Giving Ballpark Figures on an Estimate Call

Posted by | May 12, 2017 | Marketing Advice | 2 Comments

I got a quote to replace my sliding back door with a new unit. I asked the guy doing the estimate a fairly simple question, and it will sound familiar to all you estimators out there! “I know you have to work up the numbers back at the shop, but do you think it will cost more than $2k or less than $2k for a ballpark.” Fair question, right? I did not want to waste his time…as I had a budget figure in my head.

The estimator said loud and clear, “Oh definitely under $2,000.”

Well that was exciting to hear. I thought the price would be well over $2,000. I figured anything under $2k from a company I have used before, I’d just sign the proposal and get it done on the spot. If it was over $2,000, I might wait a little while, because this door is not used much and is a low priority for fix it items.

Now, when I got the estimate a day or so later, there were two quotes. The first was almost $3,000 and the second was $3,500. The estimate was not detailed and did not give me much information on options or why the quote was a lot higher than the verbal.

There was no real explanation from anyone — just the facts (it is what it is). I reached out to the person who sent the proposal (I am a repeat customer) to clarify a couple things. I tried not to sound alarmed, but I was curious as to how it went from a verbal of “definitely under $2,000” to quite a bit more. As I write this blog, it has been 4 days, and I have not heard back. l was a painting estimator for a decade, so I know when a customer tries to corner you for a price. It does not mean they are being cheap! Get that head trash out of your mind!

Yet here is the point I want to make: a seasoned estimator should be very careful on how he/she responds to budget figures. If you really are not sure of the price on the spot, don’t give a price –even a ballpark. Instead say something like,

“David, it will probably depend on the type of sliding door you want. There are a lot of options out there. There maybe a few sliders that are under $2,000 and quite a few well over $2,000. Let me do a little research and see what I can do. What price point were you hoping to be at?” 

If the estimator or company took a little extra time to use a similar script I wrote above, they probably would have sold me. I needed to be educated on the price of a slider, as I really had no idea. I just got my hopes up when I heard it was going to be cheap and then was pretty bummed when the price was nowhere near the ballpark. I’ve seen it happen many a time on painting estimate calls. If you don’t know, keep your mouth shut until you know! You’ll win more business. 

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion to help small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, the latest gadgets, marketing ideas, personal thoughts on small business and more.


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