How do you spot tire kickers when doing the estimate?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by mojob, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. mojob

    mojob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 515

    I'm getting into the irrigation end of this business and I was wondering how you veterans handle the estimate. As an example, I went to a potential customer's house the other day, measured the property, took pressure and flow measurements, talked to the customer and then went home and designed the system to get an idea of how much to charge. At least a couple of hours invested at this point. I call the guy and give him the price and right away I know he had no idea how much something like this would cost. I'm guessing you guys have been doing this long enough to be able to give a pretty accurate estimate right then and there. Until I get that kind of experience under my belt, how can I avoid this next time? Are there any good computer programs out there that can design a system to cut down on design time?
  2. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    First thing I'd say is prequalify them on the phone- how big is your property, do you want everything or just the lawn, ok, you're looking at somewhere between $X,XXX and $X,XXX. Does that fit with what you're looking to spend? You could also charge a nominal fee to come out and cipher out what the job involves to cover your time, but I understand that's not always possible.

  3. mojob

    mojob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 515

    Hey Dave, thanks for the tips. I guess the more I do it the easier it will get to give ballpark estimates over the phone. As it turns out, the guy just called me back giving me the green light. I got lucky this time.
  4. 1cooltreeguy

    1cooltreeguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 630

    Yeah, 5 min. on the phone can save you hours and road trips in the future. You can tell alot of times just by their demeanor on the phone. Come up with a list of questions that you are comfortable to ask and fire away. The customer is asking for your time so they should not mind a few min. of their time towards answering some ?'s.
  5. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    "I got your name from the yellow pages and I'd like you to give me a FREE estimate." Usually a red flag.
    Then the old, "I'm waiting on two or three other bids but would like you to submit one also."
  6. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,220

    The best one is "How much is a average system? I've gotten rid of a lot of
    "lookie-loos" by saying, "there is no "average system, but I've not installed
    a system for under 10K in twenty years, does 10K bother you?"
    On the other hand, if you know your market area & have caller I.D. you can
    look up their adress. In our market, we know where the "gold coast" is & where
    we don't want to work anyway. Leave something for the bottom feeders, they need
    to survive too. Plus, it's service work down the road!
  7. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    We were at a school doing a walk-through the other day firing the remote, taking care of minor things like a few broken sprinklers and some clogged 300 nozzles when a teacher walked by stating, "Boy... I need you to come by my house and straighten my irrigation system out." I replied, "You can't afford me unless you live up on Badger Hill." He looked at me, smiled and got the point. I work for the district for the long-term benefits and not the immediate high dollar but I do know my worth. :p
  8. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    I've always looked at the sales part as a numbers game. Doesn't matter if we are talking irrigation or landscaping, materials or the whole ball of wax. Every "no" is that much closer to the next one that closes. If your rep is good and your numbers fair, you should hit one out of every 4-6 bids. Tire kickers count. If your goal is more high end, you have to do 10 to get one, but your margins are better. If your selling more than 25%, your not making enough money. You get lucky and hit three in a ready to do the leg work for all the "no"s you haven't collected yet. 6-10 "no"s is just the opposite, your time is comming.
  9. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    I disagree w/ the statement about selling more than 25% of your bids....

    Here's why:

    A good salesman/knowledgable salesman/good sprinkler guy/good people person/honest person......

    Will trump the averages.....

    I get what I want for my installs....what I want varies....

    I sell to tirekickers and get the job...I sell to folks that don't get other bids and get the job...I have even sold jobs to people with 10 different bids...and I am never the lowest.
  10. Mjtrole

    Mjtrole LawnSite Member
    Messages: 226

    Giving an accurate estimate has little to do with experience, it just takes a few hours of gathering information and pricing the materials ahead of time.

    The system I use basically goes like this:

    Tap = set price (depending on lenth, our average is 10ft. copper total)
    spray = set price (depending on spacing, 10,12 and 15ft)
    rotor = set price (depending on spacing 25,30ft)
    valves = set price (including wire, manifold fittings and box)

    take your spray heads for example:

    spray head cost = One spray, one nozzle, two swing fittings, one foot swing pipe, two clamps, one poly fitting, 12 feet of poly pipe. And there you have it a set price for sprays, just multiply that by the required number and you have your material costs for the spray heads spaced at 12ft.

    Draw and average system out on paper and list all of the materials so you make sure you figure for them and make yourself a cheat sheet to take with you on estimates cause believe me if you price a job on site you have a shot at getting a deposit and locking up that job right there.

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