Usually, when I get a call from a potential client, they are calling for an estimate. These people I usually categorize as warm or hot prospects. If they don't tell me up front, I ask, where they got my name from? Their answer tells me alot. If they got my name from a past client, I feel like I have a good shot at getting the job. I come out to the job and give an estimation of my labor cost and the rolls needed to complete the job. Almost always, things work out according to my estimate.
On the other hand, if a potential client states that he, or she, is taking bids for a particular job, all red flags go up because I don't compete with other paperhangers on price. I always feel like I'm doing a "dummy bid". I will do dummy bids, but at a cost. Expect alot of questions from me. My time and cost of gas prohibits me from running around town just to satisfy somebody's curiosity. If my name and reputation aren't enough, then I bow out. Of course, this happens alot, but, I am not aware they are taking bids. I do get alot of these jobs. Just the nature of business. Fair. Just don't tell me your taking bids FYI..lol