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seolatlanta
04-04-2008, 11:29 PM
I am sure this has been beaten to death , but I searched it and came up with everything under the sun.

Do you guys charge $75-$100 when you go out for the consultation. I know a guy here who is going to go out and do an initial consult , take pictures, do a thorough walkthrough and get a feel for the property.

Then he tells them he will draw up a design and proposal and if they want him to come back out he wants $100 , credited to the job if sold. What do you guys think?

I told him when they call ask if they will pay for a consultation and are willing to pay $2k at least for a system - if they say yes , they are obviously a good customer.

What do you guys do to qualify prospects?

pete scalia
04-04-2008, 11:32 PM
Tell them over the phone -you make me come out there and then don't buy from me and I'll break your freakin' head you miserable degenerate. Except freakin' is substituted for a more powerful word. I don't get many sits but the ones I do get usually go along with the program especially when I bring my uncle Nunzio.

Chris J
04-04-2008, 11:37 PM
His methods sound similar, but in most cases you either tell the customer there is an initial consultation fee before you arrive, or you meet with them for free and tell them there will be a design fee before you begin your process. I've never heard of this approach before, and it sounds quite silly (personally).
When a prospect calls me, I first ask them how they heard of me. This will tell you alot. If they say "yellow pages" then I'll tell them the average job is 6k. If they say they live next door to one of my customers who gave them my number, I say nothing about price until I get there because I believe they already know it's going to be expensive.

klkanders
04-04-2008, 11:59 PM
I know a guy here who is going to go out and do an initial consult , take pictures, do a thorough walkthrough and get a feel for the property.

Then he tells them he will draw up a design and proposal and if they want him to come back out he wants $100 , credited to the job if sold. What do you guys think?



If I was the tire kicking kind of customer I would ask a ton of questions and get his design ideas free from him that first visit.
I like the idea of prequalify over the phone before any investment is made such as fuel, time, pictures, etc...

pete scalia
04-05-2008, 12:07 AM
If I was the tire kicking kind of customer I would ask a ton of questions and get his design ideas free from him that first visit.
I like the idea of prequalify over the phone before any investment is made such as fuel, time, pictures, etc...

You say this like it's a new idea to you. Man this is sales 101. What is going on here?

klkanders
04-05-2008, 12:16 AM
You say this like it's a new idea to you. Man this is sales 101. What is going on here?

Sorry I meant to say......Here is what Pete says.....:)
:drinkup:

Pro-Scapes
04-05-2008, 01:09 AM
we have done the free consult and charged for it a few times. We are on a good roll for pre qualifying as calls have been coming as a result of a nice project we did but once we get bitten again there will be a fee. Missed appointments do not get reschedualed unless they agree to a fee.

I dont think it matters if you charge 39 bucks or 200 bucks. Someone just price shopping wont pay a nickle unless they are serious. My computer just crashed. They wanted 39 bucks just to give me an estimate in 3 days to repair it... an additional 69 if I wanted it rushed. All that and I had to go to them.

With fuel prices the way they are I think alot of us might be better off with a reasonable fee unless its a refferal or a client you have previously done work for.

seolatlanta
04-05-2008, 08:48 AM
Actually , I thought it was way too silly also , but he is trying it. He believes that his 2 step process will take time to develop but it will work for him.

He is a landscape designer at heart, and he can really draw, freestyle by hand and with autocad also.His belief is if he can show his drawings it is indicative of his level of work.

Anyway, I'm just the messenger , and any ideas shared here can be fine tuned and possibly your advantage someday.

Lite4
04-05-2008, 09:39 AM
I just instituted using a fee based consultation. Here is why, You will eliminate those who are just looking for you to show them where to place their box store junk. If they aren't seriously considering lighting they won't waste your time. If they are serious they won't mind. look at it from this angle. If you charge a fee it tells them you are very busy and know your stuff. It also tells them you don't like having your time wasted by tire kicking. When I go out to meet them I will walk the property and most times will set up a demonstration. I am spending an entire evening with them. If they don't purchase I better get something for the time I am spending away from my family and to cover gas. If they go to my website I send every one through my consultation and Design page which explains my conditions and charges for meeting with them. They will also get a pretty good idea of my pricing. If they agree they will contact me and I already have a pre quallified client on the other end of the line. Just my thoughts.

Pro-Scapes
04-05-2008, 11:31 AM
Mike G has an excellent article on his site about this subject. I think it is important how you present it to the client and assure them the fee is applied to any project or service.

