Business Tool number 2. Getting Your Quoting Right.


This one seems like a no-brainer. And it seems a fairly obvious thing to say. Knowing that you have to get your quoting right, that’s the easy part.

The hard part is actually doing it, and being consistent to your quote through the job. In all my experiences with my tradie clients, I have found that most of their problems with the people they find difficult have come from a severe discomfort with discussing things when the job is not going to plan. And that’s how you get a bad reputation for under or over quoting.


Here’s how you solve that problem, before it even happens


There are many ways to present a quote to a client, the most common 3 are

1- materials plus labour ( at a fixed fee)


2- Materials plus labour ( with an estimate on the labour at an hourly rate)


3 – A flat Base hourly rate, with an estimated range of time the job may take.


The first good quoting guide is that you should never mix the 3 on single job. You should decide on one method for any particular job.


Let’s take a look at each scenario, and how you should present this information to the client, at the Quote stage, and while doing the Job.

Materials plus labour (fixed fee) – this is the one clients love the most, and tradies hate. It’s the hardest to get right if you’re still wandering around with a paper pad and pen, and the easiest to lose money on unless you know your costs like the back of your hand.

If you have a good software package, cloud accessible, you could easily produce these quotes off an iPad without losing any sleep.

If you’re quoting this way, the responsibility is yours to keep your costs under budget. If you do have to charge extra, make sure there is provision for it in your quote, and consult a lawyer to get the wording right.

Make sure the client knows that mistakes and redo’s cost extra before you even step foot into the job site. Tell them this when you quote, and remind them politely when you start the job. And if something happens, tell the client BEFORE you fix it, so they have the option of saying “No Thanks” before you heft an additional billing line onto their invoice.

Materials plus an hourly cost for labour – this is a little better for tradies than the fixed fee.

Clients don’t like it because of the uncertainty in the final bill, but there are a couple of things you can do to reassure them, and to end off the job with a good reputation, even when the hours are few more than quoted.

First, always quote a range of hours. It’s perfectly acceptable to quote “between 3 and 8 hours” for a garden job, where you have no idea what’s underneath the paddock you’re pulling up to do some landscaping.

Second, when you hit a problem, which is likely to add several hours, or more material costs, call the client, and tell them about it immediately.

“Aw yeah, this is getting bit dear” is not an acceptable sentence to say to a client.


The correct sentence would be:

“Hi there, look, we’ve hit some concrete under your paddock, this means it will take at least another 4 hours just to dig up, and then we still have the actual landscaping to do. So that estimate of 3-8 hours I gave you, is going to be more than 8 hours, likely closer to the 12 hour mark.”

Make sure the client knows that mistakes and redo’s will add hours onto the labour, and be prepared to cop the costs of this if the mistake was yours.

A flat base hourly rate – this is the one clients hate. And with good reason. It’s the one where they have no idea what’s coming, and usually get landed with a massive bill at the end.

To really make this one work, you need to guide your client through the quote, carefully, you must provide a reasonable estimate of the number of hours. A range of hours (as with the previous example) is perfectly acceptable.

Even more important than the previous example, you need to make sure that the client knows exactly what’s going on at every stage of the job. Particularly if you can see it’s going to take longer than the estimate. When things start going a bit long, that is when you should be talking MORE to the clients, not less.

Whatever you do, do not work for 20 hours on a job you quoted 10, without saying a single word to anyone, and then land a bill on the client.

They will be spewing.

If you can see the job is going way over, you should call them at about the halfway mark, and explain why it’s taking longer. The client must be made aware of the extra charge, and the reason for it.

As with the previous 2 examples you should make sure the client knows right at the start that mistakes and redo’s add hours onto the labour, and be prepared to cop the costs of this if the mistake was yours.



Author: Stephanie Gaddinjustworxs for Tradies

CEO Dolphin Works
Creators of Just Worxs for Tradies


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