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free estimates

Paul_69 Member Posts: 251
does anybody charge small fee for estimates of new equipment? there are to many bid chasers out there getting many estimates looking for cheapest price. i want to chge a small fee and give it back if get job. any thoughts about this approach?


  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Adds professionalism to your operations...

    A lot of company have a diagnosis fee for coming out to look, and it will be reimbursed if the deal is closed.

    Just make CERTAIN that the consumer is aware of this charge before you dispatch anyone, and also ask them how they intend to pay. This sets the stage and establishes precedent.

    Of course, many customers will respond with "The telephone book is FULL of people who will give free estimates. Why should I pay for yours?" to which my response would be, "You get what you pay for,and thanks for calling. Have a nice day." (All said with a smile that can be heard and seen over the phone.)

    Some times you win, some times you don't, but this method will separate the wheat from the chaff...

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Big Will
    Big Will Member Posts: 396
    I totaly agree with mark

    However the last part of his comment is what keeps me from doing it. I actually know of no Mechanical contractors in my area that charge for the estimate. And like you pointed out a percentage of the estimates I go to are looking for the cheapest bid. That said I really feel that really looking into the customers needs and giving a thorough estimate combined with good people skills can turn a lowest bid customer into someone who cares a bit about quality. It seems like people go into it thinking its just a furnace or a boiler and it works or it doesn't. With some people you cant change that mind set but I really love talking a customer through a systems functions and pros and cons of different brands and install techniques. I guess I feel like its just an unfortunate part of the job. I will say the ones that really make me mad are the people who call the office and demand a price over the phone. 
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Customer Survey...

    You could develop a customer questionairre /survey to pre-qualify your customers, but that might offend some potential customers. It is an effective means of discerning the difference between a tire kickers and a serious consumer. You can ask questions like "How much do you have in your budget to replace the boiler?" or "How soon do you intend to do this work?" These are fair and reasonable questions. It does take some time for the dispatcher to prequalify potential customer using this approach, and some consumers may hang up on you, but if they do, it probably wasn't a good fit any way.

    After you've done the survey, you can then make the decision as to wether it is worth your while to send a technician out, or not. If you decide not to, you MUST call the consumer back and explain to them why it is that you will not be sending out a technician. If their "budget" number is the reason, then you could use that opportunity to explain to them the problem with their budgeted number, and see if they are willing to spend more for your services. That is your opportunity to presell yourself and your company to the consumer.

    None of this is a new concept. Professionally trained flat rate contractors use this program every day. It's just good business sense. But in order for any program to work, ALL employees MUST be on board with the program. Old school plumbers HATE change, and will probably fall off the vine. Too bad for them. They'd have the opportunity to make more money than they can imagine...

    Been there, done that.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • I've been doing it that way sometime....

    and agree with Mark.  If you consider the typical thorough review of the system and home costs you about 4 to 6 hours of time, it doesn't make sense to do this for free, especially when you know that the low ballers are doing it for 1/2 hour of time.   When you get into larger jobs, the costs obviously increase greatly if you are being thorough, but not very much for the low baller....they just look at the old equipment and install the same.

    I usually spend some time on the phone with potential clients, but if they want a free estimate, I just give them a verbal one over the phone and explain to them its just about as meaningful as the two sentence written ones they get.  Some people are always looking for cheap, and then can't figure out why they never have any money when they spend only on junk contractors.

    As a wise poster here says "you don't get what you don't pay for". 
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert

    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
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