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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Being used as a "Free Pricing Service") - I HATE IT = When potential Residential or small commercial Clients use you as a "Pricing Service". They string you along, and you don't completely realize it to after they tell you that they ended up going with someones else - and they don't provide you with an intelligent reason.

All the while, they are picking your brain, using points you make & questions you ask, suggestions that you make, etc - with the guy that they plan on using.

The lame excuse at the end, is when I know they had someone they wanted to use all along, but wanted to use you in several ways, and to also check his prices against yours. They may have also used your price to get the other guy's price down (frequent tactic).
FWIW - I have been on both ends of that deal (I've been the "preferred" guy to get the job, but came down a little to the ballpark of the other quotes).

Small jobs are one thing. Sometimes you can even give them a number over the phone and they are good. No serious time and energies wasted. Good way to screen out serious customers from the dreamers (people who have no concept of what some work actually costs, and think it's the cost of the materials).

We actually try to do that (get them "numbers"), before wasting any more valuable time and energies. Many are very happy with that. Then, if the numbers are good, we will then put it in writing.

Others, drag you thru the entire estimate process, with requests for several detailed revisions (sometimes asking for changes in materials, modifications, etc). Then provide the lame excuse.

I will ask a Client: "We like to get feed back from people, could I ask you, What was the determining factor in your decision?" These are some of the cop-outs I've heard, that let me know the I just got USED as a "Pricing Service" (makes me feel like a dirty bag :cry: ;) ):

"Well....the other guy said that he could start right away....." (Um.....I could have too...I never said I couldn't and they never asked...) - Restaurant Owner

"Well, your price was in the same range as others, but,...er...um....The other guy....er....uh...I'm in the middle of something right now and have to go..." - Home Owner

"Well....we ended up using a a Contractor that we were familiar with...."
(Apartment Complex - I ended up calling them on that one: "So you used us as a Pricing Service and ended up going with the company that you intended to use all along" = They squirmed, but also confirmed it).

I know it's part of this business, and again, I have been on both ends of the spectrum, but it burns my britches to even think about it. :furious:

UGH!!!:censored:

Rant Off.
 

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Others, drag you thru the entire estimate process, with requests for several detailed revisions (sometimes asking for changes in materials, modifications, etc). Then provide the lame excuse.



UGH!!!:censored:
I think that sentence is part of your problem, Dont let the client DRAG you anywhere, FWIW, on a large job i ballpark a budget, a rough budget based on SQFT numbers. Only when the customer commits to working with me will i spend hrs tuning up firm numbers, involving my subs, giving them design ideas, etc,,,,GMOD
 

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I have been down this road a few times, I also found out that these people go with the cheaper guy, this way they keep the money tight. yet when their cheap guy cuts corners and they don't find out for sometime. then I know I can sit and smile knowing they got screwed:whistling Like they say "What comes around goes around!":laughing:
 

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DavidC
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I was voicing a similar complaint to a plumber buddy one day. After spending a few hours over a couple of days putting together a price for a MIL addition, wasting the time and effort of myself and my suppliers etc. I found out they wanted it built for basically the price of materials. Very frustrating. This was his advice to me;

Go to Lowes and buy RS Means Exterior (& Interior) Home Improvement Costs. (2 books) Take them on your next call and listen to what they want. Look up the closest project right there in front of them, turn the book to the client and say "This is what they say it will cost. What do you think?"

I took his advise and still use the tactic several years later. These books are geared toward the HO, outline general specifications for 2 or 3 levels of quality/materials, compare the levels of difficulty and costs. There is a price adjustment chart in the appendix for many major cities.

Never use this as a shortcut for pricing your proposal.

On the initial phone call I will try to figure out their project so I can bookmark the appropriate sections ahead of the meet. I also have highlighted our city in the adjustment chart, draw a pencil line through the project cost and pencil in the adjusted price per their chart. My delivery includes a disclaimer that I have found our prices to be slightly higher than the book, "What do you think?"

That was their free estimate, usually delivered in less than an hour on the spot.

This will eliminate enough tire kickers and dreamers to more than cover the cost of the books in time saved not doing those estimates. If they aren't eliminated at this point then ask them how they will know when they have found the right contractor for this job? Many price shoppers are found out right there and you can bow out of the race to the bottom.

