Would you give someone a quote without seeing the job first?


Hey everyone, I hope you’re looking forward to a nice break over the weekend and will manage to fit a few World Cup games in along the way! I can already see that I’m going to be on the receiving end of many stern looks from Mrs.B over the coming 4 weeks as I attempt to hog the TV for my own football enjoyment. The World Cup only comes around once every 4 years though, right? But I must admit that I do seem to end up using that excuse each and every year about some kind of tournament or another. Anyway today’s post doesn’t really have anything to do with football. Instead it is just a quick post related to pricing for jobs when running your own business.

I’ve recently been making enquiries about having our carpets cleaned and have spoken to a few different companies. Most were able to give an estimated quote but were unwilling to give a set price until they had seen the job. In the past I have also run a service based business where I had to dish out quotes to customers, sometimes for quite big jobs and I would never give a firm price before seeing the job first. I have to admit however that it was a bit of a bind having to go out and quote for the jobs and it was also a little frustrating if you didn’t get them.

Anyway we ended up getting a guy in to clean our carpets who works thing slightly differently. Instead of going out quoting for jobs individually he just does a deal where he says ‘I’ll clean 2 carpets for xxx amount’ and then any further carpets will be cleaned for a set amount too. His prices were good and so were the reviews of his service, so we went with him. He’s here today and he’s a really nice bloke and the carpets are coming up great too so we’re happy. I was asking him whether his pricing module works to his favour or whether he often loses money on jobs when he shows up and the carpets are filthy or the rooms are huge and he seems to think it all evens out in the end as some of the jobs he goes too only want small area’s doing and he also thinks that the time he saves not having to quote for jobs is worth it for him. And to be fair, if he hadn’t have been offering such a fair and set price we might well have gone with another company, so he won the business through his pricing structure.

As I say though, personally I’ve always been reluctant to give a price for a job before knowing exactly what I’m getting myself into. That doesn’t mean to say that a set pricing structure can’t work, it obviously does for the guy doing my carpets and it works for many others too. In the service industry however, I think you have to be pretty careful when you are working this way as there are a lot of people who will try and abuse a pricing structure. If this happens I think you have to be strong enough to just tell the person that the job is not suitable for your pricing structure and try to negotiate with them or even be willing to walk away from the job if you know that it just isn’t going to be worth your time or turn you a profit. I wouldn’t look to do this regularly of course, I’d rather change the way I price jobs then build a bad reputation. If it is simply a case that the odd customer or two are obviously trying to take you for a ride however, then I don’t see a problem with taking this kind of action.

Have you ever agreed to a job without seeing it first, only to realise you have massively under-priced it?

5 Responses to Would you give someone a quote without seeing the job first?

  1. I always look at a job first before giving a quote. You never know how much time it will take until you actually see things. The other person might not realize how bad things are, so by relying on their description, you could be costing yourself some money.

  2. I had to quote a price recently for a job much bigger than those I normally take. I got so confused in trying to figure out a fair price that, in the end< I just gave up trying to quote a price and moved on to the next job. Massively underbidding a job out of ignorance could kill my entire business. I'm glad I did not bid.

    • Adam Buller says:

      It is tough quoting for bigger jobs when you’re not used to it isn’t it Brad. In these cases I usually just put a price in where I know I’ll be safe and if I get the job then great, if I don’t then nothing has been lost.

  3. I would assume the only way he could make this work is through volume (thus the whole everything sort of evens out in the end). If you can make it work, it’s great because like you said you don’t have to spend the time to go and estimate the job (some of which you get, and some you don’t) so you can spend more time actually making money. In some lines of work that wouldn’t be feasible…..if I were to write someone a custom program (I’m a computer programmer) I would need to know more details about what they want before they’d get a quote. 🙂

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