Creating landscaping estimates probably seems easy enough. You know your trade, the amount of time and materials it takes to make your customer’s vision come to life, and what it will cost, but your customers don’t; think of estimates as your second chance to make a first impression. So, even if your first meeting with the customer went well, if the estimate doesn’t include all the information your customer needs to make a decision, you could lose the job. Here are some easy tips to make sure your landscaping estimate has your and your customer’s best interests in mind.
Discussing a project with the customer is obvious, but the key is discussing it in detail. The goal is to understand what the customer’s expectations are. It is best to repeat back to the customer what you understand their expectations are to ensure you’re both on the same page. Then, speak about the work it will take to meet or exceed the customer’s expectations and the estimated price that goes along with it. This is the critical foundation to providing an accurate estimate, so make sure to allow enough time to go into deep detail.
Read: 6 Tips for Effective Customer Communication
The first conversation with your customer is where trust starts to take root. An estimate with items listed out and a clear pricing structure can help that trust grow even more. Pricing can easily be the bane of a small business’s or contractor’s existence. You may feel that price is the only thing you can compete on, but the truth is, a person is often willing to spend a little bit more to ensure a job well done if they feel confident in your work and trust your business. And one way to build that confidence is to be completely transparent in your pricing, letting the customer know exactly what they are paying for. A detailed estimate with each line item listed and a clear price associated with it reassures the customer that they are getting what they need. Plus, it gives both of you an easy launching point to discuss any necessary increases or decreases to the scope of the project.
Timelines are tricky. There are many things that are out of your control such as the weather, material supply, other people you depend on to complete the work, etc. But your customer is expecting a timeline when you provide them a detailed estimate. They need to plan their life around the project, so they need to understand what the timeline is. Even an estimated timeline is better than no timeline. If you are providing an estimated timeline, make sure that you emphasize “estimated timeline” and let the customer know there are factors outside of your control that could shift the original timeline. Communication with your customer is key if anything changes in the timeline to keep your customer’s trust.
Although the bulk of payment typically comes toward the end of the project, it’s always a big question on your customer’s mind. To help ensure you get paid on time, be sure to cover how and when you expect payment. The best way to ensure on-time payment is to make it as easy as possible for your customer to pay by taking online payments and credit card payments. Your payment policy or any payment expectations need to be included on the estimate to ensure there are no open-ended questions or uncertainty regarding payment. On the off chance you need to take a customer to claims court because they didn’t pay, clearly outlined payment expectations included on the estimate will help your case.
Read: How Accepting Digital Payments Helps Your Business
When your customers review an estimate, there should be a very clear way to contact your business to get started on a project. Better yet, if you need customer approval before scheduling work, use software that allows for built-in estimate approval, so you get notified when your customer is ready to start. Estimates should include your business’s name, address, and phone number. To go above and beyond, list the main contact for the project with their phone number and email address. Make sure that it is very easy for your customers to contact your business or you risk losing the job to someone your customer perceives as more available. Clearly listing your business’s contact details on estimates and invoices also makes it easier for customers to re-find and contact your business for future projects or to refer your business to a friend looking for a trusted landscaper.
Preparing a landscaping estimate is like preparing a guide for your customer. Your customer is going to refer back to the estimate multiple times when questions or concerns arise, so you don’t want to overlook or rush this step. Since this is your opportunity to build deeper trust and make a great first impression on your customer, your estimate should include all the details of the project so that there are no questions about what work will be performed, what the cost will be, and when the project will be completed. Landscaping estimates should include an itemized list of products and services along with pricing and who to contact with questions.
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