By Mark Porter
Communications with a customer is vital to the success and profitability of any job and that communications begins before you get the job and even before you get the PO. Communication for the success of a job begins with the estimate.
The communication from the customer regarding the specifications of the job starts the process and is obviously very important but the key interaction between you and your customer, that often determines the success of a job, is your presentation of the quote.
I have seen many methods of presenting prices to customers that range from simply writing the price on the original specifications received from the customer and faxing it back to very detailed letters with bold and underlined references.
The reality is that the more detail the better. Any room for misunderstanding can be interpeted by customers intentially or unintentially in a manner that results in a damaged relationship with your customer and/or you spending more money on the job then you intended.
A good quote will
1. Present a Professional Image
A good quote should present a professional image to your customer. A price scribbled on a fax not only reflects negatively on the quality standards of your company but can also provide second thoughts to your customer on large jobs.
The print/packaging estimator has to consider his accountability should this job go wrong. I price scribbled on paper will not put him in good standing to his boss when he tries to justify his decisions. Nor will it invoke confidence to entrust your company with a valuable project.
2. Clearly define the job you are providing
A good quote will clearly define the components of the job. The number of pages, bind type, fold/glue configuration, color of foil, type of rule etc. There should be no misunderstanding of the exact product you are delivering.
3. Clearly define the services you are providing
A good quote will clearly define the services you are providing for the cost presented. This is very important as it will provide an opportunity to requote if you mis understood the job and included or left out certain processes.
4. Clearly State What is expected from Customer
The quote should also clearly state what is expected from the customer. If you are assuming that the customer is providing certain materials and providing those materials in certain ways by placing this information on the quote the customer can confirm or deny those assumptions before the job begins.
5. Allow for Special Instructions
Your quote should contain any special instructions or requirements you have for certain jobs. Ideally these instructions should be initiated when certain processes are selected from the estimate, allow you to pick from a list of common special instructions and type in specific instructions for unique jobs.
6. Present Pricing as Requested
Don't make your customer work to get the pricing he wants. If he wants certain processes broken out or he wants an each price instead of per M you should provide the quotation in that format.
7. Original Date
Clearly indicate the date this quote was origianlly provided so that your 30/60 day validation period cannot be extended.
8. The Quote should be Generated Automatically
Taking time to rewrite the estimate numbers into a format to present to the customer takes valuable time and represents potential errors from transposition and ommission mistakes. The quote should be automatically generated from the estimate.
9. Deliver Quote in Requested Format
If your customer want their quotes emailed and you fax it you are starting the process in a negative manner. Your quotes should be deliverable quickly and easily in the manner specific to each customer.
10. Track Quotes for Follow up and Analysis
Track desirable quotes to ensure you don't lose them for stupid reasons like " we gave you a big job 2 days ago we didn't think you could handle this as well", " we didn't think you could perform that process" or " I seem to have lost your quote".
Analyze estimates for won/loss, customer activity and much more valuable information