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Should I charge consult fees?By Weston Zimmerman
I got a call from a contractor yesterday, wanting to talk about consultation fees. He had been charging $150 for a consultation for a few years and hadn’t been getting any pushback.
There was some new competition in town, and they weren’t charging any consultation fees. He learned they were chasing the same type of jobs and charging similar rates to his. He had several leads tell him, “Well, other companies aren’t charging me fees to get an estimate, so I’m just going to get quotes from them.”
This, and the fact the volume of leads is a little less this year than last (for him in his local market) made him doubt the whole idea of charging consultation fees. I’m sure there are more of you out there facing this same reality, so I wanted to share where we landed in our conversation.
- The purpose of consultation fees is not to make money; it’s to save you time.
- He was still getting enough paid consult leads to fill his schedule.
Consultation fees are not to make moneyThe purpose of these fees is not to make money, not even to recover your costs of gas and time. It is solely to filter out the leads that are not serious and not going to buy from you anyway. I don’t care if you charge $5. It’s the fact that a transaction is taking place that matters.
You are not in the business of collecting consultation fees. You are in business of collecting deposit checks. The consultation fee simply helps you get a deposit check more often, than if you weren’t charging a consult fee.
Essentially it saves you from wasting valuable time, and frees up time to spend with the next lead that calls in, that is willing to pay your consultation fee, and is far more likely to give you a deposit check.
Other times it frees up your time so that you get to go home and eat dinner with your family instead of driving out to meet someone that was never going to buy from you anyway, whether they knew it or not.
Maybe the prospect genuinely thought they were going to buy from you until they realized that their elaborate backyard idea was going to cost $150,000 to $250,000 when they were thinking $20,000 to $40,000. Happens all the time.
Asking prospects to pay a consultation fee before you will pay a visit forces them to do a reality check and ask more questions over the phone or through your website. In a 5 minute phone conversation and/or a couple of text messages, they’ll be able to find out that yes, what they are looking for is in the $150,000 to $250,000 range, and they’ll thank you for your time and hang up. And you didn’t have to drive out there for them to discover that.
And, if you’re still getting enough paid consult leads to fill your schedule, you haven’t lost anything.
Weston Zimmerman is CEO & co-founder of SynkedUP project management software and app. SynkedUP helps contractors know and track their numbers, estimate and job-cost jobs, and manage their jobs efficiently. Check out his podcast "The Cost of Doing Business." Email Weston@SynkedUP.com, follow on IG at @synkedup, call (814) 383-1901 or visit SynkedUP.com