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That's It: No More Free Estimates

 
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:00 PM   #1
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That's It: No More Free Estimates


times being lean, I've kept on doing the free estimate thing. Until the other day, I finally had it. Went into the city to do an estimate for a HO, close to an hour drive each way. Got there, spent the better part of an hour walking around the place, talking to the Ho etc. (baseboard install - which I couldn't measure because the floors were wet- wax) new door downstairs (prehung) new bifold, and re-and re-the back door with an old front door.

stopped off at my local lumber yard, spent some time there getting prices etc. figured it all out- called the HO, she tells me her cousin will do the work when he has time!

I've had a bunch of those lately, and its costly. Not anymore! I'll stay home and play with the dog, at least that doesn't cost me and its way more fun.

I'm pissed today!!!

Monday will be better


Laurie


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Old 04-16-2010, 12:39 PM   #2
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


I understand your frustration- blow off the steam, forget about it,,it will just consume you and then you started a negative platform to operate off of. It will effect your selling skills and you end up passing that on to your prospective clients -
I think we have all been there- sometimes you just end up with a bad run, but you have to hang in there and not give up- NEXT!., don't let it get you down. Your free estimates worked out for you before, write I give free estimates - I never charged for them- but thats me. I have gone through slumps just like you explained here,-hang in there bud.
I just think it may backfire even worse if you start charging, you won't even be able to charm them with your great personality because they don't want to pay for an estimate when they can get it free somewhere else and your personality ways heavy in selling yourself and your jobs,it is not all about the price-once they shine for you- makes the process a whole lot easier- hang in there Bud and don't give up.

You have a great weekend, have a beer, relax- regroup , and start fresh for Monday- but for now- "Forget about it"
Sincerely,
Brian

PS: on a side note- The saw&stand your avatar

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Old 04-16-2010, 04:44 PM   #3
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


I collected $320.00 in fees associated with estimates for projects last week. It sure feels a lot better even if you don't get the job to know they at least didn't get it all from you for free.
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:49 PM   #4
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


So you charge for your estimates is what your saying? Accociated fees?
Brian
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:28 PM   #5
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


Fees Associated with estimates = "trip charges, proposal fees, design work, material/product consultations"

Do you do your tile layouts or tile designs for free?
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:43 PM   #6
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


Is it something in the air tonight- No - I don't do my layouts, mileage,time packaging a proposal for free- you are correct Mike, I don't do it for free- I concur , it's structured into the proposal cost-- please don't bite my head off- that's all I have left. He was talking about charging a fee for "just" the estimate- that's all I was saying Mike- ,
Will you have one with meplease- relax- it's the weekend
Sincerely,
Brian

PS: On a side note- there is nothing wrong with charging for an estimate either- but most guys don't-tends to scare prospective clients away- even if you say you will knock it off the bill if they accept your proposal- then they feel pined down to you over a measly $50.00, not one shoe fits all- I understand, nothing wrong with charging either- anyways- I just gave my opinion - I know others may look at it differently- I understand-it's all good
Brian

Last edited by PrestigeR&D; 04-16-2010 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:08 PM   #7
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


This is a divisive subject at times, but I feel we should get paid to show up.

Yesterday I got $200 of a $500 fee for writing an estimate. It was my first consultation for a 203k loan. I started this a few months ago, my site went live 2 weeks ago. I get paid to write an estimate or work scope as FHA calls it.

This makes me ask, why do some people refuse to pay a contractor to do this but they will pay me as a FHA consultant?

As long as companies like SM exist and contractors advertise free estimates we will be explaining to ourselves that we have to do it to stay in business. Ultimately this is our undoing.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:18 PM   #8
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


I wish it were true- you don't think I wouldn't like to get paid for my time on estimates- who wouldn't- you said FHA -so "who" is paying you your fee??? that is the $203,000 question,
Brian
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:33 PM   #9
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


The people getting the loan pay the fee, its a fee panel product meaning I get from $400 to $2000 depending on the amount of remodeling or rehab.

40K is $500, 100K is $1000, plus I go out to approve draw requests, the homeowner pays for that also. They wish they didn't have to but its how the 203K loan is setup.

