Smaller scape jobs

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Ocutter, Apr 13, 2001.

  1. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    I've been getting calls about adding onto existing landscapes. The problem is that they are small additions (total cost of plants is 2-500.00) and have a problem convincing customers to spend what I charge for labor plus the cost of materials. My question is when bidding these types do you follow the "materials X 2.5 or 3" rule to cover labor and guarantee? Or do you figure a little less. I did the latter for one and it seems fair. My overhead is met, I make my hourly wage and so on. I'll see how it goes.
  2. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073


    I get a lot of jobs like this and it is hard sometimes to convince people that your price is right.

    For instanne, I just looked at a house and the people want to naturalize a wooded area with a few plants. Since the area is rather large, and they only want a few items pieces, I am going with the largest material that I can find, which means higher prices per plant.

    So, for 7 shrubs, possibley 1 evergreen (6-7'), Price is going to be in the 2.5-3 times cost range or more, which could easily break $1000 for 6 shrubs and a tree.

    I realize its a lot of money for them, but thats what I have to charge. I have worked for the people before, and have done only 1 small planting. I charged them 200 for planting five 3 gal barberrys (Which went went along with a 10 by 15 paver patio). Therefore, I kind of set a 'precedent' for my planting pricing.

    I think the key is to keep your prices where they need to be, and do not do a job for less than you need, no matter how small. If you install a plant for someone for 1.5 times cost, Its almost a guarantee that they will call you back later on and want the same price. Once you undersell yourself, you are stuck in that rut.

    Also, on small jobs, I try to make the job sound as complicated as possible on the estimate. Word the contract as long as possible. Put in there that price includes soil amendments, mulch rings, staking, watering, removal of old material, edging/removal of grass for planting, fertilizer, and last but not least, type in bold print that the plants are guaranteed for 1 year.

    All these things add up to 10 dollars for a simple tree planting, but it sounds like a lot more and people feel they are getting 'value' to the simple job.

    Lastly, on small jobs, After going over with the client on what they want, I give a ballpark figure to them. I say x dollars, and if they instantly cringe, you know not to waste any more of your time. Small jobs can be profitable, but they have to marked up substantially. It seems like you won't get them a lot of times, but you will be surprised at how many people will pay your price.


    [Edited by steveair on 04-13-2001 at 01:18 AM]
  3. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    I love small jobs at least as much as big ones. You do have to price them properly time, travel, ect. I do not move off my price. I will be more than happy to explain my prices to the customer, if I get an estimate to have my vehicle repaired I want the mechanic to explain his priceing so it only seems fair that I do the same. I will sometimes work with the customer to get the cost down by eliminating certain elements of the bid, within reason, but that's it. The nice thing about small jobs is you can fit them in almost anywhere, and if the customer wants it done ASAP then I simply bid it at 2X labor rate and have my guys work a Saturday, I pay them accordingly. Most of my guys love working for double time, they think it's free money and it often makes up for a rough week.
    Good Luck and Good Friday,
    Jim L

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