Should Tradies Charge for Quotes?

Putting an end to ” non-serious” customers!

Remember in 2014 when the Federal government proposed a $7 GP fee to end free doctors visits? Whilst it ended up being dropped, one of the reasons for proposing it was to end deemed “unnecessary” visits and people showing up to a doctor simply for being sick of work (you know what we mean!).

Now, this got us thinking. Would tradies charging homeowners a nominal fee for “on-site visits and quotes” help put an end to deemed “non- serious” customers, which presently is costing the average tradie hundreds of dollars per week?

Take a local tradie, like a builder, carpenter or painter for example. These businesses may on average spend between 2- 5 hours of time  “quoting” on one job (travel time, meeting customers and preparing written quotes).  

Imagine a tradie quoting 5 new jobs a week. That’s potentially more than half the week spent “quoting” plus petrol and vehicle costs. That’s clearly a lot of time spent only to realise 2-3 of these may fall into the “non-serious” customer bucket.

Who are these “non-serious customers”?

Let’s describe them. They are:

1. Usually “not sure” if it’s a job they really need, want or even intend to ever do.

2. May only be after “ideas” on how to do something or ways to solve a problem so they can simply fix it themselves.

3. Looking for a written quote, so they can price-shop it against several other quotes to find the cheapest.

Would charging “non-serious customers” a fee get them “serious”?

Had these customers been told upfront that a “site visit fee” would be charged per visit, even a small amount like $50 regardless of the outcome, what percentage of them may suddenly say:

“Thanks, but don’t waste your time coming around because I’m not serious about the job”?

Thank you for the honesty! We think it would be pretty high, don’t you?

Which begs the question, should small businesses continue to fund “non-serious” customers?

Free quotes are costly to both business and paying customers!

Here are 5 reasons why tradies should consider charging for quotes:

1. Helps the business becomes more cost efficient, leading to end consumer savings.

Unfortunately now, when businesses have to accept the cost of “non-serious” customers, they need to make up for it by charging paying customers a bit more.

By charging for “site visit quotes” this will

(a) partly compensate for lost time and costs; and

(b) reduce the number of “non-serious” customers wanting quotes, meaning less wasted time and costs.

In time, this means greater businesses efficiencies and savings to pass onto genuine customers. 

2. Better visibility of genuine customers

It’s currently very hard for a business to detect a serious customer from a “non-serious customer.”  If a customer is therefore happy to accept a $50 “site visit fee,” this serves as a signal that the customer is serious and gets the attention they deserve.

As a business you can even offer these customers a reduction from the invoice price of the “site visit fee” if they go ahead and book the job.

3. Customers will “think” before inviting a business to quote

Charging  for “site quotes” will stop customers thinking its OK to invite ten businesses over to quote for a small job (yes, it does happen!). I’m sure 99.9% of people would not be prepared to pay $500 for these quotes!

Customers will be more likely to do their tradie research upfront, get estimates over the phone, assess if it’s a job they are certainly ready for, and ONLY after going through that process, invite 1-2 carefully selected businesses to quote.

4. Healthy and happier small businesses

Small businesses already suffer from not having enough hours in the week. By getting rid of “non-serious” customers they will have an improved customer conversion rate and feel more valued as business operators.

5. Because it’s only right!

Let’s face it. If you are an employee working for an organisation, you would never accept giving half a day of your time to your employer (and every single day!) for your ideas, skills and experience without being compensated for it, so why do a generous portion of the population feel it is acceptable to use the time, skills and experience of business owners without any form of compensation.

Sure one can argue, “if they want to win the job, they should quote for it”, which most businesses owners are happy to accept…. if the customer is “serious!”  


What do you think?

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