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With the price of gas being what it is, we have had to stop looking at work that normally we would have traveled to. Considering charging for those. Anyone else dealing with this.
 

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I rarely did bids too far away and when I did, they were vacation homes at the coast or in the mountains. Sometimes we'd take a drive just to go do the bid - but that was when gas was not as much of an issue.

Never could see the point of a bid over the phone - especially on the interior of a place that would often be rented out to vacationers and all that that implies. So typically I'd tell them it would be time and materials and I'd only give them a ballpark number if they pressed me - and then with the strong caveat that it was ONLY that - a ballpark number. The other factor in doing those places; I needed to be able to stay on site (in the vacation home) or there was simply no point in talking about the job since staying in a hotel or driving back and forth simply wouldn't be a realistic scenario. Don't recall ever taking on a job far away where staying in the home itself wasn't an option - those types just never came up for me.

Not in business any longer but for doing a bid these days, I think I would have to levy a charge to do so if it took me further away than 10 miles from where I live. Anyone not understanding why and balking at that could call someone else.

Anytime I ended up landing a job outside the scope of my "normal area" I'd always charge for extra travel by simply factoring it into the bid. And, of course, I always already factored in the cost of fuel to my monthly expenses for every job I did.
 

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I'd guess most of us are dealing with this. For inquiries from people who I don't know and they don't know me, I spend a lot more time pre-qualifying over the phone, as well as give them a price range. This helps narrow the field substantially. For return customers, of those who request a price before-hand, I'll also give them a narrow price range over the phone, and that seems to have worked well, for me at least.

Biggest challenge when doing estimates by phone is still finding a way to communicate the value of your service. Fail to do that, and you'll be judged by price alone, which means they'll typically shop for a cheaper painter. Old people are the only ones who still pretty much insist on a physical site visit to do a bid, (at least new inquiries, not return customers). Everyone else seems to pretty much get it, that time is precious and so is gas. As much as I've loved the idea of charging for bids, the only time I ever do it is when going out of town to bid on vacation homes owned by return customers. I can't imagine it'd go over well with the general population, but if you try it, please let us know how it goes. Good luck!
 

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Every other trade around here is charging 100-200 just to come look at a job, tile guy we had looking at our bathroom remodel is $150 and taken off invoice if they get the job. Painting seems to be the only trade still doing 'free' estimates. Supply and demand I suppose
Though judging by the number of calls I am still getting after being offically retired for over a year, I have to imagine that the demand is exceeding the supply, at least where I am located.
 

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Biggest challenge when doing estimates by phone is still finding a way to communicate the value of your service. Fail to do that, and you'll be judged by price alone, which means they'll typically shop for a cheaper painter. Old people are the only ones who still pretty much insist on a physical site visit to do a bid, (at least new inquiries, not return customers).
This cannot be understated. From the consumer perspective, it has to be nearly impossible to evaluate painters.

I cannot tell you how much paint work I have seen where a friend has paid a "pro" to roll paint over walls decimated with nail pops, cracks, etc. There are so many guys (most it, it seems) who will simply wash (if that) and cover the existing coating. I could not imagine competing against some of these guys. Not even close to apples to apples, oranges to oranges.
 

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This cannot be understated. From the consumer perspective, it has to be nearly impossible to evaluate painters.

I cannot tell you how much paint work I have seen where a friend has paid a "pro" to roll paint over walls decimated with nail pops, cracks, etc. There are so many guys (most it, it seems) who will simply wash (if that) and cover the existing coating. I could not imagine competing against some of these guys. Not even close to apples to apples, oranges to oranges.
Quality is obviously relative, but I think from a consumer perspective painting is more of a "soft" skill and not a "hard" skill. As in, with something like plumbing, or electrical, or even car repair, something either is repaired or isn't repaired to the consumer. In car repair they don't care if you did it with a mess of zip ties under the hood, car goes, customer happy. Plumbing, electrical, etc, stuff works again or does not, switch gets put in or does not.

Painting I would compare more to something like cutting hair or getting food from a restaurant. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, and of course with price it can vary wildly but you're not necessarily guaranteed price and quality to increase linearly with each other in either of those services. As in, while a McDouble being $2 or whatever it is now is still a burger, it's not the same as a burger from Five Guys, and then Five Guys isn't the same as a boutique $100 burger. But I think most people in quality want something like Five Guys for their end result. But like all those services, it's not just the end result they care about, but the customer experience and warmth/etc along the way, aka, the soft skills. As in, a barber that can't make good conversation is to most people a bad barber, even if the end result of their hair cut is fantastic.

That was what took me the longest to understand and grasp in running a painting business, in that end results could be fantastic but it's much more about being able to provide a good total experience for the customer.
 

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I've said it on another thread but pricing over the phone is your friend. I do it as a full time job for the company I work for (all of the other estimators are strictly doing in home estimates, I am the only one doing phone pricing). As long as you can get the proper info from the potential customer you can be dead on accurate. Its not for every circumstance but it can be for most. Its become a huge business for us.
 