My point is (and I understand people don't want to pay) we have put ourselves into this situation.
Is there really a "Free Estimate", no! The people that do hire us subsidize the ones that don't, so the gasoline, wear on vehicle and time comes out of the jobs we sell. Free estimates are only free to the people that don't hire us.

In some areas people pay for estimates, in more areas they don't.
Anything beyond a 30 minute consultation should promote a conversation that a charge will be coming.

Just my opinion, and I understand it may be difficult for many guys to do this but I believe we'd all be better off if we charged.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:39 PM   #10
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


I think doing estimates is just part of the job unfortunately. We spend time preparing quotes based on drawings as well. It's just part of the business. Every job that has a sales component means spending time on clients that you won't end up doing business with.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:42 PM   #11
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


I recently put a quote on a job to completely renovate a 2800 sq ft home. The lady didn't own it yet. My buddy goes out with his daughter and told me she is doing home investment projects and that she is really concerned with quality. She brought 5 of us to look at the project. She must have given each of us a different scope of work. Well, she didn't give anybody a scope of work, she walked everybody through. She walked me through the entire building and the 3 car garage in about 15 minutes, I scheduled a return trip with the real estate agent to take measurements and stuff. And when I did come back, she tried rushing me out because she was going out to dinner with her kids, WTF?
She wanted the 3 car garage completely re-built, it was just a shanty and ready to fall over. She wanted us to raise the walls to put them on cinder block frost walls to be built under them. For some reason, she thought it would be cheaper to do it this way than to tear it down. The list went on and on of the things she wanted to do. New roofs on the garage, the addition, and the two farmers porches. Old roofs to be stripped and re-sheathed.
In the kitchen, that was to be completely re-done and window locations and sizes to be changed, she requested our flooring guy just put the tile over the existing tile because she heard it's cheaper that way. It turned out it was glue down rubber tile and the flooring guy was one of the people who came with me for the second site visit. The real estate agent was irritated hearing him say you can not do it, even with an anti-fracture membrane.
The list was crazy and even included replacing the heating system. The existing one was vented out the chimney which she wanted torn down from the attic floor up, and a power venter installed. Heating guy said there was no legal location to install a power venter due to distances from abutters on sides, farmer's porch locations, and walkway locations.
She also wanted to finish off the attic. I informed her that the existing floor joists were rough cut lumber, and if she wanted to do that an engineer would have to due the span calculations and that the change in use and addition of knee walls would add to the live and dead loads. I told her we most likely would have to install a lvl beam to support the middle of the span. She did not want to hear any of that, and said just price finishing it like it is!!
Anyways, just my sub cost and projected labor costs came out to $90,000. I added my material to that and a pretty slim profit margin. She got other bids that were in the $52-$75,000 range.

I know she told me she wanted a lot more work done than she really wanted. I think she only did this so she could show the agent my pricing to get the price knocked down, and used the guy she planned on to do what she really wanted. I hope they get f'd on this one. They do work for her in some little po-dunk towns where anything flies. This property is in a city where they are very strict with building codes. In fact, if you replace a ballister on a deck without a permit it is a violation. I am going to drive by there in a month or so. Oh yeah, she wanted it all done in 8 weeks!!
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:53 PM   #12
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestigeR&D View Post
Is it something in the air tonight- No - I don't do my layouts, mileage,time packaging a proposal for free- you are correct Mike, I don't do it for free- I concur , it's structured into the proposal cost-- please don't bite my head off- that's all I have left. He was talking about charging a fee for "just" the estimate- that's all I was saying Mike- ,
Will you have one with meplease- relax- it's the weekend
Sincerely,
Brian

PS: On a side note- there is nothing wrong with charging for an estimate either- but most guys don't-tends to scare prospective clients away- even if you say you will knock it off the bill if they accept your proposal- then they feel pined down to you over a measly $50.00, not one shoe fits all- I understand, nothing wrong with charging either- anyways- I just gave my opinion - I know others may look at it differently- I understand-it's all good
Brian
I didn't realize I was biting your head off. You asked a question and I just answered it. Maybe you have a tone in your head for the way answer was given, but my answer was just meant to be conversational and that's it.

And I'm just asking do you do tile design for free?

For me I don't like spending hours designing master bath renovations for nothing, so we charge money for that, that's all.