I have not found any one technique that suddenly makes this business a bed of roses, but you can lop of huge chunks of frustration with good filtering.

Good Luck
Dave
 

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Finish Carpenter
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I give an estimate. If they ask for anything more then a quick sketch up. I ask for a deposit. One guy questioned me once about that, I asked "Do you work for free?". He said no, but it rubbed him the wrong way I didn't get the job....prob a good thing.

My "free estimates" involve me going over there, having a look see, talking to them to find out exactly what they want/expect. I will explain what I plan on doing and if it is something "larger" I will tell them I will get back to them with the numbers and a sketch if needed. That is it. After that, I need a Deposit. In the end I already gave them up to two hours free labor, depending what the job is.

There are exceptions to the rule, if I am hard up for work, and they want more info, I will give it to them. Work is work at the end the day, if you got no work, then wasting an extra hour on more details is better then wasting it doing nothing.
 

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I like Green things
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Work is work at the end the day, if you got no work, then wasting an extra hour on more details is better then wasting it doing nothing.
Nope, I would rather waste that time playing with my daughters.
If I can tell you are using me to just to get pricing, I will walk away or hang up.

There is never nothing to do anyways.
 

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Atlantic,

From your post, it sounds like you dislike the whole selling process.

Consider your comment: "We actually try to do that (get them "numbers"), before wasting any more valuable time and energies. Many are very happy with that. Then, if the numbers are good, we will then put it in writing."

You are using price to scare off the best prospects but are pissed when you get price shoppers. I think your system is creating exactly the opposite of what you want.

Think about it. If you start talking price in order to qualify, you are going to get price people. Real buyers have goals and desires they want to accomplish so they can change their lives. You have to dig into why they want these changes, what it means to them, and show them how you are the only person that understands them and can make that happen. Then price doesn't matter.

Seriously, think about your own beliefs about price, about selling, and if those beliefs are bleeding through to your prospects.

(buy a book "Power Persuasion" on Amazon, less than $10., then read it, several times)
 

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I'm on a boat!
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One string of questions we use when screening a call from a potential client is - How many other contractors are you having price your project? Have you worked with any of them before? If yes, how did they do for you?

On every occasion when we have priced out a project that a HO had a contractor that they've used before, they have always gone with that contractor because "they're comfortable with them". We now no longer price out a project if they say yes they've worked with a contractor before. Lesson learned.

I give an estimate. If they ask for anything more then a quick sketch up. I ask for a deposit. One guy questioned me once about that, I asked "Do you work for free?". He said no, but it rubbed him the wrong way I didn't get the job....prob a good thing.
I once had a guy call and ask me to give an estimate on a project. I asked how many contractors he had contacted. He said he's already received 10 prices so far. I told him I was not interested in coming out. He got upset and asked why. I asked him if he would go to work at his job if he had a 1 in 10 chance of getting paid??:no::no:
 

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General Contractor
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Does anyone here sell jobs on the basis of convenience to the customer? I know that offering a variety of financial options goes a long ways for me. Credit card companies have a number of incentive plans you can present as though they were your ideas... rebate point systems, vacation packages, deferred payment, etc.

Imagine this scenario:

"We are thinking of moving, but we want to fix up the place some before trying to sell it in a year or so."

Your offer... "Your home is at 460k right now." "My price to you for the rennovations will be 48k." "This will raise the present value of your home to 525k." (They are already 17k ahead of the game because of your work.) "XYZ credit card will give you a full year with no payments." (and some really will!) "The market is turning upward again... you see it everyday." "In one year your home will be valued at 550k."

That's a gain of 90k... 42k, of it pure profit for you." AND you will live in a newer home for free for nearly a full year." "You'll pay nothing, out of pocket, until you sell and use the payment to cover the credit card."

Even if some interest charges get thrown in there, they are still way ahead of the game.

Sell more than just your job vs the other guy's. Sell them their dream, and show them how they can have it for free, or at least cheaper.

Perhaps you can't find anything as good as I've outlined. But if you think, you can get very creative, and make a win/win situation for everyone.
 
