As a home service provider, you probably realize how important it is to create accurate client estimates. Providing accurate estimates not only helps your customer get a better idea of their potential project cost - it helps them get a better understanding of what they can expect from you as a business owner. Think of it as a way to showcase your rates, without giving away all your pricing ahead of time.

Because project estimates are so important to your business, and your clients, it’s essential to know whether or not you want to charge customers for them - and what these potential costs could mean for your business.

 

When Is ‘Free’ Fit For An Estimate?

Every customer loves the word free - as individuals who also spend time as consumers, I’m sure every business owner can also attest how much they enjoy free services as well. However, it’s difficult to know when free estimates suitable for your business model, and whether or not you should use them.

A free estimate is a great way to entice your leads to learn more about your products and services, but it’s smart to limit which services deserve those free estimates. For instance, if you’re a remodeler, and offer a free service calculator for a roof repair or replacement, you’ll probably notice an uptick in your customer base because of this free resource. It’s easy enough to estimate of a roof repair - most of these services and square footage tends to overlap after a while, so a free estimate is just helping you gain that on the fence lead who needed a reliable roof estimate.

However, that’s not to say you should provide this for every service. For certain businesses, the estimation process is different for each client. Similar projects might look like they’d cost the same, but square footage, materials listed, and other resources are going to impact the cost of every project.

It’s important to offer some free estimates, but not to give away all of your pricing information for every project. This could lead to price shopping from potential clients - plus, without understanding the scope of a project, you’ll only be able to give a ballpark estimate of the project. Save yourself long term stress and limit those free estimates to more attainable projects, while still creating a positive brand for your business.

 

When is it Appropriate to Charge for Estimates

Every business is different so it’s important to consider when it’s appropriate to charge a client for an estimate. If they want a minor roof repair that’s one matter, but an entire second story renovation is another. Charging for estimates is difficult, like deciding whether or not to list prices online. Certain estimates are worth charging for, while others are nice complimentary services for the client.

There are a few things that affect whether or not you should charge for a project estimate:

 

  • The Industry
    • Remodeling, contracting, construction - all of these industries have different timelines when it comes to completing a project. Not to mention, project budgets, materials, and team members will vary. Certain industries have to charge for estimates just because of the nature of the project.
  • Size of the Project
    • Depending on the size of a project, the bigger it is, the more likely you’ll be charging for an estimate.
  • Size of your Business
    • If you run a small business and are just getting started, you can scale down the overall cost of a project estimate. However, the more familiar you become with the project tasks, work being done, and estimation methods, you can start charging more accordingly.
  • Personal Business Beliefs
    • As a small business, it’s important to follow your personal beliefs and integrity when it comes to how you operate. Don’t always let your competitors sway you - your decision to charge for a project estimate is completely your choice.

Communicate the Cost of Estimates

Offering project estimates is a great service for your customers, however, it’s important to be upfront about those costs. High-level services or projects will cost more, so be transparent about those rates.

At the end of the day, it’s not always about the price, so much as it’s about building trust with homeowners. That is what’s your customers will remember as they move forward.


The world of pricing can be complex, but that doesn’t mean client estimates are the only thing you should be thinking about! Take a closer look at the world of online sales and learn more about how to boost your online sales faster than ever.

Olivia Orme
About Olivia Orme

I grew up in the Northern Virginia Area, and spent my days in drama club and riding horses. Somehow, I found my way down south, and graduated from Wofford College with a degree in English and Political Science. Caught between loving the south, and missing home, Winston Salem seems to be the perfect in-between. My typical day revolves around my love for writing, and I hope to bring my love for learning and creativity to our clients!

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