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-   -   How much will you put up with during the estimating process? (https://www.contractortalk.com/f16/how-much-will-you-put-up-during-estimating-process-329522/)

Stevarino 03-04-2017 02:36 PM

How much will you put up with during the estimating process?
 
I have a couple questions here I'll ask after laying out my scenario.

I got a referral from my carpet guy for a half bath remodel. He doesn't know the customer and actually paid $65 to home advisor for the lead. It was out of his scope so he sent it over to me.
The job is 45 minutes away from me so I schedule a time to go look at the job and the lady asks me a dozen questions she seems kinda particular and skeptical. I answer her questions even give her some suggestions for a future main bath remodel and a kitchen remodel. She only wants a quote for he half bath right now. I work it up and send it over to her. She emails me back several more questions. Then wants to change some things. I update quote and send it back. Another round of questions. Asks for references (which no one ever asks me for but whatever) I give her references. She calls at least one of the references and gives them the third degree on me.
Gets back with me with her final material selections and asks if she buys paint how much will I take off quote. I tell her. She then changes the scope again and has me update the quote a fourth time. I'm really annoyed at this point because I'm wasting too much time.
So today I get a call from her husband who says they both have several questions and would like me to come out on an evening or weekend when they are both home to discuss before moving forward.

I hate giving up evenings and weekends. I know that's picky but I have a wife and two young boys and a third due any day. My family time is sacred and I'm willing to grow my business a little slower by not sacrificing too much family time. I will work on weekends on occasion when needed or do a quote in an evening on occasion if it seems worthwhile.

How much back and forth are you willing to go through on a quote before you deem it a waste?
How many trips to a potential job will you make?
At what point is a customer asking too many questions and taking up too much time? Especially on small jobs that don't have a lot of profit to begin with such as a small half bath.

End of rant




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MarkJames 03-04-2017 02:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stevarino (Post 5737666)
I have a couple questions here I'll ask after laying out my scenario.

I got a referral from my carpet guy for a half bath remodel. He doesn't know the customer and actually paid $65 to home advisor for the lead. It was out of his scope so he sent it over to me.
The job is 45 minutes away from me so I schedule a time to go look at the job and the lady asks me a dozen questions she seems kinda particular and skeptical. I answer her questions even give her some suggestions for a future main bath remodel and a kitchen remodel. She only wants a quote for he half bath right now. I work it up and send it over to her. She emails me back several more questions. Then wants to change some things. I update quote and send it back. Another round of questions. Asks for references (which no one ever asks me for but whatever) I give her references. She calls at least one of the references and gives them the third degree on me.
Gets back with me with her final material selections and asks if she buys paint how much will I take off quote. I tell her. She then changes the scope again and has me update the quote a fourth time. I'm really annoyed at this point because I'm wasting too much time.
So today I get a call from her husband who says they both have several questions and would like me to come out on an evening or weekend when they are both home to discuss before moving forward.

I hate giving up evenings and weekends. I know that's picky but I have a wife and two young boys and a third due any day. My family time is sacred and I'm willing to grow my business a little slower by not sacrificing too much family time. I will work on weekends on occasion when needed or do a quote in an evening on occasion if it seems worthwhile.

How much back and forth are you willing to go through on a quote before you deem it a waste?
How many trips to a potential job will you make?
At what point is a customer asking too many questions and taking up too much time? Especially on small jobs that don't have a lot of profit to begin with such as a small half bath.

End of rant

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Maybe they're too far away, but that's on you.

They sound like they're still in the normal range of client, but you can't let yourself get pushed around. If you think you may land the job, how about phoning them to reassess? Explain that you need to stay close to home this week, but would like to answer their questions sooner than later, etc. And if they're almost ready to make a commitment (ask them), then go for the appointment.

J L 03-04-2017 02:51 PM

1 round of changes. More changes only happen with a signed contract and as change orders. If change orders take more than 10 minutes to write up then my time gets billed whether they approve the change order or not.

griz 03-04-2017 03:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stevarino (Post 5737666)
...How much back and forth are you willing to go through on a quote before you deem it a waste?
How many trips to a potential job will you make?
At what point is a customer asking too many questions and taking up too much time? Especially on small jobs that don't have a lot of profit to begin with such as a small half bath.

End of rant...
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depends how big a job it is.

from what you are describing i would have been done about 4 phone calls ago,,,,:thumbsup:

VinylHanger 03-04-2017 03:24 PM

You need to step back and think if it would be different if they were closer. It isn't their fault you are 45 minutes away. Remember, to you a half bath remodel is a small job, but to them it may be the biggest thing they have done, or they have saved up for a few years to do it.

If they were close by, you probably would think it was a great little gig to fill in and would work to make it happen. If that is the case, then it is the distance, and you need to rethink that part.

