Have you been performing lawn care for a while and had the desire to perform some landscape projects but were unsure of how to do them or bill them? One member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us a landscape project he created. The job was done for cost so that the landscaper could get some experience and feedback from the project. Check out what he did, how he billed for it, and what other landscapers thought of his bill and work.
He wrote “I feel a little dumb asking this, but here goes. I just did my first landscaping job consisting of four flower beds and a fountain. I basically did the job for cost to get the experience but I did an invoice (attached) with what I thought I should charge. I really am not sure how to charge and was hoping to get some comments. The plant costs and fountain include a 25% markup.
The customer purchased her own mulch except for a couple of bags which she was short. I hope to get some constructive criticism (hopefully not too painful). I attached pictures of two beds. Both were already there. We removed most of the old plantings, moved a few and added a lot.
We always try to stay in the $60 per hour range for labor costs. I’m really not sure what other outfits charge around here. As for my customer, she was a little surprised at the estimate and said her budget was only $600. We gave her a lot more than that so we could get some experience. She was so happy, she threw in an extra hundred. Ever little bit helps.”
A second lawn care business owner said “after looking over your invoice, I’d suggest just put a total for installation and not put the hours or the $ per hour fee. I would also include the transport and fuel fees in with the installation fee.
I never reveal labor charges at an hourly rate. I always give a material list and total cost. I try not to break everything down for the customer, only for my records do I break it all down.”
A third added “you did a great job on the install. All the colors flow nicely and the fountain is great.
Are the 2 large trees oaks? The reason I ask is because (and I don’t expect many people to know this, but it is my job as a tree worker to notice these things). Oaks need to have the base of the trunk and top roots exposed to air. If you cover the exposed top roots and begin giving extra water, it can make the oaks very sick and may eventually die. Just a little tip for future use. Next time you can impress your customers with some professional landscaping tips!
Mulch piled high around a tree base is called Volcano Mulching. When you volcano mulch around the trees, the roots will grow up and into the mulch in an attempt to find air and water. When the mulch is inevitably washed away, tremendous damage to the feeder roots that have grown into the mulch will occur injuring the tree. I see this happen all the time. I actually am noticing more dead and dangerous trees due to poor mulch jobs.
Many times when I see this, I will stop at the houses and inform the home owner of the danger, or drop them a price to remove it. I can remove trees for $500 that the big companies would charge $1500.
People are so used to thinking that trees cost a fortune to remove, that I will surprise them with the cheaper price, and sometimes they jump on it.”
A fourth shared “I give my clients a product list of what I installed IE: plant, shrub, flower type, etc.. This is done so they will know what they have and if they need to replace or add a little more to what is already there. I do this with sprinkler heads also so they know what I used and size (45*, 90*, 180* or full spray patterns). It gives them a better understanding and they are more educated for the purpose of maintaining a beautiful landscaped yard… Knowledge is power.
With my install invoice, they already have a work order done up and agreed to it before I do any work. There are no surprises to them. This is to prevent situations where you hand the customer an install invoice and they say, ‘I didn’t know it was going to be this much’ and try to get you to lower the bill.
How many of you been there, done that?”
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