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Tips for quoting
Quoting well means mastering the art of preparing your quote, presenting your quote and responding to your customer after your quote is accepted.
Developing these quoting skills will help you win work and build your customer base.
Quote in writing
Written quotes avoid confusion. Like written quotes, verbal quotes are legally binding but they can be prone to communication errors and misunderstandings.
Always make your quotes look professional by:
- using your company letterhead
- opening your quote with a greeting and thanking your customer for the opportunity to quote
- setting out a clear and logical structure
- carefully checking your spelling and punctuation.
Remember, customers tend to get at least 3 quotes for expensive products or services. Think about how you can distinguish yourself by creating a unique selling proposition.
Meet your customer's needs
Your customer will know they can rely on the promises or guarantees in your quote if you:
- never quote unless you're certain you can deliver to their satisfaction
- always ensure that the quoted price is sufficient to get the job done and return a profit
- assume nothing — make sure you're very clear on your customer's exact requirements, and make sure your customer is equally clear on what you're offering.
Be guided by your quote's expiry date when following up on a quote. Don't be too pushy, but make sure you give your customer a friendly reminder before the expiry date.
If your quote is accepted, get your customer's written confirmation before starting any work.
If the job changes substantially, provide a revised quote and ask your customer to confirm the quote before continuing work.
Identify your business risks
Consider your ability to manage the job. If you are concerned about the feasibility of the job, consider the impact of a worst case scenario and propose including a clause in the quote that protects both parties from any undesirable outcomes.
Know your obligations
Quotes are a legally binding statement of the terms and costs you commit to in providing goods and services. Seek recommendations from your industry association and information on preparing quotes and contracts from the Office of Fair Trading.
Quoting for products
If you're quoting to supply products:
- check your quantities — ensure you can provide the requested quantity before you quote
- consider the logistics — check you can order, acquire, store and supply the products within the required time and without incurring prohibitive costs
- check delivery arrangements — check whether your customer wants the products delivered
- look for overhead costs — thoroughly scan the job and all logistics to check for costs that may shrink your profit margin.
Quoting for services
If you're quoting to provide services:
- keep accurate records — log the time you spend on various tasks; the details will be invaluable when you're quoting and budgeting in the future
- compare the job — use previous service contracts, or the advice and experiences of peers, as a precedent to cost your proposal
- be realistic — don't underestimate the amount of time you will spend providing your services, and make sure any flat fees you quote are carefully considered and clearly state the scope of the work
- identify your additional costs — charge for additional costs (disbursements) that your business will incur in providing services (e.g. 'Disbursements are charged at cost plus 10%').
You may like to consider buying specialist quoting and estimating software; however, many businesses reliably use accounting and spreadsheet packages to produce quotes.
You can research software options on the internet or ask your industry association about software that could suit your business.