What to Focus On in the Off-Season – Templates and Production Rates

I’m going to keep on flowing on my “what to focus on in the off-season” series, as there is just no end of opportunities to use this time to set yourself up for success during the busy season. Today I’m going to hone in on templates and production rates for estimating.

What does a template consist of?

At its most basic form, a template is a checklist for a certain type of work, ie patio. So you don’t forget any materials, equipment, etc while putting together the estimate.

Advance one step further, and your template will also include pre-canned customer proposal descriptions and internal notes to your team.

Become a template using powerhouse, and your templates will also include production rates.

If you have never used templates, dude, just start.  Your future self will thank you. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just start simple, and build a template in a spreadsheet or your software for the type of work you do the most. Do a lot of patios? How many times have you built an estimate and realized you missed something, and now it’s coming out of your profit? Build a checklist of all the products you use on every patio, so you don’t forget the edge restraint, the joint sand, or some other random little detail.

On the customer proposal descriptions, you know how it is, it’s late, you are trying to wrap this quote up, and your well of inspiration just runs dry when trying to fill in the customer-facing description on your proposal. Sit down, and when your creative juices are flowing throughout the slow winter season, write out nice descriptions for all the types of work you commonly do. When you finished doing that, add in internal notes to the crew for each type of work you do. Maybe when you start a patio, you always need to dump a trailer to haul dirt out from excavation on day one of the jobs. Don’t rely on your memory to include that each time. Make it easy, just add it to your internal work area notes on your template for patios.

Production rates

This one is where the most bang for your buck is. There’s a lot of leverage here.

What is the production rate? It’s essentially building a formula to calculate the quantity of something, like say stone for your base material. Instead of making yourself do that manual calculation for how much stone you need on every single quote you produce, build a production rate, aka a formula, where you can just enter your square footage, and bam, produce the total ton of stone you need. Every time. Without touching a calculator. I’m telling you, once you do this you’ll never go back.

I have an article here where I go into more depth on how to build production rates.

Benefits of using templates and production rates:

Speed up quote turnaround time.

Study after study proves how vital a quick response is in converting that lead. Every day that goes by without you getting that quote back to your lead lessens your chance of winning that job dramatically. Obviously, it depends on how crazy custom you go with your work, but many of you have no reason to not be giving your client a quote before you ever leave the driveway.

Get information out of your head and into systems and processes.

This is huge. One of the biggest battles entrepreneurs face is being the bottleneck in their own businesses. Owning a job instead of a business. Or the business owning them instead of owning a business. I know a SynkedUP user that went from creating every quote himself to handing the quoting off entirely to his office manager. Because he has templates for everything. She just uses the templates, plugs in the measurements, and is DONE! How awesome would that be!? One of the most empowering things you can do is to figure out how to put things into systems and processes. That’s what produces a business that can operate without you if need be, or if that’s your goal. Not to mention your team feels empowered to work and make decisions without running EVERYTHING by you, allowing you to have some semblance of a sane life.

The sheer amount of time saved

Who wouldn’t want to eat dinner with their family more often, even during the busy season? I’m telling you, it’s possible.

I recently talked to a new SynkedUP user who was telling me how he sold a $200k job, and that in his old way of estimating, it would’ve taken him 2 days to produce that quote. In SynkedUP, with templates and production rates, it took him 15 min.

Now THAT is power.

That is how you win jobs.



What I’d do if I were you during this off-season is start building out templates for all the common types of work you do over and over. Patios, walls, landscape, sod, lighting, water features, you name it. I know people that literally quote ALL the work they do from templates.

Then I’d look at my past jobs, and review the estimated vs actual quantities of labor and materials, to see what I can learn and to see if I need to tweak any production rates. Maybe I was consistently not bidding enough of edge restraint, or whatever it may be that you consistently over or underbid. Or maybe every time we did a double-sided seating wall, we always ran over on hours. That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for when reviewing past jobs to make sure my templates and production rates are dialed in.

If you haven’t been tracking these actual labor and materials, start now. It’s the only way you can get accurate production rates for yourself.

So, who here has been using templates and production rates?

If you are, I’d love to hear how it’s impacted you or your business.

Hit me up in the comments!



Weston Zimmerman
CEO and co-founder

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Learn how you can use SynkedUP to power your landscaping business, with scheduling and time tracking, materials, costs, billing info for service tickets, and more.

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See SynkedUP in action

Learn how you can use SynkedUP to power your landscaping business, with scheduling and time tracking, materials, costs, billing info for service tickets, and more.

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