You only get one chance to make a good first impression—and when you run a small business, your first impression can mean the difference between closing a job or watching it go to someone else.
When it comes to sending winning quotes on Thumbtack there are two rules that all Top Pros follow: be clear and be fast. In fact, 75 percent of hires on Thumbtack go to pros who respond within the first three hours.
Here are Top Pros’ 5 top tips for writing quotes that win business.
Tip #1: Make it Personal
Your first message should be friendly but professional—and you should always (always!) address the customer by name.
“Communicating in an excellent way from start to finish is critical,” explains Charlotte-based general contractor, Fred Heath. “Your responses need to be professional. You need to address the customer directly and thank them for the opportunity.”
Fellow Charlotte entrepreneur Jennifer Kasmer takes her quotes a step further by highlighting her personal training studio’s close proximity as part of her opening message. “I address the customer by name and note that we’re conveniently located in their zip code. We use templates, but customize them to fit any specific needs,” she tells us. And Jennifer does what she can to keep the momentum going: “We always say that spots are limited to add urgency.”
Tip #2: Show Off Your Qualifications
By the time you’re ready to send a quote, odds are you’ve read the customer’s request and decided that you’re the right pro for the job.
Making sure that your customer knows this is a different story.
Tell the customer about similar jobs you’ve done, your credentials, and your years of experience. As Josh Downing, a general contractor in Florida explains, “Respond quickly and think from the standpoint of the client. What would they want to see? For example, if someone says they want new construction, I’ll send a plan of new construction we’ve done, or photos of a construction home we’ve done in the past.”
Tip #3: Make Sure Your Price is Right
When it’s time to price your quote, Thumbtack gives you options: fixed price, hourly rate, or “need more info.” How you choose to price your quote depends a lot on the industry you’re in and the market for your services.
That said, certain rules are universal.
Be clear about your prices upfront—once you’ve named a price, customers will expect you to honor it. This doesn’t necessarily require providing an exact number in your quote.
As Garrett Hurlbut, a painter based in Littleton, Oregon explains, “I say that I’d prefer to see the job in-person to provide a more firm, concrete number.” And there are added benefits to waiting on the number, says Garrett. “Meeting face-to-face gives me a better opportunity to instill confidence and sell the work.”
For other pros, specificity is good for business. Chris Grimes of Chris’ Multitask Services in Rialto, California provides a full pricing breakdown in his quotes. “A lot of my customers tell me that they chose me because of how specific my quote was. I explain what’s included in the price of the job, down to the paint, materials and nails,” says Chris.
Tip #4: Provide Next Steps
Don’t make customers think too hard about how to get started working with you: make the process seamless by providing the next steps in your first message.
Take it from Baron Lambert, a personal trainer in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2017, his business is committed to making their quotes more specific and action-oriented. “We include a step-by-step description of a Top Tier training session and a link to our website,” Baron explains.
To keep those next steps fresh in your customer’s mind, Columbus-based personal trainer Elijah Bowie suggests this helpful trick: “I always try to leave the quote with a question because it sticks in your head much better. Questions tend to linger in our subconscious and prompt us to respond.”
Tip #5: Check Your Grammar—Twice!
While it does pay off to hustle to respond to the customer, make sure that before you send that quote, you take a moment to double-check your grammar and spelling. While it may seem minor—after all, perfect spelling might not have anything to do with how well you teach yoga or lay a backyard patio, it really matters to customers. Good grammar and spelling show professionalism, and when you’re up against four other pros, the little things matter a lot.
Andy Gill, a painter in Maple Plains, Minnesota, learned this lesson the hard way. “Always be professional. Use proper punctuation and good grammar,” he explains. “People won’t respond to your query if the message is misspelled.”