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LawnSite Senior Member
South West PA
Had some thoughts the other day. I was talking to a retired OPE dealer about people wanting free advice, and the time that we spend taking and eduicating them for essentially nothing.

He said that he implemented a program for estimates. He charged for them, with the estimate charge being applied twords the repair if they had him do the repair. He ran into too many people bringing in machinery wanting a price on repair, he would diagnosis the problem, and call with the repair. Many times, they got what they needed, a diagnosis. They would then do the repairs themselves.

I understand that this is commonplace with many types of business, including ours.

I have been called out for estimates by folks that had no intention of having the work done. They simply wanted advice on how to do the job, so that they could do it themselves. Not so much for mowing/mulching, but more for lawn renovations, fertilizer, pruning... THey get free advice.

I thought about offering a consult. For a fee, I would make a site visit, create a detailed lawn report, and write a "prescription" for them, offering a course of action. I could get detailed with fertilizer specifics, spec different products... I could include a followup visit or two, to check on progress, and make any changes to the program.

Granted, the leeches would still probally call for the FREE estimate, but I think that there are some good natured pepole out there that are willing to pay for my time.

I don't think that it would be viable to market this service only, it could simply be an addition to a line on a business card or flyer.

What could you charge, $30? A customer could throw away more than that on a sack of fertilizer that they don't need, or is the wrong product.

Doctors, Laywers, accounts and the like charge to advise us, why shouldn't we charge to advise our customers?

Samurai WeedWacker

LawnSite Member
Laramie WY
To chase away the Cheap Charlies I've begun charging $10 for a simple estimate for anyone for whom I've done an estimate previously but didn't get the job.
I'm SO happy that I'm doing well enough to no longer be interested in 'low bid' situations.


LawnSite Silver Member
Central CT
My friend who is a building contractor has to deal with people all the time, wanting him to give bids and draw up plans for additions and such for free. He will not talk to a potentrial client unless they have drawings in hand, and does not distribute material lists without a deposit.

A local nursery will give you a 20 minute consult for $20 which includes a material list. I too agree that diagnosis should be for a fee but estimates, sans any pertinent information should be free.


LawnSite Senior Member
One of the larger tree services here justed started charging for estimates/consultations i'll have to get in touch with him and see how it's working for them. There are consulting arborists around here too that don't do any actual service except consulting.


LawnSite Senior Member
Flint, Michigan
It is a great idea. For potential mowing customers provided by referal there is no charge for estimates. When it comes to landscaping that is a different story. We give an hour for free, any thing extra is hourly.


LawnSite Senior Member
southern ohio
If you can get it, then go for it. It makes perfect sense and I wish the market was that way for everyone. Sometimes I do cold calling on potential customers that I really would like to add to my account base. Sometimes those potential customers run me ragged on stupid questions and side bar estimates when I'm trying to get their business on the whole she-bang. What can you do?
For myself, I spend very little time giving estimates and consulting once the season has started because I'm to busy to take on any more. That's when it get's good. People keep calling you and you keep telling them you're too busy untill you finally say, "Sir, we're so swamped we've been forced to charge a consult for coming out, but with that we'll give you a complete lawn analysis at no extra charge". It may work.

Lawn Services

LawnSite Member
the way i do estimates is i charge $20 dallors
to do a estimate but i let the custermer know that
if he or she does go with me that i will credit there
account with that $20 dallors and if they dont well
i was paid for my time becuase we all know time is