Top 5 Tips for Efficient Landscaping Takeoffs by Takeoff Monkey’s CEO

Tips for landscaping takeoffs

As the prices of commodities and business services increase, many landscapers are facing issues managing their costs. A better takeoff and estimation strategy can help optimize finances and save you money. On the other hand, a poorly executed takeoff will not only negatively impact your business operations but might also negatively impact the reputation of your landscaping company. In this article, I’ll be outlining some tips for your next flawless takeoff!

1. Check the scale. Double-check again- after that, check it some more!

The scale of the drawing has a massive impact on your quantities. This cannot be overstated. At Takeoff Monkey, we verify each and every page with a known dimension such as a 9’ parking space, or a 3’ door. Find something to verify the scale. Never trust the graphic scale, either.

Just because the graphic measures at the given scale does not mean it is correct – find something else to verify. Recently, we received a customer’s project where the given scale made the sidewalks have a width of only four inches! We ended up going onto Google Earth and measuring existing sidewalks to verify the scale. We do not trust ANY scales unless we have verified it on each and every page with a known dimension.

Some general contractors won’t let you know that out of all the bids received, yours is dis-proportionally below the average. Instead, they’ll jump on the opportunity to snag a deal, leaving you with a huge financial loss.


2. Share your takeoff to demonstrate your commitment & improve your win-rate

I highly recommend that you share your work with your client to remind them of all the legwork that you’re putting in. It shows that you really care and that you’ve put time and attention into all the finicky details of the bid. The time and attention to detail matter. We worked with a client recently who won a huge contract- not for being the lowest bidder, but for demonstrating that they had put all this extra time to count everything out precisely.


3. Qualify, qualify, qualify to avoid any freak-outs from your general contractor clients

On nearly every single project, we find a symbol, a hatch, or a call-out that is not on the legend. Your general contractor client is probably not going to want to see any holes in your bid for the item(s). Make an educated guess, qualify it, and be descriptive. Your client will feel more comfortable carrying something– if only as a placeholder. Don’t ignore this unknown part – acknowledge it and provide some monetary coverage in your bid to show that you’ve thoroughly examined and understood the documents.


4. Avoid multitasking for your in-house takeoff experts

Doing a takeoff is a great way to understand a project in detail if you have the time. Anyone reading this who’s ever done a takeoff knows what I mean when I write that it requires your undivided attention. You get into a trance slowly watching the plans come to life with color.

If you decide to go the in-house route, let the person assigned to the task focus. This person should not be answering the phone or their e-mails or blabbing to their colleagues about their weekend plans. Let them put on their headphones and jam out for an hour or so at a time, taking breaks to rest their eyes. Personally, I think interruptions add a substantial amount of time to the task and sometimes even some rework. The more time you’re getting interrupted, the more likely you’re missing something important or making a costly mistake.


5. Own your work!

We started branding all our customers’ takeoffs with their company logo. This takes care of a few things. First and foremost, it lets the customer know that this takeoff is theirs (and ONLY theirs) as we never duplicate or share takeoffs. Secondly, it encourages contractors to share the takeoff with their bid.

In my experience as a contractor, my clients always loved the takeoff accompaniment because it gave them a visual representing all that we had covered and included in our bid. It adds another level of transparency to your proposal package that will be sure to grab your client’s attention. We brand each page because as a contractor it has happened to me where I’ve submitted my takeoff along with a bid, and a day later an addendum comes out on that very project with my takeoff attached asking all bidders to match my quantities! Nonsense! However you do it- logos, watermarks, or something else, the most important thing is to make it known that it is your work and private between you and your client only!

Takeoffs are a tricky task to assign to your in-house team. Newer, less experienced estimators will require a lot of training and guidance. Experienced, senior estimators are not going to be very happy spending 80%+ of their days staring at and clicking on a computer screen. This is why I founded Takeoff Monkey- to be an affordable, commitment-free option to get your takeoffs completed by top-class experts in record time!


About the Author

Tommy Lather has worked in the landscape construction world since he was eligible for a work permit at the age of 15 in Clarksville, Maryland. In 2007 Tommy relocated to Austin, TX where he worked as a top account manager for a national re-wholesale nursery, and then as Senior Estimator for a L&L Top 100 Landscape Construction & Maintenance Firm.

During his role as Senior Estimator, the seed for Takeoff Monkey was planted. Years of living the chaotic & stressful per-construction life – Tommy knew there was a faster, easier way. Fast-forward to 2019, Takeoff Monkey was founded. You can find out more about Takeoff Monkey here.

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