When I initiated the poll “Should deck builders do free designs?”, I fully expected a blowout. I’d love to know what you all think so please—treat this as an invitation to post comments on this subject.
It was a tie for the first week or two but the result was, 58% yes, deck builders should do free designs with over 50 votes.
I guess to interpret these results we need another poll. (See the new poll in left margin)
Some Lawyers do Free Initial Consultations—normally ½ hour maximum.
Many deck builders feel that free estimates are your opportunity to “Sell” the homeowner on your ability and prowess.
Others see it as “You train your clients”. If you acclimate your clientele to expecting you to work for free, (depreciating the worth of your time), then they will expect you to do work for free later.
Some of the Leading though declining Deck Franchises actually force you to do Free Deck Designs for every single potential customer. I’ve been told that it takes roughly 10 hours for the average contractor to do a free deck design to their standards for a “Potential Client”.
Any Business that forces its employees, (worse still—investors), to work for free, (Slavery), is nothing short of “Tyrannical”. Slavery is just plain wrong, but when you have slaves you need to feed them, cloth them and house them. Forcing people to do 50 hours a week for free is worse than slavery.
If you are to do 5 estimates a week, (Often I will do 5 Initial Consultations in a day—not free), and those free designs eat up 10 hours each… ahem…When on earth are you to be making your living?
When things tighten up—as they have in the US presently, deck builders may well need to hustle. Free initial consultations may well be necessary. But Free Designs for Decks, or pergolas, or gates?
Members of our "Builder Group", have a large portfolio and "Design Elements" which is a line art portfolio of designs. Potential clients can pick and choose elements that they like and the builder simply has to use these details as specifications. No need to reinvent the wheel. (Call Lawrence at 888 293 8938 for more about the Builder Group). Our Builders are inspired to do a little marketing so that they get more leads--when you have more leads you can charge for designs and even consultations in many cases.
I just don’t agree with the practice of working for many hours for free.. If you must do free estimates, so be it. When it comes to the deck business I believe that deck companies in general don’t charge enough—before factoring in working for free. This business needs an injection of professionalism.
When you do deck designs for free, you are either just doing it for fun, or really bad at it, or you may be using some automated software that spits out boring and elderly designs in an attempt to take over the world one deck at a time—and in that case it is worth precisely the price charged.
It is truly a shame when you get duped into driving an hour to see someone so that you can be milked of your expertise and then shamed into 10 hours of toil under the pretense of being hired for a job—only to have your hard work taken for free—and a door firmly closed in your face.
The definition of ignorance—doing it twice.