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How to write a great building quote

A builders quote template that's clear and simple will not only make your life easier, but it'll help to secure more work. In this post, we share what to include in a builders' quote, and provide a template you can customise for your business.

Creating a professional quote is essential for success whether you’ve just recently started a building business or are looking to secure more work. Specialist Accountant, Aaron McLeish, chatted to us about how to create the perfect quote for building work.

Who is Aaron McLeish?

Aaron is the director of Together We Count Limited (TWC) and author of The Quote Handbook – Essential Steps to Building the Perfect Boiler Quote. TWC is a specialist accountancy firm for tradespeople, in particular, plumbing and heating businesses. Aaron has helped countless tradespeople get their finances in order.

tradesperson doing their bookkeeping accounting

What’s the difference between a quote and estimate?

Before diving into how to write a quote for building work, it’s important to understand the difference between a quote and estimate. Both involve pricing up a job, but the terms make all the difference.

In short, an estimate is a rough price for a project which is subject to change. Meanwhile, a quote refers to the final fixed cost of a job.

Customers will hold you to the price given as a quote but realise that an estimate is more of an idea. This is why it’s crucial to know how to write a building quote properly. There are more details involved and you will need a full price breakdown.

Business portrayal – the importance of pitching at the right level

Sales equal success! We all know this. But how do you convert a lead into a customer? The first thing to do is to understand your customers.

For any successful business, understanding your customer base is vital. When you know who your customers are, you can offer them the services that they really want or need.

Before you start the quotation process, think about the following:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Do you want to focus on large or smaller jobs?
  • Do you want to use premium, luxury products and services vs cost-effective budget solutions?
  • Do you want to undertake luxury renovations or complete essential repairs and maintenance works?

Also, think about the area where you work. If you’re in an affluent area such as the Home Counties, you may want to portray your business as a premium, high-end installer.

If, on the other hand, you work in a more industrial location, cost-effective solutions may be more popular with your customers and more profitable for your business.

Once you understand who your ideal customers are, you can start to create your perfect quote.

Know who you want to serve. Wow them with well-thought-out packages that will entice them to buy. Upselling from this place then becomes much easier.”

Aaron McLeish

Creating the perfect quote for your ideal customer

So, you’ve decided who is your ideal customer. You know how you want to portray your business to maximise sales and win new customers.

Now it’s time to gather all the information you’ll need to create the perfect quote.

The first action to take is to talk to your customer

If you’re planning to conduct a home survey, this is your opportunity to gather as much information as possible to help you to tailor your quote.

Having a list of questions for your customer will help you to understand their needs. It will also give them confidence that they are working with a reputable and professional tradesperson.

Written Trade Quote

How to write a builders’ quote step-by-step

Let’s be honest, nobody enjoys putting quotes together, but it’s a necessity to secure a steady flow of work for your business.

A decent builders quote template will outline all the key elements that need to be included, so you’re able to:

  • Quote quickly and efficiently.
  • Prepare a professional-looking document with ease.
  • Avoid any confusion for the customer that could impact your ability to secure the job.

Once you’ve got your builders quote template sorted, you can use it time and time again, so it’s well worth getting it set up.

Here’s how to write a builders’ quote in a few short steps.

Preparing to visit a customer

To get started, you need to understand your customer’s expectations. Prepare a checklist before visiting their home.

Try to understand the customer’s ‘pain point’, what they want to change about their home, and offer them the perfect solution. This might not be what they had been expecting!

Some example questions could include:

  • What is your main priority? (e.g. Improving energy efficiency, enhancing security, revamping visual appearance)
  • When do you expect the work to start and be completed?
  • What improvement would have the biggest impact on your standard of living?
  • What do you find frustrating about your home? (i.e. layout, lack of space, temperature etc.)

Know what your customers want. The attainment of gain, or relief of pain! Communicating in your quotes that your solution will solve your specific customers’ desires will result in higher quote conversion rates.”

Aaron McLeish

During a site visit, you should also find out the following information:

  • Customer’s name, address, and contact details.
  • Details of work required.
  • Details of existing products/equipment.
  • Level of urgency.
  • Customer availability (site access, minimise disruption).

Also, make sure that you hand your customer a Checkatrade feedback card at the quote stage of every job. This helps to build rapport with your customers so that they feel they are more involved in the process. Explore and be curious.

Remember, the more information you get from your customers – the more chance you have of offering them the perfect solution based on the information they have shared.

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Producing a bespoke quote

Following your site visit, you’ll want to use the information you have gathered to produce a bespoke quote as quickly as possible. Did you know that the quicker you respond to a lead, the higher the likelihood of converting it to a sale?

A bespoke quote should start with a blueprint quote or quote template. This is the basic document you will need for every job you will ever quote for.

Your quote template should be easily customisable. You should be able to add sections to reflect the complexity and uniqueness of different projects. All pricing should be clear and transparent. And all quotes should be comprehensive – hidden costs rank alongside bad workmanship as some of the worst customer experiences.

Don’t forget to talk directly to your customer in the quote. The personalised approach reassures customers that they are working with a company that puts its customers first.

Think of your customer journey as initial enquiry to completion of works and then money in the bank. At any stage in the customer journey, a potential customer can decide not to continue. The quote sits in the middle stages of the customer journey, so don’t let poor, uninformative quotes be a factor in losing potential customers.”

Aaron McLeish

Delivering the perfect quote for your customers

As mentioned earlier, it’s essential that you respond to your customer with a written quote as quickly as possible. Be prompt, be personal, and always do exactly what you said you will, on time every time.

When you want your quote to excite your customers and ensure that they choose you over your competitors, a bespoke quote is the way to go.

