects just to give you perspective.
     
    Mumblingboutmowers and hort101 like this.
  3. OP
    OP
    Newguylearninghere

    Newguylearninghere LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Thank you so much. I knew quoting this at the 30 per man hour was at least on the lower side of reasonable and lower than what most will get out of bed for, I was just surprised that the customer seemed surprised by this. I do know better than to drop my pants on price to get a job. There would be some equipment. Nothing particularly expensive or wearable, just a t post sledge, tape measure, string and stakes. Mallets/hammers, fencing pliers. For those reasons I didn't include that in the price. Since these would become assets for future use. I would have rented a post hole digger, to get the post holes dug, less than $100, and I was willing to let that make the gate slightly less profitable since most crews own one, and I haven't made the investment to expect it to create a ROI. Can I ask you how you typically respond in turn to someone who balks at a quote (especially a reasonable rate)? Is it one were you try and substantiate your pricing and explain your costs, or do you just move on? In my mind it's a move on type of deal because someone who isn't happy with the price isn't likely to be happy with the end result given they don't see the value. However there is some importance in my mind of not leaving money on the table. I also see some money being a curse. If the money is attached to a bad review to be more immenent it could sacrifice far more in future sales. Thoughts?
     
    Mow-Daddy.com likes this.
  4. Mow-Daddy.com

    Mow-Daddy.com LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,939

    I just move on.
    Here's my price.
     
    LegendNZ and Jeff@diyokc like this.
  5. Jeff@diyokc

    Jeff@diyokc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    Your correct assumption, move on! I used to build decks, and would run into these types of people, “ why is the labor as much as the materials”? Because I’m the guy with the skill to do it!

    Your bid certainly was fair, I was always Leary of the people that bought their own material, thinking the pine would be as good as a redwood deck!! Not my material choice for an outside deck!

    You brought up an interesting point, reviews. I don’t worry because the few bad ones I received seem to be buried under dozens of good ones! Add to the mix that most people just scroll down and read a few! Again, I’m not worried as my last 5 to 7 years has been word of mouth/referrals.

    Spend your time servicing folks that pay for quality or that acknowledge they don’t have the time, equipment or skill to do the work!
     
  6. RMLC_BZN

    RMLC_BZN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    From my experience, people who want to supply the materials are just looking to save a buck and usually think the labor price is "ridiculous". Don't get me wrong, that is not always the case but more times than not, it is.
     
    Jeff@diyokc likes this.
  7. OP
    OP
    Newguylearninghere

    Newguylearninghere LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I think there is also a disconnect with hope do you charge $45 or $55 an hour for manual labor when "I the midlevel manager making the $27 per hour eq do something requiring far more". I understand the reality of taxes, prep time, advertising, regulatory costs. You shouldn't make $15 an hour to take on those responsibilities and risks. Somehow that's not how a lot of folks see it. It would have been the first fence I bid and I wanted to make sure I bid it correctly. I really appreciate the feedback. I'm willing to do labor only bids but I'm not going to drop my price to get it to match the customer expectations. Can't pay the bills with that.
     
    Jeff@diyokc likes this.
  8. Jeff@diyokc

    Jeff@diyokc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    That’s the kind of person who is working FOR a business, not owning the business! Different responsibilities, and he is the hired help, not the owner! I know that sounds mean, but that’s the reality! You took the risk to start your business, and there are rewards for that risk! His risk is getting employees to meet xyz goals!
     
  9. Jeff@diyokc

    Jeff@diyokc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 125

    In addition , I don’t argue with my diesel mechanic on what he charges, as I don’t have the skills, the tools, or the shop to fix them! Sure, I could look over a YouTube how to video, but I don’t have the know how to effect repairs in a timely manner!

    As you go forward, you’ll develop your own qualifying questions to weed these folks out! One that works for me is “ what’s the range you want to spend for the project”? Another would be if it’s a telephone call is “ based on your description that could range from ....to......”. That way if you do an on-site you can revise once you see what the scope of the job is or conversely, what your weren’t told on the phone!
     
  10. RMLC_BZN

    RMLC_BZN LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I can understand how my previous reply would indicate that I won't bid labor only jobs. That is not the case, I am more than happy to bid these sort of projects. I bid them at my labor rate plus what I would have made off the materials but I pre-qualify the customer and make sure they know what to expect before I will look at the job (being new in the business this may or may not be the right approach ((ie. you can give them a number just for the experience in the bidding process and the hopes of getting the job.))

    The home owner might not understand the costs of owning a business or they have a 3rd cousin, who has a friend, who might do the job for $800 and they think that is what the job is worth. What I am getting at is, don't worry about this guy and don't lower your prices thinking you overbid this job ( I would charge a lot more for 60 hours of labor but I have no idea what the prices are in your area.)
     

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