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How to write a good quote as a tradesperson

Reading time: 5 minutes

Quoting is seen by many as a painful and boring part of the job - but getting it right can set you apart and win you work...

A written quote is a key part of many larger jobs. It lays out exactly what work you’ll do, and what you’ll charge for doing it. When accepted by you and the customer, it’s a binding document, so it’s important that you get it right. A good quote should include:

  • Exactly what work will be carried out
  • The total, final price of the job
  • Who is responsible for providing the materials
  • When the work should be completed

Of course, the devil is always in the detail, so it pays to learn exactly how to build a great quote that will keep everyone happy.

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Starting your quote for homeowners

It’s possible to send a quote sight unseen, based on what the homeowner has told you about the job and your experience of pricing up similar tasks.

However, while sending off-the-peg quotes like this might save you time and hassle, it also risks leaving you open for problems down the line.

You don’t want to arrive on site for a job you’ve quoted for remotely, only to find out it isn’t as described. That’s why the best way to quote is in person, on site, making sure you can see and understand exactly what needs doing.

You should make as many notes as you need to ensure you get it right, but don’t let that distract you from listening to the customer and really understanding what it is they’re asking for and what they value. It’s highly likely that they’ll need your input on some materials and techniques, so answer their questions as well as asking them yours.

After a thorough conversation, spend time making measurements and double checking what needs to be done before you go away to prepare your quote.

Remember, your quote is a reflection on you and your business and is a key opportunity to make a great impression.

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What needs to be in a quote

While some tradespeople still prefer handwritten quotes, the industry is moving away from pen and paper quotes, and most now prefer emailing quotes to their customers.

This way of quoting means you can easily amend, add or take away details, as you discuss specifics with your customer. Digital quotes can also be personalised with your company logo, and have your details pre-written, to ensure that a customer can always reach you easily.

If you quote for the same kind of job often, you might want to consider pre-written templates, where you just have to fill in the specifics.

A good quote should feature the outline of the works that will be undertaken, chunked up into the different steps the job involves (E.g. Build stud wall, install plaster boards, decorate wall). While there is not always a need to account for each nail, screw or grain of sand, be thorough and leave no room for error. You need to ensure the client understands what they're getting for their money.

Don’t forget to add the preparation and finishing if needed, all the extras that the customer might not have considered - removing waste, supplying materials and so on.

Quotes that include items such as 'Initial site preparation', or 'Site tidy-up' will show the customer you are thorough, and for them it’s a reassurance that you’re serious about your work, and peace of mind that you have considered and accounted for all the little extra jobs.

Sometimes when you quote you know there is a possibility of unforeseen works. Clearly stating that you think there may be additional work needed, and even providing a price for it means you will not be having an awkward conversation later.

Similarly, you can cover yourself on your quote by stating that you have composed this quote to the best of your knowledge and if any unforeseen circumstances arise, there may be an additional charge to be agreed as and when required.

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A good quote is protection for you

An estimate, whether it’s verbal or in writing, is not a binding agreement. A quote on the other hand, is a contract between yourself and your customer. That means that by building a good, comprehensive quote, you are ensuring yourself peace of mind, and are not allowing any room for potential conflicts.

A good quote strikes the right balance between thorough and clear. You’ll want to include all the works you’ll be carrying out, with enough detail to cover potential questions from customers, but not so much detail that it becomes unreadable.

A vague quote might seem like it covers everything, but in reality it leaves a lot to be desired and sets up the potential for disputes.

Good quotes are not always easy to prepare. Luckily, there is one simple way to take the pain out of quoting - the free MyBuilder Quote Tool. It means you can build professional, detailed quotes in minutes, whatever job you’re taking on. Read more about how the MyBuilder Quote Tool can help you.

Terms and conditions are a common addition to a quote. These are general terms of business that can be used for all your quotes that further set out the conditions of the contract between you and the client. See our contracts and agreements article for more info.

Quoting and pricing