One big problem many service businesses have is how much work/selling/effort do they put in before the client commits (and by commit, I mean cash exchanges hands).
This takes on an even greater importance with a business like mine, where I’m the only guy here, doing all of the work.
I’ll be blunt – in most cases, I don’t do a ton of work before getting a deposit. If I did, it’d be all I do. I know it costs me business sometimes, but it can’t be helped. I can’t Skype with you for a half hour to go over your (projected) $300 project before you’ve committed to me. I just can’t – there aren’t enough hours in the day for that.
Now, keep in mind, once you become a client, sure we’ll Skype, because then, a certain amount of “info gathering / communication” has been built into the fee. I love going over these things with clients, in fact. But you have to be a client. That’s the caveat.
**Or, as an exception to my rule, if it’s a large project, I’ve already given you a 4-figure ballpark price that you didn’t blink at, and you just want to make sure we’re clear before committing… ok, I’ll give you a half hour.
This works both ways for me. Here’s how I shop for / hire people – *I* take the time to do the research and feel comfortable with my choice. I don’t ask people I am contemplating hiring to do anything. I read websites (the whole thing) of service people. I don’t ask for samples when the person clearly provides them if I just took two seconds to look. For products, I read tons of reviews.
In short, I do not expect others to do the work for me. It’s unprofessional. Just remember – everyone’s time is valuable, no matter which side of the transaction you are on.