As a contractor, you need to understand that bidding and estimating on landscaping jobs doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to land the gig. That might be the case in other industries, but not this one. In the landscaping service industry, you have to manage your expectations.
A reputable and experienced landscaper will tell you what we already know—Winning one out of five bids is a huge achievement. But then again, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to improve your success rate. Improbable? Maybe.
The point that we’re trying to pass across is, learning how to bid for landscaping jobs is critical if your ultimate goal is to improve your annual profit margin. Acquiring the right tools and employing the best techniques will ensure you not only win more landscaping bids but also reduce the amount of time spent working on bidding proposals that will never be accepted.
This might come as a shock to you, but the truth is, the process of bidding and estimating on landscaping jobs is the most significant bit of it all. It’s actually the one process that dictates how high your profit margins jump at the end of every year. And do you know what’s sad? The fact that landscaping contractors still don’t know they often make a lot of costly mistakes while preparing a bid proposal.
Challenges You’re Likely Facing As a Landscaping Vendor
Creating a Weak Value Proposition
What makes you different from other contractors? And if you can’t answer this question, why are you wasting your time bidding for that project? In every market, we have sellers and buyers. You’re the seller while your prospective clients assume the role of buyers.
The buyer will be willing to buy if he/she sees something of value. They’ll wade through different bids, and the moment they see something that offers value for money, they’ll take their shot. So we’re going to ask you one more time: What makes your service unique?
Have you got any certifications? What about your workers? Do they have anything to show that they’re skilled in that particular field? Now, walk us through the kind of software programs that you often use. Will you be using the old models or the new iterations?
These are the kind of things that will grab your clients’ attention. The things that will give you that edge you need to stay ahead of your competitor. Make them understand your value, and you’ll get the job.
Competitors Keep Getting There Before You
They’re beating you to the punch because you’re still clinging to outdated bidding processes, which are less efficient and time-consuming. While we’re not asking you to rush the bid, you’ve got to understand that time is always of the essence.
The market is going to turn into the Wild Wild West the moment it gets that request for proposal (RFP). Typically, it takes approximately two to three days for the client to receive the first bid, but that depends on the complex nature of the project. If it’s a simple landscaping job, and your competitors are using updated bidding programs, it might even take a day.
By the way, the client will be anxiously waiting for those bids because they’ll have questions about the feasibility of that landscaping project. So if you could get there first, you’ll get the opportunity to set the tone, in addition to giving the client something to think about before they receive the next bids.
Your potential client will try to make the Request For Proposal as detailed as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have questions. The client knows that, and so should you. Don’t make the mistake of guessing what the client wants. Always seek clarification.
The difference between who gets the job and who loses out could be determined by how open the channel of communication feels. Submitting a good bid might not be enough to land you the job if your competitors have submitted incredible bids as well. You’ve got to create a rapport. And in most cases, this is usually the deciding factor.
Trying Not To Rush a Bid
We’ve been around the block long enough to know that the practice of creating bad landscaping cost estimate sheets, or filing incomplete documents, are some of the reasons why bidding processes fail. But then again, if you think about it, they are nothing more than symptoms of a much bigger problem. The main problem is underestimating the time required to file a great landscaping bid.
Not even a professor with a Ph.D. in mathematics will be able to avoid making mathematical errors if they don’t know how much time is required to create a solid bid.
You won’t be able to stop thinking about the right time to send in the bid, and in all that confusion, you’ll inadvertently move that decimal point over to the other side—Something that clients find unprofessional.
While learning the bidding process, you’ll also get to learn how to charge for landscaping projects. Seeing as it’s difficult to get the right estimates, contractors are often required to do extensive research. And research needs time.
Of course, Lady Luck might help you win the bid eventually, but let’s talk about the long-term ramifications. The costs will be out of control, the project will be a disaster, and your reputation will be tainted. So the question that you need to be asking yourself is, “Is it really worth it?”
How Are Landscaping Jobs Typically Quoted and Priced?
Learning how to price landscaping jobs is a steep curve, so it will take time for you to be good at it. As we said, things work a tad bit differently in this service industry. There’s no equilibrium price, as they normally vary wildly from one job to the next.
To determine the price of the job that you’re eyeballing, you’ll have to take into account the changing market expectations, property type, crew size, materials, the client’s special requests, and anything else that springs to mind.
You also have to be cognizant of the fact that nowadays, landscaping jobs are more complex than before. One wrong decision is all it takes to get the costs snowballing, and the profits dropping.
But since we’re a glass-half-full type of people, we’ll just focus on the positives. And the fact is anyone can easily learn how to accurately quote and even price a landscaping gig if they wish to turn profits.
