Guest Column | June 1, 2018

How To Make Quoting Easier In 4 Simple Steps

By Daniel Steyskal, Trapezoid Business Services

istock check boxes

Sometimes a frustrated POS customer will contact me because their original system provider isn't getting back to them, so I sell a lot of accessories and replacement parts. What will often happen is I become their new solution provider — not because anything I'm selling is so star-spangled awesome, but because I can send a quote and close a deal in less than 2 hours, maximum 24 if I have to do some research. It seems silly that some clients have had to wait up to a week for a proposal.

If you're making people wait they'll come to me for speedy service so to quote more efficiently by following these four simple steps.

  1. Create A Template

Beyond satisfying local requirements for conducting business, a streamlined listing of parts, services, and associated prices makes your business look professional, even if it is less so. Every business should have a copy of Microsoft Office, so there is no excuse for not being able to produce a clear and concise PDF quote, but the truly destitute can use Google Sheets to the same effect. Otherwise make sure

  • you know sales tax rules for goods versus services and local versus out of state clients;
  • you have a price catalogue matched to part numbers or at least internal part numbers; and
  • you have terms listed for payment.
  1. Have A Set Best Price

You're not running a used car lot, so have a price and stick to it. There is almost always an eBay auction, free hardware with contract seller, or a dealer on Amazon who can offer it cheaper. Haggling over hardware prices is for the box merchants. A POS dealer makes real money on services, software, and support so don't waste time playing “let's make a deal” by quoting higher than your best price figuring there needs to be room to negotiate.

  1. Give A Reasonable Estimate Of Soft Costs On First Draft

Everyone hates hearing, “We'll know what it costs when we get started.” To me nothing screams amateur more than someone who can't give an hours estimate on a project. The contractor gave an estimate, purveyors gave an estimate, so when the technical person can’t it’s just silly. Like point two above, have an hourly rate for labor and estimated amount of labor, then do the math and put it in your quote.

Remember, it's just an estimate. When the 20 hour project becomes a 40 hour one, contact the client around hour 15, state why this will take longer than usual, and get approval for additional hours. I've yet to see a client balk at such a request when there is a good reason for additional work to be billed for.

  1. Ask For Feedback To Consistently Revise The Process

I sent a quote to a client and when I followed up they had chosen another vendor who had a cheaper price. Never one to turn down a little business intelligence so I asked what the competing price was and it turned out to be 20 percent more than what I quoted.

The client misread my quote thinking the final cost was a unit cost. This caused me to change some of the wording and use color tinting in my columns to ensure accurate reading in the future, but to future proof myself I now always ask, “Was the quote clear and concise?” To ask this, and other questions to improve processes, I use Survey Monkey in a follow-up email to every quote.

Retail consumers are used to being able to find and purchase goods as soon as the desire hits them and business owners are increasingly demanding this level of service. Unless there is a very good reason to make a client wait, get a quote in their hands before I do!

About The Author

Trapezoid Business Services is solely owned and operated by Daniel Steyskal. Daniel has been a POS provider and business solutions consultant since 2008 working with small to mid-sized businesses and national franchises. When he's not making the impossible possible for his clients, Daniel enjoys cooking, gaming, and volunteering in his community. Find out more at www.tpzbusiness.com.