“No way!” cries the client. “That job only took you 5 minutes!”
Without hesitation, the mechanic shows the factory owner an invoice:
- $5 for pinning a nail
- $95 for knowing where to pin the nail
The lesson from this story is that our knowledge and expertise as tradespeople, combined with the demand for our services, enable us to keep the price tag high, regardless of the time spent on-site.
Only in real life, there’s another aspect to consider, which is the win rate per any given estimate. No matter how much consideration and transparency we put into each estimate, there’s always some other pro showing a different estimate to the same client at the same time. Sometimes we still win the job, and sometimes we don’t.
So, when is it most effective to create an estimate, and where are you most likely to see success?
We analyzed win rates across different industries and states to better understand how creating estimates can impact your bottom line. Results may come as a surprise, especially for those of you who believe low-cost jobs have a higher win rate or those of you who create a ton of estimates while only winning 1 out of 3 clients.
First, let’s review the data
In this piece, we use data collected from customers of Workiz between January 2021 and January 2022 (only). That’s a lot of data. Just to give you a taste of it, in January 2022 alone, Workiz customers had created 33.5k estimates for 24,407 potential jobs worth 109.74M in total. The average win rate across industries and states was 32.66% at the time.
The winning rate over the last 12 months has been pretty similar: 33.53%. In total, there were 129,776 jobs during this time.
Highest win rates by industries
- Installation: 42.16%
- Electrical contracting: 40.3%
- Handymen: 42.16%
- Carpet cleaning: 36.77%
- Appliance repair: 46.61%
Highest win rates by states
- New Jersey: 50.8%
- Alabama: 51.41%
- Pennsylvania: 57.99%
- Minnesota: 56.62%
- British Columbia: 52.97%
A few things to consider
Before jumping to conclusions (such as moving from one state to another or in between industries), some things should be said about how to use this data and how to better learn from it. Let’s start by listing down its limitations:
There are too many or too few samples
Comparing data from 3,000 businesses in one state and 7,000 companies in another is much like comparing voting rates in Texas and Wyoming. The two sides of the coin are not even, so it’s impossible to draw valid conclusions from them.
Demand varies by state
By nature, each state has a different demand for different services. Note that demand doesn’t indicate clients are willing to pay more for specific services, just that pricing varies from state to state (as explained in this piece).
>> Click here to see how much you should charge in your industry and state according to our data.
We should also consider that some lines of work (such as installation) are relatively marginal, which is why they have less competition and higher win rates. Installers, by the way, enjoy a stunning win rate of 41.76%.
What DOESN’T affect win rates?
An old misconception in the trades is that the cheaper the job is, the higher the chance is for clients to accept the offer, no questions asked. Then again, our data clearly shows that the two aren’t related.
In 2021, the average cost of an appliance repair job was $366. The price tag on a plumbing job, on the other hand, was only $100 on average. Then again, plumbing jobs had a win rate of $21.76 in 2021—not as high as you might think.
Amount of estimates
Field service professionals might think that sending out more estimates will improve their chances of securing the job. Though, that may not always be the case.
Take Minnesota and Florida, for instance. While only creating less than 3k estimates, the average win rate in both states was over 56%. Pros in North Carolina had created a similar number of estimates but only won 25.72% of jobs.
The same goes for industries. Appliance repair pros enjoyed a win rate of 46.61% on average, whereas garage door pros who had created a similar number of estimates only won 32.08%.
What DOES affect win rates?
As a rule of thumb, first-time clients are always less likely to give you the job than returning ones. Win rates are also higher when first-time clients are referred to you by returning ones.
Apps like Workiz enable you to easily manage your client base by keeping tabs on clients’ contact information, previous jobs, and special requests. If you see them returning more than once, perhaps it’s worthwhile to ask them for a positive review (using these templates) to get more loyal clients like them.
Another pain point for many small businesses is how fast they can respond to price inquiries. The quicker you can provide a quote, the more likely you will win the job. Only in many cases, you’re busy doing something urgent for another client, or your dispatchers have their hands full, and the opportunity is lost.
