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View Full Version : Charge for an estimate?


redfox033
10-06-2008, 07:50 PM
I don't normally charge for an estimate, but I want your feed back on this one. I picked up this ladies yard at the start of the season, in April she asked for a price on fertilizing her yard 4 times over the year. I gave her a price and didn't hear anything else, about 3 weeks later a ask her if she still wanted it fertilized, she said her son would do it when he comes in town every other month... I said ok sounds good. In June she asked me about trimming her bushes, again I gave her a price. A few weeks later, same thing... her son is going to do it. (bushes are still not trimmed) Then at the end of Aug, she wants a price on aerating, over seeding and fert. Ok I didn't want to, but I gave her a price. She said it sounds good, but she wants to wait a maybe have it done next year. Now she wants an estimate on landscaping around her house, I would say a ball park of $4200.00 to $4500.00. It will take me some time to get prices on everything and draw up some plans. I'm thinking about telling her I would have to charge her $250.00 for an estimate and if she wants it done I will take the $250.00 off the price. Is this fare? Would you charge for an estimate in this spot. I almost know when I give her the estimate she will just say ok and then never want it done.

I also want to say that I like mowing her yard because its an easy flat yard I can ride and she always pays me on time. What should I do?

newtostone
10-06-2008, 07:56 PM
Yes, very fair, if someone is serious it wont matter to them once you let them know that you'll take the cost of the estimate off the price of the job. If she is just a talker she will shut up.

lawn crafters
10-06-2008, 08:07 PM
yea i would charge for a estimate of anything over a lawn cutting. but you dont want to pressure her into it if she doesnt have the money

redfox033
10-06-2008, 08:13 PM
Thanks lawn crafters, and newtostone; I will tell her $250.00 for a detailed estimate.

Runner
10-06-2008, 08:22 PM
Yep. And let her know that the estimate cost IS credited when she purchases the install service.

david shumaker
10-06-2008, 08:49 PM
I've had people that want me to drive 20 miles to give an estimate on about 1 or 2 hours work. Also, some people just want an estimate so they will know how much to pay their kids or the neighborhood kids to do the job (like leaves). If it's not on my route and a small job, I try to give an estimate on the phone and tell them it could be more or less depending on how long the job takes. If it's on my route, I will stop by their house and leave an estimate. I don't know of any other contractor's or service companies that give free estimates on an hours work. They charge for a service call to just come and look. The lady you are talking about, sounds like she just wants alot of estimates and will wait until she finds somebody that will work for food until she has the work done.

sweetz
10-06-2008, 10:19 PM
I've run into the same problems. That is the number I have chosen myself. $250.00. We CAN'T give FREE estimates out for landscapes, etc. It just doesn't make any sense at all.

Florida Gardener
10-06-2008, 11:08 PM
yes, def charge for that. It's not just giving a quote for a a lawn of doing shrubs....

if she is SERIOUS, she will have no problem paying. It will save you time in the end

good luck and let us know what happens

capetan
10-06-2008, 11:15 PM
Before you just say $250 for the estimate...i would first go over the whole estimate process, and expectations from you and her ...... good luck but dont invest to much time and energy

Kennedy Landscaping
10-06-2008, 11:18 PM
Charge, she is wasting your time. I she is serious she won't fuss over it. If she isn't she will turn around and run

WifeyD
10-06-2008, 11:35 PM
She sound like a nice lady that is a good client. If I were you, I'd offer to give her an estimate but tell her you will have to charge her. Tell her that the cost will be put towards the project. I wouldn't give her a number because she most likely won't even use your services. If she still seems interested, then go with it. I also think that if she is a cheap older lady she may be offended that all your other estimates were free and this one isn't.. and then throwing a $250 price tag ontop of that probably won't make her happy... it's all about keeping the client happy right?!

Ric3077
10-07-2008, 12:00 AM
Charge her...she needs to learn to stop bothering you unless she is going to pull the trigger on the project. If she goes with you she gets the money credited so the risk is minimal for her.

Micheal2008
10-07-2008, 01:22 AM
Maybe she likes you :)

topsites
10-07-2008, 03:14 AM
No, you'll only alienate this customer, she's probably aware of what she's doing
but as likely unaware of the side effects from your side of the fence.

