8 Ways To Lose Money When Estimating Lawn Care Jobs

estimating lawn care jobs

If you’ve been running your maintenance business for a while, you can probably accurately estimating lawn care jobs in your sleep. If you’re new, you may still be trying to figure it all out.

But, regardless of how long you’ve been running your business, failing to properly estimate a job can cost you money, and create a lot of headache and regret.

Here are some common mistakes that will cause you to lose money when estimating lawn care jobs (or landscaping and tree service jobs as well.)

1. Bid too low on a commercial job opportunity.

This is an easy mistake to make, when estimating lawn care jobs, in your excitement to win a large commercial contract. Just remember that accurately judging how long it will take to maintain a commercial property can be a challenge, and can cost you money if not handled properly.

2. Offer too many services in your estimate.

Competition is stiff. So you think to yourself, “I’ll offer 1000 services more than my competitors to gain an advantage.” In theory, that may seem like a good idea. But in reality you’re taking on too much and you probably won’t be able to complete the estimated job on time and under cost.

Make sure you’re quoting and giving estimates on jobs you can reliably complete.

When Steve Jobs came back to Apple, one of the first things he did was to eliminate the majority of their product offerings so they could focus on doing a few things really really well.

3. Discount yourself too low.

It’s easy to think that by estimating a job for less than a competitor you’ll secure the job. Not true.

In marketing speak there’s a phrase called perceived value. The meaning is pretty self explanatory. For a potential customer, a lower priced job could equate to lower quality results in his/her mind.

It’s why the Philadelphia restaurant, Barclay Prime, offers a $100 cheesesteak sandwich. In a crowded market (for Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches in Philadelphia), they distinguished themselves by charging more—they created a higher perceived value.

We’re not saying you should drastically increase your prices, but you shouldn’t sell your services too low either.

Remember that it’s better to find customers who are willing to pay what you’re demanding. Those are the kinds of customers you want in the long run.

4. Don’t offer enough services.

Okay, we’re going to flip points 2 and 3 around a little here, so bear with us.

It is okay to offer a lower quote if you can sell additional services that make the job estimate profitable.

For example, in our post on how to generate more business from your email list, we explained the concepts of upselling and cross-selling.

If you estimate a job lower than a competitor, just make sure you’ve got some additional sales opportunities to make it profitable.

The key word here is profitability. Make sure you’re making money and not losing it. Otherwise, you’ve got a problem.

5. Don’t respond in a timely manner.

One of the biggest benefits to using a lawn care, landscape, and tree service automation software (like Arborgold), is the ability to quickly respond to requests from potential customers in real time.

Oftentimes, both residential and commercial customers alike will choose the company that contacts them first. This is especially true with leads that come in through services like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List.

Return those phone calls from potential customers as quickly as possible!

Also, getting a proposal in before a competitor is a huge advantage. Arborgold’s mobile estimator makes this a seamless process.

6. Don’t do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it.

Over promising and under delivering is the quickest way to lose money in your lawn care, landscape, or tree service business.

We recommend flipping that phrase around. It’s always better to under promise, and over deliver. That way, you always exceed your customer’s expectations.

You probably have a pretty good idea of how long it should take to do a project. If you don’t have enough experience to know that yet, pay attention to how long tasks ACTUALLY take you to complete. Then add additional time in to give yourself a buffer.

If you think a job will take 3 hours, tell the customer it will take 4-5 hours.

7. Focus too much on your client’s interests rather than your own.

Yep, you read that correctly. Remember that time is money and there is a point at which the cost you incur to estimate a job outweighs the amount of money you’ll make. In fact, if you’re not careful, some estimates and jobs can wind up costing you money.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t deliver excellent customer service and exceed expectations. But, you should focus on your interests as well. After all, the whole reason you went into business was to make money.

8. Repeat the same job costing and estimating mistakes over and over again.

Don’t keep making the same mistakes over again. Create a checklist of things you need to be aware of the next time you quote a job.

What mistakes have you made estimating lawn care, tree service, or landscape jobs? We’d love to know!

Are you using marketing automation with your lawn care business? If not, learn how Arborgold can save you time, organize your company, and increase your overall sales. Take a Tour.

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