When it comes to estimating, even the Harvesters have made a few bloopers. We’ve had our share of brags as well. This blog will share a few examples of lessons that we’ve learned from our bloopers and brags along the way, as well as the price tag we paid or earned from them. 

1. Blooper:

World Corporate Headquarters – Oops we missed a section of the plan because an Inexperienced person doing a “takeoff” from the construction plans forgot to add on the courtyard.

Cost of Blooper: $50,000


Lesson Learned: Have another set of eyes perform a review of “takeoff” BEFORE submitting a proposal on a large job.

2. Brag:

City Park – Don’t believe everything you read or are told on bid specifications particularly the square footage of the project. The city specs showed a 20-acre park needing a price for maintenance. After an on-site review, it was discovered that it was actually 10 acres. We priced it for 10 acres and get a 5-year contract.

Revenue Generated:  $500,000

Lesson Learned: Don’t believe everything you read and provide a quote simply based on what’s written on a piece of paper. Go in the field and take a look at the job!

3. Brag:

Large Office Complex – Having an estimating team works! It’s best to have a team of two or three independently conduct an estimate on larger jobs. The team collaboration help ensure the accuracy of the estimate. As a result of it, we got the job and because the estimates were very accurate.

Revenue Generated: $1,000,000 per year for three years!

Lessons Learned: Estimating with teams gets better accuracy.

4. Blooper:

City Medians – Measured first median island and assumed the remaining islands were the same width. Miles and miles of medians later – based on this assumption – we get the lowest price and are awarded the contract. The price is so low the city questions it and we are allowed to check our estimate. We found that the islands were actually 30 percent wider than originally thought. Because we could at least document our error we are allowed to withdraw our price unscathed. Whew!

Possible Cost: Lots and Lots of $$$$.

Lesson Learned: Make sure your measurements are accurate. Have a cross-check or triangulation estimating process in place.

5. Brag:

Large Industrial Facility – We went to the job site and scouted out the current service provider to see how they performed the job and we learned from them. As a result, we calculated the exact amount of hours and we priced the job accordingly. We got it!

Revenue Generated: $400,000 for three years equals $1,200,000

Lesson Learned: Learn from the incumbent service provider, make your adjustments and get the job!

6. Blooper:

If the flag goes up it must come down. We didn’t read the part that we were supposed to lower the flag in the park at 10 p.m. each night after the last event on the sports field. The cost for our people to come back each night to perform this task was high. In California, there is a four-hour minimum pay for each employee even if you send them out to perform a one-hour task. We now hire a janitorial subcontractor to clean the restrooms and then lower the flag each night.

Cost of Blooper: Over 3 years a total $36,000

Lesson Learned: Read and understand the specs and the times and frequencies to accomplish the tasks specified. Have good subcontractors available to perform work that you should not be doing with your own employees. 

Action Steps: Learning from Your Brags & Bloopers

  1. Remember that things don’t always go as expected.
  2. When mistakes or bloopers do happen, make sure you take the time to reflect on them and develop ways to avoid them in the future.
  3. When there are brags to enjoy making sure people get the needed recognition and celebrate!

Ed Laflamme LIC

started his own business from scratch, built it up, sold it and then wrote a book about how he did it. So, he’s been there. He understands your frustrations, worries and concerns. Some of you may want to buy companies, while others may want to sell the one you own. You need expert assessment and guidance before you can move forward. Ed has experience in this area. He is recognized as a CLP: Certified Landscape Professional. Read Ed's full bio.