Who Doesn't Do Free Estimates?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by kemmer, Aug 14, 2006.


Who Doesnt Do Free Estimates

  1. I Do Free Estimates on Large Jobs

  2. I Dont Do Free Estimates on Large Jobs

  1. kemmer

    kemmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 608

    I was wondering how many people don't do free estimates on larger jobs, some estimates take days or weeks to complete, and thats your time their spending. You can regain that time when you bill them but what if you don't get the job?
  2. Brendan Smith

    Brendan Smith LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,195

    if it takes someone days or weeks to do an estimate, they are either just starting or mentally deficient. you should already have a good idea of whatever materials you need currently cost, how many man hours of labor it will take, etc. worst case scenario, you make a few phone calls for prices.
  3. LindblomRJ

    LindblomRJ LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,570

    You generally get an idea on the first visit. I usually take pictures and measurements. A bit if of reaserch, on materials etc.

    That reminds me, I need to get going now.
  4. kemmer

    kemmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 608

    im talking about larger job, with lots of planting material and some material you dont normally uses
  5. ozd12005

    ozd12005 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 342

    When you have the following with you at all times

    tape measure / walking wheel
    price guide from your material dealers
    cell phone (with your material dealers # in memory) lol
    preprinted proposals

    you will be able to figure out your free estimate in about 10 mins sitting in your truck, if it takes me days or weeks to calculate an estimate I might as well start flipping burgers for a living and give myself a good as*kicking everyday for being an idiot
  6. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    If it's taking a week to figure the job then you must be designing..........
    Design work is billable, otherwise you need to sharpen your quoting skills.
  7. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    First what are we talking about? Install, renovation or maintenance bids? I promise you can't put together a large bid in 10 min in the truck with a wheel and whatever else you listed. If you can see the whole property in 10 min it does not really qualify as large bid IMHO.

    • Install; You can never get paid to do a install bid, the time it takes is just the cost of doing business. Thats why you want to eliminate anyone you can before you spend the time. If they can't buy from you or you are not dealing with the decision makers don't waste your time.
    • Renovation: Little different animal, if you are doing the legwork to figure out what can be salvaged, be it plant material, irrigation, lights whatever you can get some money for that if you have positioned yourself as an expert in the industry and your opinion has value to the client. If you are bidding from blueprints from an expensive architect, forget it your opinion will have 0 value.
    • Maintenance: If I go in to bid a place and it is easy to see its a wreck that will turn into significant repairs or a full fledged renovation then I ask for a fee to do a Landscape Evaluation, usualy 300-1000. I use this tool to diagnose problems and give them a kind of state of the landscape document. Most of the information I gather will be needed to do a proper job of maintenance anyway, might as well get paid to do it up front. I can also let them know what they have to look froward to in the coming years expense wise. All this also positions me as the expert so they gain confidence in me and my company (or it scares the hell out of them) I then give them a bid to bring the place up to speed before we get started. You can't maintain something if you are constantly doing band-aid repairs. Once the evaluation is complete they can shop it for bids if they like but I have never had it happen.
  8. Oxmow

    Oxmow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 487

    Depends on if they call me or i cold call them. If they call me and its large...i charge them for the proposal. If i cold call them and don't get their business i charge if the proposal isn't returned to me. Usually pretty high charge for it. Mine are very well put together and i don't want them out there floating around for others to copy.
  9. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208


    If its one of my commercial accounts, I will never charge them. I make enough from them to recoupe any costs associated with any estimates. I don't know of any quote that takes more than a day or two (of course not straight 8 hr days...sometimes you are waiting on vendors to call you back on material availability, price, etc.).

    Also, if they are referred by someone or have used us in the past, then no again.

    However, if they cold call my number (from truck, advertisments, etc.) then I may charge them a fee. I try and get a feel up front whether or not they are just price shopping. If they are I explain to them if they are looking for the lowest price call company x, y, or z, they can do it cheaper...but not necessarily a better job:nono:

    If landscape design is involved I usually charge a flat fee for them to see the layout which then will be deducted from the total bill...so I will get back my hours in designed...its a way of weeding out those that are trying to get a design and/or ideas and then turn around and do it themselves or hand it to someone else to do cheaper with my design.
  10. Frontier-Lawn

    Frontier-Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,955

    on large install jobs i charge $20 to cover my time to go to the nursery to get plant cost, stone, ect.

    Free only on lawn services.
    landscape install/ renovations work they must payup

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