So, you got a call about a big job? Our guess is that you're excited and nervous at the same time. Don't worry, it's normal. Big jobs typically mean big money, but they also come with big responsibility, and sometimes big stress. We'll cover a few secrets of the pros that make quoting them a little bit easier and often more profitable.

Get the basics right

Regardless of if the job is big or little, you'll need to know how to price a job. We've covered this extensively in the following posts:

If you feel like you struggle with quoting or estimating in general, start there first and then come back here.

1. Break it down into smaller jobs

The first step to any job is breaking it down into smaller pieces. It may seem very obvious, but you'd be surprised how many business owners struggle to do this, even with the smaller jobs. When you look at any big task as a whole, it can be overwhelming and scary, but once it's broken down into smaller pieces, the light will start to shine in all the little holes, and you'll be able to put a plan together. Think about the work and consider the different phases of the job. For example, if you're running a wildlife control business and you just got a quote request for a big commercial job, you might break it down into the types of work:

  • Trapping and animal removal
  • Exclusion and barrier installation
  • Follow up

Another way it could be broken down would be by physical area, for example, if you were running landscaping company, you might break a job down like this:

  • Front porch
  • Front yard
  • Back porch
  • Backyard
  • Garden area
  • Side porch
  • Swimming pool

The basic idea is to break it down into categories that make sense to you and your business so that they can be scheduled, materials estimated and ultimately the area of work itself can be priced. It also helps you provide a nice itemized estimate to the customer where they can see where the high/low costs are.

2. Don't rush it

It's a big job. Maybe the biggest job you've had. Don't rush it. Very often small service professionals get themselves in trouble with big estimates because they get excited and don't think the job through well enough. You end up underestimating some aspect, which always ends poorly. If you under quote material costs, you can upset a customer, which might lead them to think you're trying to scam them. If you get your labor costs wrong, you'll lose profit or overwork yourself. Neither is good, and both can end up making you bitter on the job.

Here's a secret: If someone asked for a quote, they're probably already reaching out or planning to reach out to others. It's okay to take a little time and do your best to get it right. The customer will appreciate it, and you'll feel better about it too.

3. Don't be afraid to turn it down

We saved this one for last because typically it's not a great option for most budding business owners. If you're new, and this is your first big job, you might find that you only enjoy big jobs, but if you've done them in the past, and they stress you out and don't seem worth it, don't be afraid to turn them down. The trick is finding a way to help the customer without doing the job, and the reason it's important is that jobs come in all sizes. That big job the customer needs today could very well lead to a little job that's perfect for you next week.

Imagine you're running a handyman business and you get a call about repairing a roof. Maybe you could do it, but you don't like roofing jobs. Find a local roofing guy and tell him you've got a job for him and ask him to refer any smaller jobs to you in return. Make the customer happy and they'll remember you for helping out, and maybe the next small job will be yours. At the same time, you're building professional relationships that can turn into more work. It's a win-win.

Final thoughts

Quoting for every business is a little different, but some basic rules apply across the board. We hope we've helped make those big jobs seem a little less scary. And remember, you climb mountains one step at a time!