Whether you’re a plumber, a computer technician, or a housekeeper, learning how to quote jobs will be a skill you’ll need to master. Whether you’re looking for more jobs, or the jobs you actually want to do, it takes a little trial and error to find your groove. No matter the profession or goal, be sure to keep these things in mind.
Labor – Know how much you’re worth
The first thing to consider when pricing your job is the type of service you provide. In general, your quote should reflect how difficult it is to perform the job. Does your specific skill require higher education or training? Can your skill be performed by a large percentage of the population or a small one? It’s pretty safe to say that moving a couch requires less training than installing an HVAC unit. The latter is going to require an experienced technician. In theory (without any other variables considered) the HVAC installer should be charging more than the mover.
But how do you know where to start — especially when you’re new to the industry?
One strategy that you might want to consider when quoting, is to separate individual tasks into levels based on difficulty. Let’s say that you’ve landed a summer landscaping job where quoting is part of the job description. Your duties could involve recurring grass cutting, edging the new landscape, or even an entire redesign of the flower beds and trees.
Cutting the grass is a fairly routine service and could be considered Level 1. The labor rate of this technician should be the lowest of all tasks. Edging is bit of an art and requires more skill; this service could be considered Level 2, where you’ll charge more than Level 1. Finally, a complete landscaping redesign, which might require a design specialist (we LOVE Fairfax local Alison Brown!), would be considered a Level 3 job, where you would quote your highest rate.
Being open about your pricing will likely work well for your service-based business. Your clients don’t want to be left in the dark. This level of pricing transparency will earn your customer’s trust and may just land you the job.
Materials – Be upfront with your customers & provide options
When pricing your job, you’ll need to think about the materials needed to get the job done. This could range from consumables (like cleaning products) to high-end finishings for the bathroom reno you’re about to tackle.
The cost of materials are pretty fixed — so getting this right, should be fairly straight forward. If you know that you purchase the same items over and over again, buying in bulk will save you money in the long run. Also, if applicable to your trade, be sure your get your measurements right. Snapping photos of the area you’re about to service might be a good idea as well.
When considering the cost of materials as part of your quote, it’s best to first have a conversation with your client. This ensures that you’re on the same page before starting the job. You may want to talk about the following:
- Determine what the client wants and more importantly, what kind of budget they are working with. As always, provide options. For example, “You can have an incredible sink and a standard tub, a beautiful tub and a standard sink, or somewhere in the middle for both.”
- Let your customer know that things can change. Talk about the concept of change orders, which can positively or negatively affect the final quote.
At the end of the day, when considering the cost of your materials, you have to give yourself some breathing room. It’s inevitable that something will happen that was not expected. wrong. On of the best strategies to work with, is transparency. If you have an up-front conversation stating a three different examples, you will gain trust with the customer, and he or she won’t get caught off guard.
Here’s something you might consider passing on to your customer: “The average material cost on jobs of this size is about $2,000. However, to avoid a waste, and to ensure you get the biggest bang for your buck, I want to let you know that material costs can be a moving target. I’ve ran into a situation where a client didn’t need as many materials, and ended up saving money. I’ve also ran into a situation where a client needed more materials, so we had to increase that cost. I bring this up in the beginning to avoid any surprises.”
Location – Account for partial costs
When you get up and running, you’ll likely work jobs in your local area — which is a great place to begin. Start with a radius you feel comfortable driving and completing jobs within. When it’s time to expand, going outside of neighborhood will open up new business, but don’t let transportation costs eat away at your profits.
In some industries, accounting for transportation on your quote just isn’t acceptable. This doesn’t mean that you can’t insert some of your costs (like insurance, gas, and maintenance) behind the scenes. In order to be competitive, however, you will likely only be able to account for a portion of these costs on your invoice.
Market & Competition
One final thing to consider when pricing your work, is to know what the current market will pay for your service, and how much competition there is locally. If your work is in high demand and there is no competition, landing a job with a higher price tag will be in your favor. It’s safe to assume that potential clients will be using cost calculators (like this one from HomeAdvisor) to get a good idea of how much they should be paying. Here’s an example of the cost to hire a handyman in Fairfax, VA.
When there’s more competition, your pricing will need to be within the acceptable ballpark. Of course, you’ll need to learn how to differentiate yourself in order to attract more clients — perhaps it’s your brand, your marketing, your price, speed, or cleanliness. Your differentiator may just be the ticket to earning the work you want.
Last modified: November 28, 2016