Charging for quotes

Hello everyone,

Charging for quotes!

Do you? Would you like too?

In a normal workng week how much time do you devote to quotes. I
find myself having to come to work on the weekends just to do a
catchup on my quotes. Sometimes it can take several hours to get
through them. Rough sketches, chasing up prices for findings and
Diamonds in all different sizes shapes and colors. And
then there are the q’s… How much to solder this? How much to
polish this? How much to resze this? This is both from the shopfront
and the many retailers for whom we do trade work for. No matter how
comprehensive the price list I provide is I still find myself with
ths time wasting task. Dont get me wrong I accept that its a part of
the job, but I just cant help wanting to complain about it. I would
be interested to know your thoughts on this. Especially if you do
alot of trade work.


For long quotes, anything that is going to take me more than about
10 minute I charge a small fee.

If there is any engineering involved, I expect, and usually receive,
a substantial upfront fee.

I almost always ask this when I know the prospect is not serious. I
almost never receive the fee. It is a quick way of determining if
the prospective customer is serious or not.

Also, if I have given 3 free quotes, and no business, I flat out,
politely but firmly, tell them that we are no longer interested in
their business. after that, we no longer return their calls. Our
sales have almost tripled in the 6 years since starting this policy.

Mark Zirinsky

Hi Chris, I think you might antagonize your customers if you have a
separate charge for giving them an estimate. Build the cost of
estimating into your overhead as part of your shop expense. If it
costs you x dollars to operate the shop per hour, this should include
cost of office work. This way you don’t single it out and irritate
anyone, but you do get paid for the time.

Have fun. Tom Arnold

Im a contractor and what ever else. Meaning self employed. I always
make sure I charge 50% on all findings and then add labor so I will
make my time not wasted. Do you work for Z Corp? Do you have a price

I also do estimates one day and order at the start of the week. One
of the sales associate wanted the customers Gold back from a
re-shank job during the estimate. I told her it came with the job or
to add $20.00 to the price. I did not do the job but I had to stick
with the Policy. All old gold returned to the Jeweler. It is part of
the job.



I visit stores and find stores that take in work and LATER quote
have two problems:

  1. Takes way too mch time

  2. the “sizzle” has left and sometimes the customer later may say
    “No Thanks”

Personal Plus:

You should look at my pricing guide. prices custom work, labor tos
et, gold & platinum prices and stones (diamonds and color from


David Geller

I have spent a full week making quotes and a full week behind the
bench every week for months and there is nothing worse.

In no order, these may work. NB. I don’t recommend all of them :slight_smile:


  1. Employ someone. Add their wage to your costs.

  2. Quote a number off the top of your head at the first instance.
    Work it out on the hop.

  3. Itemise the tasks on your quote and charge for them.

  4. Don’t bother answering questions that don’t lead to a sale.

  5. Treat the trade enquiries like retail if they bog you down with
    questions, because they sound like retail to me.


  1. Minus the quote for jobs that you priced after you finished the
    job. Moreover, strip down the costs and charge them when the job is
    done. If you make a quote you will at least have to add a contingency
    for possibilities. I work in platinum and costs can blow out more
    then the profit on heavy designs. Most of my customers understand
    this. I tend to leave final quotes hanging until I know everything.
    (This includes quotes on things I have never made before). I just let
    them know how I am deriving my figures. Obviously you can’t say too
    much to some people who are bent on controlling the cost, but if you
    pick the right advice you will be all right.

In re-reading I think a combination of all of these works and you
have to gauge your customer(s) type, especially if you are having
problems with too many questions.

I have never head of a jeweller charging for a quote, but I like the
sound of it. It will usually be a deposit, but you are talking from
a workshop perspective. (I am assuming you do your own quotes
because you have to). Sale staff quotes are not usually a large
enough part of a shops overhead to warrant a separate charge.

Ten minutes ago I mentioned to a colleague that I need to charge for
quotes, (then I can put more into them). You also get some drawings
to keep for later and the valuation is almost written. If you put
your time into a quote you become like a buying assistant and you
can schedule consultations, charging for your expertise - and if you
are paid to give detailed perfected quotes (including a gasedral
shaped mexigorim) you have a good chance to really learn what is
going on for you. Offset that with the fact you are the person you
recommend. It could work…

Hang on, it’s early afternoon - cheers,


Lastly, if your quotes are all leading to sales, stop bragging. You
have months of work ahead of you son. Get cracking!

While I no longer do custom work, with the exception of people with
whom I already have a business relationship; I used to do custom

My procedure was this: I tell the customer that I charge a design fee
(you fill in the amount). I further explain that for this fee I come
up with a design. If they approve the design (my designs are
generally wax models), the design fee is deducted from the cost of
the piece. They also have the option of declining, but if they do for
whatever reason they get the design since they paid for it.

The design fee also includes a quote. In most cases the quote is the
price for the work. I use the term “quote” in case something
extraordinary happens. I can’t recall a time when the quote was not
the final price.

Most like the fact they they know what it will cost before making a
decision. All of this is info that I share with the customer. I
explain that this way I get paid for my time (which people
understand) and relieves them of any feeling of obligation. Few of us
work “pro bono”, nor should we unless you consider it “charity

K Kelly

I really like the “3 free quotes and you’re out” approach. I, too,
have been annoyed with some businesses that seem to have no regard
for my time in asking for quotes or to preview basic engraving
layouts prior to cutting. Several years ago, this led me to re-
evaluate my price list. I ended up totally reorganizing it in order
to make the estimate process as simple as possible.

I have found that there are only a couple businesses that will
constantly call for an estimate, even after the new list was sent
out. IMHO, they have lazy sales associates who find it easier to call
the engraver than to look at the book. I actively discourage this
practice with the store management as well as the “preview layout
first”, but will do it once, if the customer insists. There is no
extra charge for the first change, but the cost of the work does
increase in proportion to the pita factor involved (new quote given
at the end of the layout process. due to increased complexity of the

Custom work and one of a kind commissions are a horse of a different
color, and I do the initial quick sketches and ball park estimates
free of charge. The customers are usually serious when they make an
inquiry, and quickly drop of of the process if the initial cost is
more than they want to spend. I haven’t yet initiated a fee to do a
finished sketch, although I have considered it, to be credited to
the final cost when the work is complete. I have, in fact, avoided
even sending out finished sketches at all, since it would be design
work done for free. What is the going rate for providing a finished
design sketch? Based on an hourly fee, just for the drawing?what
about the “dream time” to engineer the idea? based on a percentage of
the cost of the work to be done? Any way to protect that design from
walking to another place after they’ve paid the fee for the sketch?

Rather be engraving,
Melissa Veres, engraver

Hello Orchidland,

This is an interesting discussion on charging for quotes. My personal
preference is to learn what the client is willing to spend, a listing
of what is desired (metal, size, stones, etc.), and a date for
completion. With that I can either break the bad news
gently or go forward with more details. The recent increase in metal
prices makes this more difficult, but it’s still a good place to
start and doesn’t take much more than 5 minutes.

Beyond that, once interest is established and a maximum price has
been accepted, it’s time to put some some cash down to cover design
time and materials. Learned the hard way not to accept commissions
without $$ upfront.

Judy in Kansas