When do you stop giving free estimates??

DunRite

New member
Gents
I know in our industry we basically go out (if we go out) view a job and give an estimate- either written or verbal

I posted my dilemma once before (maybe on another industry forum, idk) regarding people who seek estimates so they can shop them

Recently, and in the past, every so often ill get a call asking for an estimate for say painting some rooms

Ill go to the house,meet the client, do a walk through and come up with a detailed proposal that i usually email

sometimes ill present it on the spot if after talking with them feel like i can close it- otherwise it does take some time as they are usually somewhat more involved than PW bids

So i had a guy call me, request an estimate which i went out on, spent time there (1 hr+) asked him if i had everything and emailed him a proposal

He calls me back a few days later and says there are a couple of things he wants to add that we didn't discuss (which i thought was strange as i was clear when i was there i had everything) and if i could come back out. i asked what they were and it was a few doors which i told him that i could just include.

He calls again wishing to add more stuff that he forgot about (basement) and asks if i will come out to look at it.

I asked him if in a perfect world if i went back out and included the other work in my bid and everything seemed good ( the scope, the price) are you considering likely to hiring me- he says YES- that he liked me , my company, etc and would definitely hire me

I was skeptical he was shopping my bid so i told him i would come out but i would have to charge him $250 which he could apply to the contract price afterward. I explained my time is valuable and if he was going to probably use me anyway it wouldnt cost him anything.

After hearing that he balked- "Arent your estimates free?" to which i reiterated my position

He declined and i havent heard from him since

Just curious what you guys think about this
 

Johnson

New member
I think you talked him out of hiring you by asking for a fee after the original (free) visit.
As a homeowner I would've been offended too.
But if you feel you did what was right....
 

Matty P

New member
People shop bids with painting all the time. No different than pw'ing except there's a lot more people doing it. The only reason I say that is because we shopped bids last summer and prices were all over the place. Some were insanely high (200/hour based on how long I know it would take me to do it) and some were stupid low.

Painting is a different animal anyway as there are so many variables. I think if I were in your shoes I would have done the same thing, you get that vibe when somebody might turn into an issue.

I've had people ask for more after an estimate for washing, I'll throw a high number at them and then state that it could be lower but we'll see when I show up.
 
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814jeffw

Active member
Free estimates are like free shipping. Is it really free, or is it part of the price,..kinda' sneaked in? I mean we know UPS, FedEx etc,..aren't bringing merchandise for free,..
People like to hear, "FREE" though.
The only time a free estimate is free I guess is if they don't take your proposal,...then you just charge the next customer more to cover it,Ha,Ha,Ha,... ,...

I would have handled it differently,..I would have went and looked at the work again,..and come up with a way to make it worth my time in the estimate. Problem here is it only works IF they take your proposal.

* I hear what your saying, I've had customers over the years call me three times to get me to come look at work over a 3-5 year period. They never get the work done.
1st. and 2nd. time I go,...3rd. time they call,..I tell them they aren't gonna do the work anyhow and I'm done coming out.

Jeff
 

DunRite

New member
Free estimates are like free shipping. Is it really free, or is it part of the price,..kinda' sneaked in? I mean we know UPS, FedEx etc,..aren't bringing merchandise for free,..
People like to hear, "FREE" though.
The only time a free estimate is free I guess is if they don't take your proposal,...then you just charge the next customer more to cover it,Ha,Ha,Ha,... ,...

I would have handled it differently,..I would have went and looked at the work again,..and come up with a way to make it worth my time in the estimate. Problem here is it only works IF they take your proposal.

* I hear what your saying, I've had customers over the years call me three times to get me to come look at work over a 3-5 year period. They never get the work done.
1st. and 2nd. time I go,...3rd. time they call,..I tell them they aren't gonna do the work anyhow and I'm done coming out.

Jeff

Jeff - i ran into this a lot after Hurricane Sandy & Irene

I found a lot of people were collecting estimates, submitting them as a claim then pocketing the money

Although i have a template i use, my proposals/estimates are detailed

I have no issue going back out if i feel the client is seriously considering using my services

But where is the line drawn??
 

814jeffw

Active member
Hey Mike, drawing the line is obviously up to you,..because you are the only one who knows if it's worth your time or not. Customer attitude, distance, etc.. are all things to consider.

Sucks losing work,...I'd probably go back one more time and try to work through it,.and tell him to make sure he's got all his ducks in a row this time. BUT,..you may just be sick of this particular deal??

*Make him put up,...If he's serious about hiring you, then tell him you'll give the proposal on the additional work when you get there to start the original proposed work.

Jeff
 

Mark 8262

Residential and Commercial Pressure Washing Specia
one thing you could do in that situation is to ask him if you bring the equipment with you and you agree on the price could you just go ahead and do it while you are there. This would eliminate a trip to go back and do the job. If he said no, i would probably not go back.
 

Doug Rucker

Roundtable Host 2009
I agree with Mark, whenever I have people ask about adding more to the quote before they have accepted, I explain that we can give them a quote for that once we are there to do the work thats already been quoted. I will give them a "based on what you are telling me I can't see it being more than $$$$ and may even be less, does Wednesday Morning at 9am work for you or would Thursday be better"?

As for the "i thought you gave FREE Estimates question" my reply is always, yes, we do and have provided that for you.
 

Guy Blackmon

Roundtable Host 2009
I can't really be any help here because this situation is different from washing a house.....which we do by phone.....But the ole "Spidey Sense" does kick in on certain calls......I think this is what happened Mike.

OK so you lost one, is this really a problem that demands you change your estimating procedure? Probably not.

Time is money, if you're losing time, you're losing money.......I think you did the right thing.
 

Ed Thompson

New member
When people call asking for a free estimate I seriously don't even call them back. These are the people who want to be sure that no money will leave there pocket. Free estimates are part of the game. It's hard to tell when you're being shopped or if someone really just needs that third bid, even though they already know their cousin is doing the job.

I used to do it when I was younger. When my car was messed up, take it to STS Tires and have them diagnose everything wrong with it, then take it to the local mechanic down the street and have him fix it for half of what the box store wanted.

Mike did the right thing. The guy was clearly taking advantage. I would be embarrassed to have someone keep coming out to add on. I would throw him a few bucks for his trouble.
 

Scott D.

Member
You stop giving free quotes the moment you decide you're making too much money and really need to scale back. Because that's all charging for estimates is going to do. Scale you back and make you less money.

Free quotes in person with an onsite close, or get used to being mediocre.
 

DunRite

New member
You stop giving free quotes the moment you decide you're making too much money and really need to scale back. Because that's all charging for estimates is going to do. Scale you back and make you less money.

Free quotes in person with an onsite close, or get used to being mediocre.

I concur with what your saying

As a rule i dont "charge" for giving an estimate

Its when the nonsense occurs that a line should be drawn

Im an advocate of the on site close - when its applicable- sometimes its not

Great feedback from all!
 
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