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.
Parvum scimus sed emptor minus scit