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  • Estimates

    I can understand someone needing help with estimates, like asking the question, " I have a customer who wants underground sprinkling installed, what are the things that should be included in it, and what are the most common items left out?"

    I would then reply, If you have never done underground sprinkling, don't let your first attempt be on a customer. Then would progress to answer the question.

    HOWEVER: If you want to know what I would charge to install underground sprinkling in your customers lawn, please, give me their address, phone number, and the times they will be home, and I would be more than happy to stop by their house and give them my estimate!!
    Don't ask for my price. I give that to customers. If a customer asks me how to do something, I give him my price.
    If you want to know how to do something, and your not on my side of town, I'd be happy to help.


    Just my rant when people ask me what I would charge. My costs are different than yours, my overhead is different than yours, my suppliers are different than yours, my equiptment is different than yours.
    If you don't know your costs of doing business, then you shouldn't be in business, because you won't be in business very long.

  • #2
    I agree with you.

    I think a very large percentage of new business owners don't know their operating costs and by asking for a price it kind of set up their radar and range of where they should be.

    It can be a wake up call.

    At that point some learn the importance of knowing their costs and continue onward while others don't and they do go out of business.

    Very good point.

    Looking back, did you know your operating costs right away, or did it take a while to catch on to that concept?
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    • #3
      The problem is, some of the guys asking to get an idea, either don't want to know what the bottom dollar is (they just see a lot of LCO out there, and think that if there are that many of them, it has to be good money), don't care to know what the bottom dollar is (they are thinking, how hard can it be to mow a lawn, trim some trees, and blow some grass and leaves), or they wouldnt care if they did know what the bottom dollar is (they just need to put food on the table for tonight).
      I am looking at buying another LCO, who is a bigger than I am. I do not know any of his numbers yet, but knowing that he is bigger, they will be higher. I am already taking that into account on any new bids I propose this year, so that if the aquisition did take place, I am that much closer to the numbers that I need. I'm not doing a lot of new bidding until I can see his numbers. I know that there will be payroll, additional building costs, more taxes, etc. I don't know what he charges per hour, but hopefully he knows what his operating costs are by now.

      I am still not sure on what that is going to mean for my current customers, who have not had their prices go up in 3 years. Some have seen a minor 10%/month fuel recovery charge, but I have been able to absorb highter fuel costs on most of my accounts.

      What I did when I started out, was look at numbers before I even started the business. I knew that with my riding mower I could mow 1 acre of lawn in 1.4 hours. I knew how much gas I used in in the mower in that 1.4 hours. I knew about how long that mower would last, and what it would cost to replace it. How much the mower blades were, the oil changes, the trimmer string, a back pack blower cost, and replacement, edger cost/replacement, trimmer cost/replacement. There were minor variables, like, how much string will one use, how many years will trimmer and blower last, how much gas will they use, but that all breaks down to nickel and dimes. I knew my mileage for truck, trailer cost/replacement.
      I tried to build in any forseeable consumable cost like tires for the truck/trailer, mowers, etc. I figured it's better to be too high on a bid, not get it, and try again next year with nothing lost but time for puting bid together (you know your too high if you don't get it), than to get the job and end up paying to work, and losing everything.

      There is a vast amount of knowledge out there for how long a piece of equiptment will last, and how much a new one costs (stop by your local dealer and ask).
      I added up all my expenses, and what it would cost to pay off brand new equiptment every 3 years. I then added in what it would cost to buy another piece of equiptment every 3 years, and what I wanted to make per hour, and got what I needed to charge per hour. As I upgraded equiptment, time on job took less, I made more, and business grew.
      The way I set my business up, my business would double in size every 3 years.

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      • #4
        How much should I esimate this job at****-
        That is a good question, I ask it several timess a week when I look new jobs.
        When asked that question here, I really want to post back
        1. I do the work at 50 dollars per hour
        2. I do the work and you watch 60 dollars per hour
        3. I do the work with your help 70 dollars per hour
        4. I do the estimate, you do the work, I get 80 percent of the money, you get 20 percent untill you quit and I get you customers

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        • #5
          What I did when I started out, was look at numbers before I even started the business. I knew that with my riding mower I could mow 1 acre of lawn in 1.4 hours. I knew how much gas I used in in the mower in that 1.4 hours. I knew about how long that mower would last, and what it would cost to replace it. How much the mower blades were, the oil changes, the trimmer string, a back pack blower cost, and replacement, edger cost/replacement, trimmer cost/replacement.
          I think that is fantastic! How accurate do you feel your bids were early on with all that knowledge? Have you had to since tweak the way you bid? If so, what did you have to change to improve on it?
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