Last edited by Mike Finley; 04-17-2010 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:16 PM   #13
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


so..do you estimate how much the estimate will be? How much would you estimate the estimate for an estimate might cost?
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:30 PM   #14
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


How much does the estimate weigh? I do all estimates by the lb, just like buying chicken in the super market.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:49 PM   #15
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


I try to determine whether or not it is a no discussion estimate vs. consultation from the intial contact. Local estimates, I usually foot the bill - long drives and such and it's a buck32and fiddy cents for trip charge and first 1/2 hour - 1 $ a minute after... weeds out a lot of window shoppers and saves me gas

Truth is, I do mostly free estimates because that's the way i've always done it and I know a lot of people expect it. It keeps me working and on the radar.

The service guys got it made in this dept...$100 to show up at the door everytime and people pay. Holidays and weekends (ouch) and they pay.

Wish we all could do it, but it just ain't so
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:58 PM   #16
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


Free estimates - they are on my site & done over the phone

Measurements, Designs, Consultations, etc... are a service which I charge for
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:59 PM   #17
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


well I had another one this afternoon. It was on my way to another city, so it wasn't a big deal doing a small detour. He wanted a door reversed- one bedroom door swings the wrong way, so he want's it taken off, spun around, new let-ins for the hinges yada yada (oak). He's telling me how he used to do this stuff, and he just can't bother now. I says no prob. we'll reverse the hinges - so then he says haven't you done this before? you gotta take the hinges off and put them on the other side! ...ooooookkkkkk then..... so he's going on about how he can do all the little fill in's etc.
So he says how much? I tell him my usual day price, then I say because you are a senior I'll knock off a bunch - basically I'm down to $250. He says no that's way too high, it won't take but 1/2 hr do do this yada yada.
I realized that he would be a giant pita as he already was telling me how to do things, and it would be a nickel and dime job.
I didn't charge him a fee because I didn't tell him that on the phone (fair is fair) and it wasn't far out of my way.
I said that my standing cost's with workmans comp, liability, industrial insurance on my vehicle etc.. nope. He is not having any part of it - so I said well thanks, have a nice day!

I might have to use the estimate fee on quotes that are not within 20 minutes drive. I got an email enquiry this afternoon, crown estimate three cities away (surrey. through maple ridge, langley then south surrey- almost at the usa border- 30 miles) I am going to email back $50 for the estimate. I might not get the job, but it won't waste basically 1/2 a day running around.

This business climate is tight! my neighbour who is a super for a large commercial construction firm tells me that many of the sub's that they use have had huge layoffs - one electrical outfit from 130 guy's last year down to 40 this year. many of the firms who do residential construction are now bidding on commercial projects! totally different animals, and basically making life more difficult for the qualified companies that know how to do this type of construction.

I am finding that in my field also- guys that are bidding quite low! and the public knows this, so many folks are getting multiple quotes - nothing wrong with that, but its a cost that has to be paid by someone. I intend to use the estimate fee to vet clients- if they agree, I will have no problem driving all over hell and back. If not, I've saved the gas and time.

I hope I'm not coming at this in a negative way- just had a lot of time lately to go over the business activity from last year, and do some shirt cuff analysis. No one rides for free, not even me.

Laurie.

www.lauriescustomfinishing.ca
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:11 PM   #18
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


I think the whole problem here is you keep saying you went into the "City". i never have good experiences when I do that.
I live in the rural areas and like it that way. you get into the cities and it's people wanting everything for as cheap as possible or they have some hack from down the street in his 85' pickup truck with bondo on the wheel wells do it for 1/4 of my price.

i haven't charged for estimates, I have an architect i recommend if there is design work and she gets paid. I have no desire to do design work, or buy software to do it, etc. i should start charging for larger renovations as they take so many hours to get accurate pricing. i won't price anything by the sq ft anymore. it's all itemized out for myself. i rarely itemize for a customer
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:17 PM   #19
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


also, there is nothing wrong with adding few hours of time into the estimate for yourself, without actually charging for the estimate.
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:24 PM   #20
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Re: That's It: No More Free Estimates


Quote:
Originally Posted by EES View Post
The lady didn't own it yet.
I learned very early not to waste my time with these people. They basically want you to come out and inspect the property for free.

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