Originally Posted by zedosix
But you must be dedicating some amount of time to these customers, people just don't write cheques based on the assumption you're going to give them what they want.
Typically, the initial consultation is free, unless they're outside my geographic area or I get the sense that all they're after is a free hour with a designer. During that time we walk the site, talk about the issues, what they want to do, and go through my portfolio. I then go back and work up what I expect the design to take me and send them a design proposal (flat fee) that outlines scope of work, deliverables, and timeframe. If they send me the signed contract and the deposit check, I schedule a time to go out and measure. If not, I send them a thank you card and move on to the next one.
I have had a couple here and there who expect me (and typically 3-4 other designers) to measure and basemap everything, then submit "a concept sketch that's all I need, shouldn't take you more than a couple minutes, just so I can be sure we're on the same page." Yeah, no. It doesn't work that way.