Regardless, it comes across hard, defensive, punitive, like she's being punished (which granted I understand)
for something the customer as if not more than likely does not understand, thus it helps to educate, politely.

The quick way is tell her if she wants to hire the kid to just pay them $10 an hour, that has been the standard fare for
this type of work for many years and should still be acceptable today. Yes, this works.

For this next part to work it is best to put it in your own words, and for that to happen
it is helpful to have an understanding of what an estimate actually is.

An estimate is a decision-making tool for the customer to decide whether or not to hire you,
that is all an estimate is, that is why it is given, and that is how it is to be used,
and once that tool is used for other purposes it no longer serves its original intent.

So another way to handle this would be to politely bring up the entire string of events,
explain that your estimates are for their decision-making involving you and your business
only and that while you can appreciate the logic behind the tactic that unfortunately
you can not provide valuable knowledge without return on the investment.

And if she's like Huh?
Tell her you can't give out prices for customer disposal or perusal,
an estimate is only free because it is not feasible to charge for it,
but estimates do involve a cost in terms of labor hours, experience and knowledge.

And if that doesn't work or it's too hard to remember just stick with the 'hire the kid for $10 an hour' line.

That should take care of it, for the most part.

02DURAMAX
10-07-2008, 04:10 AM
I think its fare!

sa1lng
10-07-2008, 04:12 PM
I agree with one of the other posters. Charge a nominal fee...maybe an estimate fee of $100. and apply it as a credit to the job if she decides to have it done. 1) it pays you for your time if she doesn't move forward. 2) it might encourage her to get the work done as she has already spent $100

brandtb1
10-07-2008, 05:03 PM
If you like her business, I would not charge for the estimate. You gave it to us for free $4200- $5000. I would give her that range and let her know for a fee ($250) that you could draw up plans for her. If she uses you to landscape the house, You can credit that fee off the final invoice. Since you have given her the range, she cannot be shocked if you come in at $4500 and then does not want you to do it. If you tell her that you are charging for an estimate, she will be a little upset. If you give her a range and then charge to work up plans, she should be fine with it. Some people (not me) make a good living by drawing plans for people and then having other companies install everything.

NC Greenscaper
10-07-2008, 05:42 PM
charge her? She's going to get the estimate to her son to do.

mississippiturf
10-07-2008, 06:15 PM
All good advice here. Provided her history, I would probably just explain that you have spent some time in the past of giving her estimates and you'll be glad to provide another one, at a cost to later be applied to the work done.

TreePro
10-15-2008, 12:07 PM
it's all about keeping the client happy right?!

Actually no, when it comes down to it, it's all about profit. If she is hurting your bottom line, by all means charge. I wish everyone in the industry did this to help weed out cheap customers. Give them all to the cut throats!

tlc23
10-15-2008, 12:34 PM
You can't charge her for the estimate and you can't give her a estimate without a design first. What you do is charge her 250 for the design and the estimate is still free for the cost. How can you know what to charge without knowing what plants ect. you will be using.

American_Lawn
10-15-2008, 02:42 PM
If you like her business, I would not charge for the estimate. You gave it to us for free $4200- $5000. I would give her that range and let her know for a fee ($250) that you could draw up plans for her. If she uses you to landscape the house, You can credit that fee off the final invoice. Since you have given her the range, she cannot be shocked if you come in at $4500 and then does not want you to do it. If you tell her that you are charging for an estimate, she will be a little upset. If you give her a range and then charge to work up plans, she should be fine with it. Some people (not me) make a good living by drawing plans for people and then having other companies install everything.

I think a range is better. I usually tell people what I charge pr man hour and about how long it will take. Then I tell them the rest is up to materials, how long it takes to determine materials.... eventually you get paid to do the estimate. If she seems shocked at the 4500, then you know that she is most likely not going to go for it. If she says its ok, then charge her for your time to figure up the bid. Make a fee of 20/hr figuring out materials and things, something to that nature.

DLAWNS
10-15-2008, 05:02 PM
I would definitely charge her for the estimate. Especially after she's played so many games in the past. Just be careful how you present the fee to her. I would explain that this is your policy for big landscape jobs, that way she doesn't think you are singling her out and you won't lose the lawn account.