Do What Dentists Do
A friend of mine recently went to see a dentist. His initial visit was a “consultation visit.” He was charged $120.
When I make a telephone call to my attorney, I get billed for it. I also get billed for e-mail correspondence.
Even engineers and architects charge for every bit of their time. And here we are — out there for hours — charging nothing.
So, now do you think you should charge for an estimate?
Actually, I no longer go out and "bid" projects as I described in the first paragraph. I used to do that, but not any more. If you still do — stop!
Charging for Estimates Changed Who I Do Business With — for the Better
It was difficult at first to begin telling customers that I would charge them for estimates and design services. I was afraid of rejection and not sure what they would say or how they would react.
But, let me tell you what has happened since I started charging them for estimates:
First, I have stopped doing estimates for people who only care about price. Now I can spend my time with customers who really care about their project and our company.
I also have changed our entire presentation and sales processes. I no longer concentrate on selling price. In fact, it’s the last thing I sell my customers. I sell myself first, I sell the company second, I sell the product third and then finally, I sell price.
By telling your customers that you are charging for an estimate, you really are telling them you are a professional and should be compensated for your time. You will be surprised how many people appreciate that.
Go for the 'One-Call Close' and a Signed Agreement
Our company tries to do a one-call close, and we make sure all decision makers are at our first meeting, just like Phil Rea, the remodeler turned speaker/consultant, recommends.
Since our projects are pretty large, our one-call close includes having the customer sign our professional services agreement, which includes paying for the estimate and/or our design services.
A signed agreement alone will usually keep you from being part of three companies "bidding" a project.
You’ll Be More Productive With Your Time
Instead of having 10 estimates to "bid," I now have four projects on which to work.
Charge for your estimates, charge for your time. You are a professional. Act like it and charge for it. Trust me, your work life will be much more enjoyable because you’ll be working for customers who value your time as much as you do.
Erik Anderson, CGB, GMB, CAPS, is vice president of Anderson-Moore Builders, Inc. in Winston-Salem, NC. He also currently serves as vice president of the Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem. For more information, contact Anderson via e-mail.
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