How to price and estimate electrical jobs (to win!)

24 September 2020

Pricing electrical work when you’d rather be on the job (or the sofa) isn’t much fun. If you’re like most electricians we know, you probably hate being pulled away from hands-on work, or spending your evenings up to your eyes in quotes and estimates. And if all that paperwork doesn’t bring the work in, it’s easy to feel you’ve wasted your time. We get it. We’ve been there.

How to write electrical quotes, fast

The good news is, there are a few quick, easy ways to make your electrical quotes and estimates stand out – maximising your chances and making sure your time’s well spent. In today’s blog, we’re going to walk you through them step by step, looking at how to price and estimate electrical jobs faster, and better, so you can win more work. Ready?

First things first… why are quotes and estimates so important?

Pricing electrical work properly gives customers peace of mind and confidence about their project. Quotes are a really important way for them to compare tradespeople, see how you’ll handle the job and make a decision about who they’d like to use. 

When customers ask for a quote or estimate, they’re not just trying to find the best price, they’re trying to make sure they find a knowledgeable, trustworthy electrician to work with. In fact, both Citizens Advice and The HomeOwners Alliance recommend customers get three written quotes before they give tradespeople the go-ahead.

Quotes and estimates also set expectations about the electrical work you’ll be doing, so everyone’s clear on what the job involves, and how you’re intending to approach it. As well as reassuring the customer, this can help to protect you if disagreements come up later.

What’s the difference between a quote and an estimate?

It’s really common for people to get quotes and estimates mixed up. Lots of customers – and even tradespeople – aren’t clear what the difference is. But there is one. And it’s a biggie. We’ve written loads about it in our quotes vs estimates blog, but here’s a quick recap:

It’s really important your customer understands the difference between a quote and an estimate so aren’t upset if you need to increase your estimate once you’ve taken a closer look at the job.

💡 Tip: If you’re writing an estimate, give a few examples of things that could increase the cost if they crop up, like the customer’s current wiring failing an electrical safety test and needing fixing.

💡 Tip: Even though estimates are only a rough guide, they can still help you make a good first impression, so make them smart, clear and professional.

How soon should I send my estimate or quote?

The sooner the better! If you’re writing an estimate, try to send it out the same day. You’re only giving a ballpark figure, so if you’ve done a similar project before, get a head start by looking back at what you charged. Just be clear with them that the price could change when you see the job.

And if you’re writing a quote, try not to keep your customer waiting more than 48 hours. They want to make a decision and get on with the job, so make a good impression and help them out.

💡 Don’t let quotes and estimates build up. There are great tools out there – like YourTradebase – that can help you knock out great-looking paperwork in minutes. So take five in the van and get it all down while it’s fresh in your head. You can even send it there and then. You’ll be less likely to forget important details, your customer will appreciate the speedy response and you’ll have more time for your friends, family and sofa later!

What’s the best way to price up an electrical job?

If you’re wondering how to price and estimate electrical jobs better, there’s one box you’ve really got to tick. Whether you’re quoting or estimating, the figure you give needs to cover your labour costs + your materials. So how do you work them out?

Get into the habit of learning from every job, by keeping track of your quotes and whether each job was actually profitable in the end. That way you’ll be able to use your prices again as a starting point for similar jobs, without losing out or starting from scratch.

💡 Tip: YourTradebase automatically saves your tasks and prices in your personal price list, so you can pick and choose whenever you quote – saving a truckload of time.

Build a personal price list & quote faster with YourTradebase.

How should I write my estimate or quote?

There are lots of tools out there for writing up your prices, from a biro and a bit of paper to specially designed, time-saving apps. So what are the pros and cons?

Writing by hand

Pros:

  • Doesn’t take any training
  • No need for the internet… or electricity
  • Er… we’re struggling for positives with this one!

Cons:

  • You only get one copy
  • It might not be easy to read
  • It doesn’t look professional or reassuring

Word or Excel

Pros:

  • Looks more professional
  • No problem understanding handwriting
  • You can save, print and email copies

Cons:

  • Can be slow and tricky to set up
  • Hard to make it look really good
  • You end up with loads of files to keep organised

Installed software

Pros:

  • Looks professional
  • Easier to make multiple copies 
  • Easier to save and re-use quotes (sometimes)

Cons:

  • Can be really expensive
  • You’re chained to your home / office computer
  • Takes time to install, maintain and update 
  • Can take time to get to grips with

Quoting apps

Pros:

  • Looks professional
  • Easy to save and re-use your prices
  • No need to download anything
  • Easy to quote on the go

Cons:

  • Usually a cost of some kind
  • Can be a learning curve

What should I include in my electrical estimate or quote?

For starters, think about what your customer might expect to see, what’s going to help them… and what’s going to knock their socks off. If you can cover all of those bases, you’ll have a really stand-out quote with a great chance of winning the job. Let’s take a closer look…

What do customers expect to see on an electrician’s estimate or quote?

What is it helpful to include on electrical estimates or quotes?

What’s going to make my quote or estimate really stand out?

💡 Tip: It’s always good to show you’re approachable, so invite customers to ask questions if they want to. In YourTradebase they can ask questions online and even accept quotes instantly, just by clicking on your quote, on any device.

How much detail does an electrical quote need?

It’s a balance. Give your customer enough detail that they feel clear and confident about what they’re getting… but not overwhelmed. They don’t need to know the price of every cable clip.

Giving more detail than the competition can help you win a potential customer’s trust, pave the way for a smooth-running job and protect you from any disagreements later. But think about the way you describe the work you’ll be doing, and focus on what the customer will get rather than the technical things you’ll have to do to achieve it. 

Marketing expert Samuel Hulick explains it pretty neatly, with a little help from Mario:

“People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves. When you’re trying to win customers, are you listing the attributes of the flower or describing how awesome it is to throw fireballs?”

When it comes down to it, the customer’s buying the end product, and the benefits it brings, so for example, instead of saying: “External installation of LAP AR0506 LED PIR bulkhead black 670LM 8W”, which is pretty baffling to the customer, you could say: “Fitting an LED security light with sensor to garage wall, automatically lighting up the driveway.”  

💡 Tip: In YourTradebase it’s easy to choose the level of detail you want to show, whether that’s a full breakdown of material costs and quantities or just the total price with everything included.

How can I make quoting for electrical jobs even easier?

Whether you’re writing a quote or an estimate, the biggest thing you can do is stop starting from scratch every time. Use tools that create shortcuts, help you price consistently and speed up the whole process. For example:

Five sure-fire rules for writing better electrical quotes

  1. Price up quickly
  2. Say whether it’s a quote or estimate
  3. Give a clear price breakdown
  4. Look smart & professional 
  5. Add a friendly note about what’s next

What does a great quote look like in YourTradebase?

YourTradebase is the quick, easy quoting and estimating app, made for trades. It’s packed full of features that take the headache out of pricing electrical work – and help you win more jobs.

By Dean Taylor

Back in 2010, Dean's building business was growing. He was doing great work, making people happy and enjoying being his own boss – but he was worn out. Not by the graft, but by the piles of paperwork taking up every evening. So, he got together with his cousin Adam, a web developer, and came up with a simple way to solve the problem – and help a whole load of other tradespeople too. They called it YourTradebase. Try it for yourself with a free 14 day trial. No strings. No credit card needed.

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