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Charging for estimates.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by LwnmwrMan22, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 28,364

    I've decided I'm going to start charging for estimates. $30. Everyone else does it.

    If you go to the mechanic, he puts the scan tool on, gets the codes, if they don't fix the problem, they charge you $50.

    My parents had a plumber come over and fix a leaky pipe that they couldn't do themselves. The plumber charged $82 trip charge, $15 for the part, and $85 for an hour of labor. He was there for 15 minutes and my dad had to go get 2 wrenches from the garage that he didn't have.

    It's getting rediculous. I'll have to build it into the price somehow if I get the job. However, from now on, if I get a call for service, I'm pretty good at knowing the area that I service and can ballpark it, but if they want a hardcopy estimate, it's going to be $30 for me to drive there and talk.
  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I know what you mean. The guy who installed my satellite wanted to barrow my wire stripper. When I told him that I didn't have one, he told me what I'd need and I could get it at any electronics store. Then showed me what I'd need to do to finish the installation. I'd always thought a contractor was supposed to have all the tools of his trade, but I guess I was mistaken.

    Good luck with charging for estimates (actually bids), though.
  3. Clapper&Company

    Clapper&Company PlowSite Veteran
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 4,413

    Mick, thats screwed up.

    The one landscape company in this area charges $150.00 for estimates.
  4. All Season Lawn

    All Season Lawn Member
    Messages: 41

    Should be that way but good luck with it there are so many that come do free estimates that they will tell you they will call someone else who does it for free.

    Let us all know how it goes Good Luck :redbounce
  5. topdj

    topdj Senior Member
    Messages: 396

    I got that beat, I had the main line " sewer" get plugged I call a company Mr Rooter or Roto Rooter cant remember, well I pulled a extension cord out to the cleanout and removed the cover for him " I had already looked down the pipe and varified it was plugged.

    well the guy plugs in his snake runs 10 ft in about 20 seconds it was all over, he was filling out a form and done in 2 minutes then askes for $182.00
    I had him call his manager and they gave me a 10% discount , what a crock
    I said next time I want an hourly rate in 15 minute segments
  6. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    It would be nice to charge but I don't think so. If you get the job great, if you don't, move onto the next. I had a management company call me to bid one 30 acre mall and another 20 acre mall. They wanted everthing included, ice melter for the sidewalk, salt for parking lot, plowing and hauling if needed. Do you think I even got a call back to tell me if I had it or not, found out through another guy who got the contract. Why did he call me in the first place?
  7. Danhoe

    Danhoe Senior Member
    Messages: 102

    When I give quotes out for my construction business I state what the bid asks for and nothing else, if I am asked how I am golng to do it I say in a " professional way ". A friend of the family's that owns his own plumbing business was taking my bids to him putting money on it & then he asked how I would do it. Then he would go do the job himself. This happened 4 times then I caught him. Now I don't do anything with him. I had a landscaping company in Ann Arbor doing the same thing, I told him the next time I catch him doing this that I would go to the owner of the job site directly and take the job myself. You need to due a little research on your customers to protect yourself. This is nothing new, you just have to figure out how you can stop it. Good luck Dan
  8. kcplowmata

    kcplowmata Senior Member
    from kc
    Messages: 174

    what i have been doing is just asking for prior year bids on large contracts. most managers comply happily and a few dont but it saves me hassle so i know where i stand.i know my price but it makes it easiers to see what services they want.
  9. Snowpower

    Snowpower Senior Member
    Messages: 636

    I may hurt some peoples feelings but it's becoming clear to me that some businessmen dont understand the cost of doing business. Maybe you get too many calls for estimates? I dont know. What I do know is that each time I get a call to bid a job I get excited and am appreciative that they contacted me. Now sure. Sometimes on a commercial bid you are there to fill a quota, and may not even be being seriously considered. So what. Maybe you are.

    I go out of my way to make transactions simple and easy for myself, and the client. I am a consumer, and I know I hate being nickle and dimed and charged a "fee" for every thing under the sun. I also know that if you just build it into your price, that over time you will be compensated for everything "Other Than" actually doing the work, and the customer wont even notice.

    The "Opportunity" to bid jobs in this business is "Everything"

    Unless you've gotten to the point that you are being bothered by estimates. I cant ever imagine that happpening to me.

