The problem that many builders face when they quote jobs for free is that they're actually spending their own money. A builder's time is valuable, so even if they don't end up paying an estimator there is still a cost associated with every quote that is produced.
Builders who charge for quotes are eight times more likely to win a job as opposed to those who do not. So while the easy option may appear to be 'just do it' or 'quote and hope,' the reality is that they're probably wasting their time.
An Estimate is Not a Quote
An estimate is exactly that, an estimation of what a job might cost. It's an indication based on a builder's experience. The accuracy will depend on the systems the builder uses and their experience. But builders shouldn't spend hours providing estimates and they shouldn't waste their time looking at plans unless they have qualified their prospect beforehand.
When builders do have a qualified prospect and have looked at their plans to give a ball-park estimate, then it is time to move forward in the sale — and charge for a quote. If a prospect doesn't want to pay for a builder's services, it simply means they either do not see value in what they are offering, or they are a price-checker who has no intention of building with that builder. So the best thing to do is disqualify the prospect and move onto someone who will value the builder's time.
Identify the Best Prospects
When a builder is presented with 10 prospects who all want a free quote, they have two options.
Option 1: Attempt to provide all of the prospects with free quotes, only to find that with the limited amount of time available, communication becomes delayed, quoting is rushed and items get missed, meaning that margins suffer and it is unlikely any of these opportunities would progress into a contract.
Option 2: A builder qualifies each prospect before volunteering their time for free. And for those prospects that qualify, builders know to set their expectations about what will be done as part of an estimate and what happens next as part of the quoting process. Builders should be clear with their prospects and explain that if they are going to invest their time estimating the job, the customer should be prepared to spend money getting their job professionally quoted in order for the builder to produce a fixed-price contract. When the customer agrees, the builder knows they have buy-in and the job is worth quoting.
If builders struggle to charge for quotes then they are probably attracting the wrong audience or not demonstrating value. The best way to convey value is to have a unique selling proposition. Builders cannot deal with everyone that asks for a free estimate, so they should identify the hottest prospects. Because when builders follow this process, they will end up signing contracts at much higher margins. This is just a small part of the sales process for builders. Download the complete process.