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Pro-Scapes
06-26-2007, 05:56 PM
I know Mike G charges it but are any others of you charging for initial consult ? I do only if they are outside my 30 mile radius. An interesting thing brought this up. I emailed my doctor and told them I need them to sign something for my insurance for me. They said sure just mail them to us along with a check for $25 to complete the forms. The forms are complete so I am basically paying $25 for him to sign it.

We just sent out new post cards and one of the sales points was free consultation. I will be pre screening these clients tho and if they are serious we will meet. No more chasing price shoppers for free tho. I just got burned on a landscape consult like this. Client called... Let us know they were seeking an estimate. We went out... Discussed it with them. One of my friends also turned in an estimate to them for landscape work. I bet we go by in a month and she has taken our ideas and used them herself!

lifetree
06-26-2007, 08:11 PM
I've gotten burned this way a couple of times ... now I try as best I can to screen them on the phone before I go out !!

High Performance Lighting
06-26-2007, 09:57 PM
I know Mike G charges it but are any others of you charging for initial consult ? I do only if they are outside my 30 mile radius. An interesting thing brought this up. I emailed my doctor and told them I need them to sign something for my insurance for me. They said sure just mail them to us along with a check for $25 to complete the forms. The forms are complete so I am basically paying $25 for him to sign it.

We just sent out new post cards and one of the sales points was free consultation. I will be pre screening these clients tho and if they are serious we will meet. No more chasing price shoppers for free tho. I just got burned on a landscape consult like this. Client called... Let us know they were seeking an estimate. We went out... Discussed it with them. One of my friends also turned in an estimate to them for landscape work. I bet we go by in a month and she has taken our ideas and used them herself!

Billy, I can lead you to water but I just can't make you drink or can I?.

"We just sent out new post cards and one of the sales points was free consultation"

C'mon Billy we've talked about this before. How is offering a free consultation a sales point when everyone and their sister is doing the same? Wow! Billy wants $75 to come out and meet with me , he must be good. Those are the clients you want . The ones who say why do you charge a fee when everyone else is free are not the ones you want anyway. Number 1 it means they are shopping because they've called others and have probably gotten other bids. If you believe the information you share with a prospect has value then put a dollar amount on it. If you don't, the perception is that it doesn't have much value because it comes for free.

Pro-Scapes
06-26-2007, 11:07 PM
ya know what... screw it. Im gonna do it. As soon as the call to action date on this post card has run its course... no more free consults .... im not mocking you. Im serious... My wife and I spent an hour last night in the dark with a client. While I wouldnt of charged this client as we have done 10's of thousands of dollars in business over the last year together I would of been pretty irrate had this been a new prospect with nothing to show for. We really have a great closing rate but If I get stuck chasing my tail and being away from my home at night i am at least gonna get a REALLY nice dinner out of it.

I been worried this wont fly here but like i said.. the doctor wants 25 bucks just to sign a form. Why shouldnt I get paid on the house call. Its not like I am going to give them an estimate on thier lawn.:laugh: I dont really think its the money involved... If they are not serious they wont ven pay you a 29 buck consult. I am now targeting a more elite client. If the plumber or electrician come out they get paid a service fee. Why shouldnt we! Are we that desperate to meet someone new ?

High Performance Lighting
06-27-2007, 01:31 AM
ya know what... screw it. Im gonna do it. As soon as the call to action date on this post card has run its course... no more free consults .... im not mocking you. Im serious... My wife and I spent an hour last night in the dark with a client. While I wouldnt of charged this client as we have done 10's of thousands of dollars in business over the last year together I would of been pretty irrate had this been a new prospect with nothing to show for. We really have a great closing rate but If I get stuck chasing my tail and being away from my home at night i am at least gonna get a REALLY nice dinner out of it.

