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Occasionally I run into situations where a client wants me to perform high end work in a low end house. I'm not talking about restoring some historical building, I'm talking about these rotten termite traps that are just not worth repairing. Does anyone have any advice on how to tell a client that their house is not worth repairing without offending anyone?
 

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I ran into this last week. A 60 year old house with a sagging floor due to a beam that was cut in half to make way for a pipe. I didn't tell him it's not worth the repair, but I tried to explain to him that if I tore the whole house down and built him a new house, he would probably get a better return on his money when it comes time to sell it. I still gave him an estimated cost to make the repair and left it up to him. But he had a real valuable piece of property with a house on it that was basically worthless and falling apart. So I explained to him that if he keeps doing remodels, he's still going to have an old house, and there will still be issues with it. In which case I don't know if he's increasing the value much, if any at all.
 

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I sure get that question since most of us started with calls from these prospects, myself included. The amount of time I spent on detailed quotes on drawings only to be told that I was about 10 times what they were expecting made me smarter. I'm finally on high end stuff, but it took awhile.

I have found that the best way is to ask for their budget on the project so you can tailor the project to that. Many times they won't divulge that since they simply don't know and have delusions of what can be done and for a certain price.

So throw out a "range". If their house is worth $100K, and you can clearly see that they are looking at a 50K remodel, throw out 30 to 60 and all you've wasted is a trip.

Many people are so clueless about what things cost to do things correctly.

It's not offensive to offer a range of pricing from the hip. Then the onus is on them to realize that they can't afford it and you don't have to tell them.

Hope this helps. I wish somebody would have told me this when I was starting out.
 

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rselectric1 said:
I wish somebody would have told me this when I was starting out.
Yeah I made that mistake only once as well. I know better know, such as the one I just mentioned, it took me about ten minutes to give him a price range of around $30,000 to make the repair. Then I asked if he had a budget, he said around 5 or 6 thousand.
 

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I just tell them it's an exciting project, but I'm not the one they're looking for, and I don't know anyone that would be just right for them.
 

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I sure get that question since most of us started with calls from these prospects, myself included. The amount of time I spent on detailed quotes on drawings only to be told that I was about 10 times what they were expecting made me smarter. I'm finally on high end stuff, but it took awhile.

I have found that the best way is to ask for their budget on the project so you can tailor the project to that. Many times they won't divulge that since they simply don't know and have delusions of what can be done and for a certain price.

So throw out a "range". If their house is worth $100K, and you can clearly see that they are looking at a 50K remodel, throw out 30 to 60 and all you've wasted is a trip.

Many people are so clueless about what things cost to do things correctly.

It's not offensive to offer a range of pricing from the hip. Then the onus is on them to realize that they can't afford it and you don't have to tell them.

Hope this helps. I wish somebody would have told me this when I was starting out.
I realized very quick if someone won't EVER give you a budget and just wants a quote they are either a tire kicker or they want to go with the lowest bidder.

I refuse to quote any job big or small without a budget range. With that I take their wants/needs into consideration and if that lines up with the budget I provide a quote.
 

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It's not always about bottom line numbers to people. Sometimes it's worth it to the client, no matter what. Just understand their expectations and be honest and real with your numbers, even "ballpark" figures that might snowball. If they ask, "What would you do", you can tell them.
 

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If you get that feeling, simple tell them... "Well, I have to run the numbers to get you a complete price, but based on experience, you are looking in the range of $x to $x to do what you want to do. Does that fall in line with your perceived budget for this?"

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I just tell them it's an exciting project, but I'm not the one they're looking for, and I don't know anyone that would be just right for them.
Tried that once too. The job involved the daughter of a friend who wanted me to sheath the underside of her 1970ish house trailer. There was a serious mouse problem till they opened the skirting to let the cats in. Now there are dead cats and cat by products everywhere under there. definitely not a job I'd want to do for anything in the world. I told her I didn't have time (even if I'm bored to death in my armchair, I don't have time for that) and she says "I know you"ll do a good job and I'll gladly wait till you do have time rather than get someone else".:help:.... now what!
 

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NOW I get it. (You're beating around the bush a bit.) So you're talking about a job "not being worth it" to YOU?? Then say you're not interested. It's easier than you think. I used to have a hard time, but enough is enough. I got sick of being the nice guy that would take on the "difficult". The nastier the job, the more they refer their friends, too.

"Thank you, but I'm not interested in this job." Period. Or you can add anything else, but not required:

...."am focusing on other types of work"
... "have a bad back....
...."allergic to cats"

Whatever. Or quote enough that you can willingly do it.
 

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Tried that once too. The job involved the daughter of a friend who wanted me to sheath the underside of her 1970ish house trailer. There was a serious mouse problem till they opened the skirting to let the cats in. Now there are dead cats and cat by products everywhere under there. definitely not a job I'd want to do for anything in the world. I told her I didn't have time (even if I'm bored to death in my armchair, I don't have time for that) and she says "I know you"ll do a good job and I'll gladly wait till you do have time rather than get someone else".:help:.... now what!
Now what? "That's great that you'll wait, but I'm a remodeler, not animal control, and you'll have to address the issue of the dead cats before I can do my work. They have special clothing and protective masks to protect from disease for that sort of thing"...

I doubt you'll hear from her again...
 

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It's always pretty simple to say no to something, even if that is a customer. Now, I know that goes against the typical customer relations standards, but if I asked my bank teller to do my laundry, I'd expect a no.

I'd make sure customers know what kind of services I deal in, and the type of work that I do. Make that very clear on your website, business card, etc. That way, if I have to say something's not worth it, at least it was reasonably expected.
 

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I used to get 'caught' in those jobs that I didnt want and even priceing it high I would still get some. The dread and just plain hating the job made the day suck. Now I just tell them its not something I want to do. I had a good customer call and want me to "build a room onto one of her rental trailers" :no:I simply told her Im not the type of guy that does that type of work, she said I know you can build it, I said simply I just dont do that kind of work. She still had me do other jobs for her,life is too short to take jobs you dont want.
 

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"I know you"ll do a good job and I'll gladly wait till you do have time rather than get someone else".:help:.... now what!



Tell her you will be there the same day Johnny Mathis shows up........on the twelfth of never.:laughing:
 

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Occasionally I run into situations where a client wants me to perform high end work in a low end house. I'm not talking about restoring some historical building, I'm talking about these rotten termite traps that are just not worth repairing. Does anyone have any advice on how to tell a client that their house is not worth repairing without offending anyone?
There's no offense If your just too busy to get to It..:whistling
 

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It's easy. "We'd love to give you the kitchen of your dreams, however we need yo do this this and this first."

If they are not interested you can take the high road by having a high bar of acceptable work.
 

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Occasionally I run into situations where a client wants me to perform high end work in a low end house. I'm not talking about restoring some historical building, I'm talking about these rotten termite traps that are just not worth repairing. Does anyone have any advice on how to tell a client that their house is not worth repairing without offending anyone?
I can't come up with an answer to that. But maybe this is close. and I've used it on occasion...........''Maybe you should think about putting that money into a new house.''
 
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