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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I just received an email from a homeowner asking me to itemize my materials and labor. He stated that my price was higher than the estimate I gave him on site. ( I told him $1,500 to $2,000 after looking at it and taking my measurements) He also expressed concern about my warranty being one year. The following is the email I replied back with. I would like some feedback from some more seasoned business owners on how I should respond in the future or if you have any experience or tips you would want to share.



From: Joseph Hinton
Sent: Sunday, May 25, 2014 9:57 PM
To: ******XX
Subject: Re: Chimney flashing repair

Mr. ***XX

I apologize for the price difference in what I told you. Most of the chimney repairs we do are one story and I incorrectly referenced those numbers when we were talking.
We do not itemize our labor and materials to customers for multiple reasons, two of which are:

(1) Our procedures, prices and materials are proprietary information. Most of our flashing is made in our shop with the rest made on site to fit the exact dimensions of your chimney. Because we only use premium products, we spend a lot of time researching, sourcing and manufacturing the materials we use. What we charge for that is not something I would want my competitors to know.

(2) I personally write each proposal my company sends out. I sometimes do 3-4 a night. To speed this process up, I have developed a spreadsheet to calculate material and labor together per linear foot or per square foot depending on the repair. When I enter the numbers, the spreadsheet gives me a total cost. It would be time prohibitive for me to re-calculate all of these numbers for each job. It not only saves me time, but it saves my customers money because I am not including extra time spent itemizing each job.

To give you a little bit more insight on how I arrived at that number, we only use premium products. On your repair we will have over $200.00 just in fasteners and sealant. The underlayment we put underneath your flashing is over $100.00 a roll. We will have over 5 man hours worth of labor (mostly shop time) just in the manufacture of the flashing. The vapor barrier is over $200.00 a roll. The cricket located behind your chimney is small and on a steep slope. This alone increases my labor time by a many hours, let alone the additional materials. We will have to completely remove all of the shingles on the cricket and the surrounding roof area, to ensure it is flashed and fastened properly. This is actually a rather large repair and maybe bigger than what you were expecting. The new shingles alone will cost a few hundred dollars.

We are very good at what we do and we stay as competitive as possible, but just like any professional business, it costs us a lot of money to perform our jobs to the best of our ability. When we start to tear off your shingles and siding; to get to the bad flashing, we will literally have thousands of dollars worth of tools and materials on site for any possible "What if" scenarios. I will also have guys that have done this exact type of repair over and over. We know what needs to be done and how to do it better and faster than any other company in the wiregrass. My company completed 6 chimney flashing repair jobs last month with an average cost of $2,672.33. each and we have two more scheduled ahead of the available dates I gave you and they are within a few hundred dollars of the amount I gave you.

The one year warranty is just standard verbiage used on our proposals for repair jobs.This does not mean that the repairs will fail after one year, and in fact if the repairs are not installed correctly, you most likely find out after a few weeks or months due to leaks. You can expect galvanized flashing to last 20-40 years depending on the environment and the amount of exposure to the elements. I would suspect that your flashing would be on the high side of that and close to the 40 year mark. We do offer lifetime flashing made from 16oz copper, but it is generally cost prohibitive for most shingled roofs and we mostly use it on concrete tile roofs or slate. Generally we only warranty repairs for one year based on the fact that it is a repair and we did not install the entire roofing system. Therefore, we do not want to be held responsible for possible failures caused by materials we did not install. While you may clearly know that a vent boot leaking on the opposite side of the house from where we worked; would not be caused by anything we did. We have in the past encountered customers who did not understand this or who wanted to attempt to extort my company to fix every repair that arrised simply because we had once worked on the roof. For those reasons we now state one year on our proposals. I would be willing to give you something in writing that said we will warranty our flashing, as installed by us, for the life of the current roof. The only exclusion being that any work done on the flashing by someone other than Pinnacle Property Care would void that warranty.

I apologize for this being so long, I did not intend for that when I started. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me again or call me. I would be happy to give you some references of our past work or you can read our reviews on Homeadvisor and angies list.

Thank You,

Joseph Hinton
 

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So, I just received an email from a homeowner asking me to itemize my materials and labor. He stated that my price was higher than the estimate I gave him on site. ( I told him $1,500 to $2,000 after looking at it and taking my measurements) He also expressed concern about my warranty being one year. The following is the email I replied back with. I would like some feedback from some more seasoned business owners on how I should respond in the future or if you have any experience or tips you would want to share.



