What goes into quoting

Picasso Le Chien One Line Drawing

Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.
“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”
So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.
“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.
“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”
To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

After a gloriously indulgent slow-down over the summer months, the LexiPhi team is back in the swing of things! This morning I sent out a comprehensive quote for a website redesign and rebuild for a fantastic not for profit in the health sector, as well as winning two smaller creative jobs over the summer for an actor and a writer respectively.

While I love my work, I find doing quoting can be hard graft. What’s the problem you say? Let’s have a look at what goes into quoting creative work, especially for the kind of work LexiPhi does. While I am no Picasso, everyone on the team has decades of training and we put our heart and soul into what we do. I spend as much time as needed talking through with the client to understand their brief, think of solutions and processes to fill that brief, work out how much time it’s going to take and the cost & expenses attached to each step

Personally I find it helpful to come up with milestones for the project too, and plan out how the work will proceed as I’m working through the quote. I always give my prospective clients an estimated range of costs, from lowest (everything goes to plan and flows easily with no problems) to highest (what needs to be done was more complex than originally expected and takes more time, with a bit extra in there for the unexpected). By the time I hit send on the email, I have run through and done all the work to completion in my head and I know exactly what I need to do.

All of this takes time, and it’s not rote work if you’re quoting for creative work. It’s hard thinking work and it takes time to craft an accurate and reliable quote.

There’s a reason people employ specialists to win new business, because it’s a tough job. Not only does a new business manager need to be personable, good at relationship management, a great communicator, smart and responsive, but they also need to be good with numbers and able to understand not just their own business but also the clients. Then the new business manager needs to find a solution that’s not just practical, but works for both supplier and client, and meets the clients needs as well as their ‘wants’. Most of all, new business managers need to be tough and resilient because they will be subjected to rejection, knock-backs, avoidance and being used for information without the payoff of having the work come in.

What I find really disappointing is when a client requests a quote then takes all that planning information, then takes it to someone else to quote the job so they can get a cheaper price. The person that requested the quote for the purposes of getting cheaper elsewhere are not just being unfair and borderline unethical, they are already taking away the years of creative and business experience that have gone into the quote, as well as the hours it’s taken to plan it through and write it. By all means get your three quotes and then choose each on their merits, let them show you how good they are at planning and thinking through the brief that you’ve given.

And if you choose to go with another business because they’re cheaper and that’s what your criteria is, that’s ok LexiPhi is probably not the right team for the job. But please, do not take the work I’ve done with all the information I’ve provided and use it to get a better price from someone else. That guarantees that the next time you ask for a quote, the answer will be “Sorry we’re not available”. Because there’s only so much time in the day, and our focus at LexiPhi is producing great work for a good price, not being part of a price war. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I have some branding that’s been waiting for me… I feel the creative juices flowing!