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Unread 07-19-2007, 02:39 PM   #1
duneslider
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Bidding Practices...

I have done a few searches and am still curious how you all handle bidding jobs.

I have noticed some go have a look, measure, etc. Then go home prepare the bid and send it back maybe the next day, or go back by and drop it off and explain it/make the sale.

Then there are those who go do the bid and are good enough (or confident enough in their quick bid) to write it out right there and make the sale.

Which method do you use? How successful do you feel it is?

With gas prices climbing it would be nice to just go by once, but also be accurate.

Also, I get a lot of people wanting "design" advise when I go bid. How do you all handle this?

Thanks,
Bryan
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Unread 07-19-2007, 03:14 PM   #2
JTG
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Bryan
I'm in the camp that goes out and does the measurement and talks to the customer. Come home and write up the bid and email it to them. Follow that up if you need to in a couple days to ask if there were any questions and ask for the sale.
If the customer has design questions and when I'm looking at the job with them they don't know exactly what they want then I make sure and include a statement in the bid that final cost may be additional due to design considerations. I carry with me on bids the cards for places I want to send them to shop for their tile. If they want to look at stuff I send them to my web site out the photo's collected here. If they want to look at various tile patterns I send them the link at the Daltile site that shows a bunch of different installation patterns.
I found out early that if I gave a quote on site I usually had not thought it thru enough and would always forget something. Now that being said there are some things you will know what you are going to charge right away and then I give an estimate range and still go home and do the bid.
Remember You are writting a check with your mouth that your body has to cash. Be careful.

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Unread 07-19-2007, 03:22 PM   #3
duneslider
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Some very good insight Jerry, thanks.

I bid a couple counter tops, small stuff, 2x3 and 2x5 and they wanted 12's on there nothing fancy. Show up to do the job and they had totally changed the design and it ended up being a FULL day job. They were great to work with and my "change in design" considerations was used and they were fine with it, even gave me an extra $50 tip at the end, if only everyone was like them.

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Unread 07-19-2007, 03:24 PM   #4
Lazarus
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Good advice, JTG and I also do that from time to time. Here in SE Texas, there is a LOT of competition from....how do I say this....."Non-English Speaking" folks. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

I find that, in many cases, I can sit down with the HO, present my picture portfolio and give them a ballpark number. I explain that there can be unknowns that might alter the number, but this ought to be pretty close. For the most part, they do understand that. Hell, you can't know what the slab actually looks like till the carpet comes up! I always leave myself a bit of "Wiggle Room" for situations like that. A lot of it is reading the customer...and I got pretty good at it. If I'm buying materials, I get that $ when I pick it up. My labor? I have a practice of not charging a dime until the job is completed...but, that's just me. In 30+ years doing this, I've had exactly one customer renege on me. (And HE was a builder. His home, and I now have a lein on it)

The bottom line is that, I try to commit the HO right there, on the spot....and my closing rate is better than 80%.
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Unread 07-19-2007, 04:23 PM   #5
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This is a good thread, I would love to take my time giving a price, but the problem I have is I might know I"ll need some work in a few weeks, so I"ll try and nail it right there and many times I do. Then I'll be busy, yet working on a job I would have liked to charge more on. Although over time my bidding skills are improving as is my rep. and lately I have been pretty much in the range I want to be. I have a friend who is a General Contractor, and he will go home and type a proposal and mail it, he don"t work much, and is kinda hurtin right now, his work is exellent but he is young in business. For me it depends on the customer and the job, like you guys say you kinda can feel out the customer, if any doubts, I go home and think it over, then call back with a price. Great tip though on leaving a little room open for unexpected costs.
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Unread 07-19-2007, 07:23 PM   #6
Ron
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When I do an estimate,it's usually before or after work(never on a day off) so I'm not in my finest clothes but I'm on time(important)and I make sure that at least my truck is clean and shiny.We'll talk about the project and I'll take some measurements.Then I'll say that I have to take the info with me so that I can write up a detailed proposal.Within a few days or a week I'll have e-mailed,faxed or dropped off the proposal which consists of the tile quantities that the customer should purchase(I leave the selection,purchase and delivery of tile up to the customer,with some recommendations)...then I'll write in the materials that I'll be supplying,then the details of the labour which I'm expecting to perform...finally the price and the terms of payment.Also,I'll include some other details such as my liability insurance,time on site estimate and removal & disposal of waste...and guarantee on workmanship.Then I thank the customer for invitng me to quote on the project.

Lately it seems I'm e-mailing most of the estimates.

I don't haggle over the price anymore.I know that my price is fair and final.Only way I'll lower the price is if the amount of labour can be reduced.Won't negotiate the type of materials I've listed either.

