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Old 03-08-2004, 10:35 PM
jwholden's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Southwest ct
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I have been trying to find a better way to screen customers that call for my services this year. I am in the process of working up a phone script to help me screen calls better and considering charging an initial consultation fee (very reasonable) to eliminate some tire kickers. I am college educated, have a decent amount of hands on experience, and am tired of dead end appointments.

I received about sixty calls for services last year and of the work I won approximately 80-90 percent were from references or repeat business.

I know we have debated over charging for designs, which I currently do and plan on raising my rates.

How many of you charge for initial consultations regarding landscape design, pavers, drainage work, new lawns, etc.?

I am not thinking of charging a huge amount, just enough to keep the tire kickers away. My wife is afraid that I will scare away clients and that I am not 'elite' enough to charge for initial consultations. I am ready to do whatever is necessary to stop WASTING MY TIME!!!

Do you waive the charge for referrals from good customers?

Has anyone on the site charged for designs and then decided it was a bad idea?

Last edited by jwholden; 03-08-2004 at 10:38 PM..
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Old 03-08-2004, 11:09 PM
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B&B Tree
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 701
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This is one of the first areas I will be focusing on this year. The biggest hurdle in the Pre-q process is the manpower it takes to get it done properly. I hope to overcome that this year by way of a shared office manned by a clerk common to a select few companies.

Aquascape Designs teaches a good Pre-q system that I hope to emulate in my business. They recommend a fee for in home consultations. It's a big leap for me but I think I will be going that way at some point in the future. I do charge for designs but will give a free 1 hour consultation.

John, you recently attended the How to Sell seminar, was there a big focus on the Pre-q system? I went to one of their seminars a few years ago. I was impressed with the sales techniques they were suggesting. Unfortunately I was called away in the middle of the first morning and missed most of the 2 day seminar. I have been trying to figure a way that I could be in 2 places at once, because I have a safety training day scheduled on the same day as this year's ADI Sales seminar in my area.
Blair Deutekom
Alfresco Landscape Group Ltd

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Old 03-08-2004, 11:19 PM
jwholden's Avatar
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They spent a while discussing the pre-Q system. Honestly, there was nothing astonishingly new in what they said, but it got me thinking.

I have been working on combining what I learned at the Aquascape seminar and some of what Rexx talked about with the UFO.

The Aquascape seminar will not answer all of your questions, but will give you some great ideas.
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Old 03-09-2004, 01:12 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Wisconsin
USDA Zone 4
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We don't charge for initial consultations - hopefully our screening process (new and improved this year) will weed out the ones we aren't after, anyway.

This topic did come up at the local expo - a potential client came to my booth and told me they live in a town about 90 minutes away. Asked if I gave free estimates. I told him the estimate is free, but the design is not, and because projects out of town require a good deal of extra time on my part, I have to charge a bit more for the designs up front. $200 for a patio, $500 for a full design, for example.
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