From: Joseph Hinton
Sent: Sunday, May 25, 2014 9:57 PM
To: ******XX
Subject: Re: Chimney flashing repair

Mr. ***XX

I apologize for the price difference in what I told you. Most of the chimney repairs we do are one story and I incorrectly referenced those numbers when we were talking.
We do not itemize our labor and materials to customers for multiple reasons, two of which are:





Personally I think this was your first mistake. I know in my trade , siding, if I miss figure something I don't go back asking for more , unless I run into something unforseen then it is talked over and agreed by both parties.





(1) Our procedures, prices and materials are proprietary information. Most of our flashing is made in our shop with the rest made on site to fit the exact dimensions of your chimney. Because we only use premium products, we spend a lot of time researching, sourcing and manufacturing the materials we use. What we charge for that is not something I would want my competitors to know.

(2) I personally write each proposal my company sends out. I sometimes do 3-4 a night. To speed this process up, I have developed a spreadsheet to calculate material and labor together per linear foot or per square foot depending on the repair. When I enter the numbers, the spreadsheet gives me a total cost. It would be time prohibitive for me to re-calculate all of these numbers for each job. It not only saves me time, but it saves my customers money because I am not including extra time spent itemizing each job.

To give you a little bit more insight on how I arrived at that number, we only use premium products. On your repair we will have over $200.00 just in fasteners and sealant. The underlayment we put underneath your flashing is over $100.00 a roll. We will have over 5 man hours worth of labor (mostly shop time) just in the manufacture of the flashing. The vapor barrier is over $200.00 a roll. The cricket located behind your chimney is small and on a steep slope. This alone increases my labor time by a many hours, let alone the additional materials. We will have to completely remove all of the shingles on the cricket and the surrounding roof area, to ensure it is flashed and fastened properly. This is actually a rather large repair and maybe bigger than what you were expecting. The new shingles alone will cost a few hundred dollars.

We are very good at what we do and we stay as competitive as possible, but just like any professional business, it costs us a lot of money to perform our jobs to the best of our ability. When we start to tear off your shingles and siding; to get to the bad flashing, we will literally have thousands of dollars worth of tools and materials on site for any possible "What if" scenarios. I will also have guys that have done this exact type of repair over and over. We know what needs to be done and how to do it better and faster than any other company in the wiregrass. My company completed 6 chimney flashing repair jobs last month with an average cost of $2,672.33. each and we have two more scheduled ahead of the available dates I gave you and they are within a few hundred dollars of the amount I gave you.






If you just got through doing 6 jobs about the same why was his so much lower?






The one year warranty is just standard verbiage used on our proposals for repair jobs.This does not mean that the repairs will fail after one year, and in fact if the repairs are not installed correctly
, you most likely find out after a few weeks or months due to leaks. You can expect galvanized flashing to last 20-40 years depending on the environment and the amount of exposure to the elements. I would suspect that your flashing would be on the high side of that and close to the 40 year mark. We do offer lifetime flashing made from 16oz copper, but it is generally cost prohibitive for most shingled roofs and we mostly use it on concrete tile roofs or slate. Generally we only warranty repairs for one year based on the fact that it is a repair and we did not install the entire roofing system. Therefore, we do not want to be held responsible for possible failures caused by materials we did not install. While you may clearly know that a vent boot leaking on the opposite side of the house from where we worked; would not be caused by anything we did. We have in the past encountered customers who did not understand this or who wanted to attempt to extort my company to fix every repair that arrised simply because we had once worked on the roof. For those reasons we now state one year on our proposals. I would be willing to give you something in writing that said we will warranty our flashing, as installed by us, for the life of the current roof. The only exclusion being that any work done on the flashing by someone other than Pinnacle Property Care would void that warranty.

I apologize for this being so long, I did not intend for that when I started. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me again or call me. I would be happy to give you some references of our past work or you can read our reviews on Homeadvisor and angies list.

Thank You,

Joseph Hinton





Overall you did a good job explaining things. But if i missed up on figuring it by only a few hundred I would have eaten it. lesson learned to pay more attention next time.
If I was the customer I would probably pay the extra although not happy about it and would be hard press to pass your name on . Not having a better reason for the extra cost then messing up is a poor excuse in my books.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It was not a hard estimate that I gave him. He asked if I had an idea what the cost would be and I said "Anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 but I will have to run the numbers to know for sure. The actual amount came out to around $2,200. Would you have eaten a couple hundred dollars based on that answer in that scenario? I would not have thought that anyone would hold me exactly within those parameters but maybe that is something I should take into account next time.
 

