Do you give ballpark estimates?

thinksigns

SnowFlake
Doing business would be easier if I only gave written quotes with all specs listed. On the other hand, why waste the time if the customer expects to pay $50 for something you sell for $100

If you give someone a ballpark estimate of $500, how much over would the final price have to be to give the customer a legitimate reason to complain. I would think that if the actual price wasn't more than 125% of your estimate you should be okay.

The most frequent "lie" I get from customers is "Just ballpark it for me. I won't hold you to it."

Thoughts?
 

Billct2

Major Contributor
Yes I give ballpark estimates, usually a price range, and all anyone remembers is the low number, so i make sure that is at least what I think the minimum job would cost.
It is a problem, but it does work both ways, saving time on those that have no idea.
I ask other tradesman for ballparks, "How much would a new water heater cost me?" "What would a new server and backup tape sytem run?" I don't think it's an unreasonable request.
Sometimes I just say no, I have to figure it out, but thats' when I enough information to be accurate.
 

Slamboni

Member
quotes

If you feel you're wasting time/money on quoting/estimating, generate a form. Fill in the blanks and have the client sign off on it and any artwork. Include verbiage on the bottom of the quote sheet detailing the variables and wiggle room to be expected in legal terms. If the client ever has a problem, they signed off on a quote. I wouldn't want to work with anyone who doesn't understand what a quote is.
 

signswi

Very Active Member
Don't ever ballpark. If a job was simple enough to ballpark it probably isn't worth doing. Check your sales estimator software and give a real estimate. If you have a modern system you can do that right from a smartphone.
 

2B

Very Active Member
Doing business would be easier if I only gave written quotes with all specs listed. On the other hand, why waste the time if the customer expects to pay $50 for something you sell for $100

If you give someone a ballpark estimate of $500, how much over would the final price have to be to give the customer a legitimate reason to complain. I would think that if the actual price wasn't more than 125% of your estimate you should be okay.

The most frequent "lie" I get from customers is "Just ballpark it for me. I won't hold you to it."

Thoughts?

when we "ballpark" it is the exact amount, or as close as possible with out doing the paper work. because as you say they Won't hold it to you, UNTIL they go to pay for it. personal the biggest lie is "XXXX said they will do this same job for 100.00 why are you charging 250.00, price match their quote"
 

Circleville Signs

Very Active Member
In our shop there is a difference between a Quote and an Estimate.

A QUOTE occurs when we have done a full site survey and have all specs, etc. That is a FIRM number.

An ESTIMATE occurs when a customer is too cheap to pay for a full site survey (if a bucket is needed, etc.). On the Estimate there is language to the effect that this is NOT a quote, and that the client can expect to see up to a 25% difference on their final invoice.
 

GregT

Very Active Member
I give ballparks, but ask them if they want a "little league ballpark" price or a "major league" ballpark price. That normally shuts them up and then they will give the needed information to give an actual price.
 

Flame

Major Contributor
All day every day. I give a range. Like...how much for a 4x8 sign full color. I say between $350 and $500. If they're serious, i write up a real quote. If they think in their head it's $100 they're obviously a waste of your time.

I don't want to spend all day writing up quotes, so ballparking weeds out the little ones. If they sound serious I try to follow through with the conversation and get them baited in. If they gasp and rant.....*click... good day.
 

TheSnowman

Major Contributor
I prefer the ballpark. Normally that either means like Flame, they'll proceed, or take off and not waste my time. Generally that customer is a repeat customer, and they generally just want to know $100, or $1000, but they trust me for my work, and just want it done, with no mega sticker shock.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
There are those products which can be ballparked and those which cannot be ballparked.

Customer comes in for a price on a set of magnetics.... I tell them about $135 to $200. If they flinch, I use the lower number, if they say, that's good, I stay around the upper number.

Customer asks how much to letter my truck ?? I give them a range telling them cheap down and dirty is $350 or so up to about $775. It all depends on what you want on it. Be more specific and I will be. Oh, you want some digital printed pictures and stuff..... I'll be happy to figure this out for you. Have a seat and I'll be right with you.

Customer comes in and wants a price on 6 of these and 2 of those and a couple of those over there and two electric signs, I simply tell them, I need to figure this out for you so I don't cheat myself or you and have one of us mad at the other. We want all of our customers happy. I'll get a quote for you by tomorrow afternoon.

Don't shoot from the hip, unless you KNOW you can do it for that price. You're gonna want to impress this person and give a good price and probably let something out. It always comes back to bite you in the butt, so be professional and give them a written quote. Heck, I've even had people come back a few weeks later and tell me they want to proceed and they give me someone else's verbal quote swearing it's my verbal quote. There are all kinds of liars and cheats out there, so be firm and start the paper trail right from the beginning.
 

tsgstl

Active Member
Of course I will give a ball park estimate. Only if they ask.
I could care less if they b1tch when the real quote is more. Those people would of b1tched in the first place anyway.
 

bois323

Member
I ballpark on simple stuff like banners, yard signs, lettering, ect.. But on more complex signs like custom LED, lighted, sandblast no I don't.
 

visual800

Very Active Member
most people that want a ballpark are BS clients to begin with...I said Most. they are anxious and in a hurry. yes we ballpark after some details are given
 

Craig Sjoquist

Major Contributor
All the time .. like Flame I use it to weed out penny savers.

A good example for me is a 4x4 a customer orders for sidewalk walkers his charge is a set price, but has sold me several other customers with ballpark pricing I've raised it UP $50 and now it is accepted price.
 

binki

Premium Subscriber
I guess we have to say 'it depends'. We ask a lot of questions before we give an estimate and if the final answer on all the questions leaves us with the same answer to 'how long is a piece of string' then we don't quote it.

We do stipulate that final quotes are subject to final artwork submitted though. Kind of a CYA.

In the end, we don't have to take the work if it is unprofitable or we don't like it.
 
J

john1

Guest
It really depends, I usually say all jobs are custom fit to your needs and they say "alright well just let me know"

Shooting from the hip is dangerous
 

FireSprint.com

Trade Only Screen & Digital Sign Printing
I ballpark all the time when I'm confident on what I'm bidding. I believe the MOST important thing you can do in business is communicate quickly, efficiently and accurately with your customers. If you can't get them an answer in a few hours, you're letting the competition step in. Our top priority here is to answer the phone/email and get answers for our customers ASAP. Sometimes to help our customers do what they need to do, we need to ballpark.

I also NEVER start work on a ballpark, I sit down and crunch the numbers for a final price and go over that with the customer before we start any work.

-

On a related note, I think it's better to shoot from the hip and underbid a job a little then not get back with a customer. (Personally, I would rather lose money on a job and have a satisfied customer, than have a customer who thinks we're too busy or lazy to get back with them and never work with them at all) I can't believe how often I'll be looking for a plumber or electrician and I won't get a call back.
 
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