The Goldilocks Price
I would recommend fixed price with fixed scope. Signed contract, with at least 25% retainer. If he decides to ask for more work, great--price goes up and he signs a contract amendment/work order.
Don't let him price pressure you. As a contractor friend of mine says "I bid 'em happy-happy. Happy if I get 'em. Happy if I don't." I think that's good advice.
I would caution against T&E with a not-to-exceed (NTE). Unless your NTE is really high, that only protects the client, and stands a real chance of screwing you.
This is the best answer!
A hard NO on NTE. You take all the risk in that scenario.
Fixed Fee arrangements are good if the fixed fee is big enough. And when people ask for an NTE number they usually mean fixed fee. The two are not synonymous.
T&M (aka T&E) put the risk on the client, and so is not often a winning approach for price shoppers.
In the end there is no replacement for accurately estimating the job and holding your ground for fair compensation.
Met with a client today who has built up a successful business in the trenching business for all sorts of pipe lines. He wants to cut his house (Probably $500,000 range in a very low-priced area) from his business site and another 60 acres of cropland. Weeks ago when we spoke on the telephone he asked what I thought it might take to do this for him. I tossed out a range of what it might be. He said no problem, get to it as soon as it works into your schedule. Today we strolled around the property that he was guessing as three acres but if it's four or five acres, that's fine too.
BTW, the metal building that goes with his house is where he stores his helicopter. He's planning to move it to his second home in Florida to commute back to the middle of God's Country as he needs to to supervise any projects his superintendents need help with.
He started with nothing but an old, piece-o-crap backhoe. I would say his business savvy has worked well for him. Trying to nitpick prices on a survey isn't worth it.
It's easy to err on the wrong side on jobs by assuming things will be normal or better. I'm reminded of a job where one corner of what was a simple one lot survey turned out to be a giant PITA. The adjoiner had stacked several hundred concrete blocks in what he assumed was the corner of his property, we moved about 150 blocks out of the way before finally getting to ground level in the area we hoped to find an existing bar. Found it. Restacked the blocks and documented where the corner was relative to the block stack on our plat.
That was the recent case with a recent summer survey I did that went to and intercoastal creek. The flies were swarming. It almost broke my 18 year old son ... but he's determined to be a surveyor.
Regardless of how you create your estimates, keep good records of the actual time spent on a project. Whilst living in the information age, it's shocking how few surveyors acknowledge the value of data. My 1.25 multiplier is based on analysis of my estimated time vs the actual completion time. I should be capable of just adding more time to my estimates, but for some reason my delusional optimism gets the best of me each time, so whether I think I need it or not, I increase my estimate by 25%. Whether you use a spreadsheet, database, or professional software, you will never regret the time spent keeping good business records.
@firestix Yep. Try dealing with yellow flies while turning angles manually. They would land on my freaking eyelids while dialing in the target. I would try to blow them off while continuing to site my targets but they would just sit right there. I had to scrape them off with my hands. Thats when I started wearing long sleeves throughout the summer. If I didn’t the yellow flies would eat my elbows up.
Reading this back, I may have some deep rooted issues. 😂
One Summer we were hit with swarming gnats for weeks on end. It was almost impossible to breathe without sucking in some of those vile critters. Landing on the eyelashes while swarming between your eye and the instrument and another group swarming or landing on the far end of the scope was a constant issue. That was 1994. Never again have I experienced such a thing. We were working along a six-mile stretch of road, so it was not unique to a specific little pond or stream area.
I ran a profile through about 660 feet, of a wooded draw, once; and when we pulled up, it looked like the woods were on fire. Nope, it was gnats; millions and millions of gnats...
Miserable day in the field, circa 1980
T&M (aka T&E) put(s) the risk on the client, and so is not often a winning approach for price shoppers.
I should add that if your hourly rates realistically cover your all your costs - including paying yourself for your time plus a fair profit margin - there is nothing inherently wrong with working T&M.
The perspective client is shopping around for the lowest cost. Don't go down that road. Once you do, there's no way off it. Stick to your original estimate and if the perspective client doesn't like it then what have you lost? In forty plus years of surveying I have never worked in a cuttover that was easy.
Good luck and remember you are the professional not the client.
Legitimate question here:
Why is cost of this an issue?
Plumbers bill at a rate they hold, electricians too. Varies from location and unions too, and flat rates.
Doctors are held by federal And state laws for Medicare and Medicaid prices and also have set standardized rates that also get applied.
Lawyers don't negotiate their hourly rates, they just bill everything at 0.1hr increments.
We bill out to our clients for survey at around 95/hr for survey techs and 150/Surveyors and project management.
Was similar at another company I started with several years ago.
The estimated cost is based on the rates charged, so using T&M seems like it's the only option, but the NTE idea evolved to the best of my knowledge from federal jobs where Contractors were raping and pillaging so the FED said nope and then we got what have there.
Negotiable cost for a survey seems like it's solely based upon the time and effort it will take versus the misinformation of what people have been misguided into believing what a survey Should cost.
"I bid 'em happy-happy. Happy if I get 'em. Happy if I don't." I think that's good advice.