Press | Published on 13th Mar 2017

Are you estimating your estimates?

Trade businesses must present pricing proposals to prospective customers (that’s a lot of P’s, apologies) in order to secure the work. These quotes depend on countless different factors.

Neil Macdonald, Technical Manager, HHIC and former gas installer outlines his best practice quoting advice.

  • Is it a price quote or an estimate?

A price estimate is a price based on today’s material prices and labour for the cost of the service and has no legal standing.

A price quote is a fixed price that cannot legally change once the customer accepts a contract. This holds true even if you have to carry out much more work than you expected. No two jobs are never the same, so for me, it makes more sense to give an estimate. You can also specify in the quotation precisely what it covers, and that variations outside of this will be subject to additional charges.

  • Detail is key

Detail starts with your research. We know consumers are better informed and knowledgeable than ever. How many times have you heard ‘I’ve seen that product on the internet for £50 less than that’? Make sure that you research regularly the cost of materials and products, to ensure you accurately communicate current prices. This ‘price list’ will also provide the framework to tailor individual projects, so it’s useful to have.

Moving on to the estimate itself. They should include the following;

  • Price of service
  • Itemised expenses
  • Project specifics
  • Payments terms
  • Project conditions
  • Showcase quality

You know the qualities of a quality “compliant” installation but do they? Do they know that many aspects are mandatory not optional, and their respective cost? A knowledgeable update from you will help them understand and also realise that they are dealing with a professional.

If you have any memberships or qualifications (you will have Gas Safe of course!) from professional bodies that make you stand out from the crowd; stick it on your paperwork. A swish looking estimate, complete with a host of impressive logos will be better received than a dog eared piece of paper with no endorsement.

  • Consumer Education

It can prevent a re-visit to resolve a common problem! A good example is water-treatment –Research suggests that 80 per cent of all central heating system trouble is related directly or indirectly to sludge/debris in the system and responsible for many manufacturer call-outs within warranty.

Itemise the necessary steps (cleanse, power flush, inhibitor, etc.) so the consumer knows where any additional cost (compared to other quotes) may stem from. Other items which may be ignored by less professional installers includes; correct installation of condensate, pressure-relief pipework, system balancing and plume-management kits.

Manufacturer’s produce information either in leaflet or download form. Attaching additional information to the quotation will help the potential customer realise what it includes and perhaps why others may have been different.

Customers see the installer as expert in his/her field (after all you are the most trusted trade!) don’t under-estimate the importance of engaging with the consumer on their requirements and why an installation should/shouldn’t be done in a certain way.

Optional extras, such as upgraded controls not only demonstrates that you have taken the time to think about what THEY may need in terms of home heating comfort, it also enables you to make some marginal gains.

  • Peace of mind

You can’t put a price on peace of mind. Most manufacturers now offer a long warranty period. Add that to the knowledge that using a reputable installer who cares about the job (he has logos to prove it, and he talks about the importance of looking after the central heating system) and you have peace of mind that your system will be ‘guaranteed’ for a period of time. Peace of mind. Don’t under estimate how valuable that is to a consumer.

  • Spell out the risks

Potential risks for consumers of non-compliance with Building Regulations – building owners could be served with an enforcement notice in cases of non-compliance. They may also have difficulty selling their home in the future.