When I go out on a service call for someone elses system the client is informed of the service charge before I even show up.

You just have to be careful about who you charge the fee to. We are about to remodel and put that addition on the house and I would of been happy to give the 3 contractors we called a reasonable fee for estimating and giving me the required breakdown of the costs but had they just said "I charge 100 bucks to come out" I would of been like no thanks.

If they presented it " I would be happy to come out and meet with you. I have a 100 dollar charge for custom work and consultations which will include a full estimate. The consult fee will be applied to any project placed on the schedual." If they bark about 50 or 100 or 150 or whatever your fee is what do you think they are going to say when you get out to thier multi million dollar home and your price tag is 15k ?

seolatlanta
04-05-2008, 11:57 AM
All of these are good points-I think whatever works with your geographic area and your selling style are fine. The key is to not run away potential customers.

Mike G has also said that his business went through the roof when he started to charge , even though it was quite scary at the time.

NightLightingFX
04-06-2008, 07:35 PM
I think it comes down to basic "Supply & Demand." Currently I don't charge a consultation fee - I need all the prospects I need. I will prequalify them however. If a min of $2,000 scares them off, then they weren't worth the time. My goal is to be busy enough to have the confidence to charge a consultation fee up front. If I have to travel, more than 30 min, I will charge a consultation fee. The more I am in "Demand" then I guess I may consider a consultation fee. But for me right now "beggers can't be choosey."
~Ned

extlights
04-06-2008, 10:11 PM
We don't charge for consultations, and we probably never will. If you're a good salesperson and can pre-qualify really well, then a fee shouldn't even be an issue. I will say that advertising is also a key ingredient. If you're not hitting your correct target market then you will get a lot of price shoppers and tire kickers, but if you've found you're market and your adressing those people then you should have an easier time pre-qualifying and you're closing ratio will rise..thus knocking down dead end leads and unnecessary trips.

The Lighting Geek
04-07-2008, 12:28 AM
I am right in there with Dave. I have never charged for a demo or to consult concerning landscape lighting unless it is understood that I am not doing the work and I am there strictly as an outside consultant. I do some interior consultations and charge for it. Charging for a demo, for instance, is like asking a car dealer to charge for a test drive. Yes, they will prequalify you.

David Gretzmier
04-07-2008, 11:37 PM
I think everyone would like to be paid for everything they do, but sometimes you are marketing your company. and usually, that costs you money. salary for sales persons is always listed under marketing for companies for an obvious reason- it is a marketing expense. going out to sell your company and the product you install is sales and marketing. I really don't feel customers should pay for it. If I do a simple repair while I'm there, fine, sometimes I'll ask for something to cover my time/gas.

Drawing up nice plans for cusomers to see and read is design, not sales. If customers can take the design and do it themselves, that should be charged for. draftsmen charge dearly for even simple plans. we should as well.

Plans for installation crews that are simple and not really readable by the general public and not to scale, should not directly be charged for. that should be covered in your installation of the lights.

pete scalia
04-08-2008, 12:03 AM
Anyone who charges for an estimate is a crook and should be branded a heretic.

Pro-Scapes
04-08-2008, 12:47 AM
Dont charge for the estimate. Charge for the consultation and your knowledge.

Lite4
04-08-2008, 10:21 AM
I guess I am a heretic. I just put it on my site. Mike G said it worked for him and his business exploded after, so I am going to give it a tumble. Some of you guys may have crews to install for you so you can freely go on consultations, but I am a single operator and I have to guard and recoup my time somehow. Besides, I have had way too many instances of going out meeting with customers and setting up demos ( and yes, even prequaifying on basic system costs) but I drive by a week later and here are a bunch of home Cheapo fixtures in all the spots I had set my lights up for them. What do I have to show for my time, $0.00 If they are serious and really want it, they won't mind paying a small fee, which I clearly explain will be credited back to them if they sign a new project with me. If they are just looking for ideas on light placement, well, they can pay for my time. I have invested a lot of my time and money to learn to do what I do. This is no different than any speciailist in his field of expertise. I'll let you know how it works. Who knows it may be a total bust in my area, but I don't think so.

extlights
04-08-2008, 10:49 AM
I guess what confuses me is how would a business "explode" after charging for demo's or consults? Aren't the same people going to call anyway? It's not like the people who are willing to pay a consult fee aren't going to call because you don't charge one. I can see how it could possibly cut down on the price/design shoppers, but if you're hitting your 2% then more often than not those are the people who aren't going to head out to Home Cheapo and install some Malibu lights themselves anyway.

