Quoting and Different Types of Trades Businesses

Hi it’s Jon again, from Small Fish Business Coaching. Still spend more time quoting than you’d like to and winning less than you’d like to?

Course you do. Or you’d be richer and lazier than you are.

I’ve talked about qualifying out – not doing quotes for people who aren’t likely to buy. I’ve talked about trying to understand what it is they want when they say “can I have a quote?”

Often, people ask for a quote because that’s all they know what to ask of a tradesman, right?

OK, a little aside.

There are different types of trade business and this discussion about quoting applies to them in different ways. It’s worth a minute.

  • You sell to the public
  • You sell to other trades businesses – builders, prime contractors, developers, project managers
  • You sell to businesses – corporates even, though not necessarily and that is often a whole other ballgame.

I want to talk about quoting to each of them, thinking about how to do less of it and what to do instead.


You sell to the public

They are looking for a trades business to give them something expensive and important – a kitchen, house, renovation, bathroom whatever, or they need something fixing (I’m going to call you a jobbing tradesman because I can’t think of a better term)

There are obvious differences in how you work (mostly the size of the job) and we’ll discuss them more when we talk about flat rating and quoting in the Trades Toolkit Program (if you join it)

Well Joe Punter is going to put a lot of trust in you – letting you into his (or her) house for a short or long period; leaving you alone with his wife or kids or (worse) his car or his stamp collection.

So the first thing he’s looking for in you is trust – can he trust you? Price is important but nobody wants the cheapest tradesman. Cheap things are usually shit. He (or she) wants to make sure he’s not getting ripped off and that you aren’t bucket loads more expensive than the next guy.

So does a quote, in detail help with this? No, it doesn’t. Find another way and find a way to help someone compare prices that doesn’t take 3 hours.

Flat rating is one idea, ballpark pricing is another and lineal metre pricing is another.

Selling to the construction industry

You sell your services as a subcontractor to a prime contractor (or even a less sub-contractor). The rules are different now. Either it’s your first time quoting for him and you have to persuade him to place some trust in you or you’ve worked together before and he already knows what you’re like.

Let’s think about the first one – your first date with a project manager. You’ve been courting him (them) for a little while and they’ve given yu an opening -”why don’t you give us a quote for this one?”

You could rush off and do your best price……

You know I’m going to say “wrong!” don’t you?

Of course you’ll have to give them a quote at some point but the measuring and costing is only half the battle. Why have you got your chance now? What prompted this? Who else is he asking to quote? How will they decide who to use?

And the old chestnut – is the cheapest one the best idea? Not necessarily. If you go in hard with no room (no fat) to protect you in case of cock-ups and you get the job.

And you make a cock-up. Or there is something you didn’t understand about the job or the site. So you take a few shortcuts or you are just pissed off and not happy to be there cos you’re not making money, you’ll queer it for yourself for next time.

It’s important to try to establish a trusting environment between you and your builder friend.What’s most important to him – cheapest quote or a well-run job?What does he think is a fair price? What about a fair profit?Nobody wants a tradie who goes broke, do they? No use to anyone.

So, before you rush off to measure up and price up, think about what your customer is trying to learn by asking you for a quote and talk to them about that first.

Selling to Corporates

I’ll talk about this one next week. Or this video will be too long and you’ll all be asleep.

If you think your business could benefit by tightening up your quoting process and you want to step through a simple way to make it work better for you – with training and coaching to help you make sure you do it, watch out for the invitation to a webinar where I’ll go into more detail.

This is like selling to builders and prime contractors except that corporates (as do large contractors) employ people whose job it is to screw you down on price.

They pretend that price is the only important factor but, secretly, they know that, if they stuff up and give work to a shit contractor, they get and trouble and don’t meet their KPIs.

And that means no bonus come review time.

So play the game here too.

Don’t just quote. Build relationships with the people who are running the projects.

Now, I want to hear from you. Which trades business are you selling to? Do you think you could benefit by trying one of the suggestions above? Leave a comment for me below.

Small Fish Business Coaching
Tradies Toolbox


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See you later.

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