Charging for Painting Estimates Is Stupid and Costly for Painters

Charging for painting estimates is remarkably dumb. It impacts your income in amazingly negative ways, and it’s no way to really solve the problem of anemic closing rates. I’m Brandon Lewis with Painters Academy and Painters Weekly.

Charging for Painting Estimates
A lot of people are jumping on this bandwagon of over pre-qualifying people over the phone or charging for estimates or asking for a urine sample or a blood sample or the first-born child of the people that they are trying to give estimates to, in hopes that by demonstrating that they are really all in on hiring you before you ever even tell them anything about your company, that that’s going to be helpful in increasing your closing rate, when in fact, all it really does is allow you to lose the sale before you ever get a chance to even see the opportunity. Technically, if you shuffle the numbers around that way, it does increase your closing rates, but it’s a false read.

When you engage in these type of activities, they’re counterproductive. There are two things you really need to be focused on, and there’s a third huge problem with charging for estimates and over pre-qualification. Let’s get into it.

Number one. If you are struggling to close sales, meaning you’re going all over town and you’re estimating and things aren’t closing, or they’re not closing at the prices you want, the first thing you need to examine is where you spend your time and money as it relates to lead generation. If you’re buying leads from Home Advisor, Angie’s List, other paper lead services, either where they pit you against other contractors, or they’re just getting the bottom of the barrel of online search, yeah, your leads are going to close at real low rates. Instead, you need to shift some of your marketing budget to past clients, unconverted leads and B2B referral sources. Those close at 65, 70% routinely even if your sales process is not remarkably persuasive.

What I discover is most people spend all their money, all their time, 90 plus percent of their budget talking to stone-cold unqualified strangers, and then they wonder why their close rates are low. And instead of fixing the quality of their low… of their leads, rather, and the percentage of repeat and referral raising it from an anemically low percentage, they do these shenanigans like trying to overqualified people on the phone, try to run them off before the estimate even happens, or try to charge them for an estimate. That’s not the way to do it. So the first you need to do is fix your lead source quality issues and invest in repeats, referrals, B2B referrals from realtors, other home improvement people, the paint store folks that know people that are happy to recommend you.

The second thing you’ve got to focus on if you have really low closing rates and you’re running all over town is the persuasiveness of your sales process. If you show up and pet the dog, talk about the bowling trophy, make us some small talk, and then email a PDF estimate, and if you don’t walk them through pre-positioning, presenting, post-positioning, and follow up. If you’re not using powerful sales tools like company stories and post-positioning books and consumer buyers’ guides, diagnostic questionnaires, really multi-step, multimedia followup with persuasive messages that matter about things that people care about, you’re going to have anemic closing rates. But guess what? You’re going to have anemic closing rates no matter what.

So the two places you stop first, if you have bad closing rates is number one, you look at your lead source quality, you invest differently. Number two, you focus in on the persuasiveness and the accuracy of your sales process. That’ll fix the problem.

Now, here’s the number one big issue with this whole asking people for money before you ever show up to their home. You end up meeting people like me and maybe even like you. If someone asks me to pay for an estimate before they come to my home, they’re not getting my business. I’m not going to see them. I am a fantastic client. I don’t argue and gripe about price. I’m a referral-giving machine, and I will spend tons of money with a good vendor or a good contractor and I will tell every person I know about them. When you lose someone who is like me or perhaps even like you or other clients that you work with, that means not only do you lose that sale, with the average sale being $3,500, that’s at 30% cashflow to owner about a thousand bucks. Not only does it cost you a thousand dollars in personal income, or depending on the size of the job, three, four, five, 10,000. Now you’ve lost the repeat revenue that comes six months, a year, two years, three years down the line. And you lose every referral that that client would have given you. So now charging your little 50 bucks or $25 or whatever you’re charging for your estimate request all of a sudden ends up costing you stream of revenue that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars.

People giving this advice should be drawn and quartered because they’re recommending things that are taking money out of the pocket of you and your family. If you struggle with generating quality leads, if you struggle with the persuasiveness of your sales process, you’ve looked at blogs, and you’ve Googled online, but you just don’t have a system to follow, email me, We’ve been doing this for years. We have hundreds and hundreds of glowing testimonials. Please, don’t follow bad advice, follow tried-and-true advice that will put more money into the bank for you and your family. Go out there and freaking sell something.



  1. Debra. Woods on July 27, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you.

    • Brandon Lewis on July 28, 2020 at 9:02 am

      Happy to help you grow your painting business in any away I can!

  2. James on August 8, 2020 at 12:43 am

    Thank you very much ????

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