For those of you that don’t know, I’ve already written an article titled ‘how to price up and quote gardening jobs‘ but what about landscape gardening jobs? Is there even a difference between the 2? For an indepth overview of the differences between gardening and landscaping you can read my full article here. Otherwise, in short, gardening would mostly come under garden maintenance where you would be mowing lawns, cutting hedges and offer other similar activities. If you are a hard landscaper then you will likely be taking on some form of building work such as erecting garden fences, laying new patios, installing decking and so forth. Soft landscaping will include everything except the building aspect such as laying new turf, creating new flowerbeds etc.. whether you cover just soft landscaping or hard landscaping, or both for that matter, then this guide will show you how to price up and quote your new landscape gardening jobs.
I’ve not actually researched this topic so I’ve no idea how other gardening blogs have written their garden quote articles, but what I do know is that I want to talk to you about the whole aspect of getting a new landscaping job. This means to explain what happens and what to expect when I first meet a customer, as well as provide an example email which I send to my customers when providing the landscape quotation. Ofcourse, this is just what works for me but with over 90% of my potential landscaping customers accepting my quotes then I can only assume that I’m doing something right – Hopefully it’s not my prices being too cheap!
What happens when a new potential landscaping customer makes contact?
As you can imagine, all enquiries start with either a phone call, text message or email. The first point of contact is important to get right as at this point, you have just one objective and that’s to get an appointment booked to go and meet the customer. You aren’t going to be able to price up a new landscape gardening job without seeing what your up against and measure what needs doing!
Many years ago when I worked in sales, we were taught to build a friendship as early on in the conversation as we could and I still believe in this advice today. After all, no one wants to invite a stranger to their garden, their home. With this in mind, I try to come across as 2 things. Polite and Knowledgeable. Your potential customer has a problem, and you have the solution.
If you receive a phone call from an unrecognised number then always answer it politely, whilst introducing your name and landscaping business. For example, “Good afternoon, Craig speaking from ABC123 Garden Services”. As the conversation begins, your potential customer will naturally introduce themselves and ask if you take on the work that they need doing. It’s at this point you need to show that you are knowledgeable in this area of expertise. In other words, don’t just say “yes, I’ll come and have a look”. Instead, really understand what needs doing. Ask questions. Explain solutions. Past jobs you’ve done that sound similar. All of this can be done in just a couple of minutes of a phone call. Finally ask for a convenient time to have a look a look at their garden needs with a view to providing a landscaping quote.
If not a phone call, then it’s going to be a text message or email that you receive. Either way, it makes no difference to me. The way I respond is the same regardless. Polite, knowledgeable and punctual. If you’re unsure about any spelling mistakes then check them before sending. Let’s use the below as an example.
As you can see, the above message has included the customer’s name and landscape gardening work that needs to be done so we will use this to our advantage. I responded with the below message.
What to expect when you meet your new potential landscape gardening customer
My reply was polite, punctual and straight to the point. Not only this but I sent a link to our website so that they can see our portfolio which will be a great talking point when we meet in person with a view to providing a quotation for the landscape gardening work needed.
If your just starting your very own landscaping business and are nervous about meeting your new potential customer then my advice would be – Don’t be! Honestly there’s absolutely nothing to worry about and everyone has always been more than polite upon our initial visit. It’s after you get the landscape gardening job that you might get the odd customer have their true colours shine through! In fact, many years ago I once had a customer so bad that I walked away from the job!
Remember, the potential landscape gardening customer wants you there to provide a quote just as much as you want to be there. In most cases all you need is a measuring tape and a notepad, unless you prefer to use the notes in your phone like I do!
Remember, you are not there to give a quotation at this point and don’t be pressured into giving one. I’ve fallen victim of this a few times over the years only to end up underpricing the work that needed doing. Go home and do the maths properly before sending a quotation.
What I’m saying is that at this stage, it’s just a casual visit to discuss what needs doing. Use this time to build a relationship with the customer – Be polite and punctual. Compliment other areas of their garden. Talk about the weather. Talk about anything to get a feel for one another. After all, you don’t want to work for someone you have a bad feeling about just as much as they don’t want a total arrogant stranger providing a landscaping quote and working in their garden.
Points to remember upon your initial visit would include;
- Arrive on time and keep them up to date if you are running late
- Don’t forget your tape measure and notepad
- Try to wear a uniform to show that you are a legitimate business if possible
- Ask what work needs to be done and explain how and in which order you will carry out the work
- Discuss past jobs that are similar to this one – This will show that you are familiar with the work that needs to be done
- Don’t forget to make small talk about anything else to help get a feel for the customer and build a relationship
- Let them know how and when to expect a landscaping quote from yourself and make sure to send it on time!
How to work out the maths behind your landscaping quote
There are 2 factors when it comes to working out your new landscape gardening quotes which is how much you want to earn for the work involved (labour) and the cost of materials needed to complete the work. Although aimed for those looking to have work done in their garden as opposed to us landscape gardeners, here are some tips on how much it should cost to provide more specific landscaping jobs. You should get a good idea of the cost of materials by reading these articles, although always enquire with your local building merchants to be on the safe side.
