Estimating is an important part of any contracting business. In order to create accurate, competitive estimates (for both you and your potential client), there are a couple of items you should keep at hand for each estimate you make, and a few more to check off your list each year before bidding season starts (think material costs, production factors etc.).
5 Tips for Smart Estimates:
- Verify property boundaries with your customer before running your numbers. Ask your customer to verify that you have the correct property boundaries. This can easily be done by using a Go iLawn photo. Go iLawn can produce property boundaries for most of the properties in the U.S. You can show your customer a Go iLawn overhead photo with your own boundary markers as well.
- Measure everything you could ever possibly service on the property whether it’s in the scope or not. The customer may ask you to bid on scope of services later and you will be able to produce a bid for them faster if you already have the measurements. Or, you can use this an opportunity to up sell them on services they didn’t order but might need. For example, if your customer doesn’t ask you to bid for snow removal, but this is a service you provide, measure the parking lot and sidewalks regardless.
- Update your production factors. Make sure you are using your company’s most current production factors in order to produce an accurate, competitive bid. You could over bid or under bid and lose a job or revenue if you don’t know what your numbers are.
- Re-measure if the property changes. If your customer replaces turf
areas with beds or vice versa, re-measure the areas and update your job file to produce accurate estimated hours.
- Update your material costs. Did your mulch cost increase $1/yard? If you use 5,000 yards of mulch per year, that equals $5,000 of mulch that you didn’t budget for because you didn’t update your material costs.
You don’t want to get caught holding the bag. This is an expensive industry with high overhead costs, so don’t be afraid to protect yourself!