Free Estimate or Charge?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by tiedeman, Nov 4, 2005.

  1. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    I was wondering of those give estimate to customers for maintenance, do you give them for free or charge?

    Like today I went and gave a free estimate to a lady for snow removal. I was there for almost an hour going over things with her, answering her questions, etc.

    By the time that I left there I thought to myself, "Now what happens if she doesn't go with me for service, I just lost on an hour of my time."
  2. befnme

    befnme LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,413

    i dont charge for it but i know what you mean ? what about all the commercial accts we bid . you dont just walk in and out of there it takes a while .i just dont think that with all the freebies out there that anyone would pay .
  3. Ol'time Lawncare

    Ol'time Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 497

    I give free estimates.I try to make them short.I timed myself and they take about 20 minutes,lol. one time i was faced with a customer who wasn't home for there 1st free estimate. Then she called me and asked if i would return. I said yup, but it will be $25 for the estimate... she payed and today she is one of my customers!
  4. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    thanks Brian...I guess I should have went looking around
  6. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

    actually i was hoping you got more replies than me. i was still wanting more input.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Oh you will get those like to waste your time like that, I had a few wasted 2 hours of mine before until I realized that's all they are: Time wasters. IF you get the job, it's still VERY likely going to be a real problem everytime you come out, waste of time and money one way, or the other. These particular people are far and few in between and they obviously have no respect for you or me and that is a sure sign of impending DOOM. No offense, but this is what I mean when I say ' I can see it COMING ! '

    As for me, I used to set my stopwatch (not a forward counter but a countdown timer on my Armitron digital watch) to 21 minutes and 'click' it when I got out the car to walk up to the house (cauz I didn't know how else to 'catch' those few). If by the time the beep-beep-beep of the watch goes off we are nowhere near reaching a conclusion (like in your case, I guarantee 20 minutes into it you were nowhere near), it's time to pack up and leave by any means necessary (you may have to force yourself / against their will). I have found with MOST people, you'll be in and out in way under 20 but SHOULD it beep-beep-beep during a time when this is NOT the case, why I just play kinda dumb, like my watch is beeping huh, dunno why (press a few buttons, maybe it stops :)

    But nowadays I don't even set the stopwatch... Once I have been in someone's yard a certain time (doesn't really matter how long), at one point it 'dawns' on me this could be another one of those - That or I think "gee how long have I been here" or anything like this crosses my mind, that's what I call 'it dawns on me.' And WHEN it dawns on me, I thank them for their time, and leave.

    Big waste of time what those folk are. If you don't believe me, after you've dealt with a few of them you might agree but certainly if you ever WORK for one, I can guarantee with 90% certainty you can expect nothing but trouble or at the very least it won't be no wham-bam-get-there-get-it-done-collect-your-check-and-thank-you deal.

    For everyone else, the estimate is free. But for these folk, I don't put up with it.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    No, but I have a lot less of a problem going in and spending however long it takes to come up with the price as when compared to a SIMPLE thing that shouldn't take 10 minutes but the reason it takes forever is THEY think you are like at their mercy to do with as they please.

    I mean I've had to spend 45 minutes estimating an apartment complex but then that was all ME, there was nobody there asking stupid questions and nobody delayed me unnecessarily AND it would've been a 170-dollar by-weekly deal so to me this is worth it, but not the crap we're talking about here where someone with a minor thing shouldn't take 15 minutes wants to make a big deal out of it as if they're buying a Rolls Royce and they want to decide about the accessories and color.

    Oh, one more thing: I am sorry I do not have the 'professional' answer and please do not tell me 'professional' means staying there and kissing their tail for 2 hours, unfortunately the only thing I've learned works with these folk is pack up and leave - This is one type of person I will GLADLY hand to the next Lco they call, I'm too busy to deal with it (oh, a full schedule helps).

    Yes it's a different story for a BIG job, but I don't let them fool me with this crap - A big job is a big job such as clearing a bunch of land or doing an apartment complex, NOT 'I got 50 things I want done' that does NOT make it a BIG job.
  9. BryPaulD

    BryPaulD LawnSite Senior Member
    from MI
    Posts: 392

    I'd personally like to meet the guy that invented free estimates. We'd have a lil chat. I have over the years felt like I've wasted a lot of time with estimates and end up not getting the job. You show up and your one of the at least 3 estimates they're going to get and mostly goes to the cheapest. I try to sell my butt off to them, explaining quality and professionalism, and make them a little more intelligent about the subject. Then they call (maybe) or you call them back to have them tell you oh we went with so and so but thank you for your time and we'll keep your# in case of future work. One time I did have enough of it and must have been in a bad mood or knew they were going to say that, so I said "yeah, whatever" and hung up on em' in mid sentence. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but it did feel kind of good. :)
  10. lawn_pro

    lawn_pro LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 284

    I feel the same way, seems like a waste of time sometimes but you have do do it. The ones that really are a waste- letting you know they are getting like (5) bids or just know someone is going to bid low. We actually had some lady last spring call us three different times for a bid, each time I told her I had talked to her already and given her a price. We didn't get the account but I must have spent a good 30-40 mins of time on this lady....can be sort of frustrating

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