- How much does it cost to lay gravel in your garden?
- How much does it cost to lay a concrete shed base?
- How much does it cost to lay a patio?
- How much does it cost to lay turf?
- How much does it cost to lay artificial turf?
- How much does it cost to install a garden fence?
I find that the majority of customers prefer to go ahead with a fixed quotation so that they know what they are paying, although on some jobs where more risks are involved I have let the customer know to allow for an additional 10% if the job takes longer than expected or more materials are needed. I would say that the biggest risk to any landscaping quote would be the cost of materials.
One skip could easily turn to 3 or 10 bulk bags of top soil could easily turn to 30. It’s happened to us before and I expect it to happen again in the future. For the most part, we tend to be pretty accurate but it’s easy for the cost of materials to go above and beyond your quoted materials and eat into your labour profits. When I first starting my landscape gardening business I even had jobs where I ended up losing money. For this reason, I now tend to give the customer a fixed price for labour (the price will not change regardless of how long a job takes to complete) with the materials being an estimate with all receipts provided.
Instead of giving a part fixed and part estimated quotation, you could always ignore the risk factors involved and offer a fully fixed landscaping quote. We’ve done this when needed in the past and to be fair, the majority of our competitors only offer quotes on this basis. I have however seen my competitor’s quotes and they are very expensive but then I suppose they need to be to keep on the safe side of losing money.
Finally, you have the option to offer an estimate instead of a fixed quote. This is ofcourse the safest option, but it does limit you on what you can earn per day since you will need to give a day rate. In short, you simply explain how much you charge per day, estimate how many days it will take and how much materials are needed and ask that the balance for labour and materials (with receipts) be paid on a weekly basis until the job is complete.
Regardless of which option above works best for you, all you need to do is work out how much you want to earn from labour, how much you expect to pay for materials, add them together and give your quotation or estimate. If it’s a fixed quote however, I would work everything out to a worst case scenario and double check everything with my business partner incase I miss anything and then add a percentage just to be extra safe.
How to write the quotation for your landscape gardening quote
Given that there are essentially 3 types of landscaping quotations available which include a fixed price, an estimated price and a part fixed, part estimated price, then I am going to write my example email based on the part fixed, part estimated option since it will include a bit of both options. This way it will be easy for you to adjust the email for your needs. Oh and incase your wondering, yes I would fully recommend sending your landscape gardening quotes via email since this is the safest way of keeping a paper trail of any agreed quotations.
Please see my example email below when sending quotes for my landscape gardening jobs.
Dear Mr Smith and thank you for your time today, it was lovely meeting you.
After having a look at your garden, I feel confident that we can lay the new patio and artificial grass to create your dream garden. Please see below your quotation.
As requested, we can remove the step that you currently have at your back door by raising the new patio area. This makes perfect sense since it will allow us to change the direction of the run-off of your garden allowing the rain water to run away from your property instead of towards it.
With the new patio layed, we will then lay the artificial grass to finish off your new garden project. Upon approval, I will have some samples sent out for you to choose from. Please see below a more detailed job description.
- To remove existing patio and surrounding earth
- To lay type 1 MOT across the entirety of the garden to not only make a good sub base but to keep work conditions dry and clean
- To lay 35 squared meters of mixed sized Mint Fossil Indian sandstone patio slabs to the height of your rear doors
- To lay artificial turf to an area of 20 squared meters
- We will finish off your patio with the Buff coloured jointing compound
COST OF MATERIALS
Please note that for any landscape gardening job we can only estimate the cost of materials. Whilst we try our best to over-estimate the materials needed with hopes to reduce your final invoice, in some cases the price can increase. All receipts will be provided.
- 3 x skips £900
- 8 x bulk bags of sharp sand £400
- 8 x tubs of jointing compound £240
- 5 x bags of granite dust £250
- 10 x bulk bags of type 1 £500
- 30 x bags of cement £150
- 2 x pallets of Mint Fossil mixed sized Indian sandstone paving slabs £1100
- 20 squared meters of artificial turf (5x4m) £500
- All other materials (edging boards for the artificial grass, nails, screws etc) £200
Total for all materials £4240 (estimated)
COST OF LABOUR
Although our cost of materials are estimated, we like to be as fair as possible and fix our labour costs.
We estimate that all work will take 2 of us (myself and my business partner) 12 working days to complete (dependant on weather) but should the job take longer than expected then the price for labour will stay the same.
Total cost of labour £4800 (fixed)
TOTAL COST FOR LABOUR AND MATERIALS
The total cost for labour and materials comes to an estimated £9040.
We ask that a 50% initial payment be made 5 working days before a given start date to cover materials and other start up costs (£4520). The remaining 50% will be due upon completion of the work (£4520 estimated).
All materials are estimated to a worst case scenario with hopes of reducing your final invoice but please keep an open mind as in some cases, the price can increase. All receipts will be provided.
The cost of labour is fixed and will not change regardless of how long the job takes to complete.
Should you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch as I am always happy to help!
(Name, company name, contact details)