pricing jobs for people that dont have money

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by scagwildcat, May 19, 2006.

  1. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Messages: 507

    first off i would like to say that after mowing for years i wanted to add something other then that to offer to my clients, and after talking to a lawnsite member that also lives/works in my area, i have had the opportunity to hook up with a masson that doesnt want to climb on roofs anymore, hes a old italian friend of my father,and he would like to teach me the ropes and get me started, i was just sick of giving a fair price for mowing just to have a guy with a push mower show up and do it for 1/4 of my price!! you know what i mean... SO, this past month i recieved my lic.. we have looked at three jobs without even advertising. i thought maybe i should have done this sooner, well, , one was for 60k two walks, small patio, and a decent size wall... it went from i even want you to price out pavers for my driveway. to i really think my wife wants more then we can afford !!!the next job.. patio + stairs going into the water, they live near a river and wanted a place to sit and wanted stairs to get in the water and fish.. picked out stone, all set to go, just needed permits, tell them the price... well, i thought it would be like 3k... what? thats only for the stone. no labor, no concrete, not stone dust , no excavation...the last one is still up in the air!!
    the problem i have or the part i cant swallow is it takes so much time to give a estimate for this type of work, just for people to pick your brain so to speak, atleast with mowing, this is my price take it or leave it.... i really give you guys that only do hardscapes credit you guys really have to waist alot of your time for people that want all this beautiful work done but yet they know that they are dreaming....
  2. BCF

    BCF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 107

    Try and do some sort of qualifing first. I have the same problem with PVC fences. Everybody wants them, but after I meet them, measure and price I do not hear back from them, for most don't realize it costs abot double a wood fence. So I give them a rough per foot price over the phone, and if they are ok with that I proceed. Hope it helps.
  3. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 837

    Yep, welcome to hardscaping...and if you win 50% of the quotes you are doing well. If you are winning more than that you are probably too cheap and if you want to lose money big time then under quote a big hardscaping job. It does take a lot of work but it does get easier with experience. We learn something on every job that helps us with our next quote.

    Good Luck
  4. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Messages: 507

    im lucky to have someone to guide me thus far. but i figured that atleast in this line of work, one would think that the clients know that by calling for a retaining wall is going to cost them...i spoke with my mentor about it, and his response was just like what i was thinking since i became self employed, he said, did you spend all that money on equipment, trucks, insurance, lic, advertising just do do someone a favor? heck-no. people dont understand whats involved in the work.. they just think that this is how much this company wants to provide me this service, but they dont look at the costs, equipment needed and every thing else.. its like when my truck leaves the shop in the AM. truck, trailer and equipment is prob, 70 to 80k but tell them you need to get $35 to mow their lawn and they look at you funny lol.
  5. richallseasons

    richallseasons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    Hey Paul, don't get discouraged-I have a stack of jobs that I don't get and yes I put a lot of time and energy into giving quotes only to lose in the end.If I get 3 out of 10 bids awarded to me then I am doing real good and yes those 7 took some work but thats what its all about.I find that next time a person wants a bid on something you have bid on in the past that it gets easier and faster and soon it takes very little effort to get the numbers together.Yes at first when its new it is a bit overwhelming, but when you grab your first big job that all goes away.Keep growing,I would like to have these chats ten years from now with you.:)
  6. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Messages: 507

    thanks RICH. hows things going with you?
  7. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Messages: 507

    hey RICH, do you know were DUNNING SAND & GRAVEL is? i heard they have good prices on pavers.
  8. cedarcroft

    cedarcroft LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    I am all new to this too but I have had a good amount of success in getting jobs from my customers so far. A great salesman I know told me that underpromising and over delivering is the key to success in sales and business. applying that to hardscaping I have had success telling customers that I can give them a ballpark number and giving them something ridiculously high and then saying that I will price it out with a few different mason yards and get them exact numbers. then I hand them a reasonable estimate that is much lower than the HUGE ballpark number and they are excited to get it done. This does two things:1) scares off shoppers 2)makes the customer think you pulled strings and really worked to get them a great price.
    you should work to get them a good price, but you need to pay the bills also.
  9. Mike33

    Mike33 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,649

    First of all never under estimate weather some one has the money or not, how do you really know? Please visit my website you will see a wall job i did that if you looked at the home you would of drve off with out even talking to the guy. I did 4 walls on this site in 02 for around 26k and guess the house isnt worth that and it still looks the same " no grass'. But bidding is elements of business you have to bid to be able to build.
  10. mbella

    mbella LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Great point Mike. It's something I learned early on. However, an easier way that nobody mentioned, TALK ABOUT THE BUDGET AT THE FIRST MEETING.

    Don't guess, don't say, "Let me shop at a few different places." Speak with the potential customer about a budget. If a homeowner is serious about moving beyond the "kick the tires" phase of a project, they should have a budget number and if they don't, give them one at the first meeting. It may be a rough number, but they should have some idea before you wast your time or theirs.

    With experience, within a few minutes of speaking with a homeowner on site, you should be able to determine within, say $5,000.00, an approximate price for the project.

    When you're starting out, it's rough, but like I said, with experience, it gets easier.

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