Apples to Apples

So, here’s something that we hear a lot of from folks we’ve given an installation estimate to: “I got a quote from another company, and they’re a lot cheaper.”

Huh.  Well, here’s something to consider: are the competing quotes literally based on the same job?  

What I mean is this — unless a potential client has provided us (and all other competing bidders) with an exact landscape plan to follow, then there is literally no way that what I’ve designed and priced can be the exact same thing that another bidder has come up with.  It’s like going to a car dealership and pricing a brand new Toyota Landcruiser and then going to a second dealership and pricing a Ford Expedition.  Yes, they’re both SUVs, and yes, they’ll get you from point A to point B.  But, no, they are not the same vehicle, which is why one is definitely going to be cheaper than the other!

When you’re shopping for a new landscape, you’ve got to be certain that you’re comparing apples to apples.  So many times we meet with homeowners and are given basic job prerequisites — backyard is unusable as is, please design an area for our children to play and for friends and family to relax and enjoy the outdoors.  Well, okay.  Do you know how many options there are that would fit this scenario?  Sure, throughout the initial conversation we can narrow it down to outdoor patio, with or without a firepit, grading the backyard for accessible play areas, etc.  But what people don’t consider is this: there are so many ways to bring a concept to fruition that it’s mind-boggling.  And if you don’t give specifics to each bidding company, then you’re going to find yourself looking at multiple prices that range to cover the types of projects that are being presented.

Take retaining wall materials as an example.  Do you want to use natural stone or landscape timbers?  Both hold up a slope, but one of those material options is going to cost a lot less than the other.  And what about walkways?  Would you prefer a more natural and aesthetically pleasing path to your front door?  Or would you like to go the more affordable route, because if that’s the case then the quote needs to be for a poured concrete walk.  Oh, and that new planting area you’d like on the side of the house — how many Azaleas and Hydrangeas would you like?  If left without specific instructions or price ranges to stay within, then what I see in my head as the perfect outdoor design for your home is not going to be the EXACT SAME as the other guy’s design.  It’s just not possible.  And every extra plant, and paver, and crab orchard step tread costs money, which affects the grand total of any bid.

The point is this: we want to be the company that transforms your property into what you need it to be, but there’s a process, and there needs to be an ongoing conversation throughout the process.  Materials can be swapped out.   Concepts can be amended to fit your budget and your timeline.  Are you more comfortable with the price provided by a competing bidder? Well, tell me what exactly his proposal entails and I’ll tailor my plan to mimic his.  Then compare the prices.

The best way to approach a landscape renovation is to discuss your options, narrow down the materials or “look” that you’re going for, and make sure that all competing parties know the specifics.  That way the prices should be more closely aligned because everyone is buying apples and apples, as opposed to apples and avocados.  But there is one last thing to consider: the cheapest option is not always the best option.  Some companies skip important steps in order to shave the price, or they utilize sub-par materials . . . never be afraid to ask, and never assume that the lower bid is going to produce a quality finished product.

Team Turf stands behind all of the work that we do.  And that’s definitely something that  isn’t included in all landscaping bids, regardless of the cost.