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Biggest challenge when doing estimates by phone is still finding a way to communicate the value of your service. Fail to do that, and you'll be judged by price alone, which means they'll typically shop for a cheaper painter
What you said right here is key and is really how I am able to close the phone sales. If you can show them in the first 30 seconds of the convo that you know your stuff, its sets you ahead of everyone.

For example I do a TON of business with people that are in the closing process that want to start painting right after they close (in NY, NJ and CT), as well as a ton of people moving into apartments in the NYC area. Typically these will have a listing with all of the info i need, or in NYC there is a site called streeteasy that has most of the apartment pictures and floorplans.

My trick is I already have these open when I call and I start asking specific questions about their home after they let me know what surfaces they want painted. This always surprises them that I have the info in front of me already, they get impressed, and then feel confident that this is something we do on a daily basis (which it is).

Its honestly a 2-3 min phone call tops unless the person wants to talk my head off.
 

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What you said right here is key and is really how I am able to close the phone sales. If you can show them in the first 30 seconds of the convo that you know your stuff, its sets you ahead of everyone.

For example I do a TON of business with people that are in the closing process that want to start painting right after they close (in NY, NJ and CT), as well as a ton of people moving into apartments in the NYC area. Typically these will have a listing with all of the info i need, or in NYC there is a site called streeteasy that has most of the apartment pictures and floorplans.

My trick is I already have these open when I call and I start asking specific questions about their home after they let me know what surfaces they want painted. This always surprises them that I have the info in front of me already, they get impressed, and then feel confident that this is something we do on a daily basis (which it is).

Its honestly a 2-3 min phone call tops unless the person wants to talk my head off.
The problem I see with a phone pricing strategy compared to an in person estimate, albeit maybe it works in your scenario, is quite often you're stuck with problem surfaces and scenarios. Wall repair, latex over oil somewhere, paint over wallpaper that's peeling now, walls that need to be sanded down because the prior dude goobered tons of paint drips all over them, a messy room that had a dog or lots of pet damage in it, mold, plaster cracks, room full of furniture and knick knacks that needs a half day just to clear out to paint, the list goes on and on for potential things that many customers would just assume magically all get fixed or dealt with at no extra cost. The floor plan and measurements don't really mean anything in those scenarios.

So going for the estimate in person, with all these scenarios that you can come across is pretty much required I think. Of course maybe the obvious answer is avoid jobs with any of the above entirely due to being "low end" work, etc, but you can't always judge what you're doing to see and do until you're in there and actually meet them to turn said jobs down.
 

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The problem I see with a phone pricing strategy compared to an in person estimate, albeit maybe it works in your scenario, is quite often you're stuck with problem surfaces and scenarios. Wall repair, latex over oil somewhere, paint over wallpaper that's peeling now, walls that need to be sanded down because the prior dude goobered tons of paint drips all over them, a messy room that had a dog or lots of pet damage in it, mold, plaster cracks, room full of furniture and knick knacks that needs a half day just to clear out to paint, the list goes on and on for potential things that many customers would just assume magically all get fixed or dealt with at no extra cost. The floor plan and measurements don't really mean anything in those scenarios.

So going for the estimate in person, with all these scenarios that you can come across is pretty much required I think. Of course maybe the obvious answer is avoid jobs with any of the above entirely due to being "low end" work, etc, but you can't always judge what you're doing to see and do until you're in there and actually meet them to turn said jobs down.
These are obviously all things that need to be considered but I bring those situations up on the phone with them. If I am getting a sense that the prep work is beyond what I am comfortable with for a phone price I will let them know we need to see it in person and set up an on site quote for one of our field estimators. Typically the new home purchase estimates are just filling in nail and picture holes. At least in this area most of the heavy prep is done while getting the home ready for sale. These customers typically will let me know if there's anything above and beyond. Same goes for the apartment move ins.

Last year I did I think around 230 jobs or so without seeing any in person and never had any issues with these things.

Again its not for every situation and I wont take chances or make guesses. As long as I have the proper info though its pretty easy to do and be accurate.
 

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Quality is obviously relative, but I think from a consumer perspective painting is more of a "soft" skill and not a "hard" skill.
I guess that depends on the depth of service being provided. I repair plaster walls from replacing the keys on up. I've removed and replaced toilet tanks when to close to the wall to roll behind. I have cut, stained, varnished, then installed stair treads and risers. I have disassembled door casings, refinished them and put them back in, the same for some windows. I have refurbished counter tops with epoxy finishes. These are not "soft skills" and it takes a pro to do them well.
"Hard skills are specific competencies, skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to perform a specific task or role. They can be learned through education and / or professional development." I think many painters come under that umbrella. "Soft skills" are people skills; all trades people need to develop some skill in this area to be able to sell themselves but it is the quality of the "hard skills" that generate the referrals and there in lies the bread and butter of any trades people. Most of my clients want me, specifically, so the quote is really just how much this job will cost; I'm not competeing with other companies. I get called by referrals for a reputation bulit up over time. In the later half of my career, I got few cold calls and I tend to be fussy about doing such quotes.
 
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