Garbage in, garbage out quotations

Coppersmith

Senior Member
A guy called last week and wanted me to replace his air handler and compressor wiring. It's aluminum and he wants copper. He had both A/C units replaced. A/C company tech told him he needed 150 feet of 8-2 and 80 feet of 6-2 to rewire. I give him a quote over the phone, he accepts and I did the job today.

The night before the job I get out all the 8-2 NM and 6-2 NM I have in stock. I unroll it, measure it, reroll it, pile it on the truck.

When I get there I discover both air handler and compressor are 30 amp units. No apparent need for 8-2 or 6-2. But I need a bunch of 10-2. Somebody's tape measure was broken too. Longest run was 70 feet. Since the wire was cheaper and the distances were shorter I should have made a good profit on the job, right? Wrong. The conditions were not as expected. Long story shortened*: Three hour job became six hour job.



*I actually wrote out the whole long story and found it so boring I deleted it to save you the pain.:sleep:
 

kwired

Electron manager
A guy called last week and wanted me to replace his air handler and compressor wiring. It's aluminum and he wants copper. He had both A/C units replaced. A/C company tech told him he needed 150 feet of 8-2 and 80 feet of 6-2 to rewire. I give him a quote over the phone, he accepts and I did the job today.

The night before the job I get out all the 8-2 NM and 6-2 NM I have in stock. I unroll it, measure it, reroll it, pile it on the truck.

When I get there I discover both air handler and compressor are 30 amp units. No apparent need for 8-2 or 6-2. But I need a bunch of 10-2. Somebody's tape measure was broken too. Longest run was 70 feet. Since the wire was cheaper and the distances were shorter I should have made a good profit on the job, right? Wrong. The conditions were not as expected. Long story shortened*: Three hour job became six hour job.



*I actually wrote out the whole long story and found it so boring I deleted it to save you the pain.:sleep:
AC guy maybe thought he had higher capacity units then he actually did? Sounds like a little bit on the long side and maybe was figuring voltage drop may require larger conductor? Maybe even thought the air handler needed multiple circuits run to it, would be more common here if it has electric heat installed, but where you are the average unit maybe only has 5 kW of heat in it, here it is seldom less then 10 kW.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
A guy called last week and wanted me to replace his air handler and compressor wiring. It's aluminum and he wants copper. He had both A/C units replaced. A/C company tech told him he needed 150 feet of 8-2 and 80 feet of 6-2 to rewire. I give him a quote over the phone, he accepts and I did the job today.

The night before the job I get out all the 8-2 NM and 6-2 NM I have in stock. I unroll it, measure it, reroll it, pile it on the truck.

When I get there I discover both air handler and compressor are 30 amp units. No apparent need for 8-2 or 6-2. But I need a bunch of 10-2. Somebody's tape measure was broken too. Longest run was 70 feet. Since the wire was cheaper and the distances were shorter I should have made a good profit on the job, right? Wrong. The conditions were not as expected. Long story shortened*: Three hour job became six hour job.



*I actually wrote out the whole long story and found it so boring I deleted it to save you the pain.:sleep:
What is your truck stock philosophy? 10-2 seems like it would be in the range of "always carry". Unless, of course you did have it; hard to tell from your description.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
It sounds like you did not re-quote it before you started the job.
Did you get paid for the whole new job plus time spent with the old job?
The things that slowed the job down showed up in dribs and drabs like when I tried to put a new breaker in the panel and the main feeders were crowding the breaker spaces just enough to make that very difficult.

I'm new to this fixed price model. I thought once you quote the job that was the price.
 

Smart $

Esteemed Member
...
I'm new to this fixed price model. I thought once you quote the job that was the price.
IMO not if the [unseen, unknown] job details are substantially different than used for the quote. Laws for quotes and verbal contracts vary by state.
 

edward

Senior Member
I'm new to this fixed price model. I thought once you quote the job that was the price.
Not fixed unless if you have seen the job. Besides you can always build a clause into your quote.

The price is fixed unless an unseen or expected condition comes up. (foam wall insulation, bad unsafe wiring...)
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
I'm new to this fixed price model. I thought once you quote the job that was the price.
Your "fixed" price/quote was to install a #8 ckt and #6 ckt at distances longer than is necessary. You could have just installed the wire you brought with you and satisfied your quote.

Why did you change to smaller wire? It cost less, who gets that savings?

