Paid Estimates

Leafguy

Member
For those who charge for estimates, how does the process work?

Is the paid estimate taken off if the client goes for the work?

Or is it just on top of the estimate?

I don't mind doing estimates in my home town but have started to get inquires from further away.
 

TimBr

Official Well Known Greeter
Hey, @Leafguy!

This might be a partial answer to your question from a previous post that Nick made.


Tim

Be sure to read this post within that thread, too. I find it to be rather shocking behavior on the part of Yelp, but maybe I'm easily shocked.

 
Last edited:

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Locally we have two who charge for estimates; one is a highly educated arborist who bills by the hour for everything, and as he says, an estimate is an assessment, which he bills for. He’s in a different class than most of us though, with his credentials, so he can bill for things not many others can.

The other is the largest company in the area. Estimates are free unless you require an in-person meeting, they bill for those.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
For those who charge for estimates, how does the process work?

Is the paid estimate taken off if the client goes for the work?

Or is it just on top of the estimate?

I don't mind doing estimates in my home town but have started to get inquires from further away.
I think charging for a estimate and then offering a discount is great on paper. However many times it’s a slimy sales move. You are the one setting the price, unless you are advertising hourly or set time rates.
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
Location
Florida, USA
I bill for a consultation to view and assess trees. It's a stand alone fee. When prospects ask if I'll credit back the fee if I do the work, I tell them "not unless you can figure out how to give me back the three hours out of my life I spent to get to your place, evaluate your trees, and give you information." When people ask if I give a senior citizen discount, veterans discount or anything like that, I tell them "I could just artificially inflate the price and then give you a discount to make you feel like you've gotten better value, but I'd rather not be manipulative like that. I'd rather just charge a fair price for great work. I hope that's ok with you."
 

CanadianStan

Well-Known Member
I bill for a consultation to view and assess trees. It's a stand alone fee. When prospects ask if I'll credit back the fee if I do the work, I tell them "not unless you can figure out how to give me back the three hours out of my life I spent to get to your place, evaluate your trees, and give you information." When people ask if I give a senior citizen discount, veterans discount or anything like that, I tell them "I could just artificially inflate the price and then give you a discount to make you feel like you've gotten better value, but I'd rather not be manipulative like that. I'd rather just charge a fair price for great work. I hope that's ok with you."

I love this honesty approach. "I'm giving you the best price already and will give you my best work".
 

Fivepoints

Well-Known Member
I charge for estimates out side of my work area. I generally charge $30 to $50 depending on the distance. It covers my fuel basically. It mainly weeds out the call everybody they can find folks. I don't mind driving 45 minutes one way for someone that is serious but I've had a lot of people outside of our work area waste my time. I also charge realtors $50 as they don't actually intend on having the work done, usually. They just want the estimate as a bargaining chip.
 

Desertarborist

New Member
Location
Casa Grande
I charge for estimates out side of my work area. I generally charge $30 to $50 depending on the distance. It covers my fuel basically. It mainly weeds out the call everybody they can find folks. I don't mind driving 45 minutes one way for someone that is serious but I've had a lot of people outside of our work area waste my time. I also charge realtors $50 as they don't actually intend on having the work done, usually. They just want the estimate as a bargaining chip.
Great advice!
 

Merle Nelson

Well-Known Member
Location
SF Bay Area, CA
I charge for estimates out side of my work area. I generally charge $30 to $50 depending on the distance. It covers my fuel basically. It mainly weeds out the call everybody they can find folks. I don't mind driving 45 minutes one way for someone that is serious but I've had a lot of people outside of our work area waste my time. I also charge realtors $50 as they don't actually intend on having the work done, usually. They just want the estimate as a bargaining chip.

That's about what I do. I use it to weed out the looky lous(sp)- time wasters. I offer to deduct it from work performed. But, I usually couch it as, "Oh, what you want is an arborist report, I do that for $250." For instance when a realtor or his client wants me to look at trees to use to dicker on price with a seller.
 

