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#157001 08/07/05 05:28 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 12
D
Member
My check list for chargeable estimates;
If I put on the tool pouch, charge
If I have to go back to office and make calls and pricing, charge.
If the stop is quick only within 1 hour than its free.
Ballpark on the phone has eliminated alot of wasted time.
I used to run around every sat. with no reward, people love to here "free estimate"
but if they ask me several times if this is free....then I don't take job.

Latest Estimating Cost Guides & Software:
#157002 08/08/05 05:43 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,064
D
Member
Here's a situation that will add some fuel.

I teamed up with a local HVAC contractor, he promotes me, I promote him. Anyway, one of his guys gives their customer my card, because he needed a line ran to his new unit.

I get talking to the guy, after I was done. This guy is well off, has something to do with steel futures.

I ask him the question while I was there. About the free estimates thing.

It comes out, the contractor I teamed up with gives free estimates, and so did his competition.
My guy was $400 more than the next guy, but because he seemed more knowlegable, and spoke more directly to him, he got the job. The other guys gave the customer a bad vibe.
The customer wanted to meet all of them first.


Seems the $400 was well worth the hour or 2 it took to do the estimate.

Just thought you guys would find this interesting.


Dnk..............

#157003 08/08/05 10:10 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 706
T
Member
A very good point, dnk. If you call around town to come up with your rate instead of figuring it out for yourself you might want to consider that the guy you're calling may have less experience, less knowledge of the NEC, etc.

The one I've seen several times are large conduits with a dozen circuits. The electrician didn't understand derating. I've also seen local electricians replace an interior panel without doing the outside work, so the old 1940s cloth covered service wire was re-used (obviously without a permit).

Dave

#157004 08/11/05 03:13 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
E
e57 Offline
Member
Free estimates are a waste of time.... You could literaly do them all day and not make a dime from it. Some often do this, as I have in the past. Most of it can be done right over the phone on first contact, if scripted right.


Phone call:
"I think I need a service up-grade, I would like to get an estimate..."

"Well, are rates are $$$.$$ an hour, with %% mark-up on material."

(Either they hang up then, or stay for the ride...)

On average a service change can consume (So-many) hours, and approximately (So much) in materials, final results in cost can vary.

(Either they hang up then, or stay for the ride...)

If you like I can set up an appointment for someone to meet with you on-site for an estimate, from/to (two hour window), on some day...

(Either they hang up then, or stay for the ride...)

You have now given them 3 chances to back out, and 2 general points of information as a ball-park cost. Odds are it's yours when you get there, or someone else has already started it by the time you get there. If they go into shock on the first 2 points, theres no reason to even get the address.


Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
#157005 08/11/05 09:05 AM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 65
G
Member
e57, good point. I got a call from a homeowner the other day that wanted a written free estimate ( with a really cheap price ) so that he could use it to sell his house. There may be someone dumb enough to do this for the guy but it's not going to be me. If I think that the work sounds good and there is a profit to be made I will go and estimate the work. If not, I just give a high estimate over the phone, many times the customer say's that they were not going to pay half of that ( all I need to know ). I have found that if they are expecting a high price and you can come down a couple of hundred it's better than when they expect something cheap and you have to go up five hundred. You are more likely to get a referral when you are honest up-front.

#157006 08/11/05 01:33 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 197
L
Member
Sometimes (as previously mentioned) an EC could offer an estimate at $XXX and advise the customer that if we get the job the estimate amount will be deducted from the final invoice. That is in effect, a free estimate.

#157007 08/11/05 07:08 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 39
W
Member
Our techs ran 7 calls today, each one having a dispatch/service fee attached to it, and they performed the repairs for all seven. That, of course, is a good day, but not unusual. The dispatch/service fee helps your business in many ways. Primarily, it allows you to qualify the incoming request for service. Just as important, it allows you to manage your business. Meaning, once your employees are booked, you can raise your service fee; thus reducing the percentage of callers who actually book a service call for that day. In that process, you help to insure that the customers your employees do come in contact with are more willing to do business and/or have a more urgent need. Tire kickers kicked to the curb.

#157008 08/13/05 09:13 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 914
E
Member
We only give free estimates for a few prequalified cases.

1. A past customer or referral that is a guaranteed job, they just want a price first to see how much they can do.

2. Generator sales

3. Large projects that we qualify over the phone before hand or we turn the job down without looking.

Everyone else pays a fee or maybe gets a ballpark on the phone if we feel comfortable that the job is standard enough.

Very few people in our area turn down our charge for the quote, which is deducted if we do the work. We get 90% of these jobs when we charge for the estimate, it definitely prequalifies the customer as someone not interested in cheap only.

#157009 08/29/05 04:01 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 3
L
Junior Member
"Free Estimates"--Two of the worst words in the English language (or any other language for that matter.)

They are never free! If you do not charge one and are driving around free all day you will be out of business. If you are "hiding them in your work" you are being dishonest.

By the way...nice water analogy. But if you ask anyone...blue or white collar if they would be willing to pay for something (and they are given a no option...the answer will be "no".) You are better off asking companies if they are successful booking these types of calls and if they have more than satisfied clients. I would be there is a direct correlation between these answers and the fact that highly successful guys operate with this as their SOP!

Landon

As a client there are only two things that can happen when they call around and get free estimates. Both involve being ripped off. I educate clients to this fact and let them know that they are playing a dangerous game. I tell them the costs invovled and what they are settgin themselves up for. 90% of them change their minds and all of the at least have a fear of the free estimate when I get done. Then you build the value of what you are going to do for them that the next guy won't and why it is worth your time to go with a company that is honest and pufront with all fees and would never "hide" them. This is the only way to do business and is fair to all involved.

Landon

#157010 08/29/05 06:13 PM
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
H
Member
"Well, are rates are $$$.$$ an hour, with %% mark-up on material."

E57, interested in why you would quote your mark-up on material. That's really nobodies business.

Without seeing the job you can only quote your hourly rate, you have no way to tell how many hours it will take. You can't tell what materials are needed either so why not just say "rates are $$$.$$ an hour plus materials".

If they are stupid enough to think that they are going to get pricing for a job like this over the phone then you probably shouldn't consider doing work for them anyway.

-Hal

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