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Making your Quotations Sing!
Your client’s perception of your business will be critical in the coming year. Looking at your business from their perspective will be fundamental if you are to survive in what could be a tough market place. This analysis starts with the initial enquiry and how you respond to it, being positive and friendly go along way in creating the right impression. Obviously the cliché of being prompt, presentable go without saying. However once the site visit is done the trick is in providing a quotation that sells you as a professional organisation; your quote must be accurate and well presented. The importance of quotation is unfortunately all too often over looked.
Regardless of whether your clients are private, commercial or public bodies; the fact remains that a well written quotation is essential. It is singularly the most important sales document that you will give a client. You need to make your quotations sing to be successful! Often over looked as a document a quotation is the vehicle that defines success or failure. Yes the presentation of a quote is extremely important but it is the accuracy and content of a quote that will secure and define how successful a job will become. In essence your quotation is like a cloak hanger; it is what you hang a job on. Clothes fall off hangers, just as some jobs don’t make money.
The skill in estimating is to keep the cloak on the hanger. Doing this means that you will differentiate yourself from your competitors, your quotes will define your business, they will secure you more work and they will make you more profitable. We all have our own methods to creating a quote but there are some basic principles that should be followed. Certain information must be easily extracted from the document once a job is secured. The sales figure and gross margin are obvious; equally important is a budgeted shopping list of materials, man days to do the job and a programme of works. This information clearly defined is a management and budgetary tool.
From the clients perspective and to protect yourself it is essential that the quote is dated, that VAT is defined, that drawing reference numbers are shown. Each element of work should be described and quantified. Simple you may say but often omitted from a quote. The trick is to break a job down methodically and then box each task up as an entity in it own right. The idea is to make sure that your quote is watertight. Often people will make statements that are open and misleading which result in money being lost. Again the skill of creating a quotation is in the detail and making sure that you don’t unduly expose your business.
In the commercial world the issue of creating watertight quotations is an absolute necessity. There is no room for failure especially in the current market place. Success in securing a contract relies on good project analysis; that is assessing what the client actually wants and then selling it to them. Contract documentation can be misleading and projects may be over specified or incorrectly specified. Negotiating through these contractual restraints and specification issues requires tenacity and expertise.
However, it does not need to be complicated and again the trick is to deal with each issue, box it up as an entity and make it watertight. In terms of quoting, price is king, workout what the client wants, get them talking to you and slowly you will win them over and perhaps generate a greater margin.
It is important to recognise a quote as the single most important document that your will give your client. It represents your company and should be used as a sales tool. It must be well presented; not necessarily colourful with bells and whistles but clear and concise. A quote should be contextually rich and focused toward what your client needs. Once a job is won the quote will define what the client will pay for the work you do. So don’t let a gap grow between the two! In the long term a well written quote will help customer relations and ultimately assist in gaining future referrals.
Author: Jon Barton, BSc Hons, PBA Solutions: Jon has worked as a Landscape Estimator and Contract manager for the past 15 years and has the breadth of knowledge to assist others in landscape quantity surveying and project management. He offers a landscape estimating service which can be commission based with only an up front administration fee. This means that you can take advantage of Jon’s expertise with little cost or exposure to your company.
Contact Jon on 01202 816134 or firstname.lastname@example.org