In most cases,I request a down payment of about 33% due at the start date and the balance upon completion.Everyone seems to find that fair,including me.

I find that most homeowners around here have been ripped off at least once by a contractor.I can appreciate that ,therefore I request that only 33% is due at the day I show up there with my tools and materials.

To the credit of John Bridge I use the words "work to be performed and completed in a substantial workmanlike manner" in my proposal forms.Has a nice ring to it.
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Unread 07-19-2007, 07:25 PM   #7
Davy
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When I first get a call I'll usually let them know on the phone that I'm higher than most guys, that I do mud work and that's only way I'll do it. If they are shopping around for the lowest price, no need having me bid it. I find that most people want a good job and are willing to pay for it, not everybody though. Most of the time the person that recommended me has already told them that, he's high but he's good".

I usually will measure up the job and tell the folks I'll fax them a bid. I go home and get my mind on it and fill out an estimate sheet. I'll then fax it to them and tuck away the sheet in my filing cabinet. If I get the job, I'll dig it out and put it in a folder with their name on it, that folder will stay in my truck until the job is done. Any drawings or receipts will stay in the folder with a list of all grout colors and what sealer was used in each area. I have a box full of folders but I can easily look back and find a grout color from 10 years ago. I usually have 4 or 5 folders on my dashboard at all times.
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Unread 07-19-2007, 07:47 PM   #8
Tile_Master
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I measure and bid all at the same time. I figure to the penny.
So easy to do.

In my experience.....

People want to buy in thier home. Close the sale IN THE HOME.

I without a doubt.....no BS....close 95% of my bids this way....
and the other %5....I turn down due to unreasonable conditions.

Giving people time....gives them time to go with someone else.
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Unread 07-19-2007, 08:07 PM   #9
FC Tileman
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Very impressive Davy. You are far more organized than I am....lol.

I rarely give a firm price when measuring a job, if at all. A lot of customers like to "put you on the spot" and get a price out of you before you have had a chance to think it over. I like to spend a while with the customer. I explain my preparation and installation methods as well as provide any design help or material selection they might need. This time also helps me gauge how the customer will be to work for. I then take the details home and do my estimate on Quickbooks that day while the job is still fresh in my mind. Most people have either fax or email, which is a breeze to send from Quickbooks. If they insist on a price while I'm there, I will err on the high side. The only time I collect money before completion is for tile purchase. If I have a large job, say a month, I will request a percentage draw about halfway through.
% completed = % paid.
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Unread 07-19-2007, 08:34 PM   #10
bctile601
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I also measure / talk design / feel out client and home, then go home and work up a final price. Tooo many variables, I will also take a half dozen or so digital photos so as to keep the jobsite fresh while pricing. The photos also help with remembering things such as heating source, types of molding, and sizes, don't know how many times, but more than a couple I have stabbed at a measurement I forgot to get while there. Real easy with the photo.

I at one time did the measure / complete price quote thing ' on the spot ' and noticed that people do like knowing immediately, and will be apt to close the deal then. Overall I am happier with letting the people know it will be a few days, look for the email, and if the y use another contractor, God Bless just the same.
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Unread 07-19-2007, 08:38 PM   #11
Mountain Tile
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Brian, that digital photo idea is the best idea I have got in a long time, great idea, almost as great as "come in late gotta leave early to make up for it" Thanks for the tip!
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Unread 07-20-2007, 07:24 PM   #12
jboyle
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One of the first things I bought 2 years ago when I started out was a digital camera. It's saved my bacon more than once. Recently we finished a basement, and the plumber left a gas valve turned off in our soffit (the inspector knows it's there and says it's fine...doesn't make sense to me). The homeowner went down to turn on the gas for the fireplace and got nothing.

Long story short, I was able to look at a photo that I had taken of our framing and locate the valve. I cut a small hole turned it on and saved the day.
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Unread 07-20-2007, 08:03 PM   #13
Davy
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Yep, taking pichers is a good idea.

Someone already mentioned it but being on time is very important. I've had folks open thier door and say "you showed up, the first three guys never did!"

Something else I do. If I'm wearing my work clothes, no matter how clean they are, I take my shoes or boots off and leave them on the front porch.
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Unread 07-22-2007, 06:37 PM   #14
jboyle
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Smile

Davy,

You ever try those little blue booties? Customers love'em, and if you've been working all day they don't have to smell your feet. I personally like'em because they're faster than taking my boots off, and I might have a hole or two in my socks
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Unread 07-23-2007, 03:02 PM   #15
duneslider
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Where do you get those little blue booties? I always have holes in my socks. My big toe eats through socks like I can't believe.

Bryan
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