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It was not a hard estimate that I gave him. He asked if I had an idea what the cost would be and I said "Anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 but I will have to run the numbers to know for sure. The actual amount came out to around $2,200. Would you have eaten a couple hundred dollars based on that answer in that scenario? I would not have thought that anyone would hold me exactly within those parameters but maybe that is something I should take into account next time.
Why would you give a price range and then exceed it? Figure it into your numbers next time.
I would knock off the $200, rather than lose future customers.
Accurate estimates are important for a successful business...

just sayin'
 

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I take it that you did not write a contract then . I which case I would of said maybe higher based on the other ones just did. People are funny , just a little higher then told they get bothered, job comes in underbid and they are really happy. I guess I would not do the job with a pretty firm price . It is one thing when just looking at a job compared to writting the job. I think one needs to give good reason for a job costing more.

Just my thoughts for what they are worth. .02 maybe .:laughing:
 

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That's why I never give a ballpark figure before actually sitting down and figuring the numbers. It annoys me when people do ask for itemized estimates. I make sure and tell them that the estimate is for the entire job and if they want to delete items they can't just figure deducting the itemized amount. My price increases if the amount of work given decreases.
 

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Too long, too much information, too apologetic. The prospective customer doesn't care what you think or how you arrived at your number; he wants a breakdown either to shop your bid to some guy who couldn't do the takeoff or to find a point of argument with you about the price.

My last written response to one of those requests: "Thanks for asking about my costs, but I don't provide that information to customers. My contract prices are agreed values - for a specified price, I complete a specified scope of work."

If they ask me in person or on the phone, the only thing I say is, "No, I don't do that." Perfectly politely, but clearly. Once in a blue moon someone insists, and in writing or in person, I'll only ask, "Why would I do that?" No one has ever come back for more, because they know perfectly well that it's against my interest to provide the information.

I'm fairly sure that I've never lost a job because of my refusal to provide a breakdown. I'm also fairly sure that I let some jobs slip away in the past by providing the breakdown.

Don't ever apologize for a high price. If the firm proposal is more expensive than your guestimate, lead with that, loud and proud: "The price is higher than my informal estimate...." Try not to have that be the case too often - you'll make more sales if your final price is the same or lower than your initial guesstimate.
 

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Explain the difference between an estimate and a bid......

Truly honest estimators will be low 50% of the time, didn't the cookbook estimate say," one story roof, with cricket???? ". Documented "mistake"... An honest customer would have mentioned the error.... before work started.

Should have called HO when story error was discovered in prefect world... and repriced estimate.

Do the Capt. Sulley and write a check list for your estimates,the busier you are, the more you need the Check lists...... @ a certain $ level, have some check your estimates, wife or trainee maybe. Or wait a day, and double check.

offer bids at higher prices to cover hidden conditions, Estimates= customer pays more for hidden conditions, Bids you eat them up.
 

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Maine requires a written estimate, and you can be held to it. If you go over the top of your range, that's your problem, not the customer's.

If you're doing T&M work, you give T&M information, otherwise you don't.

You tell the customer that information is company confidential, then you tell him company confidential information, compromising your reason for withholding the information he requested.

If you're putting information in an email that is company confidential, you better have a notice covering that, and prohibiting it from being viewed, etc, by anyone except the recipient.
 

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Maine requires a written estimate, and you can be held to it. If you go over the top of your range, that's your problem, not the customer's.

If you're doing T&M work, you give T&M information, otherwise you don't.

You tell the customer that information is company confidential, then you tell him company confidential information, compromising your reason for withholding the information he requested.

If you're putting information in an email that is company confidential, you better have a notice covering that, and prohibiting it from being viewed, etc, by anyone except the recipient.
It's a 2k job to repair a chimney, who gives a sh!t.
 

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I don't know what exactly was involved with this project, but you quoted $1500 - 2000 and then said you recently completed six jobs with an average cost of over $2600?

You don't have to explain to me, but if I was the HO that would be a red flag to me.

Estimates suck. The other thing is if you quoted $1500-2000 and you were going to pass that amount, you should have informed the HO. But, I really don't agree with going higher than your highest figure just in case they simply can't afford it. I agree with the above, if you went over, you need to eat it because you basically said the lowest and highest amount it would be. How can you exceed it.

I think if I was in your position, right now, I may even go over and talk to the customer in person. I'd explain that my costs did exceed my estimate, but after careful consideration, that is not the fault of the HO, but the fault of the estimator.

Just my opinion.
I'm sorry. I know how you feel.
 

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My rule: They can have an itemized list AFTER the job is complete if they really want to know what they are getting.

Prior to that I won't know exactly what I will actually use or how much of it. It's not like assembling a piece of IKEA furniture where you get an exact number of screws, pegs, and bushings.

Also, I make a lot of the parts that I use in my system installations (similar to the OP making custom flashing pieces) so if I were to tell the HO that I am going to provide 6 Y-adapters and through the process of the installation I discover that I only need 2, they'll come back after the fact, bean-count it, and demand an adjustment in the final payment.
 
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