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The Contractor Coaching Partnership Blog

Free estimates vs free consultations for remodeling projects

Posted by Mark Paskell on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 @ 08:55 AM

Many homeowners want remodelers to give them ideas, solutions, designs and remodeling estimates for FREE before products, methods and budgets are defined. 

Too many remodelers oblige by figuring everything out for free, thinking that is what they must do in order to have a chance at winning the job.

The value of your time and expertise         time is money highdefinition picture 3p resized 600

Completing an accurate scope of work and fixed price involves a lot of time that may be wasted on homeowners who don't have the budget, urgency or realistic expectations to do the project. If the homeowner has not defined products and methods, budget, if there is no design, then the remodeler has to resort to assumptions and allowances. We all know what happens when we @$$UME. Allowances cause delays and change orders which consumers say are one of the worse fears they have about hiring a contractor.

Free Estimates; get paid for your ideas, solutions and designs.

In a recent blog post by Shawn McCadden he offers some options on how a remodeler can charge for estimates. Your time, ideas and experience are valuable services that the homeowner needs to make a decision to buy a project. As a remodeling business owner you should and deserve to be compensated for that experience. When you assume and come with up with designs, solutions and a price for free the homeowner very rarely do they say the job is yours. On the contrary, they tell you we need to think about it, get other opinions (using your ideas and solutions), or they need to check with Uncle Joe. The chances of winning a job this way are historically very low.

A term used to describe this process is UNPAID CONSULTANT

A frustrated remodeler sick and tired of working for free

On Friday in a coaching session with a remodeler from Washington DC, our client said he was sick and tired of helping homeowners come up with ideas, product recommendations and estimates for free. Then finding out they had unrealistic budgets and expectations of what things cost. One of his sources of leads is Angie's List and he said many of them are just using him to get free information. He is changing his website to now offer free consultations not free estimates. He wants to only spend time with homeowners who meet his defintion of a fit.

Free Consultations;  vetting the homeowner and the remodeling project

Choosing the free consultation approach you meet and discuss a potential project with a homeowner to determine if you and they are a fit. It helps to first pre-determine the definition of a fit for you. Choose who you want to work for, where you want to work and what projects you want to focus on. In this approach you do not give free estimates, you give free consultations. If the homeowner meets the conditions of what you determine is a fit for you then you may proceed to the next step, getting paid for the design, scope of work and fixed price using your estimating program.

If the homeowner doesn't meet your definition of a fit you do not need to go any further. 

Advertising Free Estimates commits you to giving them to everyone who is a fit or not!

If you offer free estimates on your website and in your advertising you commit yourself to giving everyone who calls you a free estimate. You know that some homeowners you meet are the last ones you want to work for. Instead offer free consultations allowing you to bow out and not be accused of not delivering what was advertised.

For help or coaching on how to go from giving free estimates to free consultations Contact Us 



Tags: free estimates, free consultations