Sfoppema

Well-Known Member
Location
Central MA
I'd love to charge for estimates, but think it would be a turn off for lots of potential clients. Sucks to waste time with some estimates, but gives you access to more potentially good work. I am small/all word of mouth, so my leads are mostly solid to begin with. No way to avoid the time wasters tho and sometimes I wish I charged to walk around people's yards and give them free advice...... Idk I feel like the money lost would outweigh the money gained from the estimate/time saved. Maybe I'm wrong, but also don't want to have to hear "You are going to charge me for an estimate?" all the time.....
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
Location
Florida, USA
A lot of people don't understand the difference between an estimate and a consultation. If the client already knows how many trees are being pruned, to what extent, approximately how many cuts, what diameter and the objective of the pruning, I can give an estimate using google street view without leaving my driveway. I'll do that for free.

If however there's a condition that's causing them concern, or anything else that will necessitate my visiting the site and rendering an opinion of any sort, that's a consultation and I won't do it for free. I don't think anyone else should either, because if there's ever a need for insurance to cover your opinion, the first thing your underwriting company will ask for is proof of a fee paid for the service.

Normally during the initial phone call I can determine whether the prospect already has sufficient specifications about their property to give a free estimate, or whether they also need advice.

Think of a painting contractor. "I have a two story house that is 1800 square feet, and I'd like it to be painted blue, two coats over a coat of primer, with old paint removed. I'd like the paint to have extra UV blockers in it so that it'll last a long time." The painting contractor can easily figure out how much material and time they'll need and be able to give a quick quote.

vs

"My paint is weathering kind of fast so I need to repaint. I wasn't happy with the old base color and trim, but I'm not sure what color I want to use for the next coat. Can you send someone by to give me a quote?" This contractor is also going to have to provide consulting services on site before they'll even be able to give a quote.

Know which hat you're wearing at any given time, and charge accordingly.
 

Fivepoints

Well-Known Member
I'd love to charge for estimates, but think it would be a turn off for lots of potential clients. Sucks to waste time with some estimates, but gives you access to more potentially good work. I am small/all word of mouth, so my leads are mostly solid to begin with. No way to avoid the time wasters tho and sometimes I wish I charged to walk around people's yards and give them free advice...... Idk I feel like the money lost would outweigh the money gained from the estimate/time saved. Maybe I'm wrong, but also don't want to have to hear "You are going to charge me for an estimate?" all the time.....
Do you have errors and omissions coverage?
 

Sfoppema

Well-Known Member
Location
Central MA
It certainly makes sense. I wonder how you go about explaining this to each potential client. Do you have a set script or what? I imagine you are met with criticism often... Also, if they are asking advice about pruning, you give the advice, then give them a bill even if they don't use you or care for the advice given?

I really like this idea, but I can just imagine my office person getting worn down explaining this to people who won't want to hear it. And probably getting angry calls from people who have been billed when they "didn't understand" about the difference between consulting and estimating.

What if you're looking at a self explanatory removal for free and the client asks a question about pruning? You tell them you have to charge them to answer?


Really not trying to be a pain in the ass I am just curious how you execute this with clients on a day to day basis.

And cheers to you for doing it. I would like to
 

Fivepoints

Well-Known Member
I don't know what that is.... Maybe....
Its errors and omissions insurance coverage. It covers you if you give a customer the wrong advise. IE, you tell a customer that tree looks fine and we should just prune it. It falls on their house two weeks later. Their insurance company finds out what happened and is now wanting to sue you for the damage the their house. Your insurance company is going to tell you sorry but you only have general liability coverage, not errors and omissions so we won't cover your error.

Not a good place to be in. E and o can be added to most GL policies.
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
Location
Florida, USA
You can also flip the telescope and be glad that the tire kickers show themselves to the door without using up your valuable time. I've been doing this for 12 years using the same vehicle, which currently has $160k original miles. Because I don't burn gas and waste time talking to people when I'm the only one with skin in the game.
 

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