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How to Give a Great Estimate

Whether you have been giving out estimates your whole life or are about to start your first home service business, this is for you. In this post I am going to focus on four key elements that are involved in giving a winning estimate:

  1. Presentation
  2. Timing
  3. Clarity 
  4. Ease

Let’s start by defining an estimate. Depending on the industry you’re in, you might also call it a quote or bid. While there may be slight differences between these three, I’m going to treat them as synonymous. Whatever you call it, the definition is the same; an estimate is a proposal from a service provider of certain goods/services to the consumer.

Now if only closing a new deal was as simple as writing down a few facts and figures on a piece of paper and sliding it across the table, to get a nod of approval from the client and a handshake to seal the deal. But with growing competition in every industry and an abundance of information available online for today’s consumer, estimates are more competitive than ever. 

It’s not unheard of for a homeowner to get 2-4 estimates on a project that may only end up costing them $800. It’s clear that for a customer to choose your estimate over the competitors, you need to make sure yours stands apart from the rest. 

I’m going to give you 4 trademarks of what I call the “Winning Estimate.” While these trademarks aren’t guaranteed to give you the “win,” they will absolutely give you a leg up on your competitors’ bid as well as a better chance of closing the sale.

1. Presentation

The Winning Bid has a stand out presentation. 

Historically, the typical quote is handed to the customer on a piece of paper with your company logo at the top, or it’s a scanned pdf document they have to download from an email. Both of these methods have the same issue; they don’t convey the message or feeling about who you are as a company. 

Technology has blown the doors off of the traditional delivery and presentation method of estimates. Nowadays, a well-put-together “digital bid” (delivered online) can include a video of you explaining the service you will complete, or a 3D or digital rendering of the service/product. Companies can even attach videos to their estimates explaining their company values. 

All of these features set the tone for the estimate to be more than just about the price. Now the estimate is about “who” is doing the work. 

In the end we all buy from people we like. Give your customers a chance to get to know and like you!

2. Timing

The Winning Bid is delivered in a timely manner. 

I’m not just talking about speed. Many times I have been quoted a general number/price over the phone for a service, only to find out later the price I was given was way off the industry normal (both above and below). This only creates doubt from the beginning of the sale. 

A well-timed Bid is delivered once the proper qualifying has been done by the service provider. Now I’m not saying this can’t be done over the phone - it can - but it needs to be done after the service provider takes the time to verify the project’s specs with the customer. This qualifying can be done by exchanging pictures via text, the customer sending in a video of the problem, or an in-home visit. 

There are programs out there (like BidClips) that allow home service companies to gather the needed information before a trip to the home has even been scheduled. These types of strategies will allow an “accurate” bid to be delivered in a timely manner. 

So, don’t make your customers wait weeks for you to connect with them and deliver a bid; but also - don’t answer the phone and haphazardly throw out a number that is vastly inaccurate. 

The slower, accurate quote is better than the fast incorrect quote.

3. Clarity

The Winning Bid Gives a Clear Vision of the Service. 

Don’t make your quotes overly complicated. Customers want to be able to see their estimate and know exactly what they’re getting and what it will cost. The main thing to note here is that more info is not always better!

A clear Bid delivers the overall scope of work simply, with more details on the complexities available when needed. I am a big proponent of attachments or annotations in an estimate. In other words, a place for the customer to go where they can gain more information on the service if they want to. This can be done digitally on your website with details supporting each service or a pdf attachment that is created for a specific service offering. 

Make sure you get to the point with your bid. Show them what they need to see.

4. Ease

The Winning Bid is Easy to Accept and Pay For. 

If the customer has to do more than one step to accept your bid, it’s too complicated! Every seasoned salesman has experienced the unfortunate phenomenon of a customer calling the office to accept their bid only to get a voicemail, or worse yet, a busy signal. 

Cut out the endless phone tag, trying to collect down payments over the phone, and the stress that comes with trying to be available for a customer's call 100% of the time. Make sure your bids have a digital ‘accept’ option when they’re in the customers hand. I know a lot of you are thinking, “well, isn’t that the same as an email response?” Unfortunately, no. 

As most of us have found out the hard way, emails can get buried or, in the supernatural digital phenomenon, they just get “lost”. There are platforms out there that allow customers to not only accept the bid, but also upload payment and select the date on the calendar they would like the service to be done on. 

This one tool can eliminate three emails or 20 mins on the phone. There is a world of benefit to be had both for the consumer and service provider, by making service booking easy and streamlined. 

Don’t make it hard for your customers to choose you.

5. Options (bonus)

The Winning Bid Gives the Customer Multiple Options to Choose From. 

I have 3 words for you…. Basic, Deluxe, Premium. These three words can radically transform your closing ratio and increase your top line revenue. Now, while I understand not all home services use a multiple package approach, I want to make the argument that they all can, and should. 

From hot water heaters to window cleaning, every service can have an upsell. Either in a more expensive brand or add-on services offered, customers like to have options to choose from. Never assume a customer doesn’t have enough or has too much money. Let them decide for themselves how much they want to pay, and what services they want to select. 

When delivering estimates, always give a basic, deluxe and premium option, all with varying pricing and services. You will land more customers who are price shopping, and you will have higher tickets for customers wanting extra work done that they didn’t initially know was available. 

Give your customers multiple options to book more profitable jobs.


Hopefully you’ve taken away a couple of ideas for ways to give better estimates and book better jobs. In today's market, we are all competing for our customers' time and attention. It’s important now more than ever for us to give the customer the buying experience they want.


Book a BidClips demo HERE.

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