Select Page

Image courtesy of quotefancy.com

Providing an accurate price quote that wins can be a tricky business. You’re balancing the customer’s needs and budget with ensuring you’re pricing fairly while making a profit; and that’s all while competing with other contractors vying for the same job. It can seem daunting, but with a little research and organization on your end, you can provide a great quote to close the deal!

Put Your Quotes in Writing

Unless you haveĀ  a very good idea of what the cost of a project will be, avoid the temptation to quote on the spot or give a “ballpark”. It’s very easy for things to get misunderstood or forgotten, especially as time passes. If you verbally quote that a job would cost, say, $900, and the customer comes back a month later saying they thought the quote was $700, then you face the difficult position of telling them their recollection isn’t accurate, or questioning your own memory before proceeding to accept the lower price the customer recalled.

With an online quoting system, you’ll always know what you quoted to your customers, thereby eliminating costly misunderstandings. Further, you’ll exhibit a more professional appearance, which could factor into you getting the job.

Get a Good Understanding of the Project

The more information you have and the better you understand what the job will entail, the more accurate your quote will be.

During your initial meeting, take the time to understand everything the customer requires for the project. Be prepared to guide the customer and help fill in the blanks as they may not always know exactly what goes into the work they’re asking you to perform.

Ask plenty of questions and don’t hesitate to contact the customer at a later time should you need clarification on anything. In fact, you should prepare a general questionnaire to use for all client meetings, and tweak it ahead of time as needed.

Determine Your Customer’s Budget

If possible, you’ll want to ascertain the customer’s overall budget for the project. You don’t want to spend hours working on a quote only to be quickly turned down because you quoted a price that’s way outside of their budget.

If the customer’s budget is too low for the project’s scope, then you can try negotiating a revised deal where you provide fewer services while still satisfying most of what the customer is looking for–and the remainder can be added later when the customer has more room in the budget.

Provide a Thorough Breakdown of Services and Cost

The more thorough you are in explaining what a job entails, the more the customer (and even you) will understand the amount of labor and cost involved. You can do this in two ways (ideally both):

  1. Include a Summary that provides a broad description of the project and how you plan to complete it.
  2. Itemize the quote using one or more line Items that specify each service you’re performing and cost.

In addition to helping the customer understand what’s involved with the project, this will also be beneficial to you in planning and executing the project.

click to enlarge

Set a Date

Be sure to set an expiration date to avoid leaving it open-ended. This adds some urgency for the customer to review and accept the quote, and it also protects you should your costs or rates change in the time it takes for the customer to accept your quote.

Account for Work Beyond Project Scope

With every job comes the opportunity for the customer to request services that are beyond the scope of the project. It is important to explain that any additional services may be subject to additional costs as well as possibly increasing the time it will take to complete the project.

What Should I Charge?

This bewilders a lot of freelancers because you need to profit, but want to be competitive as well. One of the easiest ways to determine your rates is to research businesses similar to yours in your area. We stress “in your area” because service rates often vary by region. A logo designer in a big city will generally charge more than a designer working in a small town.

You can also research salary ranges for jobs similar to your on sites like salary.com. Just keep in mind that employees often receive insurance, paid vacations and other benefits in addition to their salaries, and they generally have fewer taxes to pay, so you’ll need to account for this.

How Long Will the Project Take?

Determining the estimated timeframe for the project is perhaps just as important as the cost. Customers often have an ideal timeframe in mind (or sometimes even a hard deadline). This is where you want to draw on past experience from completing similar jobs.

Just break down the project into small chunks (tasks) and determine how long it should take to complete each one, then just add it all up–then pad it. So, if you estimate it will take two weeks to complete a project, you’ll propbably want to quote three weeks to account for unforeseen problems.

Lastly, you want to note in your quote (or in the actual contract) that your estimated timeframe is based on receiving timely feedback and direction from the customer. If you ask the customer to review your work, and it takes them over a week to respond, that time shouldn’t count against you.