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Old 01-18-2012, 10:21 AM   #1
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Default Estimates: On The Spot vs. Email

In my residential repaint business I have provided estimates on the spot for most of my career. In a effort to provide nicer looking and more "thought out" estimates, I switched to email a few years ago. I have mixed feeling about both methods and am interested in other opinions. Feel free to add to the pros and cons below.

On the spot
Pro:
Able to answer questions and address objections face to face.
Opportunity to close on the spot.

Con:
Making mistakes on pricing by trying to get it done on the spot.
Handwritten form - not as professional looking.
Appointments can take much longer.


Email
Pro:
Appointments go faster.
Being able to evaluate pricing in my office without any pressure.
Nicer looking presentation. More info. Typed, etc.

Con:
Wondering if they even got it.
Wondering what they’re thinking.
Can’t address questions & objections in person.
Overall less personal.

Discuss.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:37 AM   #2
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I've done both. When I had employees, I usually did it on the spot, because I had the time to do it while others were generating cash flow.
Now that I'm on my own, I usually email it so I can get back on the wall and make some money.

But this doesn't have to be:

Quote:
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On the spot
Con:
Handwritten form - not as professional looking.
I used a mobile office system, laptop and small printer right in the truck. And if you use any type of estimating software, or have a spreadsheet with your costs, it can happen pretty quickly while the client is perusing your portfolio. This is my old mobile office:

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Old 01-18-2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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residential 99% of time on spot for me, been discussed here many times, most have folders info packets.

to truly test it you would have to simply compare your closing numbers against each system to see wich you get better results with.
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:52 AM   #4
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I've always emailed.

That medium helps me lay out WHY something might be more expensive and take longer. I may give them a paragraph or two on all the steps required to get a certain room done right then give them the price at the end. That way they can read it over, research it if they like and take the time to understand what service I'm providing. It helps them compare my service relative to others so they can make good price comparisons - if they care to do so.

There's so much going on at the walk through estimate that I think doing that verbally isn't as effective - because you don't know what they are thinking/hearing and how much they are going to remember.

I always email it quickly though. Same day if I can and never more than 24 hours.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:00 PM   #5
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I agree with your pros and cons for both. I had to answer the same questions. I decided to always e-mail the quote.

Here are some solutions for Cons of e-mailing.

1. Follow up e-mail. Specifically asking if they have any questions or CONCERNS. This resolves 1 and 2 of your cons

2. Ask them what concerns they have prior to leaving the initial meeting. I realize they may have concerns about details of the quote or pricing later. A proven sells technique for me is to ask the following question. What problems or dislikes do you have about the current paint job? What would you like to see done differently? This is a way of getting a little more personal. You care about what they want. This resolves the other cons.
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:20 PM   #6
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email for me
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Old 01-18-2012, 12:21 PM   #7
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Great thread

Me personally always email them or drop it off the next day. My goal is to try to impress them as best as possible so that they will not make a decision when they get other on the spot estimates. They will want to see what I have to say.

I'm not a sales guy, its just not in my personality. Even If I were to give them a price on the spot, I would bet they would still want to think it over.

I think when customers are about to spend thousands of dollars they need a little time to themselves to go over it.

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Old 01-18-2012, 01:05 PM   #8
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I have done both and i find that the e-mail gives you more time to consider incidentals or oversight. When i do on the fly estimates i usually come out regretting my price.
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Old 01-18-2012, 01:09 PM   #9
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100% email for me. I like the time afforded by sitting down after the walk around and evaluating my time and material. I usually take some pictures and am able to place any concerns into the proposal.

I am very low key on the sales approach . I spend most all of my time and efforts on the walk through in establishing a common ground and relationship as well as my work practices.

Usually have the estimate emailed to them within 24 to 48 hours. I ask them if they have any concerns or questions after reviewing the proposal to get in touch with me. My next and only follow up is a week or so later I email and see if they would like to be put into the production schedule.

Most people are very positive to my low key approach. I know all about the books and closing techniques of which I have used , but I now believe the best working relationships come from my current approach which requires them to evaluate my price, work efforts and simply the comfort and confidence in me in deciding if I am the best fit! If not I move on and no hard feelings.
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Old 01-18-2012, 01:10 PM   #10
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:52 PM   #11
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I'll do email if they ask for it but always try to have a face to face meeting to discuss the estimate and answer any questions they might have.
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:20 PM   #12
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Interesting topic, i have wondered this before myself. i had someone suggest to me that i send estimates on bigger projects the next day. to show the client that i take my time. i personally do them on spot, it takes a little more time durring the estimate but it doesnt leave them anticipating a number and i get to present it in person and answer any questions. i can also read them, see how they are feeling about it by their body language and reactions..this is huge. unless they request i dont email
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:45 PM   #13
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My jobs never seem to be so difficult that I cant bid on the spot, most of the time.
I usually have my number figured out before I leave, so I will do one of three things or all three depending on the customer.
I verbally tell them the price, write it on the back of a business card, and email a bid form with scope of work.
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:51 PM   #14
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I never quote on the spot and never verbal. I also email within 48 hrs, that's what I promise them and try to send it the next day.

One thing I was once heard at a sales seminar is promise something and then over deliver. I often mention in my email, As promised enclosed is the estimate ect. Ect.

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Old 01-18-2012, 09:22 PM   #15
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I typically do it on the spot. However, for larger jobs I will take the time to go back over the numbers to be sure of my position. If possible, I'll try and connect to drop of the proposal. I prefer the eye to eye contact and the opportunity to close on the spot. I will email if it's a regular customer or the situation requires it (once did a bid for a client living in Ireland).

My dream piece of equipment would be a laptop & printer built into one.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProWallGuy View Post

Dude, you need a painter.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bender View Post
Dude, you need a painter.
LOL! Whats that old saying?..... "A carpenters house is never finished"

Well, the same applies to painters too. At least I know I'm not the only one.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:46 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bender View Post
Dude, you need a painter.
Not in my office I don't.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:50 PM   #19
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I've wondered about this myself. Lately I have been going to the email route. As stated in others replies, it allows me to add a lot more verbaige to the proposal and elaborate on the scope of work more than a handwritten proposal allows. Plus my handwriting sucks. My computerized proposals look much more professional then my old handwritten stuff.

Most people seem to be OK with it too, as long as you get it to them quickly. At first I was worried about it being too impersonal, but as long as the detail is there, I think it shows that you put the effort into their job.
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:10 PM   #20
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Does anyone close in the spot when giving the estimate on the spot? I highly doubt it. I say that because most people are getting at least 3 estimates.

I wouldn't even consider submiting an estimate on the spot. Too many variables to consider, have to think it out. Maybe it's just me.
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