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The debate of charging for estimates will probably never end

Argument when to charge:
You are a small "one man show" an owner wearing many hats therefore time is valuable. The charge for estimates should strictly be a screening tactic to determine which prospects are so serious that they will pay for an estimate and therefore will usually buy. The charge becomes the filter to eliminate the tire kickers / time wasters.

Arguement when not to charge:
You grow into a company that has systems for each phase of the business. This means you will have sales reps and marketing to generate an abundance of leads. As the owner paying for advertising you will want a body infront of every phone call. Hanging up on someone who you paid to send marketing material to isn't going to happen unless it is blatently not your type of work in which case you need to re-evaluate your marketing (it shouldn't have gotten that inquiry to begin with.)Charging for estimates will lose some buyers. When you pay to make the phone ring you want to set an appointment and send out a rep especially since they are on commission.
 

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Flooring Guru
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the bigger the company, the less you need to charge for estimates IMO.

Unless your a big box store for some reason.
 

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I try not to charge for them however in the commercial area where you have to have many submittle sheets and all of the reseach into a proposal it is quite time consuming and yes then I will up front tell them of a charge.

Most home owners are true tire kickers, wanting the lowest possible price with top quailty materails and a complete walk thru as to how all aspects of there project are going to take place.
Those are the few that I wish I had charged for the est.

Bjd
 

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Depends on the product being offered.
I am a small contractor, by choice. The reading I have been doing is sales.
Spend more time asking good questions to qualify them, among many other things. We can control our time, and who gets it. rather than go thru all the motions only to find out they went with someone else.
Ive chosen a not so competitive market to work, the travel time is more involved, compared to working close and running around for every call.
I sure would like to charge ,
 

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DGR,IABD
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For insurance estimates and commercial work estimates I charge. For the average Harry Homeowner, I do not. In a world where almost every kind of estimate is free, you have to compete by offering them for free as well. I wish I could figure out a way to call estimates that didn't turn into work "advertising expense".
 

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I've been debating this. I want to give a free estimate, but I'm not a free consultant. Ideally I think 1 meeting to see what they want, 1 estimate to present what they want - free. After that they would need to hire me per hour as a consultant. Hey, dare to dream....

Tim
 

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mdshunk said:
For insurance estimates and commercial work estimates I charge. For the average Harry Homeowner, I do not. In a world where almost every kind of estimate is free, you have to compete by offering them for free as well. I wish I could figure out a way to call estimates that didn't turn into work "advertising expense".

At the advice of my accountant I did start writing off time and travel expenses for all estimates this past yr. So far so good, taxes accepted, no notice of audit as yet, but it's still early in the yr. Keepin my fingers crossed!! Main thing is to document every mile your wheels turn, where you going, & what you're doing when you get there.
 
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