The point, you were prepared to do the job the way you quoted it based on the information provided. You would have been perfectly within your quote to install those larger conductors and finish instead of going off to get the smaller wire. If overall the customer's price went down, you should not be penalized by having to spend more time than necessary (chasing different materials).
 

edward

Senior Member
Not fixed unless if you have seen the job. Besides you can always build a clause into your quote.

The price is fixed unless an unseen or unexpected condition comes up. (foam wall insulation, bad unsafe wiring...)

I meant unexpected.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
Well this thread went in a totally different direction than I intended. I was mainly interested in pointing out that you can't believe whatever a client tells you about a job. "Garbage in, garbage out" like the old computer programming saying goes. But it's good to review my pricing/quoting and how to adjust it. Like I said, I recently changed over to the fixed price model and there are some growing pains.

What is your truck stock philosophy? 10-2 seems like it would be in the range of "always carry". Unless, of course you did have it; hard to tell from your description.
Yes, 10-2 is an "always carry". Unfortunately I let the stock go a little low and I didn't have enough to do the job. Luckily the big box store was five minutes away. (Still took 40 minutes out of the job.)

Not fixed unless if you have seen the job. Besides you can always build a clause into your quote.
The price is fixed unless an unseen or [un]expected condition comes up. (foam wall insulation, bad unsafe wiring...)
Future phone quotes will include "based on the conditions you have described, my quote is ..."

Your "fixed" price/quote was to install a #8 ckt and #6 ckt at distances longer than is necessary. You could have just installed the wire you brought with you and satisfied your quote. Why did you change to smaller wire? It cost less, who gets that savings? The point, you were prepared to do the job the way you quoted it based on the information provided. You would have been perfectly within your quote to install those larger conductors and finish instead of going off to get the smaller wire. If overall the customer's price went down, you should not be penalized by having to spend more time than necessary (chasing different materials).
I agree. I spent the first 30 minutes looking at the (visible) conditions and trying to figure out how to overcome them. Once I decided my strategy, I restated my original price to the client (thinking I would save some money on material). The client didn't have any objections. I was fully prepared to defend the price on the grounds I would spend more time there but didn't have to. The hidden conditions are what killed the job timewise, and I just ate the cost since I had given a "firm fixed price".

P.S. I thought my original quote was a bit too low after I hung up the phone. Quoting under the pressure of someone waiting on the phone is tough. I don't want to call them back because I think that will lead to losing some jobs. Eventually I will develop a price book. It's not that easy to do.
 
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growler

Senior Member
A guy called last week and wanted me to replace his air handler and compressor wiring. It's aluminum and he wants copper. He had both A/C units replaced. A/C company tech told him he needed 150 feet of 8-2 and 80 feet of 6-2 to rewire. I give him a quote over the phone, he accepts and I did the job today.

Three hour job became six hour job.
If you quoted 3 hours to run this much cable and terminate it sound a little overly optimistic anyway. To get that fast I would have to see the job and know there was nothing hidden to slow things down.

For a firm quote you would normally add a little to the time you would expect the job to take.

If you think 3 hours, that rounds of to at least a half day. You or your guys do this job in the morning and have lunch and do something else in the afternoon. That's about as close as you can cut it.
 

Coppersmith

Senior Member
If you quoted 3 hours to run this much cable and terminate it sound a little overly optimistic anyway.
Didn't think it would take that long to drag two cables through an attic. 50 feet or 150 feet not much difference once you have the cable in hand and are pulling. And as it turned out, that was the easiest and fastest part of the job. The terminations were unexpectedly hard due to various reasons.

I normally don't schedule more than two jobs in a day. Luckily (I guess) I didn't have an afternoon job.
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
P.S. I thought my original quote was a bit too low after I hung up the phone. Quoting under the pressure of someone waiting on the phone is tough.
I feel ya! I've done that too many time to admit to. I'm at the point now if someone pushes and pushes and won't let me get back to them I quote them high. I've been surprised as to how many people say yes to the higher numbers.

In fact, I think sometimes it's easier to close a higher priced job because the customer thinks you know what you are doing because the price is high. I sounds weird (and I guess it is) but that's been my experience (with good customers). It a customer is a bottom feeder price watcher, then I've learned I don't really want them as a customer.

Of course I stay away from resi work so I guess it's apples and oranges, but I believe within reason the better customers expect the higher prices and feel more comfortable paying someone that understands their business costs than they do the trunk slammer.
 
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