Charge a deposit for initial estimate?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Doster's L & L, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. Doster's L & L

    Doster's L & L LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    Do you guys charge a deposit to look at someone's landscape? I get some tire kickers now and then wanting to "see what it costs" to do this or that. I end up wasting my free time and gas to tell someone what it costs to do this or that. I'm thinking about charging a $50 deposit to look at someone's "whatever" and when we agree on the appropriate work for the appropriate moneys then the $50 deposit comes off the final price.

    To me, this is fair. What do you think? How would you handle this otherwise?
  2. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

  3. Mike33

    Mike33 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,649

    Lots of luck!
  4. steve5966

    steve5966 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 210

    You will have lots of free time.
  5. Doster's L & L

    Doster's L & L LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    So i should consider absorbing the cost of time and money it takes to give the estimates as the cost of doing business. That's what i'm getting from these responses. Does anyone here require a deposit?
  6. Mike33

    Mike33 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,649

    Elements of business, i have been doing it for 12 years. You mean like working all day than running all eve looking at jobs coming home at dark than sitting on pc finishing your estimate. Also spending a lot of fuel, doing small designs, bull shitting with a guy who wanted someone to talk to instead of actual spending his money with you. If so this is the landscaping business elements of business i do it all the time and when i find a better trade ill move on. In the mean time i will beat this path hard from march to november and make a damn good living. Your choice.
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Charging for estimates isn't a wise idea, IMO.

    But if you're looking for ways to get rid of 95% of the tire kickers, I've got a good solution. PM me with your email address.
  8. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    Unless you're really well known, especially for niche market items like water gardens, you'll have a hard time with that. Where you can start to weed out the tire kickers is by charging for designs. Even if it's a small planting plan (like a bed or foundation planting), you can always charge $200-300 and offer to rebate all or part if they go with you. Mention this as part of your telephone pre-screening (you prescreen on the phone, right?) and you'll see the punters drop off. Plus, if they agree to pay you for a design they're saying that they trust you as an authority and value your expertise, and it makes them that much more likely to hire you for the job. Social psychologists call it consistency- we humans want to be consistent in all our actions.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I don't do any big jobs for new customers.
    I might go look at it, but much like yourself I already know what's coming.

    They want this and that, and firlyfanz here pootie that there pattycake hippity hop and lalala crickity crack...
    And I'm supposed to smile and be polite and everything's oh so nice hehehe and teeheehee
    This goes on until ...

    I'm like uhhhh, no...
    It's my way, or no way.

    Stuff like that for me is for long term regular customers only.
    I mean those who've been with me for more than a year or two.
    Takes time.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    The one other thing I've tried, but it takes a bit of skill...
    Because it's bad enough I waste my time, but what really burns is I just gave them the whole plan !
    Tire kickers my butt, they wanted free ideas!!!

    Don't explain it, just come up with it, give them the price and that is all.
    It helps to not set up appointments, get the address and pop in at random.

    Go out and look at it, figure it all out right quick come up with a price and give it to them, overestimate if you have to but get it done.

    You know: we want it to look good.
    So then I go out and uhhh ok, cut grass, trim bushes, clear leaves and treat weeds, mulch, ahhhhh...
    Yes or no.
    That's it, take it or leave it.

    Hasn't worked thus far, I keep getting this 'but we want to talk to you'
    Then I'm like 'talk about what?'
    'well like how we're going to do this'

    oh boy...

    But I didn't give them my plan, that used to burn me, this at least prevents it.

    You just might try that charge for the design bit, I do like the idea it's just not my style.

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