So you're trying to stay healthy and safe while you navigate the obstacle course known as COVID-19. Would-be customers are sheltering-in-place and social distancing, so it's recommended you're able to provide ways to see and quote projects with as little physical contact as possible.

Good news! It's 2020 and the technology that would enable you to give virtual estimates exists! Even better, you can do it on your handheld device from the comfort of your truck.

Here are steps to take for giving seamless virtual quotes every time:

  1. Design your process beforehand. Know the questions you’re going to ask and know what information you’ll need from them. Also, know what information you might not get from them. Know what you’ll need to see and hear. The better prepared you are, the smoother it’ll go.

  2. Communicate your process. Send your customer an email with an outline of everything you’re going to do in the video chat. Let them know exactly what you’ll need from them. That way, there won’t be any surprises and will create trust.

    **A big part of communicating your process is which video conferencing app is best for both of you to connect on. See the next section below for a list of the best tools to use.**

  3. You don’t have to commit to a number. By giving a low-end to high-end range - not too big of a range, it has to make sense, obviously, but you’ll cover yourself in the event something comes up at the site that you missed on the video and your customer will also appreciate that you’re a professional who needs to consider all the variables.

  4. Provide your estimate confidently. Keep it simple, clear and transparent. This will ensure more closed jobs and happier customers. 

As part of communicating your process (#2 above), it’s important to make sure you and your customers are on the same page regarding how you’ll have your video chat. 

Here are some virtual tools you can use:

    1. Zoom provides a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.Zoom is easy to use - simply include a link to your scheduled Zoom meeting in an email and your customer will be able to join the meeting with ease. Zoom has become the most popular video-conferencing app in the business world. Fun fact: since the start of COVID-19, the Zoom app has been downloaded nearly 350,000 times! 

    2. Google Hangouts - At this point, there are 1.5 billion active Gmail users, so there's a good chance your customer has a Google account as well. When you first contact the customer to discuss the project, offer to have a video call. Have the homeowner show you what needs to be done over the video. This will allow you to give a targeted estimate without being in the room.

    3. Facetime - If you’ve got an iPhone and your customer does too, this should be the way to go for you guys.

    4. Whatsapp - Whatsapp is huge outside the US but is steadily gaining popularity here too. The app allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media. Like with Google Hangouts, you can offer to have a video call, but this has the added feature of letting the homeowner share photos of the project as well.

    5. Emailing/SMS - If the whole video thing doesn't work out (and it might not - not everyone has the hardware or is tech-savvy), you always have the ability to receive pictures to your email or as texts. Have the homeowner take some photos and send them over.

Again, the more upfront and prepared you are beforehand, the better the experience will be for everyone.

Check out to stay up to date on all your contractors and COVID news. And please, stay safe out there - homeowners in your neighborhood are counting on you.