Fixed and Hourly-Price Pricing
There’s no ‘How to Charge for Landscaping’ rulebook that dictates how you’re supposed to bill your clients. You always have the option of choosing between fixed and hourly-price billing. Whatever you find convenient.
However, we’ve been around the block long enough to know that your preference won’t always be the only factor at play. Your final decision might also be influenced by your expertise and the scope of the project.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each pricing method. Shall we?
- Clients find it easier to control their budgets.
- Makes it possible to work with a higher price as your charges are based on value.
- The price won’t drop mid-project just because you learned a faster and more efficient way of doing things.
- It’s easy to underestimate the costs.
- You get more wiggle room.
- Since you get paid for your time, there’s little to no pressure to work faster.
- You won’t be rewarded mid-project for being more efficient.
- If the project’s progress looks lethargic, it will cause conflict between you and the client.
Why Are Manual Bidding & Estimating Processes Outdated?
It took a while but landscape contractors finally saw the limitations that came with manual bidding processes. It wasn’t easy to ignore them because they indirectly influenced their businesses’ ability to create competitive bids and work efficiently.
Let’s look at some of their shortcomings, and why you need to upgrade to an advanced bidding software if you wish to achieve your revenue goals and eventually grow.
Anybody who’s been in the landscaping business long enough knows about the kind of problems that contractors faced when dealing with calculations found on a landscape pricing sheet. For some reason, the costs were always miscalculated, the formulas were never right, and users unintentionally compromise the accuracy of the whole thing even before the bid got to the client.
But that problem was no more the minute those spreadsheets were replaced by bidding software programs. The potential for human error got eliminated, and it was easy to automatically generate accurate values for markups, labor, insurance, you name them.
Difficulties Working As a Unit
Do you know what significantly contributes to a project’s success? Teamwork. If you guys can’t work like a well-oiled machine from the outset to the final closeout, you’ll only be wasting your precious time and money. Manual bidding processes made it difficult for the staff members to work as a unified team.
The processes kept on lagging because the information relayed was not being shared in real-time. Mangers, accountants, and everyone else involved with the project were also not connected in any way, so the entire scope of the project wasn’t visible. And that’s how we found ourselves using the cloud-based landscape bidding and estimating software programs.
Software bidding programs reduce the risk of data inconsistencies and ensure the team members collaborate and stay connected always.
Transferring Data Wasn’t Easy
The only way you’ll be able to run a profitable landscaping business is by ensuring the information you receive is not only trustworthy but also accurate. Let’s say you’ve got more than one estimator on your team. If they’ll all be working on the same bid, you’ll need them to maintain a standardized approach, right?
But that’s easier said than done if you’re still working with the manual bidding system. Trying to ensure that data collected gets transferred in time to all the other systems at the back office, will for sure feel like a huge challenge.
Didn’t Keep Pace With The Growth
The landscaping industry has grown tremendously over the years. Back in the day, you only needed spreadsheets to get the job done. But things have changed, and you’ll be crazy to think that a simple excel landscape cost estimate sheet will effectively address the need for scalability.
Manual bidding tools and processes kept on interfering with so many aspects of the landscaping business, including the ability to grow and scale.
How Technology/AI Software Has Changed The Game
They say technology is like a wave. If you don’t learn how to ride it, it will eventually wipe you out. Fortunately, the landscaping industry has embraced it, and because of that, we’re now reaping the rewards. The following are some of the ways in which technology/AI software has changed the game:
Offered Mobile Solutions
With the right software, you don’t have to schedule a meet-up with a client, or even one of your employees if you want something handled. Just install the software on one of your devices, and you’ll be able to access everything at the click of a button. Adaptability and profitability are correlated. So if you’re impervious to change, your competitors will see that as an opportunity to take you out.
What’s cloud computing? It’s basically the ability to use the internet to access on-demand computing services. As a landscaping contractor, you can always rent access to storage or applications from third-party servers.
This will make it easier for the business to rapidly expand and allow mobility without worrying about permanent data loss. In other words, you’ll be spending less money accessing services that used to be cost-prohibitive in the past.
Increased visibility and staying connected
We can’t talk about the contributions made by technology and various software programs in the landscaping service industry and not include its social impact. You can now get in touch and stay connected to your prospective clients from all over the world, without having to worry about financial obstacles.
We hope you’ve learned a thing or two on how to bid & estimate for landscaping jobs. The process will seem complicated at first but once you get the gist of it all, it will be smooth sailing. Now that you know how to bill for landscaping jobs, go out there, and start racking up those dollars.