Just because a customer asks you about price, doesn’t make them difficult… does it?

Posted: Tuesday, December 21st, 2021

We posted the following meme on our socials and generated 40 comments over five days:

Hi Martin, can you send me a breakdown of your costs please?

Hi Chris,

Breakdown is as follows

The cost to do the job is £2545

The cost not to do the job is £0



At the time of writing this article everybody had applauded Martin’s curt reply.

But putting aside tradesperson bravado for a moment, and playing devil’s advocate, isn’t Martin missing the point?

Look at this from the consumer’s perspective for a moment. If I was spending the £2,500 I would want to know what I was paying for.

Imagine it’s the van you’re getting fixed. If the mechanic said, ‘thanks, that is two and a half grand, and you can pick it up on Tuesday’, I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t expect some sort of cost breakdown – even if it’s just parts and labour.

If the garage refused, what would you say?

Are ‘trade’ services any different?

The assumption that Chris is a time waster ignores that fact he wants value for money.

Yes – if you give customers detailed quotes they will use it to compare prices and services. But let’s face it, who doesn’t? Most tradespeople have just spent the last year shopping around suppliers for the best deals.

You can’t complain because clients want to do just that.

So, what is the issue here? Are we worried the customer is high maintenance? Or they won’t pay?

We all love clients that rock-up, agree a price without negotiation and pay up front. It just doesn't happen very often. Unfortunately, most of us will need to work harder to secure a deal.

Or does thus relate to the strange nervousness of many tradespeople to talk about money?

Tradespeople of all shapes, sizes and ages need to get to a position where they can talk about costs, (not just of materials and labour, but the value of their own work) and price with clients. In many respects, tradespeople need to be better salespeople.

Why? Well, simply because Chris’ request for details will become the norm. 

Listening to the guests on Fix Radio, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest tradespeople have had one of the busiest years in memory (and that next year will be even busier), so perhaps worrying what Chris wants isn’t bothering many. There is always another client around the corner.

But tradespeople should have one eye on the horizon and plan for a day when customers aren’t clamouring for their services. That doesn’t require huge change, certainly not if you’re talented at your job.

But it does mean adopting a more pro-customer approach. They are not your enemy. They can help your grow your business, so helping them out with a cost breakdown isn’t the worst thing you could do.

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