Many homeowners don’t realise the effort that a plumber puts in when being asked to provide a price for a particular job. There’s a whole host of things to think about such as sourcing parts or products, thinking about how much time it will take and also making sure that the customer’s needs are accommodated as much as possible, so it can be incredibly frustrating to go to all that work only to find the job has gone to someone else.
What can easily be forgotten is that customers may well have decided whether or not they will give you the job based on the very first meeting, even before a quote has been provided. First impressions are vital and it’s important to present yourself well and quickly create an impression of trustworthiness. This can include making sure you show up on time, not being shy about explaining your experience and credentials and, vitally, providing a quote when you say you will. If you can get this first meeting right, you’ve avoided shooting yourself in the foot and create a great chance of getting the job.
When you actually provide the quote, it’s also important to lay things out clearly, honestly and accurately, rather than being vague and opaque, as this can often lead to mistrust and disagreements. Some important things to include in the quote are:
- Your full name and contact details. It’s amazing how many installers will get carried away with the job in hand and actually forget to give the householder means of contacting them.
- Give a full description of what you will be doing. Rather than just say “A full central heating install - £15,000”, it would be better to include more detail such as the amount of radiators you will be installing, any thermostatic radiator valves, smart controls, any new pipework etc… People will be much more willing to trust you once they can see exactly what they are getting for their money.
- A word of caution to the above point, is not to provide an exact breakdown of every single cost, because this could lead to customers trying to buy their own products or components, or to even try and micromanage each individual point. This scenario is always a nightmare for an installer.
- To avoid any confusion, make sure you state whether the price is the actual cost of the work or your best estimate. Also ensure you make it clear that anything not included in the quote will require an additional charge. This will minimise confusion, misunderstandings and arguments, which is always better for any installer.
- Establish your terms and conditions with your customer, such as how payment will be made, emergency contingencies and how you deal with any additions to the original plans.
- While discussing what the customer wants, make notes if necessary and repeat back to them what you have just discussed. Also include a brief summary of the work that will be carried out within the quote. This shows the customer that you have listened to what they want and also gives them the chance to make any corrections or alterations before the work commences.
- It’s a good idea to end the quote with your qualifications, previous relevant experience, membership of trade bodies and, if possible, some customer references or testimonials. This will help to make the customer feel comfortable that you are the right person for the job.
Once you’ve compiled a quote, get it out to the customer as quickly as you possibly can. Creating a good impression on the first meeting can be seriously undermined if you then take ages to deliver the quote to the customer. Follow the sending out if the quote with a quick phone call, text message or email making sure the customer actually received the quote and whether they have any questions. This will remind them about the job they want doing, will keep you fresh in their mind and show that you do what you say and are enthusiastic about the job.
With regards to the price you quote, it’s obviously very advantageous to be competitive, but it’s important for you to establish in the first meeting if the customer has unreasonable expectations regarding price. It’s not necessarily about being able to provide the cheapest price, but being able to show that you will provide the best value for money, because it’s very important for homeowners not to feel as if they are getting a bad deal or being ripped off.
If you are contacted to provide a quote, create a good first impression, listen to the customer, keep them updated and don’t make promises you can’t keep. By following the guidelines given above, you might find that your quote-to-job ratio starts to go through the roof!
Article by Benjamin Clarke