Sharpening Your Estimating Practices

The sad truth about running a landscape operation is that too often, the battle is lost before the actual work has begun. A spotless HOA maintenance job or breathtaking design build project cannot overcome the drag of a poorly developed and researched estimate that leaves a well-meaning organization with a lot of pretty pictures and a bucket of red ink.

Fortunately, pulling together the key components of a job estimate has become more streamlined thanks to today’s business management software. Modules within business management software like BOSS’ estimating capabilities allow real-time collaboration across project participants and can automatically update the information when changes are required.

Do Your Homework

Even the most powerful business management estimating software cannot overcome inaccurate or outdated data. To ensure you have all the bases covered, landscape contractors should focus on collecting the most accurate and updated information to ensure their estimate meets both the customer’s and company’s objectives.

Examine Costs from Every Angle – The bread and butter of every landscape maintenance or design-build project is the core costs, including time, materials, and labor. But do not neglect to factor in a full accounting of overhead costs, from vehicles and communications devices to tools, equipment, office space, and more. Every aspect of the business you run should be accounted for in overhead.

Tracking costs in real-time is another advantage of using business management software in the estimating process. BOSS, for example, tracks actuals vs. estimates. So, as material costs change or other unforeseen changes occur, the software automatically synchronizes the information across the platform. Using this feature allows your company to refine your estimating process and pricing mid-project, which keeps your customers up to date on expenses as well.

Margins and Profit – It should be understood, but the most successful and sustainable landscape maintenance and design-build organizations stick to a consistent regimen for calculating margins and profits. Of course, not every job will deliver the same level of profit, and not every job can be valued by the profit it delivers. Some projects will bring prestige that leads to opportunities with other new clients and might be worth trimming the margin to seal the deal. But deciding how to finalize a substantial number is easier when starting with a consistent profit baseline.

Use All the Tools Available – We are aware that there are a variety of tools that landscape companies can use that make estimates more accurate. One such tool is satellite or aerial measuring of properties. Making sure the software you are using is compatible with outside vendors to import satellite or aerial measurements (BOSS is compatible). Features like this help speed up the process for estimating large properties as well as new developments and help with accuracy.

Understand The Customer and the Job – Clearly understanding what the potential client is looking for you do to on any maintenance or design-build project is necessary; do not leave any stone unturned as you accumulate the information you will need to create an estimate. Establishing expectations is critical and requires clear communication from the potential client. Getting their perspective on what they liked and disliked about past experiences with landscape companies could shed light on expectations they would not otherwise express. Also, while phone calls might get most of the information needed, a site visit can help root out misunderstandings or uncommunicated challenges.

Putting it All Together

With all the information entered, it is time to crank out the proposal. But before you hit send it is a good idea to have someone review everything to ensure all the pricing is correct and current and that no inaccurate data is included. It is also a good idea to make sure

Accurate estimating is the foundation of any landscape company. And while business management software makes gathering and organizing the numbers together easier and more accurate than ever, it cannot account for errors or missed line items. Doing your estimating legwork will allow your business management software to shine and allow you to deliver a bid you can submit with confidence every time.

The BOSS® Difference

BOSS Software’s in-depth knowledge of business software and the needs of professional landscape and snow removal contractors makes it the number one choice for businesses searching for a complete software solution. Call 866/596-5971 or request a free consultation today.

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