Price Check

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by White Gardens, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    You finish in two days? I have started pouring patios and acid staining which is half the cost of pavers. Nice to have a cheaper option to prsent
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  2. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,569

    I see so many things wrong with all the quoted above. Please take this as coaching, not slammimg you :)

    First of all what I'm gathering is that you do NOT know your annual operating expenses and you do not know how to make sure you recover them. I say this because you are usng the words "I feel". You should not "feel", you should KNOW. And when you'll have confidence.

    You make mention of other contractors. Don't worry about the other contractors. They either are sharp people and know how to make a profit and create success, or they're operating foolishly and have no clue how to recover their expenses and make a profit.

    Your pricing is not what will dictate doing one job and never seeing that customer ever again. What instills repeat business is:
    1) Doing exactly as promised
    2) Showing up every day once the job is started
    3) Talking to the customer and smiling. I make it a point to get my customers to laugh at least once while we're there. Some customers are very easy to get to know and socialize with. Some are challanging, but 99% of the time I even get the serious, challanging customers to crack a smile. I've even made threads here on this forum about our clients that refuse to smile.
    4) I mentioned doing as promised. It does not stop there, you also need to door a great job. Doing as promised and doing a great job are two different things - yet equally important.

    The price isn't what will create a "bad taste". Doing crappy work will leave the bad taste. Not doing as promised. Not being at the job every day. Not cleaning up at the end of each working day.

    Also you mentioned that you voluntered an explanation for what you thought/feel is a high price. Never ever explain yourself. That shows lack of confidence. Lack of experience.

    Seriously, so you think a veteran contractor like me who has been around the block a time or two, has learned lessons the hard way, etc - volunteers an explanation for our pricing????? A veteran contractor does not feel guilty for making sure they achieve a profit. We're running businesses, it's no secret that we're gonna make money and you should never feel guilty for it. (yes, some customers don't want us to make a profit. those types can kiss my beehind)

    Now if the job has unusual variables - I will then explain to the customer that those variables will involve additional time and effort so those things will be factored into the cost. I priced a patio for a townhouse. Cant get a skid steer behind the house and get get a truck back there. That means we have to use our tractor and we have to go from the front, down the side, and all the way across the island of homes to get to the patio site. This is nore time, more turf restoration, etc. So I explained all this to the customer when I initially met with them and when I presented them with the proposal. But for routine procedures - never explain yourself in terms of your price.
  3. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    It takes years and years to perfect your bidding in my opinion. Spreadsheets, hour tracking, lots of jobs, lots of variables etc. And then you always get a job that has a new variable and the learning process continues.

    And I think it is great that he is not confident in his pricing. This attitude of constantly self evaluating will help perfect his bidding process.
  4. all ferris

    all ferris LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,309

    Did you use any fabric under the base? Also, I think that patio would look much better with a contrasting color for the soldier course (maybe the customer did not want that???).

    pricing wise, I think you were pretty good. I may have done that job a bit cheaper but not by more than $100-$200. But, I also think I may have been able to get the material for slightly below $1000
  5. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,569

    Confidence is the root to success. Whether it's playing volleyball, engineering coffee makers, fitting children with braces, racing dirt bikes, interior decorating, etc. Whether it's your 1st time or your 1,012th time.

    Self evaluating is an ongoing thing, not just something you do in the beginning :)

  6. big daddy b

    big daddy b LawnSite Member
    Messages: 95

    do you use string lines or straight lines when you lay the pavers in?
    just wondering
  7. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    No, not in two days. I'm saying concrete is half the time and work of pavers. It took 4.5 days to do this patio.

    As for confidence. That's not an issue. ;). I've been able to just about sell any job that comes my way, along with retaining the customers for future work.

    My fears or lack of confidence comes in not with charging enough, but with charging too much. I understand that we as business owners need to make money at what we do, but I empathize with my customers and wouldn't want to be over-charged for a service.

    I do know my cost to operate, and I'll be honest with you, it's pretty nill. I have a situation where an in-law has a farm property that I operate out of. In return I just have to take care of the place, and basically consists of mowing regularly, with his mower. (and other random stuff). Now, I realize that this situation might change someday and I'll have to either procure a property or rent out a shop or what-not. I want my pricing to fall in line with a general market value so that if my over-head and costs escalate, I won't have clients saying "but you did this job cheaper last time."

    Not in this situation fabric wise. The house is from the 1910's and the sub-grade was hard as a rock. I have used fabric in the past in some situations where I felt it was warranted. And a contrasting color would have been nice, but they wanted to keep it simple.

    String line on the first course, after that I just set them in.

    I used string lines and line levels to set grade. Could have used a laser, but I had to fuss with the edges in order to meet up with the existing landscape timbers. So ultimately I string lined it to visualize the outcome.

    And thanks to all the replies.

    I was honestly thinking I would of heard, "no soldier course on one side", "joints of soldier course lines up with the running bond", etc...... ;)

  8. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    I gave a bid of $3500 for 125sqft walk the other day. So i think your price is fair if not a little low. Your overhead is low so that def gives you an advantage.

    I am a believer in supply and demand. When there is alot of demand for your services, your price needs to go up.

    4.5 days with a helper? How many total man hours did you have in it.
  9. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Right at 45 man hours. There were some days in the heat that we worked a short day.

    That's part of the reason with my price check. I feel that my efficiency or otherwise might be to low, so even though it might take longer on the man-hours, I don't want to be over-charging for doing this type of service when the man hours might be over what it should or could be. So even if the man run long on a project, I don't want to be charging for each man hour over if it runs long and have an inflated invoice because of that.

  10. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    $53 a man hour is good. From what i have read, you are a good contractor/good person that is going to stand behind your product/service. That can be worth alot. Even if you are reasonably higher than the competition, sometimes the premium can have value to the client if they feel you wont go out of business before the warranty expires, or you will be more detail oriented, or if you sold them on a spectacular design, etc.

    It isnt overcharging if they agree to your price.

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