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waiting game

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by llgardens, Jun 16, 2003.

  1. llgardens

    llgardens LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    After bidding a job, I of course do not expect an answer on the spot, but wouldn't that be nice! Sometimes it happens but anyway...I am looking for some feedback on the waiting game that you contractors/estimators play. I tend not to be a pushy salesman, as I want to make sure the homeowner is getting just what they want. I usually contact about 7 days after the final bidding. My success rate for getting work has kept us busy, however I am at the stage where I have recently hired more men and work is getting completed faster of course.

    Do any of you bid on the first visit? How many days between initial consult and bid? One more...in my neck of the woods (St. Paul, MN) almost everyone gives free estimates. I continue to do the same, but am curious if any have graduated to charging...

    Thanks in advance for your replies...
  2. drobson

    drobson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 237

    Free Estimates...... And if it's a simple job I will give them an estimate on the spot and put together a proposal and send it to them to have them sign it. If it's not simple and I need to get material pricing, then I tell them I will just send them the proposal and I send it out as soon as I have the information available.

    Keyword here is estimate, just because you give an estimate on the spot does not mean that the price cannot change, until they have a signed proposal or contract and estimate is jus that "estimated cost".

    Remember that if you take too long to get back to them they may just accept a proposal from another company. Most people get multiple estimates so they have a variety to choose from.
  3. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    I give an estimate on the spot. I ask the homeowner/manager to walk the property so they can show me exactly what I am bidding on. If I bid a commercial prop. I usually am underbid by about half what I bid, but hey thats fine with me I 'm not the one making only $100 on a 6 hour job
  4. FFP24

    FFP24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    The reason why that they can bid it so low is that they look for a few accounts that they hit a homerun at. But now you have these employees to do the job and it only take half the day to do that job. You have to fill the day so yo can pay your employees. So you bid jobs just to pay for the employees and break even. I have seen this too often. Im pretty much a one man show with periodic help when i need it in a pinch. Its the chicken or the egg. Do you get the employees first and then the contracts or do you go in and try to find the contracts and then try to get the help. Businesses dont usually pick your bid if you cant show that you have enployees. That has been my problem from the start. I guess i have to save up to hire employees so i can pay them pretty much on stand by until the contracts come by.
  5. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

  6. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Once we pre qualified our customer to make sure it's worth our going out to the site, we do not charge for our first 30 to 45 min visit. I will not paint bed lines on the ground or provide any written materials from that visit. It is only to get information for maintenance or installation.

    If it's a job I find out their budget through ball parking. "Mr Smith, the blue stone patio of this size that we're discussing not including the plantings is about $10,000. Are we in the right ball park?". If the guy was thinking $1,000 bucks I didn't waste my time drawing up a quote for him. I don't want to do paperwork until I have to, the final draft of the contract. If we're close they may want the written contract or they'll sit on it for a while.

    After I provide them the written contract or let them sit on it, I would ideally be back to them 48 hours after that. The worst I can hear is, "I'm still thinking". Then I'll ask, can I call you on XX day since I'm doing my scheduling now for the next several jobs, I just want to be able to pencil you in if this is a project that you would like us to do for you.

    As soon as the first meeting turns into a consultation about specifics, I inform the customer that I'd be happy to provide them with consulting or design work which is $xx per hour and we'll need to set up another appointment so that I can be sure to give their project enough time. I wouldn't want to rush through it today. I give them enough info to tantilize them, but not too much that I gave away anything.

    If I can quote a specific job I don't charge for the quote. As soon as I have to design something I charge for the design. I will offer to prorate the design if they install what we have drawn up. I'll decide the proration after the fact. If I bid a $10,000 job and they only have us do $1,000 worth of work they'll pay the full design charge. But if they skip a small part of the job and we do $8 of the $10 I'll give them up to 50% of the design, which is built back into the installation cost anyways.

    For design/consultation I'll give them a design contract which does not obligate them to the work, but they know what they're paying for. From there, when we bid the work I give them another installation contract which they do not pay. I wait to submit the design invoice until they've made a decision on the installation. If I'm waiting more than 3 weeks for a decision on the installation I send the full design bill. They'll either pay it or then call and tell me that they're ready to start the project. I'll then tell them to not pay the design bill since I'll prorate it after we complete the install.

    This is of course all in an ideal world. It doesn't always work this way.
  7. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    when I do estimates i do them for free...and the longest that I will wait for a response is 5 days. After that if they call me up I will rebid them. Because most of the time they try to let the grass grow taller thus making more work. Even when I rebid I still bid it higher though, like around $3 higher. And I tell them that they need to jump on the price right away or it might go up again.

    Now when I do consultation I charge a price for that. I used to never do that. A customer would call up and ask for some help so I would go over there and tell them what needs to be done. So you would think that they would say, ok go ahead and do it. But I had one guy in particular one time, I spent over 1 1/2 hours out there talking with them telling him what needs to be done. Like a $5,000+ job. Well, all he said was, "ok, thanks for the info, I think that I can handle it." I was so mad.

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