Bidding on a job can be a daunting task for many landscaping companies.
There’s a great deal of strategy involved, and the more bidders makes staying competitive yet profitable at the same time even more difficult.
Lowes for Pros has offered five ways to help landscapers figure out the best way to bid for their business.
1. Scope out the right bids
Before you submit a bid, decide whether pursuing the job is worth your time.
Scott McAdam, president of McAdam Landscaping in Forest Park, Illinois, recommends determining how a customer found your company. If he or she was referred to your company then there is a good chance of you actually getting the job.
If the customer already has a landscaping plan, they probably are searching for the lowest bid, and you may be bidding against many people.
2. Bid accurately
Kevin Fontaine, co-owner of Fontaine Landscaping in Cary, North Carolina, says he uses landscape bidding software that measures every facet of a job to bid carefully and accurately.
He first takes measurements manually and then enters the information into an elaborate spreadsheet.
The software calculates the time it takes to complete a specific task — like mowing 80,000 square feet of grass — given his measurements, the efficiency of the equipment he is using and average employee labor rates. He says contractors should “measure twice and cut once,” so you can carefully determine your numbers and then cut the costs more accurately if necessary.
McAdam says that you can’t price a job unless you know the amount of your direct, indirect and overhead costs. So if you’re not aware of the costs and potential profits of a project, you need to hire someone, like a consultant or a CPA, to help you develop a budget, he says.
3. Provide evidence of high quality and service
Offering credentials will help justify your services and your price. Fontaine says he stresses his reputation, longevity, experience, capabilities, licensing and insurance to differentiate himself from the competition.
Provide potential clients with pictures of past projects, proof of certification, testimonials from your clients and a list of references specific to the project, Fontaine says. If you’re bidding on a project to build a patio, for example, provide the contact information of people who are satisfied with the patio you built for them and are willing to put in a good word for you.
Fontaine often directs potential clients to his website, which identifies jobs the company has completed and features client reviews and photos of those projects. Tailoring these resources to the task will emphasize your experience and ability to do the job well, he says.
4. Present yourself as a professional
Presenting a positive image is vital to winning the respect and trust of a client, which can ultimately win you a bid. So make sure you, your staff and your vehicles look professional, McAdam says.
5. Focus on the client’s needs
A potential client is more likely to accept your bid if they’re comfortable with you, so it’s important to respond to their needs and concerns.
Responding quickly to the customer’s concerns and performing warranty work is key to retaining a good customer, he says.
To keep bids coming, Fontaine provides seasonal discounts and rewards clients who refer his company to others with $50 to $100 in “Fontaine Bucks.” The money can be used toward the client’s current or new project.