For years I’ve been offering free damp & timber surveys. Why? Well that’s because the free survey is expected and I was brought up doing these from my early twenties (I’m 49 now).
Acceptance rates; the number of jobs won in relation to surveys carried out has fallen over the years though. From nearly forty percent in the past, to under 20% now. This means that at least five surveys are done before a job is won. So the free survey is quite an overhead. Time is money after all, and I do take the time to do my surveys properly.
Breaking down my acceptance rates I find that they vary enormously from one type of client to another. The bulk of my free Damp & Timber surveys are done via estate agent referrals and these are the ones which have seen such a fall in acceptance levels. On investigation there are a few reasons for this – mortgage lenders rarely hold retentions anymore; buy to let purchases are amongst the tightest clients in the world; to mention two of them.
Those surveys done for direct enquiries and via referrals from other specifiers like surveyors, engineers architects and such, have held up well – with acceptance rates from 40 to 100% in some cases.
I also find that when we charge clients for surveys, our acceptance rates are higher. Partly due to our additional care taken; because they’re paying and also because it seems that clients value advice which they’ve paid for, more than ‘free’ advice, which they may take with a pinch of salt.
So, after decades of offering free surveys, we now charge for all domestic damp and timber surveys. Only £60.00, but it’s enough to cover a chunk of expenses – and it sorts out the time wasters from the customers who really want a professional service.
An estate agent rang for a free survey today. On being told that we charge £60.00, he said that he wouldn’t be able to recommend us anymore. “Your reports are superb” he said, “But there’s no way clients will pay”. We explained that many already do and once they find out how much they get for sixty quid they are usually very happy to pay. He wasn’t listening and will ‘ring around’.
I suppose that biting the bullet and risking losing some agents like him is a gamble and the meagre amount of work we were winning that way will dry up now. The thing is though, I reckon that the extra time I have as a result of this change will allow me to develop my business and ultimately give my commercial and fee paying clients an improved service. So really, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.
PS: Find out what I offer domestic clients for only sixty quid at http://www.btpreservation.co.uk