Checkatrade members get access to a free tool designed specifically for quoting and invoicing. With companies spending over 2 hours a week just on quoting, having an easy tool to save time can only be a good thing!

How to write a quote for a job

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when preparing a quote for a job, but a template gives you a structure you can use time and time again.

Think of this as your ‘boilerplate’. Here’s what your builders quote template should include:

  • Your company name, address, contact number, and email address – if you’re VAT registered, include your VAT registration number too.
  • Quote reference number and who it’s been prepared by – should the customer have any questions about the quote, they can quote this number in their correspondence.
  • Quote date and the date the quote is valid until – prices of materials could change, so this lets the customer know how long these costs stand for.
  • Customer details – name, address, contact number, and email address.
  • Description of the job you are quoting for – people like to know what they’re paying for, so try to give as much detail as possible, so your customer knows exactly what’s included and what’s not. For example, if you’re writing a quote for building work, does your quote include a skip for waste removal?
  • Price of materials – keep this top-line, but it’s best practice to list the quantities, e.g. if a gardener is quoting for a planting job, listing each variety and the quantity is recommended.
  • Cost of labour – state whether you are charging by the hour or by the job. Always aim for transparency with your pricing.
  • VAT (if applicable) – read our blog on everything to know about VAT for trade businesses to find out if you need to charge VAT.
  • Total amount payable – this is the subtotal of materials plus labour and VAT (if applicable).
  • Special notes – some tradespeople include a box for any additional relevant details. This can help to avoid ambiguity and unnecessary surprises for the customer when they receive your invoice. E.g. state if any of your material costs are estimates rather than fixed prices.
  • Terms & conditions – this should include your payment method and clearly outline your terms, e.g. whether any payment is due upfront or if it’s due on completion.
  • A box for your customer to sign – the customer can approve the quote by signing and returning it to you.

For Checkatrade members, just filling in a few key details and generating a quote will bring in all of these details together. Once a job is completed, it can then be converted into an invoice, and then stored in one app for future reference or accounting purposes.

Build Customer Trust and Loyalty

1. Customise your builders quote template

First, download our free template to use as a building quote example and starting point. This includes all the essential items to make sure your quote is comprehensive and clear.

Next, customise your builders quote template to:

  • Reflect your business branding, including your font, choice of colours, and any strapline you use in your marketing. And if you’re looking for ways to improve your branding, we’ve written a blog full of marketing tips for builders.
  • Help your quote to stand out from the competition.
  • Make sure your quote has a professional look and feel.

2. Make sure your pricing is clear and transparent

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When you’re paying for a job, you want to know exactly what you’re paying for.

Nobody likes nasty surprises or ambiguity, so make sure the quote outlines all the costs involved and what those represent.

And remember, if this is the first time working with a particular customer, clear and transparent pricing will garner a greater level of trust from the offset.

  • Separate the costs by materials and labour.
  • Include quantities when listing material costs.
  • Include a breakdown of what the labour cost is for, i.e. broadly outline the various elements of the job.

3. Make sure your quote is comprehensive and well-structured

A well put together quote, that’s delivered within 24-hours, will have a greater chance of securing work. The last thing you want is for your quote to be confusing, missing details, and needing to be chased up by the customer.

So what do you need to include on a builders’ quote to make it easy for the customer to say yes?

  • Your company name, address, contact number and email address. Include your VAT registration number if you’re VAT registered.
  • Your builders’ insurance information and what this covers.
  • A quote reference number and the name of the person who prepared the quote.
  • The quote date and when it’s valid until.
  • The customer’s details (name, address, contact number, and email address).
  • A description of the work to be carried out (see above).
  • The cost of materials.
  • The cost of labour.
  • VAT (if applicable).
  • The total cost.
  • Terms & conditions for payment terms. Also include the payment method.
  • A space for your customer’s signature to approve the quote.

4. Help to cement the job

Most customers will shop around for a few quotes before deciding who to work with, so here are some extra things to add to your builders quote template to give it an edge:

  • Are you a member of a trade association? – if you’re a Checkatrade member, use the trusted tick on your quote. 8 out of 10 homeowners would choose a tradesperson we’ve endorsed over one we haven’t*.
  • Is your work guaranteed? – we guarantee our members’ work within many of our trade categories for up to 12 months, which offers customers peace of mind. 6 out of 10 people are more likely to hire a tradesperson if they offer a guarantee**.
  • Professional qualifications or accreditations – include these to help stand out from the competition and demonstrate your expertise.
  • Customer reviews – have some blinding customer testimonials? Include one or two on your quote to help showcase customer satisfaction.

Difference between accountant and financial advisor

Builders’ quote checklist

When preparing your builders’ quote, remember:

  • Use a customisable template to create a professional document with ease, our dedicated quoting and invoicing tool is ideal for this
  • Cross-check the contents of your quote with our list above to make sure you include all the necessary details.
  • Make sure your pricing is clear and transparent, separating costs by materials (including quantities) and labour (including an outline of the work).
  • Think about what else you can include on your quote to give it an edge over the competition (e.g. being a Checkatrade member, having professional qualifications, or having customer reviews to shout about).

Now you know exactly how to create a winning builders’ quote, you’re going to want insider secrets on how to win (close) every single one. You can discover all of Aaron’s secrets in our blog on increasing your close rate and secure return work.

This article was contributed to by Aaron McLeish to help tradespeople achieve greater success.

About Aaron

Aaron is the director of Together We Count Limited (TWC) and author of The Quote Handbook – Essential Steps to Building the Perfect Boiler Quote.
Aaron McCleish
Specialist Accountant

* Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.
* * Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.

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