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When Do You Stop Offering Free Estimates?

When Do You Stop Offering Free Estimates?

When Do You Stop Offering Free Estimates?

Posted by Jarrod Miller-Dean

Uploaded 40 days ago

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When Do You Stop Offering Free Estimates? 

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. 

Nicholas Campbell: What time in a business's development can you stop doing free estimates? Asking for a friend. 

Ashlee Beltranena: If we stopped doing free estimates we would never get any change-outs.

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. 

How Should You Structure Free Estimates?

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.

Chester J Ulrich: What type of work do you do? I really gauge the situation about the estimate. If I think it will be over $1500, then free estimates. I also have been investigating having an estimate free, and it has been working well. 

I tell the folks it is $59 to have us out for the estimate, you get me for an hour, and my expertise will be transferred to a well-detailed proposal. If you approve, then the $59 will be credited toward the project. I started doing real estate estimates at $159 and telling them $100 goes toward the project if approved...Too many tire-kickers out there. Tinker with it. You’re worth it. 

Nicholas Campbell Chester J Ulrich: I do electrical service remodel.

Chester J Ulrich: Same here gringo! I also experimented with call it a consultation fee, and that consultation fee is credited back to work over a certain dollar value. It has worked wonders for me, and the people that have turned me down based on it. 

I’m kind of thankful I didn’t waste my time going to their house...cuz you know the deal. You’re there, you may as well not waste your time completely while you’re there...Which is not wise, but we’re all human. 

Mike Crowley: I only do them on jobs I predict are $10K plus.

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.

Michael Johnson: I do free estimates for homeowners. If someone calls me and tells me they are as a real estate agent and they need an estimate for a property, I don’t do it at all. If someone calls and says they are flipping a house and they need an estimate, I likely will not do it. 

Todd Chernesky: For HVAC installations if it sounds legit and like you think you have a shot at getting the job, it’s worth it to go for free. You won’t get them all, but it’s worth it to try. For repairs never worth it for free estimates. 

Jeremiah Anglin: An estimate is a service call for me $125. 

Shayna Shawdowen: No free estimates for electrical. Been charging for 15 years. 

James Bolin: Only do estimates for stuff over $7k. I’m super niche but have dialed in my pricing down to where I threw it all up on my online booking and since then, have never once had anyone “kicking tires”.   serious buyers and once they’ve talked to us over the phone, we just tell them what item to buy once they’re done shopping around. I’ve had someone undercut me by over half and have still won the job because of the value our company adds.

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. 

Final Thoughts

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.

Free Estimates 5

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