Posted by Jarrod Miller-Dean
Uploaded 64 days ago
If your business offers free estimates, it can get tricky when work is needed to diagnose an issue. Customers rarely understand the fine line between diagnosis and estimate. Do you charge when you crawl under the house, have to cut into a wall, or go up on a roof to determine the problem? You may find yourself questioning whether or not you should begin charging for your expertise and time for every job.
Free estimates are great methods to get your “foot in the door” and will often lead to larger jobs. Customers appreciate knowing the full cost of a job before work begins, but it can be frustrating to spend time on a job, provide a great diagnosis only to have the customer take your information and choose another contractor.
Many companies offer free estimates as well as charging service calls, depending on the day, time, or service. You can also charge a diagnostic fee if you perform a service and offer to waive the charge if work is approved.
And some contractors gauge estimates based on jobs being performed or the expectation of cost. You can also offer free estimates for homeowners only and charge for property managers or real estate agents, in fact most contractors will never offer a free estimate for a home in escrow as it usually ends up not being scheduled as it is more of a bargaining tool for the seller or buyer.
Other companies go by industry. In HVAC, free estimates are normal for new installations, but repairs require work and typically come with a service or diagnosis fee. Many electrical service calls have an automatic charge, as work is involved in finding and repairing problems as well as installation.
Whether you currently offer free estimates, are contemplating making a change, or do not believe in free estimates for any service, clear communication for the customer is crucial. It really depends on how you price your services, what vertical you are in and how easy it is to determine costs up front.
Free estimates are a great selling point for customers, but can devalue your work, time, expertise and allow for customers who are just using you to find the problem free of charge.
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