Not sure if I would do a half bath that far away, unless it was a great customer, or I also signed for the other parts at the same time. Do you want to drive 45 minutes, to touch up some paint, or drywall, or even do the small amount of drywall that would be done with repeated trips to tape, texture and paint? Then meet with the electrician and plumber, then meet with the owners for small changes?

sunkist 03-04-2017 05:39 PM

Im with griz, you will have done a weeks work for zero soon, and you still have not got a signed contract, and if and when you get a signed contract you will regret it, in the words of some one else "RUN FOREST RUN"

rselectric1 03-04-2017 06:07 PM

Sounds typical on my jobs. I can usually handle all that over the phone though after one thorough walk through.

It sounds like they are very interested in you doing the job. I really can't blame them when there are so many hacks and thieves out there posing as contractors.

Keep us posted.:thumbsup:

SearchforSignal 03-04-2017 06:10 PM

I charge in 15 min increments. I have a small small business and the initial quote is free. After that I charge for drive time. Change orders ect. It's all up to you and how bad u want this job. I would have said I'm not your guy after they asked u to drive out again.

TaylorMadeAB 03-05-2017 12:35 AM

First estimate is free. Answer some questions, maybe tweak an item or two, but after that you should have a commitment from them before revising anything else.
I'd prepare them over the phone that if you come out to meet them, you'll be bringing a contract with you that needs to be signed.


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builditguy 03-05-2017 06:46 AM

Same opinion here.

I'm not surprised they are checking you references. Remember, this all started with an online referral. They have no idea who you are or your quality of work.

Think about how much time you have already spent, quoting this job.

The fact that they are 45 minutes away really depends on your area. For me, a 45 minute drive, I would have never looked at it.

I'm also guessing you give free estimates. Of course your free estimate is really a free quote. Right?

The days of free quotes, are over for me. I give free estimates. They are broad in scope. I can give an estimate on a half bath, in less than 10 minutes. If they want a quote, I charge for it. I don't charge much. For a half bath, I would charge $100. I know it doesn't cover my time, but it sets a president. I've been charging for the last 2 years. I've never had anyone complain, question it, or decline having me look at their project.
I should have started charging years ago. Foolish on my part. I was following the herd.

People are going to tell you that customers won't pay for quotes. They will. These people already paid $65 just to get a phone number.

In your case, I think they are going to have you do the work. If you don't want to work on nights or weekends, don't. Try to get them to agree to a late afternoon meeting. That way you aren't sacrificing your nights completely and they have a little invested in it.

heavy_d 03-05-2017 07:46 AM

I think his buddy paid 65 for the lead, not the other way around.

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NJ Contractor 03-05-2017 08:36 AM

Depends on the client and size of the project. I normally will not take a project that size that is 45 minutes away. But for discussion purposes let's say 1 site visit to meet with the clients, make sure they aren't crazy and to scope the project.

The rest can be done via conference calls or email. After a couple of calls or emails I can usually tell if it is worth pursuing or putting to bed.

Stevarino 03-05-2017 01:20 PM

The biggest issue for me is that they seem to be wasting my time and tire kicking. The 45 min drive is just another reason not to want to drive back out. I usually try to give ballpark "estimates" over the phone before I go look at a job. It saves me a trip if someone is going to get sticker shock from a ballpark figure and have unrealistic budget expectations. Sometimes people insist I come out and look and in this case I did. So after looking at the job (literally a 21 Sq ft half bath) and answering a dozen questions and re-working the quote 4 times for minor changes and having them call for references I cannot fathom what questions they could have that would require me to meet them at their house all with no commitment to sign a contract or move forward. If they are that skeptical of me as a contractor at this point red flags start popping up. This seems to be the type of customer that can't be pleased or is looking for excuses to get you to drop your price. I also offered to meet them again if they could do it early morning or in an afternoon
I emailed them back and told them that I will not have an evening or weekend available for quite a while but I would be happy to answer any questions they had over the phone. If I don't hear back from them because of that then I'm happy because I don't need that kind of customer.


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TimberlineMD 03-05-2017 04:06 PM

You need to have them put some 'skin in the game'. That would be money if it was me. Whatever it is for you, you need them to commit something before you see them in person again.

I have a simular situtation where a passed customer wanted me to look at some water damage to his kitchen. I normally charge for insurance quotes, but if your a passed customer I may waive the fee. Very small job and the leak was in his roof, which I didn't want to do, so I refered him to my roofer, who took care of it.

Adjuster wants a detailed SOW for the interior damage from me. I tell the customer 'if I get involved the cost to him is $xx.xx'. He tells me he wants it done right and he wants only me to do the work.

