How to respond to a very low competitor quote

I have a long established client who wants a new website for a new enterprise.
He’s got a quote from one of those guys who charges uneconomically low rates and wants to know “why I’ve been ripping him off” by charging much more.

On the one hand he shouldn’t need to ask the question, we give prompt support and changes, the web site for his existing business earns him praise and generates business, we provide experience based advice, he’s got good SERPS. On the other hand he presumably assumes that’s what he’ll get from any web designer and has yet to find out the hard way that you get what you pay for. Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys.

In the circumstances I’m not too happy about even making a proposal because there’s a risk he’ll just take my ideas to the cheap guy.

Should I provide a quote at my normal rates and include proposals that might get ripped off or suggest he try the other guy but to remember to come back when he’s been through that learning curve.
Or is there a better alternative?

I would not give a quote that your competition can copy. If they are cheap because they are not as detailed as you, I would not wise them up to what you would include in the job.

I would tell your customer that your rates reflect your great service, and you should remind him of everything you said about your great service above. Tell him you are not interested in quoting the job at anything but your usual price and if he thinks he can get the same great service from the other guys he should give them a try. Remind him that if he is dissatisfied, you will welcome him back with open arms.

The client may be bluffing just to get you to lower your price; Or, the client may use the new folks and like them. The problem is, once you have lost a client, it is hard to get them back, so you are taking a risk using this strategy. It will depend on whether or not the cheap guys can live up to your client’s expectations.

Let them go to the other vendor. Tell them that with your level of service you just can’t match that price, and that if the vendor can really provide a similar service for a lower price the client should go for it.

Make it VERY clear that if there are ANY problems that are you available to help them, even for casual advice. Give them a comfortable hourly rate and invite them to contact you for anything. Express your disappointment at losing them as a customer and your desire to work with them again.

Then let them go. Don’t call or do anything. It’s up to the cheap guys now, but if they blow it you’ll have an even more loyal client.

I was going to suggest educating them on the difference of “Price” Vs. “Cost” - A low price being a one time thing and cost being what this site will cost them in the long run if they don’t get what they bargained for, but I have to say I rather like Sagewing’s advice here…

Chances are they’ll learn a lesson and be back and even more loyal as Sage suggested.



They’re paying for the added value and superior quality of service and product. Why buy a nice car when you can buy a cheap one? Why buy soft toilet paper when you can buy industrial sandpaper, etc.

If he used the term “ripping off” with me I’d probably terminate the work with him immediately. You’ve stated why your bid is worth the money and if he wishes to insult your bid then let him ruin his website by going for the cheap option.

I see 2 possible scenarios here:

(1) They use the other people and it’s a mess so they come back to you and pay twice for the same job.

(2) They use the other people and it’s great, so you subcontract all your work out to the other people and go relax or start a new second business. :-;

Here’s a great video that uses everyday situations to illustrate price vs. value:

Quality comes with money.
If I were you, i would just let him work with the new guy and have an experience of life time.


Educating a client about ‘price vs quality’ is frequently a losing battle. You may ‘convince’ a client but it’s hard to sustain that as a new business technique. At best you’ll invest time into educating clients in hopes of getting them to do something that they initially don’t want to do. Any time you try to get a client to do something they don’t want you’ll meet resistance, no matter how ‘right’ you think you are.


Educating yourself on how to find clients who already understand and are willing to pay for experience, professionalism, and quality will frequently payoff handsomely in the long run. Rather than trying to ‘educate’ clients about what they need, why not learn to identify the many, many, many more sophisticated clients who have a bit of experience and aren’t interested in any adventures with a low-end vendor. These clients don’t have to be convinced of any quality/professionalism issue and are more likely to be easy to work with, pay on time, etc.

Clients who are not ready yet to be good clients should be left to their own devices in hopes of them maturing some.

I totally agree … don’t worry about clients who don’t value what you have to offer … in my experience these types of clients will learn a hard lesson when they get ripped off and come running back to you to help.

Concentrate on clients that value your services and the rest will fall into place. Yes it does hurt to lose a client to a competitor … but this is part of running a business.