How to Bid Parking Lot Striping Jobs Successfully

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Pricing can be one of the most difficult parts of the job - especially if you are new to the industry.

It's all about finding your sweet spot. It can take time to get it right. You will learn what works best for your company.

If you bid too high, you might lose the job. If you bid too low, you might end up losing money on the job. At the end of the day, you have to do what it takes to keep the lights on! Over time, you will learn which jobs are the most profitable and which jobs you might want to avoid.

Bidding Jobs Takes Practice

If you are able to establish a strong reputation, local consumers are often willing to pay a little extra to hire a seasoned pro. If you are just starting out, you may need to bid a little bit lower to get some experience your belt. If you deliver a high-quality service at a reasonable price, word-of-mouth advertising and referrals will bring new clients your way soon enough.

Pricing a job is not as hard as you think - once you get the hang of it. First, you will need to determine your overall cost of doing business. What are you your operating costs and overhead expenses? How many people are on the payroll? Don't forget about equipment maintenance, insurance, fuel, and drive time.

Based on this information, how much do you need to charge to break even? To make a profit? What about to make a profit that you will be happy with?

Setting Your Price List

How much will you charge for the following services?

- Straight lines
- Diagonal lines
- Curb and parking bumper painting
- Stenciling (arrows, handicap stalls, etc.)
- Layout and design services
- Prep work

First, you will want to do a little research. How much are other parking lot striping companies charging? Make some phone calls and try to find out what the "going rates" are in your area. You can also check out our Parking Lot Striping Cost Report to see how much parking lot striping contractors charge near you.

Your prices will need to be somewhere in the range of what other local contractors are charging. If every contractor in town is charging $0.35 per foot, you will find it difficult to charge much more than that. This is particularly true if you are just starting out.

Lines and stripes are often priced by the linear foot. "Per stall" and "per line" pricing can be difficult for more complicated layouts. Check out this article to see how other contractors price parking lot striping. Other services such as curb painting and stenciling may be priced differently. You could charge a fixed fee for each item or come up with an hourly rate for these types of services. Don't forget to account for the cost of materials, such as paint and any custom stencils.

Find new marketing ideas for your parking lot striping company →

Factors that Impact Your Rates

1. Local market

How competitive is the local market? Are you the only shop in town or are there many options to choose from? If you are the only parking lot striping company within 15 or 20 miles, you may be able to charge a little more.

2. Your location

Prices may also vary based on where your business is located. Parking lot striping rates in Nebraska are going to be different than they are in New York.

3. Size of job and the type of services requested

Are you re-striping fading lines or are you designing a new layout from scratch? Are you just marking lines or are you painting curbs and parking numbers as well? How much time will the job take? What size crew will you need? Estimating the number of hours that any given project will take does get easier over time. Practice makes (almost) perfect. Track your time on each job

4. Material & equipment costs

What type of paint do you use? Oil-based or water-based? Will you only need yellow or white paint for the job? Colored paint may cost a little extra. What type of stencils will you need for each job? While you may have the stencils you need to mark handicap parking stalls, directional arrows, and space numbers, custom stencils will cost extra and may need to be ordered well in advance. Don't forget to factor this into your quote.

5. Site conditions

It's important to consider the amount of prep work required before you can begin work. Is the parking lot particularly dirty? Does it need to be cleaned before the lot can be repainted? Are there are challenges and/or obstacles that you will be required to work around?

6. Timing

Will you be able to do this work during normal business hours? Has the business requested that you work at night or over the course of a single weekend?

Join ProMatcher today and learn how you can bid on more parking lot striping jobs!

How to Bid Pavement Marking Jobs Successfully

Visit the job site!
It's almost impossible to give an accurate quote over the phone. You need to see the job site in person to get a good idea of the task at hand. Look for any conditions that may make the job more time-consuming or labor-intensive.

Make a great first impression.
Professionalism goes a long way! Show up on time (or even a little bit early) to scheduled appointments. It's also important to return emails and phone calls as soon as possible.

Get everything in writing.
When preparing a quote for a job, make sure to explain the scope of work in great detail. Protect yourself by putting everything in writing.

Clearly define your payment terms.
How much do you expect upfront? When is final payment due? What payment methods do you accept?

Develop a good template.
You should not have to go back to the drawing board every time you prepare a parking lot striping estimate. You should have a go-to bid template that you can use over and over again. In some cases, you can purchase on online that can be customized to your needs.

Keep references on hand.
Do not be caught off guard if a client asks you for references. You should have the contact information for a couple satisfied past customers ready to go. 

Follow up!
If you don't hear back from someone, give them a call. See if they have any questions or doubts. If they decided to hire another contractor, ask why. This is a great way to get some honest feedback about your business.

Do great work!
People will take notice when you deliver value. If you paint clean lines and provide excellent customer service, your clients will happily refer you to other local businesses.

Originally Published October 9, 2018


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