How to Layout your estimate

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Unitedlawnscapes, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Unitedlawnscapes

    Unitedlawnscapes LawnSite Member
    from USA
    Messages: 11

    I seen and talked to people in the landscape business and they always have different methods of purposing the estimates. For an example one may have all materials listed like this:

    Mulch $xxx
    Landscape fabric $xxx
    Labor $xxx
    TOTAL $xxx

    Or I have seen a few that just list a scope of work like this:

    Scope of Work: Landscape Fabric to be pinned and placed in discussed landscape areas and a application of mulch.
    TOTAL $xxx

    I am new to the business and want to be professionally presentable. Any input helps and open to suggestions. Thanks in advance
  2. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,392

    Well you can always submit it three times. Lol
  3. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,392

    In all seriousness, your second example is how I submit estimates.
  4. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Just wondering why this thread has been listed 3 times on the first page of this site?.
    easy-lift guy
  5. LawnGuy110

    LawnGuy110 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,105

    In my.experience customers don't care for a breakdown of costs they just want a price with everything
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872


    We do a lot of proposals. Like 500-700 every year. I can tell you from a lot of experience doing these for a lot of years, customers like to see more detail. How do I know? Because we break down every proposal we give down to every material, every expense, line item for the labor, itemized for each different project etc. And we routinely get comments like, "Wow! This proposal is much more detailed than anything anyone else gave us. I can tell you guys really know your business." People appreciate the attention to detail. So that should be your first clue.

    The second reason I believe in breaking down the price and how you arrived at that price is because when you give just one flat price when you are done a lot of customers are left wondering, "What??? $2000 for a new lawn??? You gotta be kidding me! What are they making? $80 an hour???" Whether they tell you that or not, that's what they're thinking a lot of times. But if you give them a proposal that breaks everything down, then they are thinking, "Ok....lemme see here.....$150 for disposal of the old turfgrass....yep, I guess that makes sense.....6 yards of new blended topsoil for $240....that's good....I guess it's probably a good idea to amend the soil.....$550 for the new sod....sounds about right.....and $1060 for labor.....that sounds about what I expected too. This looks pretty good!" So by giving a very detailed proposal, your justifying your total price to your client.

    As you've seen already just from the responses to this thread, most companies do not break down their proposals. I think most of them don't want to take the time, don't think customers really care, or just don't realize how much better it would make them look if they did. But I can tell you from a lot of experience that customers really do appreciate it. I see other company's proposal all the time. Most are about the same. Description, then one big price, without any justification of how they arrived at that price. This is another reason I like to do it. It sets us apart from most of our competitors. I always want to be seen as the company who is more detailed, more professional, better presentation, everything. I want customers to know from the very beginning that we're different. This is just part of what we do to instill that impression on customers at the beginning.

    You will find that the better, more detailed proposal you give, the higher you'll be able to charge for your work and you'll have a much higher closing ratio.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  7. wildstarblazer

    wildstarblazer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,046

    Good advice. Do you do lawn maint too or just landscape maintenance?
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    I design landscapes for property owners. Some have a contractor that they know they will be working with and some take bids from a few. The more detail that they get, the more that they understand the cost. Right now I am reviewing three bids for a client.

    They all group parts of the project, tree and stump removal, loam and seed, ... with a price for that portion. This is common practice in my area. They don't like to line item because the homeowners start looking at the price of an arborvitae at Home Depot and wanting to match pricing or they start to try to get each contractor to match the price of the lowest bidder for each line item .... in short, they get roped into re-writing the same proposal 19 times. Sometimes the client will eliminate higher cost line items and wreck the integrity of the design (changing a red cut leaf weeping Japanese maple to a purple smoke bush).

    However, some are more detailed than others as to exactly what that lump sum covers. Clients like that for the reasons Jim gave.

    The best reason to line item is that you establish clear pricing for add ons and deletions. It is hard to argue the price of a change order if that pricing pattern is clear. It also gives clients confidence that you are not pulling numbers out of your ass.
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    We do it all. We have about 310 weekly landscape maintenance accounts. But I was speaking more to how we bid landscaping jobs, not weekly maintenance.

    For weekly maintenance, that's different. We give a detailed description of the service and then one flat monthly rate. But for any other kind of landscaping job - whether it be a $500 clean-up and mulch job or a $50,000 full landscape install - we always break it down, like I said.
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Yah, I can see where that would be an issue for some people. I don't have that problem. Most of our clients aren't fairly well off and aren't as interested in saving a penny here and a penny there than they are about getting the right company to install it, having a good warranty, etc. I don't get that kind of B.S. much these days. But we used to, sometimes, when we had a little different clientele. Fortunately, we're in a fairly affluent area of the country. So I guess for us this isn't much of an issue. Most of our clients wouldn't even know the price of an arborvitae at Home Depot or care. They're more interested in how soon we can get started.

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