Was my landscape bid high or was I lowballed?

If you have estimated more than a few landscape jobs, you have been in a situation where you didn’t get a job because of price. When that happens, you may sometimes reflect on your estimate and wonder if your landscape bid was too high or if you simply got lowballed by a competitor. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum we look at what to do when you find yourself in such a situation.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’m finally starting to get more calls in for bids to do landscape jobs because of referrals from other customers who appreciate my work. So the other day I submitted a bid for a potential client and here is a description of services along with the bid amount.

  • Lawn size is 12,917 sq ft. Initial service charge was $150.00 not too many leaves but a lot of edge work.
  • 35 shrubs to be trimmed at $5.00 per shrub = $175.00
  • 8 Crepe Myrtles to be pruned at $30.00 each = $240.00. One of the Myrtles she wanted trimmed just below her fascia board on the side of the house and not trimmed all the way down like the other 7.
  • She also wanted 2 shrubs removed $25.00each = $50.00 total.
  • She wanted pine bark nuggets for a 1,022 sq ft mulch bed which would require 86 bags @ $3.00 per bag = $258 + 8% sales tax= $278.64 x 2 (my charge for the install) = $557.28 rounded it to $560.00.
  • My dump fee was $50.00 for a total of $1,225.00.

After I gave her the landscape estimate she said that she had other estimates and that I was much higher.

The actual price for the mulch would have been $2.00 per bag. 86 bags x 2 = $172.00 + 8% sales tax = $185.76 x 2 for install = $371.52, rounded up to 375.00. Should I have used the $2.00 format for the mulch or use the current $3.00 formula which I charged an additional $1.00 per bag. I would love to hear some opinions out there on my prices per service. I know we have lowballers out here but I want to make a living and not become someone’s yard boy. I am estimating it would have taken us between 1 and 1/2hrs - 2hrs to install the mulch.

Was my landscape bid too high?

Was my landscape bid too high?

On average I perform lawn services for no less than $50.00 an hour and I pay my worker $10.00 per yard. I can normally be in and out of a yard between 20 - 45 mins. I think that if I’m doing a lanscaping job that I should try to make $50.00 per man hour.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I have found that most people will say ‘your bid is much higher’ in an attempt to get the lowest possible price out of you. You mentioned that you doubled the mulch cost to cover your install, I would say then adding the extra dollar per bag would then be unnecesary.”

A third added “I might would have offered a small percentage off the whole bid and just said that was the best I could do. I would keep the $1 mark up on the mulch per bag (especially if your price is lower than if she’d have went and paid for it herself) as it would cost you near that to have it delivered. Time picking up and loading materials I believe should be figured into a bid somewhere.

Another thing to think about is I personally buy mulch in bulk. I have an ez-dumper so it saves delivery. If you buy in bulk or a lot, the supplier will normally deliver for free. I would have tried to sell her on another style mulch if you could only get that kind of mulch in bags locally.

I don’t know about your area’s average pricing but what I normally do is break down the products and labor for big jobs. I have an hourly wage worked out for myself and whoever I will hire and guesstimate time. I normally round up. In the end if it was less time I say listen I was able to cut you a break here and they love me for being honest and up front.

Try that strategy out. I especially do that with existing lawn care customers. If they aren’t an existing customer I will cut them a break but not as big, knowing it’s a one time deal. Then hand them a few lawn care business cards and flyers and say if you were happy with my service, please pass these cards around to friends and family. Doing this has gotten me more than a few customers and it was usually only around $20 - $50 dollars I discounted them and I still made out in the end.

I know people in my area in the business so I constantly ask them what they charge for different services. It makes it easier because then there isn’t a lot of undercutting going on.

I forgot to ask if you are insured. If you are, tell them I am fully insured and insurance is expensive but it protects you as well as me. I am honest with everyone. You may want to call the client up and say is there any questions you have on the bill or do you need anything explained about how we will perform the work. I might be a little more expensive in some areas but I am up front honest and personable with clients. I shake hands, smile, dress nice, and give out my card. I have gotten accounts over others for that reason and the customers may say from time to time that I was a little more expensive but what sold us was your attitude and explanations. That is what works for me.”

A fourth shared “I think you may have answered your question with your last comment about ‘just being someone’s yard boy.’ If a lower price would make you feel like being someone’s yard boy, then your price is right on. I’ve had clients say the same thing about being high and I have learned that usually they don’t end up being happy with the level of service they received from the lower bid.

What you need to keep in mind is that it takes money, good equipment, knowledge, experience, and pride in workmanship to do a job right. Knowledge, experience, and pride in workmanship are assets you can market and every customer will have a different value on them. Feel confident with your bid, you’ll end up winning more than you lose in the long run.”

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