I guess my outlook on it is that I don't want to deter anyone that we target from calling us. We've gotton a lot of 5-6K dollar jobs over the years from people who originally didn't even want to spend 2K.

pete scalia
04-08-2008, 08:59 PM
Mike G, Mike G, Mike G what in God's name does he know about anything? I'll tell you what absolutely nothing that's what. Who listens to that blow hard anyway. Where does he get the nerve to post those falsehoods and falacies on his website. He's not charging anything for an estimate. He's probably paying the prospect to come out whose kidding who? Probably doing free demo's or even paying the customer to set up his lame lights on their site and then begs for the job. Don't get me started I've seen this holier than thou type before. I know the game. If he knows so much then why is he giving it away free? If it's free it has to be crap. worthless information from this shameless self promoter. I can write lame articles too and act like I'm all that. Now that's the last I want to hear of that shyster.

irrig8r
04-08-2008, 09:13 PM
Mike G, Mike G, Mike G what in God's name does he know about anything? I'll tell you what absolutely nothing that's what. Who listens to that blow hard anyway. Where does he get the nerve to post those falsehoods and falacies on his website. He's not charging anything for an estimate. He's probably paying the prospect to come out whose kidding who? Probably doing free demo's or even paying the customer to set up his lame lights on their site and then begs for the job. Don't get me started I've seen this holier than thou type before. I know the game. If he knows so much then why is he giving it away free? If it's free it has to be crap. worthless information from this shameless self promoter. I can write lame articles too and act like I'm all that. Now that's the last I want to hear of that shyster.

Funny how when you talk about Mike G. some people around here think you sound even more like his alter ego... Not me of course, I know better... but they're saying its kind of a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide thing...

extlights
04-08-2008, 09:27 PM
Everyone has their own way. We all know that what might work for one might not work for another. I understand that gas prices are rising and that everyone's time is worth something, but unless you are booked for months in advanced (which is seems like Mike G. usually is) I don't see how charging for a consult/demo will help your business. It's basic sales 101.... the more people you get in front of, the more sales you will make.

Look at it this way....you can say if someone is really serious then they won't mind paying $100 bucks for a demo (which is fine)....I say is it worth a lousy 100 bucks and a couple of hours of my time to potentially loose out on a 3K on up project? (Which could turn into even more through referrals and the maintenance contracts.) :)

pete scalia
04-08-2008, 09:37 PM
You'd better believe it. If I wasn't in the business I wouldn't pay dime 1 for a demo or an estimate. I'd take advantage of every poor jamoke who came down the pike by having him set up his lights and leave them for a few days. Once he's gone I take out the digi camera and document the locations. Use this crumbs equipment to experiment with and then give him some lame excuse that I'd have to talk it over with my wife and I'd get back to them. I might even take his GE lamps out and swap them for home cheapo offshore MR-16's. Once the coast is clear I make a phone call to Bissett and buy the Cast equivalents. Slap em in and be done with it. Save myself a coupla grand and blow it down at the Jersey shore or Atlantic city. Make some poor unsuspecting lighting guy pay for my vacation.

klkanders
04-09-2008, 12:30 AM
You'd better believe it. If I wasn't in the business I wouldn't pay dime 1 for a demo or an estimate. I'd take advantage of every poor jamoke who came down the pike by having him set up his lights and leave them for a few days. Once he's gone I take out the digi camera and document the locations. Use this crumbs equipment to experiment with and then give him some lame excuse that I'd have to talk it over with my wife and I'd get back to them. I might even take his GE lamps out and swap them for home cheapo offshore MR-16's. Once the coast is clear I make a phone call to Bissett and buy the Cast equivalents. Slap em in and be done with it. Save myself a coupla grand and blow it down at the Jersey shore or Atlantic city. Make some poor unsuspecting lighting guy pay for my vacation.

You say this like it's a new idea to you. Man this is sales 101. What is going on here?

Pro-Scapes
04-09-2008, 10:51 AM
I think all of the pro's here have something special to offer. I think showing your time is of value will raise the quality of your leads. Tim I like how you outlined your terms. I think any client who is understanding would accept thoes terms. The fee may scare some away but the ones who do call will be more than serious. I think it will also up the attention span of clients when you are at the property. One of my new terms is ALL decision makers must be present.

pete scalia
04-09-2008, 09:17 PM
You say this like it's a new idea to you. Man this is sales 101. What is going on here?

Naturally it is