That’s probably true, and especially so for someone starting out.
I’ve been doing this stuff for so long that I have a fairly good sense within the first minute or two of who’s a tire kicker, who’s just after that company-mandated second bid, who probably will be shocked at the cost, who’s a bit clueless and who’s a prospective, serious client.
However, I’m also very hesitant to rush to judgment or jump into prices too fast in the conversation. I’ve been on the other side of phone calls with contractors, and when they’ve shifted over to money a bit too abruptly, it’s sometimes not left the best impression.
For example, I called a landscaper about a possible project last summer and began clumsily describing something I don’t know much about. Before I was able to get into any details, he said he would need to visit the site first and that the visit and estimate would cost me $400. Then he told me he didn’t take on jobs for under $10,000 and to get back to him when I was ready. I’m pretty sure he mistook me for a tire kicker.
Another landscaper I called, talked to me for several minutes, gladly came to the job site a couple of days later, looked over everything, shared some money-saving ideas with me, then worked up a detailed estimate for $35,000, which was within the range I had expected.
Guess which landscaper was never called back and which one got the job?