When Free Estimates Might Be A Good Fit

We're on a mission to slowly stamp out those antiquated estimate request forms, however, we admit there are times when they still make sense and should be considered. This article will unpack some of the exceptions.

woman sitting in front of computer completing a web form

We’re all familiar with those clunky free estimate forms.

As much as Click to Buy Services is focused on changing the way home services are bought and sold (and stamping them out), w do admit that there are times when a free estimate/request for quote form might be an appropriate way to connect with a homeowner for a service. Some examples of when free estimates might make sense include the following.

When a Service is Highly Customized

Highly customized home services are those that can’t be calculated without an onsite visit or some upfront planning and strategy. Example services that fall into this category traditionally include landscaping, remodels, pool/spa installation, bed bug remediation, pond installations, decks, roofing, etc. For services like these, relying on the tried and true does indeed make sense.

Click to Buy Pro Tip

If your services are simply too large to accurately quote, consider simplifying the buying process. Instead of providing a free estimate to complete the entire job, consider offering a paid diagnostic as a service that allows homeowners to take a smaller step and move further into the project/service (and with you) confidently.

Think about ways to incorporate consulting, coaching, training, and planning sessions as a service.

For best results, paid diagnostics should include something tangible beyond a paid discovery and a quote, so pull forward strategic thinking as part of the diagnostic to include deliverables like CAD drawings, plant lists, training/coaching guides, etc. As part of the final diagnostic deliverable, plan to include cost options for how your business could “take the pain away” and do the work, should the homeowner want your help.

When a Service is Very Expensive

There are points where homeowners are not comfortable putting a high-dollar service on their credit card OR they want to pay a different way (check, finance, etc). For expensive services that fall into this category, it is reasonable to continue to allow homeowners to request estimates as these services probably are closer to projects than services.

When You Feel Your Target Audience May Not Be Ready

Buying home services online will change the way businesses sell and also be an adjustment for how homeowners buy. Research shows that homeowners are craving the ability to buy services at any time day or night – they are buying everything online, are busy, and want to know someone is on their way. You, however, might believe that your prospects are not ready/willing to purchase services online. Maybe you think certain demographics of homeowners are not as technically savvy or would be unwilling to click the “Buy Now” button, so sticking with a simple request for a quote is the simplest approach.

You might not be wrong. But what if you are?

It is true that not all homeowners will be ready or willing or comfortable with buying services in a new and innovative way. It is new and change is hard, however, when done correctly the transition to selling services online should feel natural and intuitive. Again, homeowners are buying everything online. Buying services is a natural evolution and extension of what is available.

Our vision for the industry is not to force a paradigm shift overnight. It is to provide the bridge from free requests to faster, more flexible, ways to connect with the homeowners you serve. Some will cross the bridge faster than others – that’s ok. Our goal is to help home service businesses migrate (at their pace) to a new way of doing things, not force homeowners into a new buying paradigm overnight. Transitioning the way you sell your services, might take months or years – it’s up to you to decide. The importance is taking the first step and starting the transition at a pace that makes sense. In doing such, you’ll also help to transition your customers into the new buying model with options that give them a choice and empower them to find the right fit of service, service option, and payment terms for their families.

How Click to Buy Services Makes it Easy

Luckily there is an elegant solution to help slowly transition your services from free estimates to online purchases. By design, every service that is available for purchase within Click to Buy’s shopping cart also provides a homeowner with the ability to request an estimate. Homeowners can choose to “Request an Estimate” or “Buy and Schedule Now” giving them a choice to proceed in whichever way they feel most comfortable pursuing. As discussed in the Click to Buy Guiding Principles, providing options is an important part of bridging the gap between the services we sell and how homeowners want to buy from us.

When You Might Not Be Ready

As mentioned throughout this blog, transitioning from free estimates to e-commerce is a journey, not a destination. If you’re not quite ready but are considering it, you’re still awesome in our book and we’re here to help and root you on.

The good news is that the transition can take place at your own pace. Some clients’ first step is transitioning generic “Request A Quote” forms into a more user friendly experience by embracing Click to Buy’s Smart Request functionality. Home service companies who use Click to Buy Services for Smart Requests take a huge step in the right direction and also benefit from the built-in zip code/service area validation, branded email receipts, clear next steps, and more. When the time is right, the next step is to convert one service (you read it right, just one) from a Free Estimate to a Paid Estimate, and “boom!” you’ve got a shopping cart online that allows you to get paid before you leave the parking lot. No phone call or email back/forth is required.

Then with added comfort and confidence, your team can continue to explore, think creatively, and strive to get paid first to transition to a full e-commerce experience.