Writing an estimate is one of the most recurring parts of a contractor’s workday, making it an essential skill to perfect. Not only that, you need to learn how to do it fast to keep up with the competition, which presents a set of challenges.
Basically, an estimate needs to be extremely detailed, but you have to finish it quickly. These two conflicting goals alone are enough of a pain to deal with.
So how can you become better at writing estimates while getting them done fast, professionally, and perfectly?
Be as detailed as possible
First, you should always strive to be as detailed as possible with your estimates.
This works as a tool for transparency with your clients, but it also works in your favor when it comes to presenting the cost of your labor. The idea is this:
If you simply present your service attached to a cost, clients will likely wonder where the cost is coming from. You know this, but they don’t.
This is why you should itemize your estimates. This act bridges the gap between you and the client. Now your clients will know exactly why your service costs what you’re asking and they’re much more likely to accept your terms.
And yes, being detailed can consume a bit of time, but no worries – there will be tips for making this process quicker below!
Present the estimate in a document
As practical as it may seem, it comes off really unprofessional to send an estimate as a quick message via WhatsApp or email.
It lacks all the care and attention you put into writing it and it’s so easy for the client to ignore.
When you send the estimate in a proper document in writing, it feels like it’s more important. The client will see the care and attention to detail you dedicated to it, and it automatically makes your job look more serious.
If you’re writing on Google Docs or Microsoft Word, both of these allow you to export the document in PDF, which is a great way to share this sort of document.
Here are other 10 apps that will help your contractor business.
Use a template or an invoice app
An easy way to save yourself a lot of time is to create a template that you can quickly edit whenever you need to write a new estimate.
Type in all the information you need, leaving room for itemization, cost, and your contact info all ready to go. Now all you have to do is start from the template and change what’s necessary, but the bulk of the work is done.
You can also opt for an invoice app. There are plenty out there, some of which are free. These allow you to quickly display all the info related to the cost of your service and send it to your clients in a neatly organized template.
Don’t sell yourself short
An instinct many new contractors have to land jobs is to simply bid below the market price as a way to secure deals. If you have the lowest price, you’re in the lead, right?
Well, not really.
Having a competitive price is more important than having the lowest price. If you keep selling yourself short, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. You will have to work way more than others to make a profit, and clients nowadays are smart enough to know that a suspiciously low bid is a red herring.
Low bidders are known for cutting corners and delivering questionable service, and you don’t want people having that sort of notion about you.
Focus on making sure your price is paying the bills and remains competitive in the market!
Don’t take shortcuts
This ties into the previous topic: avoid taking shortcuts to reduce your own price.
It’s quite common for clients to complain about your price range, and since you want to secure the deal, you take a shortcut somewhere to make it cheaper… but that’s usually bad news.
For one, the client has every reason to be unhappy with your service now that you’re no longer providing the best service you can.
But also, you’re setting yourself up for a bad reputation, because once word spreads that you cut corners to land jobs, it’s all downhill. Some people will be happy with a mediocre job, sure, but you shouldn’t strive to be mediocre.
When writing your estimate, you should write for the best service you can deliver.
If the client doesn’t want to take it, it happens. But it’s better to be known for doing a good job!
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