Getting the best quote...and why it's not all about the price
Quoting is a key part of any business, and in our experience it can raise more questions than any other element of the actual works taking place. Coupled with this, each service business will have a different approach to a new quotation.
Some clues on this approach may be gleaned at the time of the quote with clients “not wanting to spend too much” or knowing certain London postcodes are fond of the Farrow & Ball colour chart.
We are fortunate in that we work primarily with mid-high end investment properties, this means that every day we work with a small group of trusted suppliers. For example; when we quote for carpets we use an 80/20 wool mix, our “standard” tiles are porcelain 60cm x 30cm Regal Vanilla Matt (£52/sqm for those interested...), Dulux Trade decorating supplies for any decoration, and in a kitchen spec you will find Bosch appliances.
Writing a quotation is a balance act; providing enough information and detail so as to make it easy for the client to make a decision, without leaving them completely baffled and overwhelmed with the overly technical details. At the other end of the spectrum, most of us have been on the receiving end of a quote that leaves you wanting. Many years ago we were offered the below example from a client:
Exactly who was disposing of the old tiles, the quality, range, or even colour of the new tiles, and what the plumber would be doing... well, your guess is as good as ours! But that's not to say they wouldn't have completed a fantastic job and come in the cheapest - they lost out on the work through lack of information (or maybe effort!). LAP providing a detailed breakdown when we submitted our quote secured us not only those works but a great client, and one that we now work with regularly.
Comparing apples with oranges...?
There are a number of factors which lead to cost variance between quotes; a contractor may have specified high end items, demand – may be too busy* or, conversely, may need the work, may be inexperienced in the field, or may be trying to secure the works at a loss and then invoice a long list of expensive extras at the end – be conscious of the difference between a cheap quote and one that provides good value for money.
*as company policy we won't quote for works we knowingly cannot commit to. Whilst this is rare, there is little more frustrating than selecting us as your preferred quote, only for us to say we aren't in position to proceed with your project.
The truth is in the details
Now is the time to ask questions - the more the better. Don't rely on assumptions or presume anything. If it's not written in the quote, it's best assumed it's not included, and you will be paying extra for it. Any verbal agreement that it is included will be long forgotten in however many weeks time when the invoice is due, so now is the time to dot the i's and cross the t's. Get into the nitty gritty of choosing exact paint brands, model numbers, bath taps, who is disposing of the waste or paying for parking; essentially you want a complete understanding of exactly what you are paying for and what you can expect. Only then can you truly compare one contractor with the next.
Hopefully the above gives you a poacher turned gamekeeper style insight into how to decipher quotes and the things to look out for. We always assure our clients that we can tailor our quotation to fit their specification, budget and timeline, and by juggling all three we can usually meet with client requirements.
All this and the ground hasn't been broken, the first tile removed, or the first wall painted. I have ingrained in the team the informal five P's of business, 'proper planning prevents poor performance', so as the person in charge of the quotes, I'd be setting a poor example should all our ducks not be in a row from the off.
Anyway, enough talking about quoting - the joyful London road network awaits, I'd best get out to the next one...
To book yours in just visit www.lapps.co.uk or call 020 7993 8277.