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Just starting

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by cutterj, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. cutterj

    cutterj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    I have been doing the mowing side of the business for years now, and i am looking to venture into small landscape jobs. I have a lot of experience in pavers but not much with plants. What kinds of things do i need to know when going to bid on a job. Should i find something so i know what each plant is, and how to take care of it.

    Do you imediately show them the things you can do on their property, or ask what they were thinking first. What im trying to say is do u try to sell them on more than they first wanted, once they see what u can really do.

    Do u have to provide them with care book for all of the plants u install. What kind of gaurantee do you give.

    Im thinking of getting the DIG software so i atleast look proffesional

    What other advice can you offer me. Ive been searching and reading posts for ever. Just wanted to know some tips anyone has. Like anyone near me can hopefully help me with what the going rate is, dont want to undercut myself
  2. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 538

    You should really work with someone in the landscaping business for a while before you go on your own. Landscaping is much more detailed than mowing lawns. I do both. I get much more self satisfaction out of landscaping than mowing. I will try to answer your question in order.
    1. Bidding jobs is not easy. There is more to a job than meets the eye, i.e: sod removal, burying drain pipe, soil prep, having utilities marked, topsoil, mulch, edging, drainage, etc.
    2. Yes, you need to know what each plant is and where they can be planted according to each job site. Some customers will know a lot about plants, most will not.
    3. I always ask what they have in mind and then expand from there. You don't want to be too pushy. They usually have a budget and want to see what the initial bid will be first.
    4. Some contractors provide them with a booklet containing color pictures and descriptions of all the plants used in the bid. This is accompanied with the bid and design. In my area the charge for this packet averages $250.00. You need to ask what they want before you do this though because this fee is collected regardless of whether the customer uses you or not.
    5. I offer them a choice of saving 25% off retail for the plants with no guarantee or paying full retail for the plants with a 1 year guarantee. 99% chose to save the 25%.
    6. Software. Do a search on this site for software. You will see a lot of opinions. The DIG software you mention is very expensive for someone starting out. If you want to save literally hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars, go with PUNCH! Master Landscape and Design(punchsoftware.com). With rebates this may cost $40-60.00. It takes some time to learn, but it is well worth it. I know some of the guys on this site will say that it looks cheap and unprofessional, but after some practice you can do designs that look just as good as using software that costs 10-20 times as much. The key is having a good digital camera and a good printer. Keep in mind you can't use this for all designs. You will still have to do some by hand. I actually surveyed all of my customers and almost all of them said they would rather see a Photo-Realistic design rather than a hand drawn, architectural design. The reason for this was is they said they would prefer to see the actual plant in front of their house instead of a circle on a piece of paper.
    7. Rates. This will vary per area and job. Do a search and you will see several discussions on this. I do not like to discuss what I charge personally, but from what I have seen people post on this site it averages around $60-70/hr.
    I hope this helps.

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