How long do you take to quote?

  1. On average (I know some take longer or shorter), but on average, how long do you take to quote a client?

  2. On the same topic, if the client is unclear on the scope of the project and cannot present a brief from which you can accurately supply a costing, how do you handle this? Do you offer to do a spec document and charge for it, or do you do some pro bono pitch work to secure the project?

I’m referring specifically to websites of a medium to high complexity.

The reason I ask: A prospect (an agent of sorts) called me up about a project, and he had already engaged his client, quoted, received a deposit and had then sat on the project longer than he should have and urgently needed to get the project done on budget and …well… yesterday! He wanted a quote the same day and the scope (not officially documented) included features like content management, ecommerce integration, some custom code and some others…

Is this even possible? Should I run to the hills? Do I take too long to quote? In my experience, this needs a couple hours if not days to research, scope and quote.

EDIT: As I clicked submit, the track “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden came on my playlist… a sign?

I start most projects with a questionnaire that helps the client define the scope of the project. Actual quoting can take a day or an hour depending upon the scope of the project.

From what you say, it looks like someone is outsourcing a part of their project to you. If he has procrastinated this long with his client, how do you suppose he will treat you? Moreover, if he is doing web development, he should know how to define the scope of a project. All in all, I think “Run to the Hills” is a number one hit in this instance.

I think you’re right… he balked at the quote anyway.

A client or an ‘agent’ (whatever that is) who asked for an ‘emergency’ quote of a poorly documented project is the exact opposite of a good opportunity.

A middle man is supposed to bring in business in a way that makes things easier, not screw it up and make it harder.

Keep an eye on this client, they might get ‘nephewed’ and be looking for a new vendor in 6 months. They always come back :slight_smile:

I am a “fast quoter”. Usually I can provide a quote within a day (or within 24 hours). If the spec is vague, I imagine worst case scenario and “quote high” to account for that. And I put in a quote/contract that spells out what the price includes and that anything outside of scope not explicitly stated in contract will be billed at $X per hour extra.

To define the “agent” in this situation, starting at the top of the food chain:

1> Client
2> Consultant 1 (liaise with client)
3> Consultant 2 (supposed to be tech service provider) *
4> Consultant 3 (me who has basically been delegated Consultant 2’s duties and he takes the lion share of profit)
5> My tech. service providers

* the person I’m answering to

Personally I feel, I should step into Consultant 1 or 2’s shoes for the project to run properly. Consultant 1 is extremely skilled and brings a lot of experience and valuable input to the project, but I don’t think Consultant 2 is bringing much value to the chain.

Generally, after gathering as much information as possible - I tell the client that there quote will be ready within 1 week.

And when I send them the quote within 48 hours they are always impressed.

This way I’m not under any pressure to get it done fast - as I can still use the full week if need be.

Good answer. This is what I do too.

To sum up though, 48hr minimum in general?

It all depends on the client and the scope of the job. Its possible to send a quote too fast. For a complex project, some are going to be skeptical about receiving a next day quote. However, if you give a sincere indication that you ‘are working hard’ on the proposal every couple days and it took a week - it could even work in your favor.