Overall conclusion....

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by steveair, Apr 12, 2002.

  1. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073


    Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a huge jump in 'pricing' questions on this site.

    For myself, I have to say that it is a bit discouraging.

    For one thing, I'm sure myself and others who have been here are 100% sick of answering the question of 'how much to charge for a mulch job', but that is beside the point.

    What really bothers me is the thought process being demonstrated by everyone. Not for nothing, but if you have to ask what to charge for something, then do your really know what you are doing?

    For some reason, no one seems to have a clue what it is they are doing. Pricing is simple. Figure out your costs, add in your overhead, and the figure out what YOU want to make on the job (well, there are a few more things, but I want to keep it simple)..

    From all of the recent posts, it seems everyone wants to know what 'I' am making on the job. Well, what I need to make or what I want to make are most likely completely different than your needs and desires.

    Not to rip anyone's head off, but I just want to say that this industry really needs to become more educated in what they are doing.

    For some jobs, there are questions to be asked as installation may be very technical, the job may be extremely large, etc. and there are variables that cannot be accounted for.

    However, when it comes to small jobs, common sense needs to be taking.

    It just seems very obvious that there are way to many people out there doing work withoud a clue. To all those asking questions, please do me a favor.

    Take a business class, go to school, do SOMETHING! Landscaping is like any other business and the principles are the same for our business as any others. It is not a matter of 'what would others charge'. It is a matter of what you need to charge.

    The lack of the 'basic' business principles here is becoming very disturbing.

  2. stslawncare

    stslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    from DE
    Messages: 1,484

    i took a intro to business/ business principals class for the first two semesters, very good class, rather easy for me though, i got an A. i am also takeing two years of computer applications and a year of desktop publishing, next year im taking intro to accounting.
  3. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    I dunno Steve...I have a BS in Ecomonics, a second BS in Marketing, and my MBA. Granted my BS degrees were granted to me in '77 and my MBA in '81, so they might be a bit out of date.

    Regardless, with all of the business courses I have taken over my lifetime and the number of years (18) I spent in the corporate world, I still once in a while have a problem "pricing" something out in my (8 years) of being an LCO.

    I'm kind of glad to see all of the responses and inquiries about "pricing". It's encouraging to see that more and more of us want to take a more educated approach to pricing than just "shooting from the hip".

    just my 2 cents...
  4. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    Steve: I too have been getting a little ***issed about all the postings on "How much should I charge to do this". You are absoulotly right. I would much rather see questions on HOW to price a job. NOT HOW MUCH SHOULD I CHARGE. Every job is different; as is every business and if you have to ask how much to charge then you have serious buisness problems that need to be addressed. Everyone has problems once in a while in pricing a job. But these problems usually amount to not knowing how long it takes to do something or are there unknown variables that you don't know(inexperience). If you break down the job to what has to be done, how much it will cost you to do it, and how much do you want to make doing it, then you have the price.(simplified).
  5. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Remember there are no dumb questions!

    I enjoy reading how people price installs, I talked about it with my father yesterday. We remember how bigger companies priced work out before, most are not in business any more, they couldn't keep track of costs or got burn't with wage increases and labor over runs.

    Knowing your cost is great but you need to know that not all jobs go as planned and somewhere your going to run into problems! Plan for it.
  6. dougaustreim

    dougaustreim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 488

    There are excellent resources out there for learning the pricing process for landscape and lawn care. Books by Van Der Koi, Jim Huston, Frank Ross etc are all very helpful. Many are available through ALCA and the other assoications. Also you will find articles in many of the industry periodicals on this subject. The real key in most cases is knowing your production rates. Knowing all of the other costs is fine, but labor will be your most important cost. You can't predict your labor cost, until you have a good handle on estimating production rate. There are books that list this kind of information but those are only averages. You have to keep track of your own time to complete various types of work, and develop your own rates.

    Asking me to tell some one else how much to charge is worthless, because I have no idea what their costs are I only know my own. You make a profit in this business by charging more than your costs. This doesn't necessarily mean you charge a high price. Many times, you make a profit in this competetive business by having the most efficient equipment or crew configuration, or by a more efficient technique. You might by able to charge less and make more profit than a competitor just by efficiency

    Doug Austreim
    Austreim Landscaping Inc
  7. MuskTurfKing

    MuskTurfKing LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 338

    I can't stand reading those types of posts anymore, even though I used to post them :p I agree, everything is different, materials, overhead, direct costs, how much you need to profit, your market, etc.

  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,779

    It seams to me that there are two problems here. One that is being discussed is the method of determining a price. The other is simply knowledge.
    They don't have any experience past cutting grass. They don't know how to do things or how long it will take. Even if you understand how to calculate a price, it is impossible to fill in the blanks as to time and materials if you don't no what you will need and how long it will take.
    This is a very easy type of business to start. So easy in fact, that people with no experience go into it. I am not against that, this is America after all. There is a wide diversity in the services needed by people. A complete rookie can do a mow and go and be serving a client well if that is only what they need.
    The problem lies in that once they proclaim themselves a landscaper they believe that they are capable of and should perform every service related to landscaping with zero experience.
    If you want to operate a full service landscape company you should work for a company that does this type of work well to gain experience. You will know what you are doing, how to manage and train help, how long jobs take, what services are worth offering and what are not. You will even learn where to buy materials, their costs, and maybe pricing methods.
    You will be getting a pay check, too.
  9. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 543

    I am on both sides of this fence. For one, it seems a little ridiculous about all the "mulch" pricing posts. Sorry. Next you have to figure out what you want out of your work. The best way to find out is cost estimating jobs you have done. My price per foot of any thing shouldn't mean jack to someone else. Ask me how much time. etc...

    But, paul said it. Its nice to see what others charge so you know you're not alone when some lowball scrub beats your bid by 10$ a fc. ft. For newbies it gives them a competitive way to start without getting a brick through their window. Lastly, its just like bad television programming. No one has a gun to my head to read these posts, so if I don't want to, I don't;)

  10. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    I have been a little disappointed also about questions pertaining to pricing mulch installs. I ran a search for someone a week ago and found 24 threads relating to mulch pricing in the last 3 months.

    But I've also grown tired of reminding people to do a search, so I just don't respond.

    I too enjoy discussing different aspects of pricing now and again, but 24 threads in 90 days on a topic that seems to be pretty pedestrian, seems to be more than is needed.

    It may give an opportunity to newer members who haven't had a chance to speak up much to voice an opinion on this topic.

    But it also has the ability to diminish the deep-delving analysis that some of us have become accustomed to, as those who dig deep visit less and less, as the subject matter gets less varied and less complex.

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