Sending out quotes is part of a contractor’s routine, which is why we often talk about streamlining your quote-writing process. It’s important to be agile for the sake of being one of the first to reply and increase your success rate, but also for the sake of your moment-to-moment flow – if you can type a really good quote really fast, that puts you in a huge advantage over most contractors.
And while there’s a lot to be said about writing a good quote, there is a single tip that will dramatically improve the quality and acceptance ratio of your quotes, and it’s not talked about nearly enough.
Here’s what you should do for every quote
Always make it as itemized as possible.
And by “itemized”, we mean be as descriptive and detailed as possible, but also, literally make your quote into readable “items.”
For example, you could simply add an item called “wall painting”, write $400 on the side, and call it a day. And while that’s an honest estimate, what you should really do is break that one item down into small parts, and add the price for each one.
So “wall painting = $400” becomes something like this (with all these costs being mere placeholders, of course):
- 2 gallons of white paint = $100
- 2 gallons of prime = $100
- Sanding materials = $100
- Labour (approx. four hours) = $100
Obviously, as specified before, these numbers are simple placeholders that you should tweak to real estimates, and the items themselves can be expanded on as much as necessary depending on the scope of the project.
For example, if we’re talking about a large project, such as an addition or remodel, you can break it down in phases to make for a more organized item list.
Don’t forget to include contact and payment information on your quote, as well as estimated time for completion of the project. This will help the homeowner have a better grasp of the entire thing, and remember, most contractors are not this detailed. They will remember you for that.
What else can you include?
These items will vary greatly from project to project, but you get a lot of traction going by being specific. This helps you and the customer have a better understanding of the project, but most importantly, helps preventing mistakes and misunderstandings down the line.
For example, you should detail how many gallons of paint you expect to use, but also the exact name of the paint. Why? The customer will be seeing all of this and will surely correct you if something is wrong.
Here are other items you should include:
- Cost per hour of labor
- Cost of permits when applicable
- Specific materials names and costs (paint, roof shingles, prime, sand, nails, etc.)
- Supplies and installation material costs
- Subcontractor fees (and what their job is)
- Cost of rentals for dumpster and disposal
- Summarized description of the project (be sure to include that you will clean the location afterwards – one of the main reasons for negative reviews are contractors who leave a messy work area)
- Your warranty information
- Your contact information
- Payment options
Why go through all this?
You might be thinking to yourself:
“Why would I go through all this trouble?”
First, the impression it leaves on a customer is dramatically better. It builds trust, as it makes your business seem very transparent and organized about the project, and it also does you a favor by literally showing where all the money is going. So, the customer is much more likely to accept your bid because they understand it and therefore will judge it as a fair price.
But most importantly, it makes you stand out. Most contractors end up sending a quick quote with almost no details in an attempt to win by speed, but with an itemized quote like the one we’re describing, you can win by trust. Homeowners will see the care and quality of your quote when compared to other confusing or downright suspicious ones they might receive, and then you’re the one who’s winning.
How to make it easier
Yet, we have an elephant in the room and that is:
“But writing a quote like this is a lot of work!”
And indeed it is, but only if you refuse to streamline it.
First, consider your main line of work. For the sake of argument, let’s say it’s painting.
Here’s what you do:
1. Write a “template quote” with all the possible things you might include on a basic for most jobs – doesn’t have to be literally everything, just the most common items you feel you’d always consider. Basically, pretend you’re writing a quote for the greatest job you’ve ever done. If possible you can already leave an estimate cost for most items as well, since all of this can be changed later for more accurate representations.
2. Don’t forget to add your contact information, payment options, licensing and warranty information somewhere on the page, since you’ll always want those regardless of the scope of the project.
3. Now you should have most of the items you’ll need to write any quote. Save that document and whenever it’s time to write one, make a copy of the original and start from there.
4. Now, all you have to do is delete all the unnecessary items and leave the ones that are relevant. Done that, write the name of the customer and other specific info for that project (like a few items that were more specific, dates, and all the updated costs).
5. And there you go, you’ve got a fantastic itemized quote that will stand out.
The idea of this system is to give customers all the details they need to make an informed decision, while building trust and showing you’re willing to go above and beyond. But of course, you can’t waste so much time writing the quote it becomes irrelevant, which is why we have this template idea to help you on your journey!
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