"How Long Did It Take You To Do That"?

How long will it take? Quite a while ago I saw a show on TV, where an interviewer was wandering around on one of Sydney's northern beaches and talking to people. He chatted to an old guy who had an easel set up and was doing a landscape painting of a rocky headland.

In response to a question about what bystanders ask him about his work, the artist said that the number one question was "how much does it cost?", quickly followed by "how long did it take you to do that?"

The artist came back at them with a reply that I remember clearly.

"About 35 years"

That obviously stopped them in their tracks and and cut off any type of calculation that they were going do do about how much money he was making.

It happens to us in the building trade all the time.  People want 35 years experience but want it at the cheapest price.  A guy was telling me the other day, that where he lives it seems as though people are going for the quick fix, as cheap as possible to fix their house up, sell it in three years time and do the same again. He is getting less money now, than he did ten years ago for the same job.

My pet hate used to be spending time giving someone a quote for a job, and then never hearing anything about it.  I had a phone call from a lady a few years ago, asking me if I would be interested in giving her a price for some building work on her house.  I politely replied that I was too busy at present.

What was going through my mind and what I should have said was. "Listen misses, you picked my brains for an hour about eighteen months ago when you did your last project, I spent a further two hours of my time pricing the job and typing out a detailed quote.  You got three hours of my time for free, how much do you get for three hours work?  You didn't even have the courtesy to say thanks last time, so, misses, no I am not interested".

Over a period of a year or so, quite a while ago I priced about half a dozen jobs for a well known stable of architects. Didn't get a job, must have been too dear. Finally they asked me again and I was sick of it.  I sent them a fax along these lines:-

Dear Sirs, Thank you for considering our company for etc.etc.

We would be happy to price your work if
  • If you had to common decency to acknowledge the receipt of our previous quotes, OR
  • If you had just once sent us a letter along the lines of "Thank you for your interest, in this instance the client has decided not to go ahead at this stage" OR
  • "The successful bidder was ............& Co. and the price was $......, OR
  • If your drawings were easy to read, instead of having cryptic hand scrawled comments, OR
  • If my Aunt had balls, she'd be my Uncle!
As neither of the above is the case we decline to do any more pricing work for your company.
Bill Bradley.

So, in basic terms, if you ask a builder or a tradesman to give you a price, treat them the same as you would anyone else who does you a favour.

A simple thank you is all it takes. Leave here and go back to Talk and Tips Blog page

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