Charging For Consultations: The Pros, The Cons, and The Compromise

Contractors are always faced with this dilemma: charging for consultations or giving them for free. Let’s talk about the pros and cons, as well as a potential middleground if you don’t feel comfortable in either extremes.

One of the most controversial topics in the life of a contractor is whether or not to charge for consultations. The crux of the debate is simple: by not charging you open yourself up for more opportunities, and by charging you filter quality clients that won’t waste your time.

Either way, it’s hard to make up your mind. Both alternatives have very clear pros and cons, leading many contractors to feel like they’re missing out on certain opportunities by committing to one way of doing it.

Today, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of charging for consultations. Once all the information is laid out, we can round it up to either help you make a decision or a healthy compromise!

The PROS of charging for consultations

No wasted time. Charging for consultations allows you to immediately put all your cards on the table and screen the best possible idea for your client – and since you’ve already been paid for the work, you’re in the clear even if they decide to not go for it.

You’re free to be more inquisitive and attentive from the start, because the client is already paying for your work and now you want to convince them to move forward. It’s a lot easier to do that when you can show up with more ideas and details that you’d probably not go that far for if you were not being paid.

Allows for more advanced ideas. Once you’ve been paid to consult, there’s no reason to be vague or hold back when it comes to more advanced ideas. This helps a lot in making the entire project feel more exciting and real, as it gives you more freedom to express your ideas and communicate your value to potential clients.

Helps in filtering good clients. One thing that most contractors quickly notice when charging for consultations is that whenever a client isn’t willing to pay for consultations… they’re probably not willing to go through with the project.

You can rest assured that when you’re offering a consultation, that is a client that has already proven their interest in the project and in working with you, making it ten times easier to seal the deal. But even if, for some reason, it doesn’t go through, you still won’t have wasted your time.

The CONS of charging for consultations

It scares clients away. There’s a lot of contractors out there offering free consultations. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it creates a problem for those who feel it’s more fair to charge – clients tend to opt for those who offer it for free.

Naturally, if you’re focusing on choosing your ideal clients and not taking every job, this is to be expected. But for someone who needs more jobs to stay afloat, charging for consultations can lead to losing a number of projects simply because the client isn’t willing to pay for it. Granted, like mentioned before, that might mean they were not willing to go through with the project regardless… but it still feels bad.

Less job opportunities. For the same reasons, you’ll probably be getting less job opportunities overall. Clients that haven’t worked with you before or are “just browsing” will have no interest in paying for a consultation. This may be seen as a positive, since you’d be freeing yourself from time wasters and just focusing on clients that show actual interest… but the low number of job offerings can be nerve wracking nonetheless.

Clients don’t understand what they’re getting. It might seem like you’re charging the client for the privilege of them taking your time, but that’s not quite right. What you want is to take your time asking questions so that you can present the best possible project idea – and that takes time.

A healthy compromise?

Maybe you don’t feel comfortable committing to either of these alternatives just yet. Is there a healthy compromise somewhere in the middle? Well, maybe.

Offer a free short consultation via video call.

Driving to a meeting place is often one of the biggest time and money sinks for a job you don’t even know if you’re getting yet. Besides, with the pandemic still ongoing, meeting in person is not as safe and should be kept to a minimum.

Instead, offer to chat with the client for up to 30 minutes for free as a way to gather information via video call. There’s a lot more flexibility in schedule, neither of you need to relocate, and you can quickly grasp what the client wants, if you can deliver it on their requested time frame, and if they’re truly wanting to go through with the project.

Keep in mind: you’re not expected to lay out detailed graphs, plans, and budget on this first meeting. You’re not getting paid yet, so keep it short and simple.

If the client wishes to know more and dive deeper afterwards, then you’re in a more comfortable position to charge for the next step, which is detailing the project further and budgeting. This will take more of your time and the client should now understand what this entails!

Take the first step towards growing your business today and start receiving leads that will make you money. — Sign up with homeyou!