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Builders: Free Estimate Mistake #1: Not Present for the “Which Builder?” Decision

A Successful Builder is present when estimate decision is being made

A Successful Builder is present when the “Which Builder?” decision is being made

Do you feel as though you are wasting time preparing building estimates for jobs that you don’t get? It’s frustrating and costly for your construction company. Maybe you are like so many residential builders and making one of the common mistakes builders make when estimating: Not being with the client when they are deciding which estimate to accept!

In this article I will give you three keys to being present when the client is deciding “which builder” to hire.

There is no doubt that the builder who is with the client when they are deciding on which estimate to accept is highly likely to get the job. Wouldn’t it be great if you could be that builder? The thing is…you can.

So when preparing your estimates consider the following.

1. Discuss Other Estimates

In your first meeting with your client make sure that you discuss with them how many other estimates they are planning on getting. Even though they may like you and tell you they are only planning on getting your estimate, it is highly likely that they will consult another builder if only to get a check that you are not “ripping them off.” If they are borrowing money for the build, they may be required to get multiple estimates.

2. Set the Estimate Close-off Date

Again at your first meeting discuss with your client the close-off date for accepting estimates. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to get your estimate together and enough time for your client to talk to other builders.

3. Position Being There

Finally, in your first meeting with your client ask permission to be with them when they are making their final decision. Set a date and time for that meeting on your first visit.


You say, “Will you be getting estimates from other builders?”

They say, “Yes.”

Accept this graciously with something like. “That’s great.” Then say,

“When do you think is a good date to set for us to have all the estimates together?”

“What we request is that when you have all the other estimates together we meet and go over them with you. This way you can be certain that you are comparing apples with apples. Now I know that you are probably quite capable of doing this yourself, but we have had cases where people have accepted estimates they have later regretted. They did not fully appreciate exactly what was covered and ended up paying more than they had expected. So it’s our company’s policy to do this. Is that OK?”

“When would be a good time for us to meet?”

Follow this simple procedure and you will increase the number of times that you are able to be with your client at the strategic time when they are making their decision on which builder to use.

the successful builder free estimate mistake #1

The Successful Builder doesn’t get “No Thankyou” phone calls

Let me ask you: How many of the last 5 estimates that you presented for your construction company did you close? How did you feel after the “Thank you for your estimate but we have gone with another building company” phone call?

Do your estimates kinda suck? I’d love to hear what you’re struggling with in your building business.

Just post your comment.

View other posts in this series:

Builders: Free Estimate Mistake #2: Giving Only Limited Options

Builders: Free Estimate Mistake #3: Not Being Accurate Enough

7 Responses to Builders: Free Estimate Mistake #1: Not Present for the “Which Builder?” Decision

  1. Les Letlow November 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    I am very detailed in my estimates and proposals. Many times if it is applicable for me to draft the addition so i can get prices from my subs, I will take my drawing to the presentation of the proposal. I never leave this until after the contract is signed. Even with this I don’t get all the jobs I pursue. I am a seasoned builder/remodeler of 33 years in business.

  2. steve November 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    As if that would work!
    You sir have not got a clue.

    • Graeme November 20, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

      Hi Steve. Thanks for the heart felt comment.
      It would be helpful for the discussion thread if you were to elaborate on your experience. My article was written from my experience with builders I train here in this market. The conversion rate has risen significantly where this process has been put into practice (of course it does not guarantee success everytime…people are not robots). I appreciate it may be different for you in your business and in your market. What are your challenges? Cheers, Graeme.

  3. mark November 20, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    Sure it is not easy to do this all of time.
    Firstly I think its important to know how many people you are up against, if its 5 your’re wasting your time.
    Secondly you have to act as the consultant, find ways to show its not just about price…
    Provide the clients with a scope so that they are comparing apples with apples.
    Thirdly you need to know what is the most important factors for the client.. this can get very indepth and you can gain a huge leverage over others if you do this right… takes quite a bit to learn how to do this though.
    We very rarely have other builders even price against us now. Sure if we do we don’t win them all, but its a great position to be in with a team of over 20 staff.

  4. steve November 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    If I had a builder say he wanted to meet up with me again to make a decision on which builder to use I would be very suspicious of them, unless of course I was a gullible fool.

    • Graeme November 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

      Hi Steve.
      You are quite correct. Especially if the builder was a suspicious character, and it was clear that this quote comparison meeting was for his interests only. However, it might make a huge difference if the builder was someone who could be fully trusted, and if it was clear that the quote comparison meeting was to the client’s advantage. Totally depends on the builder’s integrity. How successful are your quotes/estimates?

  5. Lee Cheyne April 4, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    I do the same. It shows you know what you’re doing and have a grasp of what the client wants (the consultant role) not just a random chippie turning up saying, “what do you want me to do?”

    If you have time I don’t believe it’s a waste tendering against multiple contractors. Just be the best! Ask what their budget is from the get go. Maybe show them a comparable job and what it cost exactly and you’ve got a damn good chance. If they’re unrealistic then walk away.

    I feel clients like to be led and ensure the project is managed by a professional. If the client doesn’t want you there while making the final decision that’s fine, but asking shows you’re pro-active. If they have never built before they will latch onto you the second you offer advice – as it’s a big decision handing over 100’s of thousands to some random guy!

    just my 10 cents

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