Apps like Workiz enable you to create a detailed branded estimate in less than a minute. If you’re not using field service management software, just make sure to include a basic table with precise wording showing what is included and excluded from your price estimate. Making it clear from the beginning will prevent any surprises down the road.
That being said, if the client is in a big rush, don’t enforce the estimate by force. Walk them through the details while recording the conversation (and letting them know that you are recording it).
The more information you can provide, the calmer the client will be about paying you. Don’t give away all info by phone if the client is in a hurry. Instead, use estimates to detail everything your client needs to know, including the current stage of the problem and what you’re going to do about it.
Don’t hesitate to answer any questions the client might have. If your dispatchers answer the phone, make sure they are properly trained to not leave questions hanging (you can monitor their calls to make sure that they are).
Some clients like to gather info before making a decision. They may look into junk removal companies 1-2 weeks before booking the job or ask for a carpet cleaning service to be provided sometime during the holiday season. Make sure to follow up shortly after sending them an estimate, or they may forget about you and use you for research so they can bargain your rates with another vendor.
You can easily stand out from the competition by showing them you want them as your clients. Simply call them within a few hours after sending the estimate (saved via Workiz’s Estimate feature) to hear what they think of it. This is a chance for them to negotiate your rates, if possible, and close the deal.
A sale proposal comprises 3 estimates, also called “the good, better, best” price ladder. You offer your clients the minimum (cheapest) solution to their problem while also enabling them to upgrade for a better choice. This is a win-win situation, as you’re less likely to fall short due to a cheaper competitor while still being fully transparent with your clients. And the best part? When offered several options, your clients are more likely to pick the mid-range one, which means they’ll still pay a premium rate for your services.
Although creating proposals can be time-consuming, it’s a necessary evil for field service businesses, especially in the most competitive industries. The bright side is that you can create sales proposals within minutes using field service management software like Workiz.
Flexible payment options
Being flexible about payment conditions doesn’t mean that you should lower rates every time you’re asked to do so. Sometimes a client simply can’t afford to pay for the job in full, either because the job comes at a high cost or perhaps because money is tight. Both are no reason to cut your prices or send the client to find a cheaper solution.
Our integration with Sunbit enables clients to book even the most expensive jobs (such as reconstruction and renovation) and pay for them when they can. They can even choose their payment plan—3, 6, and 12 months—and pay off early if money is fluid again.
Other possible factors
Time zone differences make it hard to look into it, but it’s possible that the hour in which the estimate is given also affects its win rates. It makes sense that you’re more available to take calls and provide estimates from Monday to Friday and during work hours.
The funny thing is your clients are also more focused during these hours and, thus, likely to make decisions about upcoming expenses (even big ones). You can still find yourself missing calls every now and then due to a busy hour or when one or more of your dispatchers call in sick. Then again, that’s no issue, thanks to Workiz’s Call Queuing and Call Reminders. You can also enable Online Booking to allow your clients to book your services anytime via your website or straight out of search results (using Google’s Local Services Ads integration).
When it comes to estimating, field service businesses need to balance creating too many (and potentially wasting time) and not producing enough (which could lead to missed opportunities).
And even when they do that, there’s no one-size-fits-all guarantee that they will win more jobs. Some factors, like industry and state, will significantly impact your win rate more than others.
The two factors that can change your win rate for the better, no matter the industry or the state you’re in, are your marketing and quality of customer experience. When you rely more on your loyal customer base rather than first-timers, and when clients are mostly referred to you by their friends or after reading a trusted review, you’re guaranteed to win more jobs and earn more per each one. In return, if you can provide your clients with kind and professional care, their loyalty is inevitable.
You can also utilize field service management software to speed up how you respond to price inquiries and improve the quality of service. Using an app like Workiz, you can always stay on top of operations while creating good-looking estimates within seconds. Get a glimpse of how it can level up your service business by giving it a 7-day free trial (no credit card required). Get started here.