So you have an initial meeting with a potential customer and you measure up the room. You know you need to do drawings and a full blown accurate estimate, but they are standing there panting and want to know "roughly" what the ballpark estimate is. Do you tell them the kitchen they might want to spend $15K on will be $25K roughly, to qualify them, or do you say "wait until I crunch the numbers"?
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor F:
No ballparks from me. For those that ask, I will say that it's not fair to either one of us to shoot from the hip. Or, it will surely cost more than you would like to spend, but it will be built better than you expect.
I once asked a man to tell me what a car costs. Well, he said, I'd have to know what size, what engine, what bells and whistles, etc., and I said, well, there you go. If you can't tell me without knowing everything that will be included, I can't tell you for the same reasons.
You can ask what their budget is, but don't expect to get an honest answer. If after you give them the figure you come up with, they balk, tell them you can subtract this or that to get to their figure.
I ask about their budget. If they are reluctant, I tell them that I believe in a reasonable profit - fair to them and fair to me. Then I tell them about the lady who had a $5,000 budget for her closet and when I finished the bid, it came to $3,200.
As we make our verbal exchange, I evaluate the client. If they are going to be pushy and impatient about something as important as numbers, then I take it as an indication that they will be the same about other things. You actually win by losing some.
Then I tell them how unfair it is to them for me to guess at something so important to them and my business. It works for me.
Once you throw out a number, regardless of any caveats you attach to the number, the number and *only* the number is what is remembered. If your ballpark number is too high and they go for it, great. If you have to backpedal and explain why the ballpark number you gave them has increased fifty percent, it does not make you appear very professional, and you will probably lose the sale. Better to have them wait a few days for a solid number that you can feel good about, and that gives you a good point of departure for starting negotiations if the number is not within your client's budget.
And for those that call on the phone:
"We use 0 through 9 with commas and decimal points for ballparks."
The other side of this, if you know what things sell for in general, is you can give a ballpark based on a selling price - not a cost with MU price. I use a fixed dollar per hour number and look at a project and can say that's around $25000 (150 hours at $160 per hour).
Quality at a price you can afford. Explaining to the customer that there are various types of construction, styles, finishes, types of materials, hardware, etc. is the reason I can't give a rough estimate. I have to know what they want and by their ballpark figure of what they want to spend. This is what they can afford to get. For a little more, they can get something more. People always tend to want more, so they will dig a bit deeper for the cash. Love them.
I make the decision in talking with the customer if I want the job or not. I do not lose control of the sale as to what they get or expect to get. My show – you're in my ballpark now.