Use a sure-fire system to get those project proposals out fast and back to the client to alleviate any headaches on the backside. To ensure low frustration, starting from the beginning and getting an estimating system set up can make the job easier to facilitate and not leave your clients scratching their heads waiting for the project proposal. Let’s go through the steps of creating an estimating system.
A Project Proposal Starts with an Accurate Budget
It all starts with a budget. Yes, may know the quantity and the price for the product to be sold but look at your financials (Profit & Loss statements for last complete calendar year, payroll summary for a calendar year, and equipment list including trucks, machinery) and build in overhead recovery and profit unique to your company.
- Examine the sales for last year and what the sales goals are for this year.
- Next, how many crews (hours, wages, taxes, benefits) will it take to attain that sales goal? Which equipment and materials do you need? How much? The cost?
- Include subcontractor costs, rental and delivery costs.
- Factor overhead costs in too. These expenses include your rent or mortgage on the buildings, insurance, utilities, phones, banking fees, office managers, bookkeepers, mechanics, owner’s wages, office supplies, advertising, brochures, computers, etc.
All of these costs come off the sales figure leaving you with the net profit.
Systems for Proposals
LMN system is a good tool for the green industry entrepreneur. Access the analysis tab to get see the gross profit margin, net profit and where the cost ratios fall. The analytics are very helpful information to meet your overall goals as a company and ensure a profitable outcome. LMN also gives industry averages and standards on which to gauge how the company is comparatively. This is helpful in adjusting your goals and budget. LMN can then transport the estimate through QuickBooks Online and sent it to the customer.
Use Quickbooks Online to build a project proposal. The estimator will have to realize that it doesn’t have the budget installed in the system. There is no analytics to indicate gross profit margins. This method is a simplified version of doing estimates.
Access the expense report for the past year to help determine the overhead costs as well as labor and materials. Consult your accountant or bookkeeper for help in this area. A day’s worth of investment to acquire these significant numbers will give a healthy return on your investment.
Project Proposal: Pricing of Materials
Gathering current pricing sheets from all your vendors and resources will be the first step. Receiving them in an Excel spreadsheet makes loading them into industry system programs easier with the pricing attached. Next, add the retail price to the worksheet. Watch these prices carefully, communicate with your vendors on what plants have increased or decreased each month, and adjust your programs as necessary. Third, choose the plant material that you will likely use the most and delete the rest. (A new plant can always be included later.) A virtual assistant can add descriptions of each plant which will help when designing and also give the client a good understanding of what they are buying when included in the project proposal.
Don’t Forget This!
The plant amendments such as fertilizers, mulches, and necessary machinery will be entered into the system to access quickly. Remember to include charges for shopping, purchasing, and delivering your plants, materials, and machinery. The time procurement needs to be evaluated and put into that budget. Haul-away charges for different loads, such as organic debris versus trash items or recycling, will be included in your system. Next, enter the variety of services and the labor cost per hour. When the pricing is current, a project proposal is ready to implement.
How to Complete a Job Proposal in Record Time
Gather All the Onsite Info & Measurements
When visiting the job site and after talking to the lead, excuse yourself and take some time to measure, take pictures, and analyze what materials, labor, and equipment you’ll need for the job. Using a paper template with each particular service already laid out will eliminate many mistakes or forgotten parts. When you return to the office to review, your virtual landscaping assistant has everything they need to fill in the blanks. This step will also help your crews know what to do, how, and the expectations. Each service will be repetitive with a standard set of materials it needs, so have those on hand in each service category on a clipboard.
From the beginning, go through how you will install each part of the project. As you walk through it, write down materials, quantities, labor hours, and machinery needed for each phase. It will be a step-by-step process so you can catch all the critical parts. Once you finish this step, take measurements and figure calculations for quantities of materials. (This way, you don’t have to make a second trip to measure something you’ve forgotten.)
Utilize Technology to Make it Easier
Next, use your mobile device to walk through the whole project again and capture the entire landscaping project on video and with photos. Upload all this information into CompanyCam cloud storage, connect to your CRM (i.e., Jobber, LMN), and use Zapier to customize your workflow and set up triggers or zaps (actions connecting different programs like your CRMs). For example, you can set up a zap in Zapier so that creating a new job and uploading photos and videos into CompanyCam will create an automatic project link in your CRM. No more double typing out a project with all the detailed information. You’ll love the automation that Zapier brings to streamline your business.
A Virtual Landscaping Assistant Takes Over
After you capture all the information and measurements, snap a photo of your landscaping proposal template and upload it to the CompanyCam. Send a text to your remote virtual assistant to enter the proposal into your CRM. When you return to your desk, the proposal will be ready to hit send! Varooom! No more time sitting at your desk, trying to type out what you need and gritting your teeth, knowing someone else could do this faster! You move on to the next landscaping consultation and can get 3-4 visits in one day and back in the office with no extra eight to ten hours of office work to do!
There you have it. My secret sauce for helping my clients get their jobs turned out promptly! I applied my problem-solving skills when my first client was having trouble getting the job proposal out and taking up to six weeks to get them into QuickBooks Online. I got it down to 1-2 days turn-around time. This method increased his sales closing rate faster, and his business grew 250% in four years!
Finalizing your Landscaping Proposal
Finally, to structure your landscape proposal, include the following key elements. These typically consist of the following:
- A cover letter introducing your company and services
- The landscape bid outlines the description of the installation, cost, and breakdown of the project, including the signature box and payment link.
- A visual of the proposed project (such as a sketch or design on Mortfolio or PlantMaster)
- Customer testimonials to showcase previous successes
- Information about other services offered or a digital brochure
- Insurance certificates and licenses
- The terms and conditions
- For easy contact, include contact information, a phone number, and an email address.
If you are ready to get the backlog of project proposals off your desk and the process more streamlined, you might need a virtual assistant that knows the green industry! Contact me and let me know the time of day that’s best to reach you. I don’t do high pressure, and I’m easy to talk to, so don’t think twice! Let’s chat.