One of the first things a client or potential client will ask their tradie is ‘how much is it going to cost’. Getting a quote wrong can cause major issues with clients if the costs become more than they expected. More often than not, your clients have a budget to stick to and with so many unknown factors with trade work in general, it is best that you provide them with a quote that is as accurate as possible.
Here are some ways you can make sure you are quoting jobs correctly.
Simply talking to a client on the phone about the job may not give you an accurate picture of what really needs to be done. Miscommunications or inaccurate information could lead to you under or over quoting, both of which can cause headaches down the road. Visiting the site to size up the job can help you avoid this.
Here are some tips for completing a successful site visit:
Schedule a time that suits both you and the client
Rushing a site visit because the time doesn’t work for one of you might mean things are missed or there isn’t enough time to ask important questions. Use the time in a valuable way so you don’t have to attend the job site a second time for quoting.
Take photos of the site
You will likely be completing various site visits for different clients as part of your job and it may be hard to recall everything in fine detail after leaving the site. Taking photos means you can easily reference back later and also use the images to explain things to the client or other trades you are working with.
Write relevant notes down for yourself to refer to later
Small details can make all the difference in keeping your clients happy, so writing down anything out of the ordinary they mention such as wanting a certain type of fixture or even noting something they don’t want can be helpful.
Consider sending a follow-up email to the client
Sending a detailed email after the visit covering what was discussed for the scope of work, and giving them the opportunity to add anything that might have been missed will help to avoid future misunderstandings.
Top Tradie Tip: If, for any reason you can’t get to the job site to scope it properly, ask for lots of pictures and build in a little extra contingency in your quote, or make it clear that the quote may be subject to change when a site visit is possible.
Whether you’re competing on price with other trade businesses or you just want to give clients a good deal, there can sometimes be a temptation to lower prices to secure the job. Unfortunately, this can mean you end up having to take on extra costs yourself or passing them on to the client down the track which isn’t the easiest discussion to have.
Here are some things to consider with costing:
Don’t try to ‘undercut’ the prices of your competition
It’s important to place the right value on the work you are doing, as it can work against you if you go too low on the quote cost. It may cause the client to question why your quote is so low, and may lead them to think they are getting a lesser quality finish or service from you.
Check the price of trade supplies and hire tools
The cost of trade supplies will go up over time just like anything else, so it’s important to check costs regularly to ensure you are quoting accurately. Even if costs go up a small amount, it all adds up.
Consider how hire gear can help you quote jobs and keep costs down
If you are quoting on a job that requires a tool you don’t have, it may be better to hire that tool and add the cost of that into the quote, rather than buying the one-off tool and taking the cost on yourself. Find out how hire tools can help you keep costs down in your trade business.
Be honest with your clients about the work
If you spot something that could impact the final cost to the client, it’s best to mention it at the quoting stage rather than springing the information on them later. For example, if you notice some water damage to a floorboard, you might want to add in that there could be more damage underneath that needs to be fixed.
Be very clear with your clients on exactly what work you are doing
Miscommunication at the quoting stage could lead to disagreements down the track and could harm your business both financially and in reputation. Try to be very specific with the wording in your quote, and also include anything you are not doing for them. For example, if you are laying new carpet but are not removing the old carpet your quote should reflect that.
If clients have come to you for a quote, there is a good chance they are not able to perform the job themselves, so it’s important to value your time as well as anyone you have working on the job with you. Paying for more labour down the track may not be feasible for the client so it’s better to quote a little more time initially rather than not enough.
Here are some tips on labour time:
Consider whether you may need extra hands
Just because you can do the work yourself, doesn’t mean that is the best option. Sometimes getting an apprentice in to do the easier tasks so you can stick to the more advanced jobs means you can wrap up the job faster and keep the costs down for clients.
Don’t forget about the small stuff
An extra hour here and there can really add up and send a budget over the quoted amount very easily. Think about the small things such as the time it takes to drive across town to pick up supplies every week, rather than just the time it takes to do the physical work on site. Hiring and using the right gear can help speed up your job and save time, so it’s worth thinking about too.
Consider whether the job has the potential to go over the scheduled date
If there are some elements of the job that have the potential to change the timeline, it may be better to err on the side of caution and quote a little bit more labour time. For example, if you are painting a house in winter, you might want to consider adding in a little extra labour time incase the weather slows progress down.
Taking on new projects and broadening your service offering is a smart move if you’re looking to grow your trade business, but you’ll want to make sure you quote correctly for jobs you may not have as much experience in. Doing a bit of research before you send a quote will help with making sure labour time and costs are accurate.
Here are some research tips:
Ask people you know in the industry if they have any advice for you
Asking people who work in the same trade as you can be a good way of tapping into their knowledge bank and getting practical tips based on experience.
Ask suppliers what they recommend
Often your trade suppliers will have a decent amount of knowledge on the products they supply and the best ways to use them for a top quality result. They are likely to have received feedback on products from other tradies or customers too so may be able to pass some information on.
Watching videos online or reading forums can be really helpful for seeing a few different ways of doing things that you might not have thought of.
While you’re likely to have lots of experience and training in your trade, it pays to stay on top of new industry developments so your offering is always competitive.
Once you have a good idea on labour time and material costs, remember to add the extras the client should also be charged for:
Council consents or permits
Clients will be relying on your expertise to advise what kind of building consents and permits will be needed to complete the work. Forgetting to add these costs into the quote could result in hundreds if not thousands of dollars being charged to the client unexpectedly.
Admin time costs
Paperwork is an important and necessary part of any trade job whether it’s the time taken to apply for consents or writing up quotes and invoices. Part of the service you are providing is dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for them, so this work should be charged to the client.
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