Originally Posted by PaperCutter
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.
If you haven't yet measured the job then how were you able to get them to sign a contract? I'm assuming that you can't give a price until the measurements are taken.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but in my case I must do all field measurements and a rough draft before being able to give a rough quote. If I get a positive response I'll take it to the next level and meet up with them. Second time around I'm prepared with a written contract. Its what we are used to and we find what works best. Your way or my way, end results are the same.