Losing Money?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by zacher, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. zacher

    zacher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    I have been in the business on and off for 5 years since high school. This year I decided to hit it big and hard work has paid off..except for today...

    It was my first big leaf and brush clearing job on about a 1 1/2 acre lot but most of it was house and bushes and landscaping, pool, dog run..etc.....end of story I WAY under bid...$980...I went to see the property after a days work so it was about twilight hours me and the owner walked the property and talked about the work he would like done... I liked what I saw from that perspective and quoted the price instantly he has accepted and we set up a date...right then it kind of made me think twice. I got a crew together (my college rugby buddies) rented a chipper and we show up at the house...my chipper goes down in the first 15 minutes and the rental place is over a 2 hour round trip away from the property well I decide to plan b..mulch the leafs with the push mower...however there is MUCH more leaves and brush then I remember...to make it short we clear off all the working space and push the leaves that we didnt mulch and haul off into the wooded area...the homeowner came out at the end of the day with an operating cost including the chipper at $800....I'm only making $180........not much for hard work and an all day job but I need the money to get my business up. Well the homeowner comes out there freaking out..this that and the other but in our agreement he made it didnt state what he told me in person to do today...he wanted all brush 4" or less gone...he came out and started telling us to take some stuff that was up to 12" away as well...The homeowner said the job wasn't done and refused to pay the price. The job was done..all working area besides straight forest he had back...his pool was no longer covered in leaves(I am not a pool man) and all the brush that was in the working space hauled off..two dump trailers full..after alot of back and forth I didnt wanna be pushy he wrote a check for $500....luckily I took the chipper back and they refunded full price. I broke dead even....I just don't even know I am at a loss for words...

    Someone please make me feel better and tell me stuff like this happens sorta often and I just need to bid higher next time:hammerhead::hammerhead::dizzy:
  2. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    You can't have high days without lows
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,764

    So when do you get the rest of your money? I agree with RJ, you take the good with the bad, when the next job goes great and you make a ton of money you'll look back at this job and laugh about it.
  4. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    Really, I do get screwed from time to time but not that hard.
    Man up

    Did I say your rental rate was too high?

    Sounds like the chipper rental $$ was high too. You need to talk to them as well.

    Big mistake thinking the rental was less than 1 full day and the thing broke.

    Did I say your rental rate was too high? Did I say your rental rate was too high?
  5. ringahding

    ringahding LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    We all have under bid jobs before, just learn from it. It will actually make you a better seller in the future.
  6. TX Easymoney

    TX Easymoney LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,109

    On chipper work I'd cut it all down one day and chip it the next....most guys waste lots of time Not using the chipper,while they cut wood....I have one guy feeding the chipper and the other guys bringing him brush...I want that chipper cutting wood nonstop... take your lumps and keep on truckin'
    next time tell them you need some time to write up the estimate and have the guy sign it if he accepts....
    I get burned when I shoot from the hip every so often too
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. Greenboy24

    Greenboy24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 297

    The problem here is not underbidding as much as it is clearly communicating what work is included in that price. It sounds like the customer and yourself were clearly on separate pages. I learned the hard way to make sure things are excruciating clear. Some people are terrible at conveying what they actually want done. They have an idea in their head but never get it out their mouth and when you just say OK here is the price they expect something done that you really have no idea about. Some people are just PITA customers and there will always be those who try and get something for nothing.

    We email all estimates, even if we provide an estimate on site we email a hard copy when we get to the office so we have a record of what the scope of work entails. Again you must be specific
  8. zacher

    zacher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    $200 for a chipper for the day....too high? I don't think you can get a chipper for much cheaper than that especially on a saturday when home depot is the only place around open renting on the weekend.

    But we got that money back and ended up breaking even.

    We emailed quotes and laid out very clear expectations and work order however when I showed up it was like he was completely different and he starting talking all this nonsense..

    I cut the money and run...I can live with breaking even on one job learn from it and move on..I would be a lot more PO'ed if I had lost money.
  9. slamjamrockinman

    slamjamrockinman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 715

    Always put any bigger jobs in writing, as previously stated, lack of clear communication. If the proposal is SPECIFIC about the work being done, and signed, the cheap homeowner is less likely to try and pull that sort of thing on you. Theres always the cheapskates out there that will take advantage of your laid-back verbal agreements. I got burned real bad on a job this summer, turned into a big argument over what was included in what price, completely my fault, will I let it happen again? absolutely not. Take this as a great lesson.

    Look at it this way, your chances of letting this happen on a larger job where more money could be at stake is probably less. Each lesson you learn is hopefully another costly mistake you avoid in the future.
    Ive learned the hard way one too many times.
  10. elbow300

    elbow300 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 52

    It seems to me that there were 2 areas that needed to be improved. First, the client should have had a detailed bid detailing exactly what needed to be done, and what he was to pay. That way there is no room for misunderstanding when it is time to write the check. Second, I think you needed to have a better understanding of what your costs were, and the time you would need to complete the job. I think you came out ahead, because the rental company refunded all your money. Those guys never treat me that good. I think all in all it was a good experience for you.

    Nothing teaches you how to bid like working for the "crack head" price!!!

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