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I opened my email to find a contact form from my website. In the comments section it read "I would like a free estimate to remodel my bathroom". That was it.

For some reason, I am not interested in pursuing this project. I give free estimates for qualified jobs, but I would like to see that my time is valued.

It an investment to pursue a project. $20 Gas. 1-2 Hour bid time. Design Time. Then you have to put together an estimate. This is at least $100 worth of work.
 

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It would be interesting to see if you sent them something back asking their budget for there remodel what answers you may get.

Im sure it isnt worth taking your time. I hate it when people just want to kick the tires all day.

I had one email me with a scope attached to it. When a HO has his scope already planned out, thats one red flag to me. That tells me he is using someone elses estimate. I looked at it since it was down the road.

One project, I turned down. It was an attic gut and remodel. He said the floors would be ok to save. He had professional refinished them himself. I went up there and his tennants had started patching the drywall without using drop clothes. There was compound and paint everywhere. I wasnt catching the blame for it.

Second project he wanted a laminate overlay in the kitchen and attached bath. The floors were already 1/2 above the rest of the floor plan. I sent him a revised scope to rip out the overlay and do it that way. I also didnt want to do laminate in the bathroom at all. Needless to say the bid wasnt cheap and i didnt hear back. But i did get a kick out of his professionaly sanded HW floors with paint all over.
 

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Yeah, would put money on it wouldn't be worthwhile.

Drive there, half hour. Then spend two hours with husband and wife, discussing possible finishes, which hadn't occured to them up till this point they would have to figure out. Then drive home, another half hour. Spend the time needed to price out materials and labour, get quotes from any subs, submit proposal...

only to never hear from them again, because they've contacted 17 others for a free estimate and god knows what happens.

I've learned not to work for people who emphasive "free" estimate, etc. I had one guy emailing me for awhile, he lives about two blocks away so did go out one evening to take a look at some of the work. However he responds with emails like "i've had five very competitive estimates, what price do you think you can do this for" when i tell him my price, he says "a professional laminate installer said he can do it for x amount, can you do it for this same amount?"

Right, sorry dude not falling for it, write him back saying "my price is a based on my cost to do the job you need properly, I do not leave room in my quotes to adjust my price based on a cheaper competitor, thank you however for considering my services"

what i really wanted to write was "sorry, your just way too much of a cheapo to deal with, don't write me again"

anyways, I wouldn't bother with it.
 

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Email them back with a free estimate

"Aproximatly $4,657.35"
Please accept the following as our bid: With the information you have provided the best estimate I can give you is, you pay me what ever you think is fair.

Please email me when I can start, as we are eager to get started on your project. As you must already know there is no work in construction right now.

I have been sitting at home just waiting for you to call. Thank you in advance for allowing me to fullfill my dreams of working really hard for very little money.

Sincerly,
Al B. Cheeper
Stu Pid Contracting
 

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Maker of Fine Sawdust
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Email them back with a free estimate

"Aproximatly $4,657.35"
I was gonna say about the same thing.

Estimate: $4,000 - $32,000

That's what you get for a free estimate.:whistling
 

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You guys know me. I like to think outside the box....that said....

A lot of businesses advertise "free estimates"
People expect them these days.
He may have just worded himself wrong in the printed world.

Have a standard reply to "how much would it cost....can you give me a ball park.....can I get an estimate for.....

Spruce up
repaint, vinyl flooring, new light fixtures, new bathroom hardware
$2-3,000

Update
new vanity, countertop and sink. New toilet. both in same location.
Add $2-3000

Makeover
Remove and replace tub and shower surround with new tub & shower surround.
add $2-4000

Master bath upgrade
Tile floors, tile shower, glass enclosure, radiant heat in the floors
add $5-8,000

Expand bath and change fixture locations
Knock out walls, add window or skylight, new closets, double vanity, separate tub and shower.
add $5-10,000

"These are just ranges to help you get a feel for the cost of bath remodels.

If you would like us to come out and work with you on an a design and scope for your bathroom, we will be happy to do that for a fixed fee or an hourly rate, whatever you feel more comfortable with.
Design and estimate fees are deducted if we are awarded the project."

It's just an idea in tough times..
You plug in numbers that pertain to your business in your area.

We don't want to dismiss potential clients due to internet interpretation...
 

