How much is that yard cleanup estimate gonna cost me?

While lining out my men for a residential clean up job, the next door neighbor walked over and said he had noticed the Hilltop truck and wanted to know what kind of landscaping his neighbor was having installed. New pond, BBQ, or perhaps a waterfall?

“No,” I replied, “we are cleaning his yard.”

“You work for Hilltop don’t you?” he asked.

“Yes sir, I do,” I said.

He took a step back and said, “So you work for a large company and yet you are cleaning yards? I don’t get it. Must be hard up for money.”

I informed him that we were the maintenance division and that this is what we do. Laughing he said “Ok, then how much would you charge me to do my yard?”

I said, “Well, show me what you want done and I’ll get you an estimate.”

“How much is it gonna cost me to get an estimate?” he asked.

“Nothing. Our estimates are free,” I explained.

So we proceeded to walk around his yard, and he showed me what he needed done. I told him to give me a minute and I would return with an estimate. A couple minutes later I returned and showed him the estimate and told him that I would go back to the office and have it written up, and that, if he wanted, I could email it to him. He asked if I was kidding.

“Nope. Dead serious,” I said.

He asked if I had a minute, and went into the house and returned with his lap top, he showed me an email estimate he had “wasted his money on.” He informed me it had taken a week, and that it cost him $75 to get the estimate, although that amount would be deducted from the final bill.

“Then you come in, and just walk around, no tape measure, no computer, no calculator, just a note pad then figured it out in five minutes sitting in your truck, and it was free, and cheaper. How can you do that?” he asked with a noticeable sense of frustration. I laughed and told him that I had been working for Hilltop for almost 26 years, and that I had done thousands of jobs, and that much experience makes it possible for me to figure out pretty quickly how much time and how many men will be needed to complete a job.

Then I threw in that residential yard cleaning was not “rocket science.”

“Well, I’m sold,” he replied. “When can you start?”

“How’s tomorrow?” I asked.

He searched the back of his eyelids for a second.

“OK, sounds good! Do I need to sign anything?”

I shook his hand, and said, “That’s all I need. Besides I know where you live.”

Fortunately, he smiled to indicate he understood that was a joke.