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View Full Version : Does anyone charge for estimates?


nobagger
05-19-2005, 06:26 AM
Recently there was a post in here and he stated that he never did "free estimates", thats awesome! I was approched by a painting contractor and he noticed we give free estimates like everyone else does. He asked me how can we afford to give them out? I told him it's pretty much the indusrty standard, I then said I'm guessing you don't give out free estimates, and his reply-Hell no! or I would be in the poor house. He was booked into the end of August!! I was thinking of charging $10-$15.00 and if they sign giving double that back towards their bill. Any thoughts?

BRIMOW525
05-19-2005, 06:42 AM
I'll tell you what, I'm seriously considering charging for estimates. The busier I get, the more of a waste of time it is to drive around and give estimates to MAYBE get the job. Half the time the people just want free advice and will do the lawn or whatever by themselves. And lord help me if its for landscaping and I have to plan it for them and they end up saying no. I had one woman want me to design a landscape, looked at it and said let me show my husband. Never to hear from them again.... I drove by they're house the other day, Gee, whose landscape design is in they're front yard. That was a bad move on my part, so never again.

MarcSmith
05-19-2005, 07:01 AM
If they are current customers, then leave the plans, if they are possible new clients, then make your pitch leave the prices, but take the plans home with you when you leave the house....Plans are your time and effort.....Make sure all decision makers are home when you make your pitch, so you don;t need to leave plan behind so that could get copied.....

Jay Ray
05-20-2005, 11:18 PM
I hope you start a trend that catches on fast Nobagger. Free estimates are a big shot of overhead.

ColePyck
05-20-2005, 11:23 PM
I am seriously considering this for next year as well, it will help weed out the tight wads, I will charge a 25 dollar fee for estimates other than lawn maint and fert.

HighGrass
05-20-2005, 11:28 PM
For an estimate...no. For advice? Yes.

gunner27
05-20-2005, 11:28 PM
I would love to charge for an estimate. Whait, laugh, laugh,...........

sheshovel
05-20-2005, 11:45 PM
I don't charge for an estimate but I do charge for what I call an..."Evaluation/consultation fee.That means when I give you the estimate you get it free.
If you start asking for free plans or have other questions involving installation of the landscape and have not hired me yet,then I tell them that to answer any other questions like that,
they are getting into "Evaluation/consultation fee of $45.00 and if that fee is ok with them then I will be glad to answer any questions they may have,if they need a plan
and have not hired me yet,I tell them it is so and so amnt for the plan,make one up
and if they decide to hire me for the job ,that amount will be credited on the final bill.
But if I leave a plan,then I leave with the $ for the plan hired or not.
And if they are playing the "doit ourselves game"then I get a $45.00 fee.
It's not charging for estimates,it's charging for your knowledge and experience in evaluation /consultation

Eddie B
05-21-2005, 03:08 AM
If I begin charging for estimates, potential customers will be lost, they will call the other 35 people who are readily available, and free.

GarPA
05-21-2005, 03:53 AM
If you try to charge for an estimate before you give it to a potential customer, I doubt you'll have many new customers. However, what I do is build the time I spend on each estimate, inside the total dollars for a given landscape project. So, for those who approve our estimate, I am paid for my time. For those who dont accept our proposal, then I do it for "free".

At least half of our estimates turn into revenue so I recover most of my time to prepare them.

Now if someone wants a full blown landscape design plan, the must pay us the design plan fee before we put pen to paper.

nobagger
05-21-2005, 06:49 AM
If you try to charge for an estimate before you give it to a potential customer, I doubt you'll have many new customers. However, what I do is build the time I spend on each estimate, inside the total dollars for a given landscape project. So, for those who approve our estimate, I am paid for my time. For those who dont accept our proposal, then I do it for "free".

At least half of our estimates turn into revenue so I recover most of my time to prepare them.

Now if someone wants a full blown landscape design plan, the must pay us the design plan fee before we put pen to paper.
Very true, I would have to say that the companies doing extensive landscape projects with 3D illustrations etc. that are going to spend a couple of hours doing this would have to charge something for their time. Like Sheshovel said, a "consultation fee" sounds more professional. And again if they sign with you show them that they would get double back off the total price, you can make that back somewhere in the job.
But I'm thinking for mowing it might be a stretch do to the fact that there are so many companies out there willing to give free estimates. I just tell them when I'm going to be in their area so its not so far out of my way, and if its a few days then its a few days. So far its not been an issue with anyone.

prizeprop
05-21-2005, 06:52 PM
For lawn maintenance and jobs that can be described over the phone(mulch front and back beds,prune front shrubs,remove three dead shrubs next to garage,sod whole yard,etc.)I tell them I'll be by tomorrow or the next day,write up an estimate and leave it by the front door.this way I can do it at my convienance. The ones that insist on me coming by at 6pm or on the weekend so they can be there, I tell them estimates are only free from 7am -3pm mon-fri ,other than that there's a $25 fee. When theres a fee attached they seem to longer want to drag you out at odd hours to waist my time. I can do it at this stage of the game and get away with it though, When your light on work and just starting to build a client base, the public seems to be holding all the cards and your at there mercy. I went through it and it scks.

lawnman_scott
05-21-2005, 07:33 PM
If I begin charging for estimates, potential customers will be lost, they will call the other 35 people who are readily available, and free.Exactly. You need to be able to judge, or do your best to judge what will be worth your time, and ask some relevant questions.

eshreve1234
05-21-2005, 07:42 PM
When they first call I say there is a $10 fee for an estimate. Weeds out the ones just looking for the lowest price, and has upped my estimate to sales percentage alot. Sure I do fewer estimates, but it really lets me know who is serious.