I been worried this wont fly here but like i said.. the doctor wants 25 bucks just to sign a form. Why shouldnt I get paid on the house call. Its not like I am going to give them an estimate on thier lawn.:laugh: I dont really think its the money involved... If they are not serious they wont ven pay you a 29 buck consult. I am now targeting a more elite client. If the plumber or electrician come out they get paid a service fee. Why shouldnt we! Are we that desperate to meet someone new ?

Billy you are about to take your first step towards great success in landscape lighting. You're as mad as hell and you're not going to take it anymore. Keep us posted as to how it goes.

Lite4
06-27-2007, 01:43 AM
Hey Billy, I feel your pain. I just got burned on a free demo. Came back a week later after handing them my estimate for the work, and what should I behold, but a home cheapo special amazingly in all the places I put my lights for the demo. Imagine that. I'm with you guys. I am fed up with tire kickers and walmart shoppers. No more free consults or ideas. This ends today!

High Performance Lighting
06-27-2007, 01:51 AM
Hey Billy, I feel your pain. I just got burned on a free demo. Came back a week later after handing them my estimate for the work, and what should I behold, but a home cheapo special amazingly in all the places I put my lights for the demo. Imagine that. I'm with you guys. I am fed up with tire kickers and walmart shoppers. No more free consults or ideas. This ends today!

I think we are finally having a break through here. A revolution in itself if you will. This is a very special moment in time. Personally very rewarding to have a positive influence on the industry. Now go out and get em.
:clapping: :dancing: :clapping: :dancing: :) :) :cool2: :cool2: :cool2:

Lite4
06-27-2007, 01:53 AM
Mike, I think you and I are probably the only ones still awake at this hour. All the East coasties have long since retired for the night.

Chris J
06-27-2007, 08:05 AM
Mike G gave me a bit of advice a long time ago that made good sense: test the market. If you find that people in your area aren't responding to the consult fee, then you can always go back to your free quote method. I feel your pain though, it still scares the hell out of me too.

Pro-Scapes
06-27-2007, 08:14 AM
Hey Billy, I feel your pain. I just got burned on a free demo. Came back a week later after handing them my estimate for the work, and what should I behold, but a home cheapo special amazingly in all the places I put my lights for the demo. Imagine that. I'm with you guys. I am fed up with tire kickers and walmart shoppers. No more free consults or ideas. This ends today!

I have not gone that far... I have a release I make clients sign before I light the demo up! States if they use me... The design will be free and no charge... If they do not use me and mimic my design in anyway they owe me $329.00 Had 1 client cut me a check for this 2 weeks after my demo. He was a doctor and enjoyed working outside and wanted to tackle it himself. He went and bought good vista lights... Asked me about a few techniques for splicing. He has always taken good care of me in the past including saving me thousands of dollars by giving me free sample meds so I didnt have to buy expensive prescriptions. While I could of done the system alot cleaner he did do a quality job for a homeowner. Took him a month to install 30 lights tho.

extlights
06-27-2007, 04:15 PM
We don't charge a consultation fee. To me, it comes down to pre-screening, strong sales skills, and advertising to the correct market. Maybe we would think about it if we were to get a lot of dead end contacts, but this has not been the case. We are very strict in the areas we send direct mail too and over the last couple of years have gotten pretty good closing ratios by doing this. It's more than sending or passing out flyers to a high end subdivisions. You have to know what to look for in these subdivisions.

Maybe I'll be criticized for doing business this way, but we've been through a lot of different processes over the years and have found something that works for us. I do believe that the area you live in plays a big factor in this as well. I don't think charging a fee is wrong in anyway, and I think it's just a part of business. We just aren't to the point yet where we need to charge that fee. Of course our sales guy could sell stones to a quarry.

Lite4
06-27-2007, 09:00 PM
Im such an idiot. Why didn't I think of a design release. Brilliant! I am so used to turning on other light bulbs, that I just forgot the one on top of my head. I will be incorporating that idea post haste.

High Performance Lighting
06-27-2007, 10:43 PM
Mike G gave me a bit of advice a long time ago that made good sense: test the market. If you find that people in your area aren't responding to the consult fee, then you can always go back to your free quote method. I feel your pain though, it still scares the hell out of me too.

