Consultation charge?

DoozerDoozer subscriber Posts: 3
I`m not sure this is the correct forum to post this, but it looked like the closest I could find to the subject.
I have a business recovering seating for medical offices, mostly dentists. Having done this work for the past 18 years, I see very few seating that I`m not already familiar with. Many of my customers will trust me to come prepared on the first visit to install the covers I have prepared ahead of time based on their telling me the brand and model, or emailing me a few pictures. However, others don`t feel comfortable unless I first travel to their office (avg. time is about one hour each way) to see their chairs and show them swatches for color selection. I have, in recent years, been telling these customers that there is a consultation charge which is due at the time of my visit, but I give them 2 weeks to accept the quote I send (or a modification of it) for me to credit their consultation charge, After 2 weeks, or if they don`t order any work, they forfeit the charge. I find this does two things. One, it gives me some compensation for my time and gas expense and two, it creates a sense of urgency to not let the quote sit on someone`s desk and become forgotten. I have made repeated phone calls to some who wind up doing nothing, since they were just shopping, but since I started charging for the visit, it has helped get some  to do something. Most are OK with the charge, some, during the initial phone inquiry, will reconsider and look for the brand/model info I asked for (to avoid the charge) and others think it`s inappropriate to pay for something they might decide not to order. Does anyone have experience with this type of situation?  I`d be interested in hearing your opinions.
Thanks,
Rich

Comments

  • DoozerDoozer subscriber Posts: 3
    Thanks for your response Kim, I think you are correct in all your observations. In fact, on the doctor comment, these days, we go TO the doctor and get charged. He didn`t have to take the time to go anywhere!
    Rich
  • nevadasculnevadascul subscriber Posts: 3 Member
    I would set the consulting part of your business up as a separate service.  You will still come to their business, examine their furniture, and tell them what they need.  But, you should charge as a separate fee for this work.  They then have the option of having you do the work or some one else.  You could then discount the fee if they hire you. 
     
    Otherwise, potential customers can take your estimates that you put your time developing and go to someone else.  Your potential customer and who ever he chooses to do the work then has the benefit of all the work you`ve already put into the project without having to pay for it. 
  • DoozerDoozer subscriber Posts: 3
    nevadascul, I`m not concerned with that b/c my quote doesn`t go into much detail. I am mainly trying to get some compensation for my time investment and discourage tire kickers.
    Rich
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