Give your clients an estimated price range on a deck to find out if you're both speaking the same language. It's surprising how good you can get at ballparking," says Tom Resek, owner of Archadeck of Minneapolis, a deck-building franchise. "I'm usually within $300." And a good ballpark, he says, helps to close sales on fewer visits.
Why give customers a ballpark figure when you're not really certain exactly what that deck will cost? "If you feel like your chances of getting the job are slim, that's a good reason," Resek says. That and maybe customers are in a hurry. Because Resek can't afford to build a deck for less than $5,000, yet another reason is to "find out if I'm speaking the same language as the customer," when it comes to price.
"Usually in a ballpark, though, I deal with those items separately," Resek says. He adds that he doesn't always give a ballpark figure to prospects on first calls, and "I don't sell it on the ballpark."
Pat Nicholson, founder and president of the deck-building franchise Deckmaster, often encounters situations where homeowners ask for a ballpark figure that's a price per square foot. He doesn't give it to them. "One thing I explain is that that's like going to a car dealership and asking how much are the 18-foot-long cars?" Instead, Nicholson gives prospects a price range.
"Ballpark figures are exactly what the name implies," he says. A ballpark figure, or a range, is useful "in establishing whether you have a relationship or not with the client -- to determine whether it's just a prospect or a potential client."
Nicholson says he avoids handing clients a square-foot figure and a price because the first thing they do is divide the two and "figure out how much you charge." His company -- which offers mostly custom decks but will build from a range of 24 pre-designed decks costing between $2,800 and $7,000 -- generally gets back to clients in short order with a computer-generated proposal.