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question on landscape installs and plant guarantees

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by GarPA, May 6, 2002.

  1. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    Only been in this biz for less than a year but have been 'digging in the dirt' for 20 years. I rarely have lost a tree, perennial, whatever. For some reason I'm getting alot of calls on doing small to moderate sized installs. Good money but hard work for a 40 something. I usually try to estimate the install time by how long each tree/shrub will take me plus materials. For ex: i have about 10, 6 ft white pines to put in. I'm guesstimating about 8 to 10 hours after they are delivered. Then I apply my profit, hourly rate and other costs. Do you many of you use the old formula whereby you figure the install cost relative to how much the plant costs? THat might be ok for more expenisve plants, but I can buy some inexpensive plants that might have big root balls so the 'cost' I paid the nursery is not necessarily related to the work effort to install it if you follow me. How do some of you estimate install costs??

    Also, since I am buying these plants at a 'contractor ' price, one nursery wont give me any guarantee if the plant dies in the next 6 months....how do your suppliers work with you on plants that die(and not because you installed them improperly)....thanks much
  2. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    I use 2.5 times my cost as a general rule of thumb and keep my fingers crossed that it survives a year.
  3. joshua

    joshua LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,226

    if you plant them right, and the customers water them when they're suppose to, and you dig the planting holes big enough, you shouldn't have to guarantee the plants.
  4. John Allin

    John Allin LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,488

    90 seconds or 90 feet... which ever comes first (unless we plant it wrong, which does happen on occassion.... fact of life with employees doing the work)
  5. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    IMO you are on the right track as far as your estimating ... you should not use any kind of % ...like you wrote... there are allot of cases when it won't work . You may want to allow a % ( say 20% ) for shrubs that won't make it.

    Generally you won't get a guarantee from a wholesaler but we have had the odd case of a bad bunch of shrubs ... The dealer has come good for them... It probably depends how good and long your relationship has been with them.
  6. dougaustreim

    dougaustreim LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 488

    Whatever your warranty policy is, it has to be figured into your price. You have to think like an insurance company. Plants that rarely die, you don't have to add much. Plants that often fail 30 40 % of the time or are larger than should be used, or are marginal varieties have to have a larger markup for warranty. A lot of that depends on you knowing the plants for your area.

    As for labor, it should be based on time. per centage of cost is unfair to the customer. It takes just as long to plant a #10 pot willow as it does a #10 oak. Why should the customer that already shelled many times more money for the oak be penalized for their good taste.

    We have worked out a cost system based on plant sizes, so all #2 pots carry the same planting cost, we also of course have a mobilization charge and will mark up the job based on site conditions that might raise our costs. of course we don't let the customer see all of this breakdownl, but it has to be in there or you will lose.

    Doug Austreim
    Austreim Landscaping
  7. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    Doug is right on the money with everything he wrote...differant warranty % for differant plants and the cost system for pot size.
  8. prairie

    prairie LawnSite Member
    from kansas
    Messages: 115

    It sounds like everyone is pointing you in the right direction. I usually use a 2.7 times the cost of materials. And put my labor in another formula to see where I am. I ALWAYS go for the highest and if it's too high I can go down to the lower. I also make sure that I NET $350/ day. Yes this is after everything is paid for.

    On your guarrantee!!! I don't guar. a cash job, NEVER, most is 90 days, and some a year depending on the customer.
  9. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    thanks guys...think I'll give them 90 days...then its their problem...by the way I just got a kick in the gut....I have 2 autumn blaze maples in my yard...leaves were slow in coming this year...scratched the bark a month ago and it was green...scratched the bark today and both trees are deader than Hillarys sex life. Have any of you seen more of a problem with maples dying this year after the heat stress of the past 2 years?? This makes me sick...they were very nice trees and 10 years old....what do you recommend to replace them with?? they were rather slow growers and cant wait another 10 years for 30 ft...thanks
  10. DaveK

    DaveK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 84

    dougaustreim has the best way of pricing. A 2" cal. Japanese maple costs a whole bunch more than a 2" cal. Crimson King Maple, but if they are both in a 36" root ball....
    Customers that pay contractors that just multiply cost times X.X are really getting bent over on the Japanese maple. And you may be getting burned on the less expensive plants that have large rootballs (as Kitzy mentioned).

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