Why Do I Charge for the Estimate?
Contractors are supposed to give out Free Quotes RIGHT?
My name is Dan Dragomir, and I am the owner of dRemodeling. I started the company from scratch in 2006. I have a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master Degree in Environmental Protection. When I founded dRemodeling, I quit a high paying Project Management position at a large engineering company to follow my dream of having my own business doing what I love. My office was in the basement of my rental home in Mayfair area and I was the only employee.
Now dRemodeling is one of highest-rated remodeling companies in the country, and award winning to boot, having been named in the Best 50 companies in the country by Remodeling Magazine. We have a team of 3 amazing designers and over 15 technicians on the field. At the time when I wrote this blog I had remodeled 184 Kitchens, 312 bathrooms and 89 basements. I also met with over 4,000 potential clients along the way for FREE in-home assessments. In 2017, as demand for our company continued to grow, I started charging for estimates. Many homeowners will immediately hang up when they hear a contractor is charging for their estimate. I imagine their thoughts include, “Why should we have to pay for a quote when there are other contractors that give free quotes?”
Hopefully – the next paragraphs will help you understand why I have implemented our charge for estimates, why paying a small fee for an estimate is a good investment for you, and what you get out of our dRemodeling Estimate!
Why Do I Charge for the Estimate?
I enjoy remodeling. I enjoy walking clients through remodeling process. I enjoy driving in the Philadelphia area, seeing neighborhoods and even houses that I have had a hand in transforming. Most likely my work will be there for many years to come, and maybe even another generation will move in the home and will enjoy that dRemodeling bathroom or kitchen. In the end, this is why I quit my successful carrier in engineering to open my own business.
Unfortunately giving out so many quotes or estimates was keeping me from doing what I enjoy. I had to find a way to provide bids for potential clients that would be serious about doing a high-quality project, and to cut down on the folks that were just shopping for the lowest bid or not even sure if they wanted to remodel.
On average, I spend anywhere from 4-6 hours on each bid. With Philadelphia traffic, most jobs are anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes’ drive from our office, plus I spend between 30 minutes to 2 hours with the potential client at his or her home. Once back at the office, I would spend between 2-4 hours calculating the cost, determining the time to complete the project, typing out the scope of the work in a written proposal, and sending the email to the potential client. I am bidding on average 7-9 jobs per week. When you calculate all this, I am spending anywhere between 28 and 45 hours per week creating proposal for jobs I MIGHT get. MIGHT is the key word as some of the appointments I have are with clients where I have ZERO chances to get the project. Either because they will shop for the lowest bidder possible and use our numbers to negotiate with the next contractor a lower number or they actually do not have any intent of remodeling.
I recently followed up with a possible client to see if they have any questions on my proposal and the answer I received was, “At this time, I decided not to remodel. The bathroom even if it is dated works fine, I was actually more curious to see how much might cost. Thank you for your time.” While I appreciate him getting back to me, I lost 3 hours with that client answering questions, writing proposals and they were not even sure that they wanted to remodel. Many other times, potential clients will award the job to a company, not letting any of other bidding contractors know. I follow up on all my bids twice. The first time is a week after I send the bid out, and the second time a month later. Still, most often I do not get an answer back to my emails or calls.
Not only that is frustrating bidding so many jobs that you do get, it is also exhausting.
Beside the time (the 4-6 hours average time associated with each bid) I also have a small cost associated with each estimate:
- Truck expenses (gas, insurance, depreciation)
- Parking fees (mostly when I bid jobs in the city)
- Office administration (someone in my office answer the calls, schedules appointments, sends reminders, follow ups, etc.)
I value my time and ideas. To calculate a remodeling cost is skilled work. Sometime my proposals are 7-9 pages long and they include a written scope of work, an approximate work schedule for each, possible unforeseen issues, and how much it might cost to solve those issues if they arise. I am trained in the expertise of estimate drafting, and I used to do estimates for multimillion dollars projects at my previous position.
The charge for the estimate is helping me to:
- Give fewer quotes – allowing me free up time to devote to my current clients. The extra time allows me also to go above and beyond and their expectations
- Eliminate tire kickers that just want to use my time and expertise with no real intention of remodeling
- Reduce the number of bids on projects where the quality is the least important and finding the lowest bidder is the top priority.