RICHIE K
05-21-2005, 08:54 PM
We don't charge


Richie K

www.kulakandcompany.com :blob3:

TURF DOCTOR
05-21-2005, 09:22 PM
How can i charge when 100 percent of my comptition says FREE

redoak77
05-21-2005, 10:15 PM
I think it is a good idea if you already have a full route. I know one guy who does this and it works out rather well. He puts the money towards the service if they go with him. It works out good because it really weeds out those who just start using the phone book for random numbers. It would allow you to replace some pitas with some customers who are willing to pay the big bucks.

wiselawns
05-21-2005, 11:47 PM
Never charge for estimates, they are usually well within my route on any given day anyway. If they want some advice I give it to them. No I don't give an entire course on lawn care principles and landscape maintenance, but I will give helpful hints and not charge. I enjoy talking to customers and potential customers, whether they take my service or not. They may remember my friendliness and accept my service or pass it on to another customer or they may not. I make plenty of money doing what I do and I enjoy the hell out of doing it.

Todd's lawncare
05-21-2005, 11:55 PM
Recently there was a post in here and he stated that he never did "free estimates", thats awesome! I was approched by a painting contractor and he noticed we give free estimates like everyone else does. He asked me how can we afford to give them out? I told him it's pretty much the indusrty standard, I then said I'm guessing you don't give out free estimates, and his reply-Hell no! or I would be in the poor house. He was booked into the end of August!! I was thinking of charging $10-$15.00 and if they sign giving double that back towards their bill. Any thoughts?
Hey were in pa do you live ???????? I would like to talk to ya e-mail me skogtg@aol.com

topsites
05-22-2005, 12:49 AM
Here is how I do estimates:

They are free of cost meaning there is no money involved, but they are not really FREE! I give out estimates at no cost and I have a LOT of work!
.............
Advice involves knowledge and experience. You want 1 or 2 answers? Fine, no problem. Beyond that, I clam up. Look, we need to start with something ... You want me to do 1 or 2 things, see how you like my services? Yes, I am very busy.
Yeah because, you know, everybody is different... We maybe start with 1 or 2 small things, see how it turns out. Then if you like my work, we can talk some more, cool? Ok, you interested?
Big project right off the bat? ohhhh no can do, got too much work.
((The reason for this is so you don't end up agreeing on some mega-project that cost a fortune, then they say yes and you go out and bust your tail for an entire day (or 2) and they get home in the evening and for some reason they do not like what you have done at all: OMG you are in big trouble, try and get paid now! ))
No... Start out with small stuff, unless you are really good at EVERYTHING they ask you to do, the only things I do without hesitation are my specialties: Grass-cutting, mulch, hedge trimming and core aeration.
For everything else, we do it a little bit here, and there. If it's a lot of stuff I don't normally do, sorry charlie, can't help you.

Always give Timed estimates: On my watch resides a count-down timer. This is always set to 21 minutes and I click it when I get out the car. When that timer goes off, the estimate is over. The only exception is if we are ready to conclude a sale or so. Most the time estimates don't take but 5, 10 or 15 minutes, so when the beeper goes off, we're usually nowhere near reaching a conclusion, and I know what that means: Time to leave. Say bye-bye. This prevents all that crap with the big things we want you to do and blablabla all they do is pick your brain so they can do it themselves, or the folk who think estimates are social calls.

Look professional. As for me, I give estimates in my personal car (happens to be a bmw, but it's not the truck + trailer). That cuts the crap so good, you would not believe it. But for the most part, it doesn't even go that far, the comedy is usually over before it even gets to that.
You see, the message on my answering service is VERY professional - Took me 3 years to 'get' it... One day last June I just happened to hit it right - I will NEVER change that message.
- When they call - estimate same day ! Yup, sure can! I'll be out that area later and I'll get you a price so you can decide. Once you decide, next available slot is in 2-3 days (or so). You get the idea - Get them the price, hurry, hurry ! Run over there asap, well, then of course you gotta run off again, because you are really THAT busy !
Now what I dislike is the folk who walk up to me on the side of the road. Most of them are real time-wasters - Always wear hearing protectors and learn to ignore people real good. Make sure your schedule is FULL and you have NO time left to fiddlefart around, that helps a LOT. Don't waste time if you're working, stay busy as F*k! Fake it if you must, but look BUSY !
As for the truck, the comedians come around but when they see my '05 Toro, the 4-cyclers and the Flowmaster Pro, they leave - They know when they see my stuff - This guy isn't playing around. There is one more thing: I got chains and padlocks all over my stuff - That helps the onlookers move on real quick as well... They know: This guy's been ripped off before, he ain't stupid.

If the estimate isn't really free, what is the price?
The price is a YES or a NO before the timer goes off. Now the answer is one or the other, I don't care which one it is, but if we (or you or I) can not get an answer, then the default is NO. Do NOT ever, under any circumstances, force a YES answer such as if they can not decide, the answer is always NO unless they explicitly say YES and you can not influence their decision or you may be asking for BIG trouble.
The answer is also NO for those who 'will call you back later when we think about it.' On that note, if they DO call back a few days later, yes I will consider the work but also have no problem refusing it. The idea is that I need a YES so I can put you on the schedule - If you do not say YES then the answer is a default NO so that other folks get the chance to get on the schedule - First come, first serve.

Thank you, please drive through :-)