My "Be all, end all" of house wash estimating was my creation of per (heated) sq/ft pricing. It allows me to give estimates immediately on the phone. Very high closing rate. It allowed me to survive the higher gas prices last year and customers absolutely understand that the cost of an estimate is actually included in the price, so not having to use the fuel and time for every estimate, it has allowed me to keep my prices down and my P/E about the same - if not better. I also never increase price for existing customers - since the cost to obtain that customer was paid the first time, I'm able to pass the savings on...and my customer's appreciate it.
I have talked to John and many about this. We have for years done est. over the phone and got the sq. ft. of the house and told them that we are great and do more than anyone and sold a lot of jobs. We have done this for over 15 years and it does work. Then the guys go out and I give them 10-15% on any extra work they do (sell ups) and it works a little. But the guys do not get the extra because they are good but they are the guys. I have learned that going out and seperating prices and pricing out everything does work better. Meeting customers is great and they want you to look at the property so they have that warm fuzzy fealing inside and you now know what it looks like even if you did 5,000 of the same homes. There home is special.
If you want to make more money, go out and write the estimate and leave a nice packet explaining everything you do and why they should hire you.