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Construction Programs & Results Inc

We Like to See The Good Guys Win!

Dealing with the Trades

by Michael Stone

I was talking with a good friend this morning, he told me about some recent quotes he received from a few of his specialty contractors.

He said he asked for a quote on a given job, and the quote he received from this sub was way higher than expected, based on past jobs they had done together. When he asked the sub about the quote, the response was something like, "Well, I just wanted to see if it would stick", and then he tried to laugh it off.

The same thing happened on another job with a different subcontractor. The quote was not only higher than expected, but it didn't include some of the items that had been specifically requested. Again the answer was a flippant remark, followed by a laugh as though it was all a big joke or game.

This isn't a practice round gang, you can't afford to laugh your way through. In case you haven't noticed, business is much tougher to come by today than it was a few years ago. Business today is the real thing and if you want your piece of the pie, you must conduct yourself in a professional manner. You have one chance to get it right, seldom two.

You need to be responsive to positive requests for quotes on jobs and price your work in a responsible manner. You can't ignore items that have been specified on a given job because you don't know how to do them or what they will cost. It isn't okay to refuse to quote on some items because you don't like to crawl up in an attic or under the house. You're in business, and you take the bad right along with the good. That's life.

I'm not talking about "Being Competitive" here. I'm talking about compiling a quote that allows you to cover all your costs, your overhead and make a profit, and presenting that quote in a professional manner.

Of course, this is a two way street. If the person you are quoting to, whether a general contractor or an owner, is more concerned about price than the job you will do for them, you have every right to just walk away. As a matter of fact I recommend walking away. Price shoppers never learn that in the long run, chasing the lowest price will seldom if ever result in a good job. And low price contractors will seldom if ever be able to feed and clothe their families.

Always do your best, whether you are presenting a quote or building a job. In the day-to-day scheme of things, you will come out ahead.

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