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Atlantic, sounds like your a little burnt out. Take the weekend off and dont think about work.
Atlantic needs to come over and we will go out in the woods and shoot and blow some stuff up. I know how he is feeling.:2guns::gun_bandana::gunsmilie:


 

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Atlantic needs to come over and we will go out in the woods and shoot and blow some stuff up. I know how he is feeling.:2guns::gun_bandana::gunsmilie:

So you and your pals are the ones that I have had the pleasure of cleaning up after when we pull into camp. Hmmm......
 

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Several of the guys here think Atlantic is doing something wrong. Personally I don't think so, I think it's more likely he's just had a run of sub-standards HOs to contend with.

I think Mike's advice is good, only I would suggest that maybe instead of cans they shoot a few price-shoppers instead, the word will soon get around.
 

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It happens all the time and theirs no way to qualify honest intentions, except by charging for estimates. and that will cause some honest HO to avoid you... catch 22.
 

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It happens all the time and theirs no way to qualify honest intentions, except by charging for estimates. and that will cause some honest HO to avoid you... catch 22.
How about not charging for 1st visit/meeting. Then you feel out where they are at. then if they want a quote charge them for it. If they go with you credit it to the job.
 

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Atlantic,

I really know how you are feeling! I think that there is a variety of different motivational factors for customers depending on different parts of the country.

I am just outside of NYC (suburbs)- and in my area, everything is about price. I could make the best presentation possible and potential customers even tell me they like me the best, but in the end, all they care about is price.

I've gotten to the point where I'll only do in person estimates for a certain mile radius and the rest will get a very accurate estimate. Now keep in mind that my jobs tend to be smaller so it's pretty easy to price them. I do on occasion do an estimate for a farther away job that I think has good potential and it usually turns out they're just tire kickers or they simply picked somebody else based on price.

I really think in this economy, there are many more tire kickers out there and people are that way because they can't afford to make the best decision.

So my two cents says use your best judgement in this current economy. I try to keep my expenses down so I don't waste money on tire kickers/low ballers. When the economy gets better and people have more money to make better decisions, I will most likely change my strategy.

Life is about change. If you can't change your business strategy according to the times, you won't need a business strategy at all.

Just my opinion FWIW.

Smile, stay positive and have a beer. That's what I do :clap:
 

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I like it.


Anything that keeps us from spinning our wheels on tire kickers is fine by me. I'll admit I don't have this particular problem, commercial doesn't quite work that way but it has happen.

Howabout instead of charging for a estimate you just bring a tip jar and place it on their coffee table.
 

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Al Smith
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yeah I hate that. Drove all the way up to mountainside last week Missed my parkway exit. Got lost in Union making my way back to rt22 west. Did a quick and dirty budget range "estimate" for a 800 ft finished basement. Asked when I could start. Sat on the actual quote for 5 days before I sent it out yesterday complete with floor plan. Immediately got an email reply saying her and her husband decided to undertake it themselves because it was "beyond their budget." WTF didnt they say this before I even left that evening? ( I think I underbid anyway considering the demo of existing paneling and suspended ceiling) If someone beat my original ballpark GOOD FOR THEM! let em go broke.
 

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My landlord hired a GC to install new heating/air in the duplex, I assumed since my landlord ussually has me do anything electrical, I would be doing it. The GC contacts me and says what he needs and how it can be done, I go no problem show him what i'm going to do and we agree I do the work, in 2 days.

Then he says to give him a price, it was not through my landlord, but through him. The next day I come home from work, he did everything he asked me to do and did it exactly how I told him I would do it. I told my wife we just got suckered, we did.
 

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Whenever I'm confronted with a price shopper, I put on my best face and ask them to consider me in the future. It's good customer relations and leaves them with a positive image of your company. Who you lost out too might not be in business in a few years, or he might have friends who need work done and your strengths might be a better fit for someone else. At the very least you won't have a person running around bad mouthing their experience with your company.

I was once in a situation with a well respected, long established local company, where I explained to one guy that I was price shopping, and why (I thought my bid was 50% too high, it was my first commercial medical job--which explained the cost) I gave him all the leg work the other company had done, and then another person in the company called me back with a price about equal to my first company, and then he chewed me out when I did not give him the work. My first company(who did an excellent job) is no longer in business, and I would have hired this other company had it not been for this salesperson.
 
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