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Old 02-16-2014, 10:10 PM
JB1's Avatar
JB1 JB1 is online now
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: From the hills of beautiful Southern Indiana
Posts: 5,954
I get calls from people that has had some property damage and looking for estimates for insurance and I will charge for them.
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Old 02-17-2014, 09:20 AM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Northern VA
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I make it really simple. Every install has two phases, the design process and the estimating & construction process. The second cannot happen without the first, and a s a design/consulting firm we charge for that phase. You have to know your market and know what the quantity of leads you can expect is, though, because obviously this slows the flow. On the positive side, you're only seeing qualified, serious buyers at this point. Someone "calling around for estimates" isn't going to hop on board.

You need to know what you're selling and how you're selling it, and recognize that if you hit resistance on the phone you're highly unlikely to convince them of the value of paid design services at the appointment.

I guess a good thing with being in the DC market is the fact that the people in gov't work understand bidding. I've had people argue with me that they send out RFPs all day long and get loads of responses, to which I ask "but have you set all the specifications, and everyone is bidding the exact same thing?" The good ones go "ohhhhhhh I get it" and the others get told thanks so much for calling but I don't think we're a fit for what you're looking for.
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Old 02-17-2014, 09:25 AM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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Location: Northern VA
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oh and $100 for a design fee reads as "I really don't want your business but throw some beer money at me and I'll make some scratches." There's a certain threshold at which people instinctively go "that's not cheap, it must be good."
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Old 02-25-2014, 11:40 AM
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MarkintheGarden MarkintheGarden is offline
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Location: St. Louis, MO
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I do estimates for free and I do a lot of free consultation advising people about their options and evaluating their landscapes.

When preparing an estimate requires work and research, then there should be a cost for it. I do not do the kinds of estimates that should have a cost.

I do design for a fee. In order to get paid to do design you need to be able to produce a design that has value. That means it needs to be a design that satisfies the clients needs but also has the expertise needed for the job. It also needs to be complete and detailed enough so that another professional could install the landscape.

In many cases I do the design work for free and build in the cost to my estimates. If I do the design for free, it is my design and I own it. So they do not get it unless I do the install.

I do a good bit of consulting for free, but I am doing more fee based consulting. It has taken a lot of experience and training to develop the skills to provide consultation that has value and can be provided on a case by case basis.

It comes down to the fact that you can charge for things that have value. You cannot charge people for estimates, designs and consultation that does not have value.
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