The Mother Of All First Estimate Problems

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Ecoscape01, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    Ok! This kinda long but very complicated for my first estimate and I will be able to post pictures of the property later tonight. This woman called me last week and told me that she wanted an estimate for weekly lawn and shrubbery maintenance. So I show up for an estimate and I'm blind-sided by her disheveled eye sore of a property and all of the things that she suddenly wanted besides just "lawncare". This has the potential to be AWESOME for my first account but very overwhelming. Her property needs a complete makeover! Also, she told me that she didn't have any mulch beds so I didn't bring a wheel to measure, all I thought I needed was a tape measure to see if my mower would fit through her gate and a pen and pad for notes, and a camera. As it turns out, she was right - she doesn't have any mulch beds around her shrubs but she failed to tell me that she WANTS mulch put in around her shrubs. 1st question: I know that you edge around the desired area where the mulch is to be installed but do you also remove some of the soil to make room for the mulch? 2nd: what thickness do I need for an installation, for just an anual refresher I was planning to use 2 inches but this is a new install? Another problem, there are huge patches of what appears to me to be ivy (about 4 inches high) throughout her yard in place of flower beds and she wants them removed and replaced with grass. Next few questions: How should I go about removing the Ivy patches, once removed, do I need to do anything else to the soil besides till, rake, seed, and straw? Next issue: I honestly feel that her lawn needs to be dethatched and aerated but I have never used either machine before. I looked into the prices for renting them but could anyone familiarize me with that process of renting them and actually using them? Next issue: there is some flooding in the back yard! I know some of it is due to the snow/ice storm we just had but I was wondering if some of it was also due to unhealthy grass. We usually get plenty of rain in my area. Is there a type of grass that is particularly more fit for a very moist environment like that - something that might alleviate some of that flooding? There's a lot to be done and this property is an eye sore in a VERY nice neighborhood. I need to BID THIS RIGHT, GET THE JOB, AND THEN DO AN AWESOME JOB. I'm jumping ahead here but the before and after for this property could give my company just the boost it needs to compete in this very crowded market around Southeastern Pa. HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLP:dizzy:
  2. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    Hmmm this is a really big question(s). Break it up and post them into the maintenance and renovation forum. I think you will get some solid responses there.
    1) I always have my measuring wheel on me. Learned my lesson the first time and underbid... never going to happen again.
    2) Don't get in over your head because It can burn you. I've done it before and it stinks. With out the knowledge on how to do this stuff you might be setting yourself up for disaster.
  3. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    Ok Will I'll do that tonight when I can get the pics up too
  4. jbell113

    jbell113 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 654

    I usually advise customers lets do the basic stuff first. Mow trim the bushes outline the beds and get paid for that and see how it looks so you know what you have to work with. Then figure out how much mulch is needed and give her a price and install it then move to the next project. Basically what im saying is do it in small stages.
  5. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    The homeowner also seems like she is penny wise and a large estimte could scare them away. You guys should be proud. She said to me today, "the last guy did it for 32.50 what was your price again". And I responded with, "Well Ma'am I don't think that lawn maintenance is where I'm going to save you the most money, it's the other bigger projects where more labor is involved". Now that doesn't screw me cuz I didn't specify anything but I think it gives her something to look forward to. Good thing is, the woman was very friendly, somewhat nonchalant, and not in much of a hurry but she just didn't wanna have the eyesore of the neighborhood anymore. Breaking it up would give me a chance to build a relationship with her and her husband and improve my chances of getting the bigger jobs with them in the future. I like your idea more and more as I think about it. Keep em coming guys and thanks
  6. plantzpropertymanagement

    plantzpropertymanagement LawnSite Member
    Messages: 189

    All the ?'s you need to work for a landsscape or lawn company to get some experience first or something.
  7. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    too late now.hahhh escapes..... be very really have no idea what you are doing, so the advise given about breaking it up into smaller projects is a great one....

    make the mulch at least 3 inches thick, do a search here for the mulch calculator, it helps......

    make sure that ive isnt poison ivy, might be why it looks like it does, no one wants to touch it maybe......:)
  8. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    I'm absolutely positive I can handle these basic operations. Mostly they're labor intensive. I'm gonna guess that quite a few LCO's started their business before using a core aerator or power rake before. I've started looking in the maintenance and renovation forum and there is a lot of helpful info there. This couple is looking for a landscaper for a season and their property has a lot of potential - for them and for my business. NO WAY I'M PASSIN THIS UP! I'm gonna do my homework on the things I'm unsure about and see if the homeowners are ok with breaking up the processes like JBELL113 recommended. But I would love suggestions
  9. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    like i said be careful, there might be a reason the property is so over run.... cheapskates, or PITA, or didnt pay the last guy .... now dont get me wrong, it might be a great first account.... just be on your guard for the signs....:)
  10. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 375

    I think that this property is as basic as I'm gonna get for a first account. For financial reasons I can't work for another LCO but believe me I wish I had in the past. If I'm able to get the homeowners to agree on property care on a project by project basis, I think this will be a great learning experience for me. They also need some general contracting and my friend's company will be bidding some work. He has done some landscaping in the past, mulching, cleanups, retaining walls, and he is business savvy so I might have some guidance on this one.

Share This Page