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Quoting a Price


#1

Hi All: I need some help with how to quote a price when I don’t know
what the exact costs will be. A client asked for a quote for a gold
charm. Since it would be cast from a piece that I now have in
silver, the Casting People were able to give me a ballpark figure
for a gold piece. However, it is not an exact number. I believe
that customers prefer a definite price when ordering jewely(or
anything.) I know this happens all the time, but this is the first
time I’ve run across it.

What do you tell the customer? How do you phrase it? If you give
them a range, do they really hear what you are saying, or do they
latch on to a lower number and then feel that you are overcharging
them when it is higher than that number? Any help is greatly
appreciated. Thanks, Sandra


#2

Hello Sandra,

What do you tell the customer? How do you phrase it? If you give
them a range, do they really hear what you are saying, or do they
latch on to a lower number and then feel that you are overcharging
them when it is higher than that number? 

Always try to give one number as an estimate especially for a retail
customer. Always count up your highest possible costs add your
profits and then add a percentage, 20% is reasonable, It is only an
estimate and you should know that you will to come in under the
quote. A customer that baulks at the possibility of the piece
costing your overestimated charge would probably be just as unhappy
with an exact estimate.

I’m not a jeweller, just a gem cutter, but I don’t like to quote
ranges to customers for the very reason you state. They do indeed
just hear the low number. I only do trade work (for the last 30+
years) so all of my customers are jewellers, how do I put this
politely, I find jewellers as customers are far better talkers than
they are listeners. When asked for an estimate, a price range,
especially a large one, can be perceived as unprofessional. Of
course there are exceptions.

When asked for a quote on a job that is not familiar and predictable
I will assess my time, and costs and come up with a range. For
example $60 if all goes perfectly and $100 if unseen problems occur.
Instead of saying $60-100 which is too great a range anyway, I will
tell the customer that I can guarantee that the bill will not exceed
$120 and may well be under $100 if all goes well but this should not
be expected due to the unknown circumstances.

The low number they heard is your expected top price. Whatever the
charge ends up being you get to be a hero. If you credit their
particular job for the expedience you can still quote the same in
the future. You get to provide a fair and honest price for the job
but the customer perceives it as a deal and feels special.

For a common job that I know I will charge, as another example, say
$50.00. When asked for a quote I will say I’ll try to keep it under
$60.00. I always do. Remember Scotty didn’t get to be Captain Kirk’s
miracle engineer telling him how long it REALLY takes.

Tony.
Parvum scimus sed emptor minus scit


#3

Sandra, We have found that if you clearly explain to a customer why
you can’t give a definite price, they are usually amenable to
accepting a range of price. We regularly quote a range. The only
thing we agree not to do with the customer is go above the high end
we quote. The key is to be quite clear about the fact that you are
quoting a price range and to have them sign off on the order sheet
that has the range clearly written on it.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#4

Sandra,

I would take the Caster’s ball park figures and use the higher
number, add any cleanup time, shipping, and my mark up to that and
quote that price. Remember, it is a special order. Please don’t
"cheap" your way out. If so you will be expected to do it again on
the next special order. I prefer to quote to the higher side. Then if
everything comes out better than expected, I will pass on a small
discount when the final bill is paid. This always surprises and
pleases the customer. Lets them know you are looking out for them.
“Hey, gold is down a little today, thought I would pass it on to
you.”

Hope this helps.
Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#5

Sandra,

I would take the Caster’s ball park figures and use the higher
number, add any cleanup time, shipping, and my mark up to that and
quote that price. Remember, it is a special order. Please don’t
"cheap" your way out. If so you will be expected to do it again on
the next special order. I prefer to quote to the higher side. Then if
everything comes out better than expected, I will pass on a small
discount when the final bill is paid. This always surprises and
pleases the customer. Lets them know you are looking out for them.
“Hey, gold is down a little today, thought I would pass it on to
you.”

Hope this helps.
Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#6

Hello Sandra,

Great question! “…how to quote a price when I don’t know what the
exact costs will be.”

I get that request frequently. I take the customer’s name and phone
number with any details like ring size or design changes. After I
determine the price, I factor in what an increase - say 20% - in
metal price will do and tell the customer that the price will be no
more than that higher number. The other important part is that the
price is good for a set period of time and they must decide within
that time so materials can be ordered - even if I have the materials
on hand. I’m considering replacement costs too. If the order comes
after that date, the price is subject to adjustment.

Since the piece almost always comes in at a lower number, they are
pleased when their price is lower than expected. Good customer
relations! Although metal prices are pretty volatile right now, 20%
has easily covered the changes within a week’s time.

I’ll be curious to see how others do this.

Judy in Kansas, where the strawberries are done, but the jam will be
enjoyed for a long time. Wheat is nearly ready for harvest - very
early this year!

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944


#7

Sandra: Interesting dilemma, I think to ere on the side of safety I
would tell the customer the higher price. Then if you are having a
good day and want to make a customer happy, when you get the piece
back from the caster, charge them accordingly. But I don’t understand
why your caster couldn’t give you a fixed price based on the metal
market the day of the quote, Most of us have a price that falls with
in a given market. Variable amount per gram or Dwt. for market
between X & Y

Kenneth Ferrell
www.shadras.com

Patiently waiting for
The next Tornado Warning


#8

Sandra - Quote them the high end of the range “or less”, and they
will be pleasantly surprised if it comes back lower.

Tas
www.earthlywealth.com


#9

My business primarily consists of one-of-a-kind and commissioned
work, so projecting a price estimate is always a challenge.
Personally, if I’m unsure of my cost, I’ll add in a buffer of 15%
and quote the customer a range, explaining that the precious metals
market fluctuates and that there may be changes I can’t fully
anticipate. So, for example, I may estimate a particular pendant
will run $775 – $825, but not more than the top figure. This has
always been well accepted and gives me some ease if I’ve
underestimated labor or materials. On the other hand, I’ve never
known anyone to be upset when I deliver the work under the ceiling
quote, because that’s what they’ve prepared themselves for, anyway.
I also ask for one-third of the top quote as a deposit on work in
silver, and one-half up front when the piece is in gold, with the
actual balance due upon delivery of the completed work.

While there have been a few occasions when I’ve seriously
underestimated the labor required for a particular design, I chalk
the lost wages up to education (grin!) and bite the bullet. This may
be naieve or unrealistic on my part. Only once did I seriously
under-price a piece because of miscalculating materials, and that
resulted from having to order a component from a secondary supplier
who charged me much more than my preferred supplier. In that case,
I called the customer and politely explained the situation and they
kindly agreed to the revised price.

I’m curious how other folks handle situations and issues like these.

Walk in Beauty,
Susannah Ravenswing
Jewels of the Spirit
Winston-Salem NC


#10

Be careful qouting prices that are a not exceed price. If you go
inder the price, the buyer wins. If you go over the price, the buyer
wins. Old Uncle Milty