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Qualifying Estimates!

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by dominion Lawns, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. dominion Lawns

    dominion Lawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9

    What ideas do you all have about estimating? Not pricing, we know to the penny what we have to charge for our company to meet minimum profits. We go on so many estimates and never here from them again. Our company spends approx. $1,000.00 per month on estimates we do not get. We make a nice apperence, have the nice vehicles, we leave nice brochures.

    We have come up with ballpark pricing for our patio's,fences & decks to give the customer a heads up. We do the same with our lawn treatment pricing as well. Do you guys ask for a commitment before going to the home? if so how is it set up? Do you all charge a fee?
  2. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    I agree with you completely.
  3. dominion Lawns

    dominion Lawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9

    Thanks Team-Green, I like this tool. How do your get potential customers to go to it? Customer calls in office, do you talk them through the process then schedule an appointment? Has this been succesful in selling the jobs you estimate in this manner?

    What about asking for a commitment, we get, "looks good but i have to talk it over with my wife or husband." Never a call back, most of them never get the work done at all.

    In our industry there are just to many low-ballers.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    It boils down to practice, tactics, and experience.

    Around here I call it pre-screening, or cherry picking.
    And for that to work I watch out for red flags.
    My favorite is red flags on the phone, saves me a trip.

    It boils down to experience:
    How many times have you heard some line of bewlshed vs. how many times it worked out?
    How many times does it walk, talk, and look like a duck vs. how many times it IS a duck.
    When the odds are like that, I don't even bother.

    I don't give written estimates before decision time.
    You're as well off telling them the total verbally, yes or no doesn't require all that written information.
    Once they decide you might send it to them in writing, for final approval.

    That, for the most part, saves me the most time and frustration.
    Whether you'll be better off in the end, that I could not tell you :laugh:
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Oh yeah, reading between the lines helps.

    This: "looks good but i have to talk it over with my wife or husband."
    Means: "No"

    One of my rules: In exchange for the 'free' estimate, I need a definite YES for an answer, and soon.
    Unfortunately you can't make them do it, but anything except a specific YES automatically means NO.
    No also means you can't call me in 6 months for that way back when estimate.
    Estimates are good for 24 hours, yes or no, come on now.
    Yup, even in 30 days or 2 weeks later, it's no good.
    Forget it, they done called all around or played some kind of fiddle faddle.
    So that helps as well, yes or no, please and thank you.
    Don't push it or force it thou, just let them do.
    No if you force it or push, it can and will backfire.
    But if they can't decide = no.

    Now that comes with experience, I think you're getting the practice part down good thou :laugh:
    Hey I'm sorry, but how do you get experience if you don't practice?

    In the case of employees, you'll also want to cherry pick.
    You don't want to send just anybody out to give estimates, so to speak.
    Send your most experienced man out, and another along for training.
    It's not about the pricing, that's but one aspect, it's about reading the customer and everything else.
    IF you're the most experienced, then you go and bring 1-2 employees along at all times.
    Eventually I think one or more will stand out from the rest in closures.
    There's your guy.

    So, training, in the case of employees.

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