Insurance settles, roofer makes his repair. Customers calls me to start work. I tell him I will come by Monday with the contract. He tells me to 'hold up' as he feels that we 'need to talk about reducing the scope of work'. I read this as 'now that I got as much as I can from my insurance we need to reduce your price to do the job'.

He will get a phone call from me Monday telling him I am not interested in the job. If the check is written in my companys name and his then 'that's his problem'.

I'm way too old for this... :blink:

builditguy 03-05-2017 07:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by heavy_d (Post 5740154)
I think his buddy paid 65 for the lead, not the other way around.

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Oh. Obviously I don't know how it works.


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KAP 03-05-2017 09:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stevarino (Post 5741810)
The biggest issue for me is that they seem to be wasting my time and tire kicking. The 45 min drive is just another reason not to want to drive back out. I usually try to give ballpark "estimates" over the phone before I go look at a job. It saves me a trip if someone is going to get sticker shock from a ballpark figure and have unrealistic budget expectations. Sometimes people insist I come out and look and in this case I did. So after looking at the job (literally a 21 Sq ft half bath) and answering a dozen questions and re-working the quote 4 times for minor changes and having them call for references I cannot fathom what questions they could have that would require me to meet them at their house all with no commitment to sign a contract or move forward. If they are that skeptical of me as a contractor at this point red flags start popping up. This seems to be the type of customer that can't be pleased or is looking for excuses to get you to drop your price. I also offered to meet them again if they could do it early morning or in an afternoon
I emailed them back and told them that I will not have an evening or weekend available for quite a while but I would be happy to answer any questions they had over the phone. If I don't hear back from them because of that then I'm happy because I don't need that kind of customer.


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:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

They've had their questions addressed by phone and email... no reason you need to drive out another 1 1/2 trip AGAIN (plus meeting time) to address some more...

That is, unless they're paying you for your time... :whistling

MarkJames 03-05-2017 09:17 PM

Then again, if you need the work, you do it and learn from it for next time. Work the phone. Don't let your pride make you bug out prematurely if you're almost there. Maybe half the neighbors will want work done after you get over the hurdle of these folks.

I am thinking about a few clients I let go, who ended up doing exactly my "plan" with the next guy. I probably should have stuck it out and got it closed.

RMDailey 03-05-2017 09:26 PM

Man I feel you. I'm a small time guy but i just gave up on a $6000 painting job on a huge house (to me anyway). Wanted references, gave references, wanted more references, complained that I got mud in their house or something. Finally I just quit bothering. And their HOA recommended me to them in the first place.

I don't even answer my phone on the weekends anymore. I'd use to go do estimates on Saturdays but not anymore. I might make an exception for one of my repeat customers but they respect me enough to value my family time (which is why I'm willing to work harder to meet there needs). I had lead insist on meeting me on a Saturday and I told him that I charge a $100 consultation fee on Saturdays, never heard back.

If you're at the point where you are good at what you do, have great references and referrals you don't have to chase annoying clients. I work 12+ hour days M-F so I can spend time with my family on the weekends.

So to some up: Ask for your deposit before making anymore changes or tell them to find someone else.

greg24k 03-06-2017 07:03 AM

Tell her to go fk herself, this is the type of a job where you never leave and no matter what you do, they will never be satisfied and you still gonna get a s^*t rap and for the amount of money that you can make remodeling 1/2 bath not worth the hassle driving 45min to put up with BS.

That being said all sites like home adviser and other sites alike where contractors pay for leads, they have a bunch of weirdoes on them who think they can get away with anything because they think that they own you and if you do something wrong or something they don't like they can ruin your reputation by giving you a bad rap on there.

Stevarino 03-06-2017 08:26 AM

How much will you put up with during the estimating process?
 
Quick update. The husband called me back and was willing to ask all his questions over the phone. It was a lot of random specific questions about how I was going to level (flatten) their floor and if the grout was going to need sealed so it didn't come up when the swept (apparently someone did a horrible job in the past for them if the are worried grout will sweep away) they wanted to know if the plumbing was going to be hidden behind the pedestal and if I could sand the walls before I painted. Nothing out of what I would normally do anyway. He said they had been burned by a contractor in the past and just want to make sure they get a flawless job so they can brag on me blah blah. He apologized for being such a pain and taking up my time and thanked me for being patient. He then said he was pretty sure they wanted me to do the job and would call back in a few days to confirm and schedule.

I appreciated the apology and that they at least recognized they were being a pain haha. That goes a long way with me. So if they call back to schedule I'll be happy to go ahead a do the job and will ask for 1/2 up front on start up as I usually do with non repeat customers. Maybe it will be a good opportunity for referrals as it is a condo in a nice complex and they also want their kitchen remodeled at some point.

Either way I'm going to proceed with caution

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