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What do you charge for consulting fee?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Tim Wright, Sep 13, 2007.

  1. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,034

    What do you charge for consulting fee when you meet a customer for designing flower garden's, mulch, pavers, etc around their house.

    This customer wants to talk plants, colors, designs, etc, but every time I do such a thing, they take my ideas and do the work themselves.

    So I will charge a consulting fee that will be deducted from the total of the job.

    Do you charge a percentage, a flat rate, of say $150.00 or what?

    Thank you,

  2. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    I usually go with 70 an hour, which may be on the low side, but I figure this way I might be able to get more work out of them.
    I'm also dealing with a ton of landscapers in this area--lots of competition.
  3. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,034

    Thank you for the reply.

    Its the same here. Good jobs are very hard to come by, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry are now into Landscape and Mowing, and last year I saw more harley rakes than I could shake a stick at.

    I am hoping some of them drop out with the real estate down turn, and the drought we have gone through this summer.

  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    I have been getting more calls lately for this service.

    I charge 250 and up for a "concept" then go up from there. If thy like my concept we move on to a full blown design, 1-K and up, or a bid list and me by the hour at 100 per hour to review the bids, place plants for their contractor and check up on the workmanship.

    If it is a plant health kind of thing its 100 to show up for the first 30 min then 100 per hour after that.
  5. green horizons

    green horizons LawnSite Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 144

    Great question! I typically include a scale drawing for plantings, mulch and such for free with my estimate. This is unfortunate because I spend too much time designing and not winning the work. But all the wasted effort and time falls on my shoulders.... I should've charged. However, my real question is, when a contractor charges for design and gets paid for it, is the design now the property of the person that buys it?
  6. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    i would think so.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I charge $60 or $70, depending on how much I like the person and how much I really want to do the work or need the work.

    But I don't mind "consulting" for an hour or two, as long as we get a good job out of the deal. But I will never spend more than an hour talking to anyone about anything unless I am almost certain it's going to turn into a job.
  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    The first question you have to ask yourself is "why will they want to pay me $125 to talk with them?". You know why you feel you need to charge, but the prospect has a choice to pay you, pay someone else, or find someone who'll do it for free. Also consider that a prospect rarely only talks to one contractor, so it should be clear that paying this to multiple landscapers is out of the question.

    No one is going to pay anything unless they feel confident that they will get something of value for their money and that they are not paying more for it than they need to.

    My concern for you is that you are not landing the jobs from the leads you are getting. Charging for initial meeting has no bearing on that whatsoever. The fee will reduce the amount of those leads who will meet with you. This is only a benefit if you have a great deal of leads, have a busy schedule, and do not have time to see every prospect. That only happens if you are very well known and enough people feel that they want to pay for the opportunity to try to get YOU to do their job rather than settling for someone else. Very well known landscape companies with great reputations can do this, nurseries and garden centers can do this, and other landscapers can do this in a very booming growth market (people simply can not get a landscaper to their house any other way because they are too busy).

    Many who have done this are going to find that they can not continue to do it because the growth market is shrinking very quickly in most places.

    Getting landscape jobs should be your priority. Not closing on the sale is the problem rather than people milking ideas from you. That is an excuse for your inability to make the sale. I'm a landscape architect and was a contractor for several years before that. I do my initial consultation for free and I'll give any and all information and ideas that can cross my lips without thinking twice about it. I don't get every job and I never feel like I left something of myself behind when that happens (anymore). You have to realize that if people can reproduce your ideas from only having you talk, they are pretty elementary or conceptual ideas that are not of great value.

    When you do freely and openly give your ideas and visions it gives the prospect a good look at you and your value to them. You get the job because you convinced them that you have value to them that is at least equal to your price and of greater value than the other guys they are talking to. If you are not closing sales it is because you are not perceived to meet those criteria.

    Charging a fee is not going to change that.

    If you are having trouble closing sales on landscapes that have obvious value, how well are you going to be able to sell a $125 consultation that has questionable value?

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