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We just had a pretty interesting thread on this topic. As I stated there, an estimate is not a design. As tc stated give them a ball park as the cost of various levels of project. I always give FREE Estimates, but never FREE detailed quotes or bids (on residential remodeling). You are correct in thinking that design is not cheap, nor should it be free. They would pay a pretty penny to hire an actual designer, so they should also expect to pay us for the same service. I go out, look at the project, take as many measurements and details as I can get, even pictures. I then go back to the office and scribble out an estimate based on what the client wish list turned out to be. I always explain that the initial set of numbers is an estimate only, to ensure that we can move forward if they are within their budget.

As for the e-mail, we read way too much in written word. We bring our own baggage and filter it through our preconceptions. I would call them to determine their tone. They may just be checking to make sure that you estimates are Free as well.
 

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How bout sending back an email requesting a phone # & having a 10 minute phone conversation on the subject. Whole lot more can be garnered by actually having a conversation rather than making assumptions over typed words.

You may have read it right, but you may have it 180 degrees wrong & miss a profitable opportunity by making an assumption. You have heard what Assume breaks down to, haven't you?
 

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TC nailed it. Thats an estimate. What KC is talking about is more of a quote. Understanding the differences is important. I think that we give the HO alot of grief and in most casses rightfully so.

But I think you've "READ" far too deeply into this one sentence that a potential client left.

If I go to a car dealership and ask for prices on their vehicles do I have to pay? No I dont.

Contracting seems to be one of those few areas where we some how justify to ourselves that our pricing methods are so valued that one must pay for that knowledge.

The salesman might gripe that he didnt get you to buy a car, but if he demanded payment before he gave you prices for his vehicles youd laugh in his face.....and go to the next guy who was willing to work with you.

No ons asking you to print out CAD drawings and with ten different perspectives. Just shoot them some numbers.
 

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G Teoli
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It was more than just the text of the email. It wan't in a great area. Usually, I will google for a satellite image of the property. I like to work on upscale homes. I take a lot of pride in what I do and want to be at the top of my field.
Thats a really good idea.

That reminds me of a time I talked to a solar (green) guy a couple of years ago. I was just kicking the tires on ball parking some panels. He called me back a few days later and was on "GoogleEarth" looking at the satellite image of my house and analyzing the best layouts from the trees and sun position.

I felt a little invaded, but it was still a cool concept.
 

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It was more than just the text of the email. It wan't in a great area. Usually, I will google for a satellite image of the property. I like to work on upscale homes. I take a lot of pride in what I do and want to be at the top of my field.
So why post it?

If you already wrote it off.

Some people won't take the time to use punctuation on a forum. Others are meticulous about grammar etc., etc.. For some people email is almost like a text message or a chat room or a forum. How does this qualify them or disqualify them from being a customer?

Your points about the area and the level of work you do are reasonable to use when you qualify a job. A customer asking for a 'free' estimate should not, IMHO, be immediately categorized as a tire kicker.

I would not expect you will ignore the potential customer. That is just bad business. They may work with people who could be your clients. They may be related to people who could be your clients.

Certainly it's worth a 5 minute phone call to suggest you are booked for the next 6 months or 6 years and are too busy or something like this. Or maybe you will find them to be someone you might actually work with.

People are conditioned to respond to "FREE", why should we be put of when they do?
 

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True Story:
Thomas Edison was called in to troubleshoot an problem at a local power generating plant to come in and find the problem they were having with one of their generators. He walked in, took one look and marked an "X" where the short was on the windings.

When he gave the firm a bill for $10,000.00 troubleshooting fee they were shocked. So, he re-wrote the bill:

Marking Fee: $5.00
Knowledge for where to mark: $9995.00

:thumbup:
 

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I often get requests for free estimates. Just got one a few days ago. The first question she asked...do you give free quotes? I spent the next 5-10 minutes asking her questions about the job, her expectations, whether she has looked at any specific fixtures, budget, etc.
At the end of the conversation, after ascertaining she was a viable potential client, I told her that her that based on our conversation, I would be happy to come out.

I'll let you know if it works out!!
 

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Focusing on solutions.
Hardwood floors/custom cabinets
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I often get requests for free estimates. Just got one a few days ago. The first question she asked...do you give free quotes? I spent the next 5-10 minutes asking her questions about the job, her expectations, whether she has looked at any specific fixtures, budget, etc.
At the end of the conversation, after ascertaining she was a viable potential client, I told her that her that based on our conversation, I would be happy to come out.

I'll let you know if it works out!!

That's exactly how we handle those calls. :thumbup:
 
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