  10. Scottscape

    Scottscape Senior Member
    Messages: 662

    Plans we charge for. Estimates and small consultations are free. Most property managers when they call are directed to get 3 bids regardless of what the consumers actions are even if they are still going to use the previous years contractor. I won't go out of my way to do an estimate unless I feel the "vibe" from the client. Usually snow and ice removal bids are looked at when on a mowing route and such then faxed. 3/4 of our clients we've never even met in person.
  11. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    100% agree
    well said
    Thanks for sending business to everyone else.
    It's a cost of doing business. I'm never going to win every bid, but I'd like to do as many bids as I can.
  12. Vaughn Schultz

    Vaughn Schultz PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,565

    Good luck with that :dizzy:
  13. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    I used to actually list "estimating time" and the charge in landscaping work until someone didn't like being charged (it was someone who had gotten me out there several times for various project estimates over a couple years that he always ended up doing himself, until this one that he asked to be reduced by the "estimate cost" I listed). Since then, I've always factored it into associated costs.
  14. LwnmwrMan22 Charging for Estimates

    I've been running plowing companies in the Twin cities for the better part of 20 years. I hope you're able to charge for estimates. Please let me know how it goes. I can't imagine that it will work, but I was wrong at least once before!
    You know, I'm trying to think about where a client might value an estimate.
    Here's my 2 cents. It won't work in the outer-outer suburbs like say Buffalo, St. Cloud, Cambridge, Chaska, etc... The reason is that I used to do acquisitions for landscape companies, and the companies out there are willing to work for wages, you know $18 per hour for summer work, and $35 hour for plowing, the customers are generally not as sophisticated, so might not see a value.
    Where this just might work is inner ring of suburbs, for Real Estate Investment Trusts,Real Estate companies that have NO experience managing properties where your expertise might be worth something. I had an experience with a hotel chain out of Dallas that forgot to budget ANYTHING in for snow for Mpls! So much for Harvard MBA's! They might have paid for consulting/estimates. I'm working with a small management company with 6 properties. They asked a lot of questions about monthly vs per time, sand/salt vs salt, average snowfall, etc... If I would have thought about charging for my expertise, I think they might have paid for it. I'm getting the business, anyway.
    Hope it works, I'll be rooting for you!

    Best of Luck!

  15. Ozone

    Ozone Member
    Messages: 49

    Everyone is entitled to charge for estimates!!

    Count up all the hours you waste on estimates..and who pays you for that lost time? Your time is worth something.

    Btw..I saw some Plumbing references in this thread!! lol :gunsfiring:
  16. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    But he picked your brain the entire time you were there I bet, why I don't explain "how" anymore only "what".
    Guys get annoyed when I give an estimate on repairs and use a parts drawing to explain the whats and why fors. they want me to go over the unit with them and show them what to do so they can do it themselves with parts ordered from a discount parts house. I can't bill for estimates but I don't have to give repair lessons either.
  17. Daner

    Daner PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,187

    $30.00 for a estimate...on plowing a lot or driveway...thats getting way too cheeky.
  18. Silentroo

    Silentroo Senior Member
    Messages: 147

    I got a better Idea, Give them my number and I will bid it.

    Here are three simple questions that will save you alot of time

    1. What mistakes did your current Plow company make?

    2. How long have they plowed for you?

    3. What do you base your decision on?

    Bottom line you can tell the tire kickers from someone really wanting to make a change.

    One other consideration. I pay a guy 8,50 +.40 cents a mile to measure properties.

    Bid cost me around $10 a property. I know what we make in town. So the first time I plow I go past that in about 10 minutes....

    Yes it would be great. I would also love it. However If I gave you $30 Would you stick to your estimate....
  19. powerjoke

    powerjoke PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,341

    well said snowpower,damn i feel fine i just thought i would never say that

    charging for estimates is no more tactfull than a fuel surecharge, what does everyone think bid estiamtors are????

    there is a company called McAninch const. and they are probably one of the larger road cons. companies in U.S. and as far as i know they don't charge estimates and i read that they only get 10% of the jobs they bid,but they bid 400 per week,

    when i bid a big job i actually have to buy the plans which a bid packet could cost from $50-$250 so i don't think next time i bid a sewer or demolition job for the city i will give them a bill for the estimate:rolleyes:
  20. Snowpower

    Snowpower Senior Member
    Messages: 636

    Hours wasted? There is no such thing. If you owned a store would you stand at the door and not allow anyone in unless they agreed to purchase something?