Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Don't Beg For Quotes

Most of those who read this post will be familiar with the song by the Temptations titled Ain't Too Proud to Beg.  Well when it comes to gathering estimates for your project, I'll encourage you to think of this song and then ignore it's message.  But this advice is not about pride it's about common sense.  Don't beg for quotes.

I've written more than once that it's important to work hard to get multiple price estimates whether you're trying to sign someone up to re-roof your house, install wood floors in the living room, or agree to take down a big tree in the yard.  Three prices is good, four is better, and five different quotes is ideal.

This is an example of how you get the value of work:  if you get five apples-to-apples prices for something that'll cost three grand, there's a good possibility you'll get estimates like $2500, $2900, $3000, $3100, and maybe $3500.  Assuming you don't know how much this work should cost, you will after you look at the five different prices since $3,000 is the average.

Now, this gets me to today's point.  I'm telling you to work really hard to get multiple estimates, but don't go too far for a proposal and into the area where it feels like you're begging.  Simply put, you don't want to enter into an agreement with someone that sets you up into that circumstance.  Furthermore, if you have to ask them for their number a second time, take this as a red flag and don't forget it.  If they can handle your business, they'll be able to deliver on the task of working up a written price estimate.  It stands to reason that if you have to do anything that feels like begging them for the quote then you'll likely have to do some similar pleading when it's their turn to work or finish their part as required.     

Also, if a business person says they'll get you a price by "tomorrow morning," then they better have it for you by the next day before noon.  However, it's another warning signal when someone promises to provide your written estimate and are late.

If you find yourself working a little too hard just to get a price, that's okay.  Don't hang up the phone or slam the door.  Just acknowledge what you're doing and get the estimate you've been after.  Thank the person for their time, but use someone that quoted you in a timely, professional way.  These may be tradespeople more accustomed to using their hands and tools than office equipment or computers, but providing written estimates is part of the job too and you should accept nothing less than basic courtesy and professionalism.

See Push Hard to Get Quotes (July 9, 2012)


  1. Wow thank you for this! I often feel like I am begging for quotes. In fact, I am almost always in a position of begging someone to answer my questions/provide an estimate/call me back. it is so incredibly frustrating, but when you are dealing with a community where there are not 5 different people to choose from, they do whatever they please and you have no choice but to wait. :(

    1. Your're making a good point, Katy. It's not always easy (or possible) to get 5 prices. In certain places you'll be lucky to get 2. I get this & have been there. Try as best you can for multiple prices. But if you feel like you're pleading for a chance to pay someone to work for you...consider that this may be a sign to keep searching.
      And you may in some ways just 'paying dues' now while you're learning some new things. Keep what I've said in mind and when you build on what you know later you'll find yourself asking less questions down the road. :)