Chris, I just got off the phone with my local authorities and asked them to release the restraining order I put out on you few weeks back. You may now contact me if you wish. I buried the hatchet with Eddie Clemons and now it's time to do so with you.

Your buddy,
Mike G

Chris J
06-27-2007, 10:52 PM
Cool. Consider the hatchet burried. :drinkup:

High Performance Lighting
06-27-2007, 10:58 PM
Cool. Consider the hatchet burried. :drinkup:


Please don't call me anymore dirty names though. My feelings get hurt too ya know. And I apologize for calling you a loose cannon. I am sorry :) ;) :) ;) :) ;) :) ;)

extlights
06-27-2007, 11:01 PM
Feel the lighting love.

Chris J
06-27-2007, 11:02 PM
Agreed. No more name calling allowed.

Chris J
06-27-2007, 11:03 PM
Stop it Dave, we are having a moment.

David Gretzmier
06-28-2007, 12:50 AM
too soft in this thread for me...

but I'd love to have so many landscape light bids that I feel the need to screen them, like I do with Christmas lights.

Pro-Scapes
06-29-2007, 12:16 AM
Another question about the fees. I read your article on it and you never charge a fee for a client you have done work for in the past.Is there any other time you waive your fee ?

Also at what point did you decide to go with the fee? before or after your propreity fixtures? I assume you used to do free consults then got sick of the running around ? I do plan to implement it Im not second guessing. I have not decided the amount but I dont think its the amount in question. Someone wont pay 19.95 for something the are not serious about.

How do you go about asking for it at the end of the meeting if they dont offer it up. Of course we want to leave things on a positive note.

Right now the other large problem I am working with is clients trying to design the systems saying they want a light here and a light there. Sometimes I agree sometimes I suggest otherwise but im not about to walk off a job because they want a pathlight where I think we shouldnt.

High Performance Lighting
06-29-2007, 12:46 AM
Another question about the fees. I read your article on it and you never charge a fee for a client you have done work for in the past.Is there any other time you waive your fee ? I've occasionally waived fees when brought in by qualified design professionals. I'll give client's of designers/architects/contractors a freebie the first time if they sound legit and could possibly bring me into a quality project. If the first meeting falls short of my expectations I become like the soup nazi on seinfeld and tell them No more free consults for your suspects! commercial properties if it is a high visibility location or a prestige project

Also at what point did you decide to go with the fee? About 10 yrs ago after sitting in a Greg Wittstock, Aquascape designs full day paid sales seminarbefore or after your propreity fixtures? before I assume you used to do free consults then got sick of the running around ? yes I do plan to implement it Im not second guessing. I have not decided the amount but I dont think its the amount in question. Someone wont pay 19.95 for something the are not serious about. I started at $40 because I think that's what Aquascape was recommending at the time, now never less than $75 and up to $500
How do you go about asking for it at the end of the meeting if they dont offer it up. OK, thank you for meeting with me I feel we've had a productive meeting, are you prepared to make the next step and retain my services today? (No i need to think about it) I understand, like I said on the phone I work on a first come first served basis. Currently my earliest availability is late october. the sooner you decide the sooner you will secure a space in my construction schedule. Your design consultation fee for today is $100. Would you like to take care of that by cash or check. Fine I'll write you a receiptOf course we want to leave things on a positive note.

Right now the other large problem I am working with is clients trying to design the systems saying they want a light here and a light there. Sometimes I agree sometimes I suggest otherwise but im not about to walk off a job because they want a pathlight where I think we shouldnt. Whose the designer, You or the owner? Tactfully explain that you appreciate their input but when it comes to fixture type,quality, location and quantity you are the expert since this is what you do for a living everyday of the week. If they still persist then nicely ask them if they are willing to pay the extra cost of making changes to their design when it doesn't turn out as they wished