Know the Specifications and Expectations to Arrive at the Right Estimate and Use the “Triangulation” Method

Knowing the required specifications of the project and the expectations of the customer are crucial in putting your estimate together.

Click below to watch our 4-minute video to learn these key takeaways:

  • If you don’t have a good set of specifications, build some and try to use yours vs. theirs
  • Always have a set of specifications to help you put an accurate estimate together
  • Develop a good set of questions that determine what is truly needed to meet the specs and the client’s expectations
  • Use a ‘triangulation” process to help get to the right estimate

Ask Yourself:

  • Are there specifications for the job?
    If not, do you have a good set of specifications that can be used?
  • Do the specifications match up with what the job looks like? Why not?
  • Do the customer’s expectations match up with the specifications?
    Are they expecting more? Or less?
  • Are maintenance items and job frequencies clearly spelled out? Are the boundaries of the property clearly understood?
  • Are items considered as “extra” clearly spelled out? Are some normal types of extras included in the maintenance pricing such as seasonal flowers, mulch, large tree trimming, irrigation repairs, and replacements?

When Estimating Use the Triangulation Method

Always try to measure everything that is included in the scope of work, especially turf areas.

Use more than one method to estimate or “triangulate.”

Here are some examples:

Crew Hours: Crew time spent per week on the job.

Field Estimate: Visually review the areas included and assign time per area and task.

Price Per Sq Ft: Use an average price per sq. ft per month; develop a price per sq. ft. based on experience.

Similar Job Already Maintaining: Compare with jobs you have that are similar in scope and size.

Computer Estimate: Measure the job and use production rates.

Try to use at least 3 of these methods especially on larger jobs.

Always write your estimate down on your field forms, then use either a spreadsheet or a software estimating program.

On larger jobs use teams to estimate the job then compare.

nickels for katrina
If you like this video be sure to let us know in the comments box below!

Bill Arman

worked for and helped grow one of the biggest landscape outfits in the country. He’s seen how the big boys do it, how their systems and structures work. So his know-how is rooted in recruiting, hiring, training and growing great people—that along with quality assurance. Bill, alone, has gone on 15,000 quality site visits in his career. Nobody else has that, not that we know of anyway. He received Lawn and Landscape/ Bayer Environmental Science's 2006 Leadership Award. Read Bill's full bio.


hi there,
thinking about purchasing -here are my questions -Is the video focused on maintenance ( not our service ) or enough detail related to design/build that it would be helpful for our team?
Is this addressed-how could you make a triangulation approach time efficient?


Most of what we review here with estimating is slanted towards maintenance but the principles are basically the same for ALL businesses and yes these would be helpful for Design/Build, Tree Care, Snow, Enhancements etc. We have used these basic estimating concepts for non landscape businesses as well and they are solid. So I feel confident it will be helpful for your business. Estimating is a “best practice” that all companies should know and practice. This is a very foundational “best practice” so get real good at this one.

Making the triangulation approach more time efficient will require setting up either teams or individuals and train them and certify that they have the needed skills to produce an accurate estimate. You need to have an estimating process in play that is implemented the same on each estimate. We will be happy to review your current methods and help with making them more efficient.

Set up the process, practice, review results, adjust and practice again.

I hope this answers your questions and if not please feel free to call me at 949.466.8837 and I can go in further detail OK?

Great question!

Harvesters Bill and Ed

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