Should Contractors Charge For Quotes?

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A quote is the summary of an estimated cost of a project or service. A typical quote includes the labour cost and the price for materials needed for a project within a specified time frame.

Clients ask for quotes from suppliers and service providers to select the most suitable option for their needs. In situations where homeowners need a roof replacement for example, they will generally ask multiple contractors to propose the best offering and choose whatever fits their needs the best. Sometimes, rightly, or wrongly, contractors can be subjected to negative feedback for charging for this process.

This article investigates whether contractors should charge for quotes, or indeed when they should start to do so.

When should you charge for quotes?

Experience may have led you to encounter many different types of roofing projects over the years, all of which are as different as the individual building structures themselves. Some projects are relatively simple if they only require cleaning a house’s roof and the removal of moss. However, in contrast, complex projects, such as renovating an entire home require a whole other level of management and understanding to be able to quote for.

Ideally, you need to charge for quotes that take you a considerable amount of time to create, especially those that require thorough research, and include a list of each item and service necessary for the project. Without doing so might not make the time investment economically viable.

In these circumstances, before you begin the quoting process, be sure to inform your customer in writing what your charge will be for the quote. Any lack of transparency will create bad feeling which needs to be avoided at all costs if you want to win the business and foster a positive relationship. Conversely, if the quote didn’t take long to complete, you may wish to provide it for free.

Why should contractors charge for quotes?

Now you might be wondering, ‘Why should you charge for quotes? Is the money you earn from doing so worth the risk of potentially losing the business?’ Although a lot of contractors believe that charging for quotes can affect their reputation, the reality is that this is rarely the case. In fact, there are several benefits from charging for them:

  • It creates a sense of professionalism. By charging for quotes, you raise the perception of the quality of your prospects as you show that your quotes are valuable enough to warrant a fee. Jobber offers a free downloadable job estimate template so you don’t miss any detail that might make your clients think you’re anything but professional.
  • You can attract valuable clients. A client that prioritizes quality over affordability and does not hesitate to pay for a thorough, considered and well put together quote will always be a valuable client to any service provider.
  • You get early buy in from the customer to use your services. Once they have already invested in you and built trust from getting to know you, they will be far more likely to choose your services.

Charging for quotes can in some situations yield better results – but remember, there’s a limit to how much you can charge.

How much should you charge for each quote?

Much like how one puts a price tag on their services, you must also decide how much to charge for quotes. To do so, you need to consider several things, including the following:

  • The budget and project size
  • How long it took to create the quote
  • The level of detail of the quote
  • The final price of the project

To put it into perspective, a quote for repairing a leaking roof should most likely be free, while a quote for home remodelling would be on the higher end of the spectrum. Since the details contained in the quote affects its cost, you must be sure to adopt best practice when putting them together in order to avoid costly mistakes that find you out of pocket.

What to include in a quote

The purpose of a quote is to help clients figure out the price for a specific project, in order to make an informed decision as to how to proceed. As such, you want to include as many details as possible. Here’s a list of details to include:

  • The time it will take to finish the project
  • A list of necessary materials and their price
  • The total price of the project
  • The period at which the quote will be valid
  • Your payment terms

Usually, contractors write quotes by themselves, but in this increasingly digital world, it’s advisable to use computer software instead to minimize the risks of making an error and adversely affecting your profit margin.

Closing thoughts

Although it may seem counterproductive, charging for large quotes is a relatively effective tactic that allows you to have a touchpoint with prospective clients and foster a relationship with them early on to sell your services. It gives you the chance to have a dialogue with them to find out how your business can best service their individual needs, for you to demonstrate the value of their business to you and ultimately win their custom.

Ultimately there is no simple one-size-fits-all answer, and it is really dependent on the circumstances that the quote is being given. Ensure that you have a process in place to acknowledge when it is appropriate to charge for quotes in your business, so this is a conscious decision based on circumstance.

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