World of free estimates

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Haulin' Grass, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. Haulin' Grass

    Haulin' Grass LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 55

    I'm thinking of not putting this in ad to avoid price shoppers. How much impact do you think it will have ? All the other LCO's in my area say it but I'm tired of two hours pounding the pavement with nothing to show but an empty fuel tank. Install's are going to get charged due to the amount of time they take price out and then I'll take it off the bill if they chose me. Too much unbillable time.
     
  2. Vikings

    Vikings LawnSite Bronze Member
    from canada
    Posts: 1,667

    Free Estimates is a given, I never include it's way too common. I mean how people think you're going to charge them for an estimate? That being said, for windows, eaves, snow I try to get as much info on the phone and can generally nail a price for them or turn them off so I don't got to drive and waste time.
     
  3. Howard Roark

    Howard Roark LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 806

    Try putting prices on your fliers or ads, even if it's a "Starting at" price. Use small font on the "starting at" and big letters in the low price that they get virtually nothing for. Use the hook, as they say.

    If everyone else uses free estimates in their ad, why the hell would they call you? Find a reason. And putting free estimates surely isn't it. Think outside the box, unlike so many people on this site who simply follow the herd and push a mower. IF you want to make serious money, then think serious. IF someone replies to a free estimate ad, chances are they replied to several free estimate ads, which means they are most likely going with the guy who comes to their house with the lowest FREE ESTIMATE.
     
  4. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I do most of my mowing estimates "sight unseen" anymore...I know many won't agree with this, but IF you are not brand-new to the business you should know your way around your service area...a few standard questions like...corner lot?...fenced backyard?...etc...you should be able to come up with a really good price without looking at it. And save yourself a ton of time in the process. And so every once in awhile you screw one up. I tell the people for instance "It should be $35 but if for some reason that's not the case, I'll let you know before doing any work"
     
  5. Haulin' Grass

    Haulin' Grass LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 55

    OK here's another question. How can the hvac, plumber and electrician charge and we can't ? Aren't we a service person also. I know we don't need a license to mow a lawn but just because you have one all of a sudden you can charge and people don't mind. Doesn't it make YOU mad or am I the only one ?

    Hollie, I think I'll try your method. I have done it in the past and I also like the flyer/ad idea too. They are both a good way to weed out the tire kickers. I'm in this to make money and if I can't time to move on and let the lowballers work for free. Momma didn't raise no dummy.
     
  6. Flow Control

    Flow Control LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,267

    It sounds like you provide an above average service compared to your competitors and you are tired of like you said pounding the pavement to compete in the rat race of competitive bidding. Your idea is basic, you are just trying to pre-qualify a potential customer. This is common practice for your upper end company in my area. Where a average install might be 7-10k you are trying to offer the 30K+ install... You start by trying to get a budget out of them and tell them you will meet them at the property for a consultation and the price of the consultation and design is $xxx.xx and will be deducted from the sale if they use you. Not sure if this works well with cold leads but should not be a problem with referrals.
     
  7. Haulin' Grass

    Haulin' Grass LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 55

    ICS, I'd like to think I provide above average services and from what customers tell me I do. I'm just trying to eliminate 10-15 hours of unbillable time. If your not making money your spending it. That's time out of my week that I can't make money and last time I checked that's the name of the game. Maybe I'm being to greedy but I'm in this to make money not lose it and if can weed out time consuming price shoppers good for me.
     
  8. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 7,961

    I don't think Free Estimate should be part of the advertisement. It does seem everyone does it on their flyer's. Need to be a good closer, if you drive out there make up your mind you are doing so to get a contract.
     
  9. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Your not fixing something thats broke. Alot of HVAC guys give a price over the phone or in flyers for MAINT work. Your there to estimate a constant repeated service. 10 or 20 bucks a cut difference adds up to alot of clients. When you shop for something new do you just go buy it or so you shop around a bit. If you peg down your service area then give the free estimate but do it by phone and also tell them that quote is subject to change with property inspection.

    For lighting we give free consults if the client pre qualifies with us. But now we are expanding our service area and will be charging XX dollars for XX miles outside our local area. If I gotta go 60 miles for lighting estimate and they ae unwilling to pay 100 bucks for the consultation I seriously doubt they will be spending several to tens of thousands with me. As you said tho you do credit that back if work is done.
     
  10. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 952

    We cant charge like plumbers, HVAC and the like becasue too many in this business are just willing to take whatever they can get. Skilled trade -vs- unskilled. Only we can change the industry but too many still are in this business to pay for their jet ski's, toys, or whatever. As LCO's we should realize our services are in demand and not be afraid if we dont sell a job it's no tthe end of the world. Try this when they call it's 25 dollars for the estimate, if they sign up then put the 25 toward their first bill.
     

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