Job Estimating

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Job Estimating

Good Morning, Hope everyone is well and happy today. How many estimates are done per day? Anyone have any idea? Me neither. I know it’s more than I can keep track of. The one thing I do know for sure is that some days you have a much better chance of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning than getting information out of customers on the phone.
We do our free estimates over the phone for residential customers. We try to ask as few questions as possible in the easiest way possible yet we get the sigh right away. You know what I’m talking about… when you say “I just have a few quick questions for you” and you get the long sigh w/ the following statements… “I don’t know how many windows I have” or “I don’t have time for this can’t you just send someone out” or my favorite " Ohhhh you do this over the phone"
Well yes of course we do this over the phone… we don’t have someone on staff to just run around counting windows for us. That would cost more money which in turn would cost the customer more money (which they aren’t happy about spending in the first place). We have a website with pictures of windows to help w/ the estimating process, plus I think our questions are easy enough to answer… I mean most customers call about their own house so one would think that we should have some idea of what the windows look like… right??.

Once in a while you do get the customer who is very old and hard of hearing, the guy who just builds houses, or the couple who buys houses just to flip them leaving them with no clue as to what is actually in the house, not to mention the one customer who just flat out refuses to answer your questions and insists on having an in person estimate or they will use someone else. When this happens we really aren’t left with too many options other than send Mr. Fancy Pants out to estimate or tell the customer we don’t have anyone to do this so they will have to wait until we are in the area which could be weeks from now; then hope they don’t find someone else in the meantime to do the job.

Most times we are able to get the estimate over the phone and we come very very close to the actual count with the exception of the few times that we show up and the job has doubled or is no where near the type of windows we discussed. My recommendation to avoid losing jobs or making anyone mad is: Questions need to be as basic as possible and the customers need to be made aware of any existing policies on estimating up front which is something we do all the time. We even print these policies on our work orders for everyones protection. We have a fairly large service area, offer a high quality service and try to keep prices as in line as we can without sacrificing what counts; so this is the only option I see unless you can and want to employ someone to wait then run around to do in person estimates all day.