How to produce quotes as good as your work
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Well written, detailed quotes help you win work. They improve transparency and trust by providing a clear outline of the work you’re proposing to do for a specified price. This is all common sense, but it’s something MyBuilder wants to help make easier. That’s why we made Quote Tool.
Some tradespeople prefer not to quote, but many don’t realise that emails, texts, and even conversations give the customer certain protections under the law that commits you to delivering what was said for the price you agreed, however it was communicated. In other words, you are quoting even if you don’t intend to be making promises.
It’s therefore in your interest to get lots of detail down on paper to specify what you will and will not deliver for the price. This can be very time consuming so we created a tool to help you create and send detailed quotes in minutes, with almost no typing. We call it Quote Tool.
What’s the difference between a quote and an estimate?
Estimates might help you turn a lead into a job but they offer little protection, or clarity, to you or your customer, leaving you both vulnerable to unforeseen circumstances.
Quotes, on the other hand, are legal agreements that outline exactly what you are going to do, and what you will charge. They commit you to do the work for that price, but they also commit the customer to paying you on time and empower you to charge more for additional work if required. Quote Tool makes it easy to specify what is included in your price, and even prompts you to think about the details you may have forgotten or where to put conditions or exclusions on your agreement to safeguard you and your customer.
If you need to estimate we recommend sending them informally first (e.g. via messaging, email or on the phone) stating clearly these are estimates, then providing a quote once you’ve visited the site. If you send an estimate in the form of a quote, it’s a quote and is treated as such.
Can I quote a day rate plus materials?
Did you know that providing an hourly/daily rate is not really a quote for a full job? It is merely a commitment of your time which, while valuable, does not guarantee that work is completed. A quote should be an agreement to do a defined set of work for a specific price, not a promise to only charge a certain amount per day no matter how long it takes.
What about unforeseen circumstances?
Jobs are often complicated and you can’t always predict every possible outcome. What you can do is estimate how long the work will take and factor in any potential hurdles. You may underestimate a job or two but in the long run you should have more successful jobs than bad ones. If there are unexpected problems, treat these as learnings so you can improve your pricing in the future.
Being able to stand behind a price you’ve put together using your experience and knowledge creates a lot of confidence in customers, increasing their trust in you and the likelihood you’ll win the work. Your customers will be happier knowing where they stand, and the less surprises along the way - the better their experience is going to be.
If complications arise that require extra work, talk to your customer and try to work something out. Customers usually understand if you talk to them clearly about the problem and why you need to charge more. If they refuse to pay, the terms built into Quote Tool will protect your right not to do extra work in most scenarios, so long as that work was not stated in the quote.
Payment schedules & deposits
If you want to break up the payments over the course of a job, there are a few simple rules to follow to keep yourself protected.
- Ask for some funds upfront (e.g. a deposit due five days before start date)
- Link interim payments to project milestones rather than just random dates. Should your relationship with the customer break down you’ll then have black and white payments details that back up why you asked for money when you did.
- If you use a deposit as a booking fee and the customer cancels the contract before work starts, you must be able to prove you lost money to keep some or all of the fee.
- If a deposit was for materials that you purchased for them, they belong to the customer and they must be delivered to them. You may decide you can easily use them on another job or return them to a supplier, freeing up funds to refund the customers money.
Sometimes you may be asked to provide fixtures, fittings or materials. Other times the consumer might want to buy these themselves. Always make it clear who is responsible for buying what under your quote, especially larger or expensive items. Your quote should include everything you are agreeing to supply and outline everything you are not providing under your price. For example, if a customer is supplying a toilet and you are installing it, make sure your quotes states that they will supply the toilet, and you will supply the fittings, etc.
Remember, customers usually aren’t experts like you. If their buying decisions might affect how you quote, you need to know what they are buying in order to quote effectively. If in doubt the best thing is to build a little more margin into these quotes; it’s up to you if you want to take that money back off again if things go well.
Customers right to cancel
Hopefully situations where consumers want to cancel a contract are few and far between. But when it happens it is important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities.
Under consumer law customers are entitled to cancel a contract of works with a business within 14 days of agreement, assuming works have not already begun. Quoting far enough in advance can give you a buffer to cover this, but this is not always possible - an unfortunate risk of running a trade business.
After the 14 day period, a cancellation needs to be by mutual agreement between you and your customer. In most situations you are legally required to finish the work unless an agreement is reached.
See Payment schedules & deposits for advice on what to do with payments in these situations.
Withdrawing a quote
You have the right to withdraw any offer before it is accepted for any reason. If it becomes clear you can no longer deliver what you stated on your quote, or there was an error, be sure to withdraw immediately and communicate with your customer.
If the customer has accepted your quote, please refer to the customers right to cancel.
Specifying your working hours
Customers always prefer to know what times you will be on site, and setting defined hours is good professional practice. Setting time limits and sticking to them helps build trust between you and your clients and allows both parties to plan effectively. Customer feedback that mentions punctuality and professionalism is also great for winning more work in the future.
Equally important for you, having the customer agree to site access hours ensures you can get on site to complete the works in a timely manner. These only really apply to multi-day jobs, and we’ve added a feature to Quote Tool that makes it easy for you to specify these where necessary.
Access to services on site
Though you may take it for granted, customers don’t always realise that they may need to provide essential services, such as water or electricity, to you and your team on site. You can indicate the services you require on the quote so it’s down in black and white. Always insist on having access to the services you need to do the job well. No harm comes from saying you might need something, and then not using it.
Remember, it’s the customer's home and they have the right to deny these services if you haven’t asked for them. Getting them on your quote will weed out customers who will say no. If they do say no, you can then build in a cost for providing them yourself.
Quote expiry (validity)
Prices change rapidly, and you don’t want to be caught out having to provide work at a price that is no longer suitable. Adding a quote expiry date means you are fully in control of how long the customer can hold you to doing the work for that price. After that, you are free to decline doing the work for that price. You can of course honour it later than the expiry date, but it’s nice to know where you stand. Quote Tool also makes it easy to send an updated version of your quote with a new price. Remember that you can also withdraw a quote at any time provided it hasn’t already been accepted.
You may want to specify whether you will be responsible for removing waste from the site and disposing of it. We are working on a slick way to do this, but for now, the best way is to explain any waste collection arrangements in the ‘additional information’ field, located at the bottom of any task.
MyBuilder Quote Tool
We’ve made a tool that addresses all the above points and makes quoting for your customers painless. We’ve solved the hardest part of creating quotes - writing them. Just find the task you want, select the relevant details and Quote Tool will output a comprehensive written quote in minutes.