"Ballpark" Estimates Can Be Dangerous

It’s fairly standard practice in our industry to offer free estimates. We find that most of our customers actually expect these estimates free of charge. We’re more than happy to come look at a floor and bid for the job. We like to put a strong emphasis on seeing the floor in person before we actually give an estimate so we can set the expectations of the customer accordingly. Read on to see the benefits, to both us and the customer, of seeing a floor in person before giving a “ballpark” price estimate.


We’ve run into a lot of people that want an estimate over the phone. While you may sometimes find a contractor that is willing to give a “ballpark” figure over the phone or text, we shy away from it. We do so for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest one is disappointment. There are two possible scenarios that can occur frequently if we give someone an estimate over the phone without actually seeing the future project in person.


1) We can overestimate how expensive the project is going to be to the dismay of the customer. We feel better overestimating the actual cost of the project because we believe that if the customer ends up choosing us, we’re in a better position to surprise them with a price that actually comes in under budget. It’s that old saying, “Under promise, over deliver”.

2) The second scenario has us underestimating the cost of the project. This may secure us the actual job, but it can lead to headaches down the road. Customers can get downright hostile if a project ends up costing more than a preliminary estimate we give over a phone or text message. 


"...if we’re over, we end up with a less than happy customer."


We find that once we give a number, the customer tends to “anchor” that price point. If the cost ends up being even slightly under the original “ballpark” price, we have a happy customer. We’ve had customers try to send us pictures or give very detailed descriptions of the condition of their floors, but nothing beats us actually going out there and surveying the situation ourselves. What may seem like a very simple sanding job to the untrained eye, could end up being something a lot more complicated once we get there all because the photo the customer sent ahead of time didn’t show a corner of the room that had a bit of rotted wood.


"Ultimately, we want to make our customer happy, and we don’t think that giving any price before seeing the floor in person is conducive to a good experience."


Ultimately, we want to make our customer happy, and we don’t think that giving any price before seeing the floor in person is conducive to a good experience. We also prefer doing an estimate with the customer present so we can walk them through our course of action. We find that educating the customer leads to a better understanding of what the job is going to entail. We like nothing more than to have everything go according to plan, but there are occasions when they don’t. That’s when a customer with an open mind and a strong understanding of what the job entials is invaluable.