Michael Stone’s recent column for Markup & Profit Revisited focuses on why you should be paid for the time and effort you put into estimating the cost of a project. Oftentimes you can spend hours or days pulling up drawings and figuring out how much a potential project will cost, only to be told that your price is too high, “we’ll think about it,” or no response at all.
Construction professionals often are afraid to ask to be paid for the time it takes to develop an estimate, draw up plans, and more. They worry that asking to be paid will deter potential business as they know other contractors offer “free estimates.”
Stone says that if you’ve developed a good reputation in your community and continuously produced good work, “you should be able to charge for the service of preparing a firm price quotation to your perspective customers. You’re providing a service and should be paid for it."