3 Minute Read

Whether you’re new to estimating or just looking to up your game, referencing a set of quick tips can help you stay on track. That’s why we’ve prepared a checklist you can save as a PDF or an image with 12 key steps to create stand-out bids.

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Here’s a look at what’s inside!

Collect your data

The first step is collecting the information you need to build an accurate estimate. Some companies use software programs, others use drones, and still others prefer to walk the property with a measuring wheel.

Whatever method you choose, it’s important to see the site. This allows you to evaluate existing conditions and identify any hazards.

Before you go, you should also have a clear idea of what you’re estimating. If there was an RFP, read it thoroughly to prepare. Highlight sections of particular relevance and make note of the things you want to pay attention to on the site. It’s critical to create an estimate that appropriately reflects the client’s needs, especially if you’re competing with other bids.

Steps:

  • Visit the site to evaluate conditions and identify hazards
  • Know the project requirements (What’s in the RFP? It’s important to be clear on what you’re bidding so your bid stacks up to your competitors.)
  • Use the right tools for your business (Software programs, drones, or walking with a measuring wheel)

Create your estimate

Templates are great because they help ensure consistent estimates across projects. In addition to basic groupings of services and items to help quickly organize a bid, the best templates also include extra “don’t forget” notes that can help spark questions you might otherwise miss.

When you’re working on a project, take your time to fill out the estimate as thoroughly as possible. Always double check your work to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Finally, be sure to think about any ancillary costs (like having a portable toilet on site for a week) that need to be considered during the next step—pricing.

Steps:

  • Use the same template as everyone else in your company to ensure consistency in building estimates
  • Fill out the template thoroughly
  • Make note of conditional costs, especially for construction projects

Add pricing

Production factors help you to quickly add costs with pricing markups based on the labor and material needs identified for a particular job. For example, if you know it takes half an hour to plant a certain size shrub (and your list of catalog items knows the cost of each shrub), the production factor calculates the accurate cost based on just the quantity of shrubs you need.

Once you’ve established your costs, you’ll want to add markups. Like everything else on an estimate, markups must be consistent across your company. Find out what markups your business uses for each service in each division, and add them to the costs you already identified.

Steps:

  • Use production factors
  • Apply different markups for each divisions (like labor and materials)
  • Make sure you’re using the same markups as your co-workers

Present the bid to your client

The final step is presenting the bid to your client and—hopefully—winning the job.

Make sure you create the final bid in a clean, easy-to-read, well-formatted document without typos. The more time you take to proofread, the less likely you are to end up with an embarrassing (and unprofessional) mistake.

Check the RFP to see if the client specified how they would like to receive bids. If they didn’t say, check in to see if they’d like it to be mailed, emailed, or hand delivered. The personal touch will help make a good impression, unless they’ve already told you their preference (in which case you’ll look like you didn’t do your homework).

Finally, make it easy for your client to approve the bid using a digital signature or online portal. The quicker they can approve it, the quicker your team can get to work—and the quicker you’ll get paid.

Steps:

  • Lay out the final bid in a clean, well-formatted document, ideally a template used for every project
  • Find out how your client would like to receive the bid
  • Make it easy for the client to approve the bid through an online portal or using an electronic signature

Download the checklist

If you found this content helpful, feel free to download a PDF of the checklist below. You can also grab a JPEG here, if you’d prefer to save it to your camera roll.

Good luck, and happy estimating!

Download the landscaping estimator's checklist